Published in Singapore Business Review
CEO and co-founder of Ohmyhome, Rhonda Wong, certainly knows the difficulties that home searchers are going through in Singapore. Being part of the real estate industry herself, she witnessed first hand the dilemmas in terms of looking for a home in her country – steep house prices, unreliable agents, and a tedious process in order to find a decent place to stay. These issues gave way to the birth of her company, Ohmyhome.
Ohmyhome is a real estate platform which aims to make buying, selling, and renting HDB flats in Singapore easier for those looking for a good living space. Through Rhonda and her sister, Race’s efforts, they were able to develop an app of their own for Ohmyhome which home searchers could easily use. As the founder of Anthill Realtors, a real estate agency in 2014, Rhonda grabbed the opportunity to fund Ohmyhome and make it the company that it is today.
“The first year of conceptualising, putting a small team together, building the test version of the app through an out sourced developer was all self-funded by Anthill Corporation. When we knew the product was ready, then we started raising funds,” Rhonda said in an earlier interview.
In an exclusive interview with Singapore Business Review, Rhonda shared how other startups could work their way up the ladder and improve on their growth trajectory.
What are the positions that you’ve previously held that contributed to who you are as an entrepreneur today?
Since young, I’ve always worked in my parents’ businesses during school holidays and weekends. Right after graduation, I started working as a derivatives trader in Chicago, both on the exchange floors of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade and eventually as an electronic trader of treasury bonds options. Despite being the only female trader in the company, I enjoyed my work very much because it was challenging and financially rewarding. But i was too far away from home and ultimately, it was important that my work was one that would benefit not just myself, but create greater good for others as well and that led me home back to Asia, setting my trajectory towards Ohmyhome.
Once back in Asia, I worked on several businesses spanning from retail, education to trading and begun investing in real estate while volunteering for charitable causes. In 2014, I founded my first real estate company with a specialty in property portfolio management. We parked aside some funds in our company for innovation and the first project that came out of that was Ohmyhome. We knew there was a gap in the market and was confident of providing a simpler, faster and more affordable form of quality housing transaction service to everyone.
My upbringing, personal interests and past experiences have all contributed to who I am today as an entrepreneur. I believe that it is important to create businesses with a double bottom line and am fortunate that I are armed with the skillsets and passion to do it well.
What are your key business philosophies?
My primary philosophy is to always do business for the right reasons. The right reasons should involve providing beneficial sustainable solutions for the greater good of others. When your values are clear, making decisions during trying times becomes a lot simpler. Ohmyhome is a property-technology company with the solution to the 3 major problems in the housing transaction process. Providing quality help to people with their housing matters, which is one of their biggest decisions and asset, can greatly enhance their lives. This is what pushes us to constantly be on the forefront of serving our consumers better today, and looking ahead in 5 years and 10 years time.
Another philosophy of mine is to be what you want to see in your people. Hire the right people, good people and create a well-knitted and passionate company. Never forget to treat your team well and appreciate them, as someone once told me “Companies don’t go global, people do.”
Tell us about how you started Ohmyhome and your significant milestones since then.
When friends and family had difficulties in transacting their homes, they came to Race and me for help because they knew we have industry experience and can provide help. We realised that many do not have this support and hence decided to simplify the process of transacting homes through Ohmyhome. The three major problems in the housing transactions market are transparency, speed and costs. Our technology addresses these problems and builds towards a simpler, faster and more affordable transaction experience for everyone; providing a complete one-stop shop for all housing needs.
Within 4 months of our official launch in Sept 2016, we became Singapore’s No. 1 HDB DIY portal. Till date, Ohmyhome has facilitated over 1,000 HDB housing transactions with a combined value of more than S$500 million. With game changing features like ShoutOut and Open House, transaction speed has never been faster across our DIY and fixed rate agent segments. DIY customers are able to find a match within the day and each of our agent can transact up to 100 property transactions per year; over 50 times faster than Singapore’s average agent.
Can you give us a glimpse of what you will talk about at the 20 Hottest Startups Panel Briefing 2018?
I’ll be contributing to the panel on the dearth of startups with strong growth trajectory. Whilst it is seemingly easy to start your own company, it is tough to get it off the ground, grow and scale up. Having a sustainable business begins with a strong business idea with a solid foundation and having the marketing expertise to gain awareness. Using Ohmyhome as a case study, I’ll be sharing about how we create housing solutions that has longevity and scaleability, the potential stumbling blocks that affects a startup’s growth trajectory and how to overcome them.