Responding to the changing Market needs - Interview with Ryan Chong, Co-Founder of Pitchspot & Zone
Back in November 2021, Ryan shared with me some of his opinions on different topics and how he got interested in entrepreneurship at a young age. Throughout my interview with him, his knowledge and wisdom is evident as we discussed his struggles and goals for the future. However, he remains humble despite his achievements and seeks to continuously learn and develop himself.
Without further ado, let us first dive into his personal experiences before Pitchspot came about
Before Pitchspot, Ryan worked part-time at various Cafés out of personal interest during his time in University. From these experiences, he learnt not only how to be a barista and bartender, but also delved deep into the inner operations of the Cafés, learning more about how an F&B establishment is run. These experiences proved to be valuable in further nurturing his entrepreneurial spirit.
For instance, Ryan was one of the first few to experiment with the concept of “coffee in a bottle”, which is widely popular in many cafes these days. This concept came about when he realised that most people purchase coffee because they don’t have the time to make it and that people tend to buy iced coffee in the afternoon due to the hot weather. Realising this, Ryan decided to try out a strategy he had in mind. He pre-made iced coffee in bottles so that office workers could quickly buy their coffee bottles during the hectic lunch hour without waiting. This initiative significantly improved the sales of the Café he was working at and further developed his entrepreneurial spirit by helping him to see problems differently and coming up with innovative solutions to meet those problems.
Development of Pitchspot and Zone
In 2017, Ryan applied to join NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) to pursue his ambition of creating a start-up and NOC was the perfect place as he could interact with many other like-minded individuals. It was at NOC where he met See Ting, his Co-Founder to be for Pitchspot.
Ryan (left) and See Ting (right)
Pitchspot started as a co-founder matching platform to organising hackathons, and now it is a platform to help start-up owners figure out their start-up ideas. In his words, “Pitchspot is a platform for anyone to embark on an innovation journey, discover and share new ideas, and adapt new methodologies on innovation and productivity.” Indeed, Pitchspot has four different products offered which include Launchpad and Zone.
Launchpad is the most popular product on Pitchspot as it provides a framework for entrepreneurs to design their business strategies and develop their ideas further. It also contains a repository of different business models that people can refer to. This helps individuals to learn from and improve upon current business models in the market. On the other hand, Zone is a virtual workspace experience that integrates productivity and team engagement designed for hybrid work teams.” Upon using Zone, one would discover numerous functions inclusive of text messaging within the application, virtual discussions with one another for planning and scheduling meetings ahead of time.
While Pitchspot was created to help start-up owners, Zone was constructed from the Circuit Breaker period in 2020 when many Singaporeans had to shift to virtual working spaces. Thus, there was a new ‘normal’ that people had to adapt to. For Ryan, he realised that employees had to use numerous applications for different purposes, constantly switching between them, leading to time lost and lower productivity. Additionally, the aspect of team engagement is absent in many of the current products. Hence, Zone was constructed to provide a better user experience and improve productivity across all areas by providing all the different functions needed by the modern worker.
The reflections, regrets and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Looking back on his entrepreneurial journey, Ryan emphasises the importance of tenacity and resilience because of the workload and struggles that one will inevitably face. Rejections are unavoidable but whenever Ryan or See Ting had their moments of doubt, they would have honest conversations with one another and mutually conclude that they will eventually find a way to solve any problem.
In terms of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Ryan shares these thoughts of consideration that one should think about before embarking on any journey in life:
Lesson 1: What drives you?
What you are doing needs to be something that drives you, something that makes you get up in the morning. Everyone should pursue their passion but it doesn’t necessarily have to be only when they are young. However, this also depends on the obligations or responsibilities that an individual has which can affect their situation, subsequently affecting their decision-making process.
Lesson 2: The importance of the team at the beginning
Ryan mentioned that he would have tried to retain his team members much earlier on before they left to pursue other things as the team is really important at the beginning for the start-up. Thus, there was a need for better alignment of expectations of team members, and adapting to select management styles for every individual – that said, this definitely is a challenge but it’s something that founders, especially early-stage start-up founders need to consider.
Lesson 3: “Entrepreneurship is not for everyone”
That being said, how would you know that entrepreneurship is not for you if you haven’t tried it? Like most things in life, one would only know of their preferences for anything only after trying it. We only hold ourselves back from the opportunities that we do not give to ourselves.
In sharing these thoughts, it is apparent that Ryan is a strong advocate of following one’s passion in life and feels strongly that everyone should do so. Perhaps we should all give ourselves a chance to pursue our passions before we write ourselves off.
Article by Nicholas Wong, Researcher/Writer under Content Creation Division in NES.