Tag Archives: startup to watch

[Startup to Watch] Referoll

Referoll is the brainchild of a NOC senior of mine, Ariff and is currently incubated in the NUS Engineering Incubator & Blk71.

Idea: Essentially, Referoll is the place to go if you are looking to earn some quick bucks or get some nice rewards by participating in surveys or group study. It is the place connecting research firms who are looking for survey participants with people who wants to earn some extra bucks. How it works? Scroll for available projects listed on the website, enroll into the projects/surveys that you are interested in, and wait for your payroll.

Revenue Model: I would imagine Referoll would be paid by the Market Research Firms who get their volunteers for their studies through Referoll.


  • Referoll is a good way for anyone who wants to earn a quick buck, and I think targeting University students is a good move by Referoll. Who wouldnt want to earn a quick buck by taking part in surveys? The incentives for the surveys on Referoll ranges from $15 to $120 to an iPad2. Neat.
  • For marketing firm, they can easily tap into the database of Referoll on top of their own database and therefore would not need to spend that extra money to acquire new participants or database.
  • However, for the marketing firms, they should be wary of the validity of the survey results. Because the database of Referoll is motivated by the incentives, is mostly students, and Referoll uses the mechanics of “referring your friends”, this may introduce some form of biasedness to the survey responses. Friends could sign up with their friends, and are all motivated to get the incentives, and this might not give a representative sample. A good marketing research firm would know this, so this wouldnt be a problem for Referoll.
  • Personally, I feel that the biggest challenge for Referoll now is to get more projects onboard for the Referoll users. Referoll is not lacking in their database as they can tap on the NUS network and with Facebook Integration, heavily incentivized projects will spread quickly. So marketing Referoll is whats challenging now as existing R&D firms and research marketing firms would have their own database, and they might ask, why would they use Referoll if they have their own marketing/recruitment/database department, as this might translate to additional cost for them to engage Referoll.
  • Referoll also took an extra step to help those that registered in their database to keep track of ‘similar’ projects so that they could be updated if there are any projects that could interest the Referoll users.
  • It is free to join Referoll and the only one who will be receiving money/incentive is the user themselves from the survey and projects they took part in.
  • Maybe what Referoll could do is to create an exclusive section for users who are actively promoting/participating in Referoll. The exclusive section would consist of higher perks and incentives for the members. Just a thought. Users like to feel special, and exclusive.

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Referoll was a winner at the Startup Singapore competition as well as the Lee Kuan Yew Business Case Competition, and was awarded the Spring Fund as well. The website needs some touch up in my opinion to make it look more professional. With the fund, we’ll see how far can Referoll go. =)


[Startup to Watch] The Golden Concept

The Golden Concept is the brainchild of Venessa Keng and Lee Chang Si, graduates from NUS Business School. Came across the startup when one of my friend shared their link on the Facebook news feed.

Idea: Bringing you a truly unique range of creative gift ideas for your loved ones entering their golden years. The Golden Concepts provides innovative products such as a handy jar opener, plug handle, remote control light, as well as a senior phone. Pretty neat.

Revenue Model: Proceeds from sales of actual products. Users can order and purchase these products through the website and get it delivered to their doorsteps.


  • There are about 300,000 Singaporeans aged above 65 and by 2030, the number will rise to about 900,000.
  • As the government gives more and more attention to the aging population in Singapore, as discussed in the recent parliament debate, The Golden Concept definitely is moving into the correct niche market. Not only does the products prove to be good gifts for the elderly, they are also useful products in our daily lives. I wouldn’t mind getting one for my mum during her birthday.
  • Not only for children to get a gift for their parents or grandparents, the retiring population, housewives, or working adults could also purchase these products for their own usage. Im sure most of us would need these kinda product when we grow older.
  • However, the product range is a bit limited and users might not be motivated to revisit the site. If the site could include more products for the elderly (which I’m pretty sure the founders are doing) users will definitely purchase more stuff and there is a perceived tangible value to revisiting the site.
  • Im not too sure if the products are only available with The Golden Concept. The jar opener, and plug handle looks like it could be purchase at normal retail stores. Perhaps getting imported stuffs and brand it accordingly (brand it as an exclusive product in Singapore) could be appealing to users and could motivate them to purchase the product. For now it feels like I could purchase the stuff from other avenues. If this is not the case, perhaps this could be stated at the site. Not too sure about the competition though.
  • I like how the product page shows the description of the products and how to use the products, as well as the benefits of the products.
  • Maybe the site can put some pictures of the elderly for aesthetic purposes. Just my 2 cents.
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Ranking would definitely be higher with more products. =) But I won’t be surprised if they will be featured soon on the media for targeting the old population and actually doing something that value adds to them, and especially when the government is focusing more on the older segment of the society. The coverage would definitely get the site more buyers.

[Startup to Watch] Learnemy

Learnemy is the brain child of Elisha Tan. Elisha was supposed to go NOC Shanghai with us but because there were some complication with her graduation extension, her school could not allow her to come onboard with us to Shanghai. She got herself admitted into the Founder’s Institute while we were at Shanghai and she founded Learnemy as well, which subsequently got funded by Spring. I always think that it is a blessing in disguise that she did not come to Shanghai with us.

Idea: A platform for connecting people who want to learn something with others who can teach

Revenue Model: Unfortunately Im not quite sure what is the revenue model for Learnemy for now, because there aren’t any payment system on the website, which would then allow transaction (payment between instructor and student), and where Learnemy could get a cut. There are also no ads on the website, so I guess no revenue through advertising for now.


  • Learnemy is a site connecting instructors and people who want to learn. When I asked Elisha how she plan to market Learnemy to the correct people since there are a wide variety of skills that people might be interested to learn (think calligraphy or horse riding), and where would she find the correct instructors to provide this kinda skills, she mentioned that she could advertise through Google Ads. For now, Learnemy only provides swimming and guitar lessons, a more commonly sought after skills.
  • In my opinion, I feel that it would be very challenging to market Learnemy because there are a lot of competitors out there. I happen to have a friend who runs a guitar learning agency who is doing really really good in Singapore. Guitar instructors can also sign up with the agency which has a sizable amount of user traffic to the site thanks to SEO.
  • Other than that, a simple google could also provide me with a list of swimming lesson agency that is more established, and which has the option to introduce the proper instructors to the students based on the budget.
  • Learnemy must have a competitive advantage and differentiating factor. To do this, Learnemy can provide other kind of skills which are not commonly offered online, and which are highly sought after, for example, coding, how leverage on social media to market your product,photoshop or even photography. I would love to learn all of these for a small fee. Usually these kinda skills are offered in courses by professionals and cost a bomb. I think Learnemy can find people who are good in all these and engage them to be an instructor. I’m sure there are a lot of students in the university who are good at say photoshop who would not mind earning a few buck for giving a lesson. These are the skills that has high demand and that are offered as professional courses. Learnemy should change that.
  • Learnemy could introduce a referral system for now to encourage users or even the site visitors to refer friends to Learnemy (whether as a student or an instructor), because without users, it is quite hard for Learnemy to build up its credibility.


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It would be really good if Learnemy could provide more than just swimming and guitar lessons, and be a one stop skills learning platform for everyone. =) Lets see how it goes.

O yea, if you are a tech person, Elisha is looking for a tech cofounder. Its nothing new since I’ve mentioned it on my post on e27 as well as a few of my previous posts on talent pool problem.

P/S Personally I don’t know Elisha (ok might have said hi to her on Barcamp) so I am not advertising for her heh.

[Startup to Watch] Gastro Couture

GastroCouture is the brain child of Lester Chia. I had the privilege to meet the man behind the Insider’s only Premier Dining Club in Singapore over Founder’s Drinks that was concluded few weeks back.

Idea: Discover – Gastro partners with Premier Restaurants to help them fill their tables. Book – Members reserve these tables through Gastro for $2 per reservation. Save – A 20% – 30% discount is automatically applied to your bill. No coupons, only guaranteed savings. Members can sign up for free and gain access to the great discount by the various premier restaurants.

Revenue Model: Gastro earn a $2 for every reservation made through the site. For now they have about 20 restaurants partnering with them.


  • Gastro is a clever way to solve the problem of empty tables in high end restaurants. As the tables at these premier restaurants are perishable goods and any empty tables will be wasted, this gives Gastro the leverage to partner with the premier restaurants.
  • Gastro gives the opportunity to price sensitive customers to dine in premier restaurants by providing them with a 20%-30% discount, and the best part, it is an ongoing deal/promotion! You don’t have to wait for the restaurants for their promotions.
  • I think the main concern for Lester and his team would be to reach out to the people and to scale the whole model. How can Gastro reach out to the targeted segment (white collar for example)? Through social media? So maybe Gastro should introduce a referral system for members to bring in new friends as word of mouth is a powerful tool in gaining more users. After all, good things are meant to be shared. =)
  • When analyzing the model, Gastro do not have a huge competitive advantage because the model can be easily replicated and I won’t be surprised if there is another Gastro surfacing in the market soon.
  • Gastro should look into other ways of generating revenues or introduce new mechanics into the whole system because the current $2 per reservation is not that sustainable in my humble opinion. Lets have a quick look at the figures, $2 per reservation * 3 reservations per day per restaurant * 20 partner restaurants * 30 days a month = $3600 per month. Minus that off with marketing cost and paycheck.
  • Maybe Gastro should get a percentage off the total bill spent at the restaurants by the users instead since they are marketing Gastro as “the more you eat, the more you save”. 
  • Gastro could also look into the possibility of charging a one off membership fee in the future since Gastro is marketed as an exclusive Dining Club. People would be willing to pay for the idea of exclusivity. Thats something I learnt from Vinnie few days ago.


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Very excited to see how Gastro eventually evolve their revenue model into and how they scale it. Scaling it might be a challenge since there is only so many premier restaurants in Singapore and any inclusion of low or mid end restaurants will dilute the brand. =)

[Startup to Watch] Household.sg

Household.sg is the brain child of Reuben Lee. Recently Reuben pitched at the CS3216 pitching session and the company was also featured few days ago at Youngupstart and the post is very nicely written.

Idea: Household aims to bring the whole tedious process of grocery shopping online. Basically, you sign up and browse through the items that you want to buy, you make the payment through paypal (Reuben is still working on the cash on delivery), choose a preferred delivery timeslot, and there you go. Value adding to busy professionals and working classes as they can do their online shopping even during work.

Revenue Model: Being the supply chain themselves, competing with established supermarkets such as NTUC Fair Price and Cold Storage.


  • Household is a brilliant idea because undoubtably, working adults nowadays do not have much time to do groceries shopping and having spent 1 year abroad in Shanghai working full time, I can totally relate to the frustration of running out of daily groceries whenever I need them, especially after a long day at work.
  • The whole process of online groceries shopping is also very easy and convenient especially after the Facebook log in is enabled with Household, simplifying the process of user account sign up.
  • Personally, I’m quite curious how does the Founder settle the logistics. Does he outsource the delivery to someone else or he has to do it himself (since there are multiple timeslots for delivery)?
  • Since there are various items available on the site, what if there are users who buy a few items here and there? If thats the case, where does he get the bargaining power to to talk to the suppliers?
  • Currently the delivery charge is at $7 for purchases less than $40. Personally, I think thats a little bit too expensive. Why $7? Why not $5 or $8?
  • Maybe Househould could give more product information on the site such as expiry dates.
  • I won’t be surprised if NTUC or Fairprice will acquire Household in the near future.
  • Household could even launch their own deals column! Good way to clear away inventories.

Potentials: 5/5

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Again, very excited to see how Household.sg grow. Hopefully the local supermarkets will continue to ignore the power of technology in enhancing the shopping experience for users, and Household would leverage on this to grow exponentially. Household is competing directly with already established grocery stores, which have their own online platforms as well, but they are under utilized. Household is targeting the working adults that are technologically savvy, which happens to make up quite a number of the workforce. Young adults like myself would definitely be open to new and fun online shopping platforms as compared to shopping at the traditional giant grocery stores.

[Startup to Watch] Module-review

Module-review is the brainchild of Jace Liew (apparently I can’t find his Linkedin Page).

Idea: Listing of all available modules in various tertiary education institutions in Singapore and allows students to review the modules. Value adding to students because they can hear personally from other peers that did the particular module before.

Revenue Model: Advertising on the site. Just heard the presentation from the founder yesterday on the CS3216 pitch and he shared that currently he has 27000 page views per day. This is amazing.


  • Never knew module review is getting so much traffic each day. And the traffic that comes to the site are mostly students from the tertiary institution or those from the education industry. Lets add on “Singapore” into the traffic demographics. In other words, if you want to reach out to tertiary students in Singapore effectively, you can count on module-review’s reach.
  • Having mentioned that, various advertising opportunities came to mind: Tuition agency who needs university tutors, online book stores giving out a promotional sales looking to reach out to students, professionals looking for students to help out, overseas education institutions who wants to promote their education system to students. All of these could effectively place their ads with module-review.
  • Also, the site can develop their model (which the founder is currently doing right now). Pre-uni career planning for students, post tertiary advices and career paths, job portals providing employment opportunities are just a few possible directions that the site can evolve into out of the many possible directions.
  • Not very sure how the founder market the site (although not much marketing effort needed since the site has been publicized through word of mouth) but to ensure that the site can continue growing, it is critical to get more user reviews on the site on the various modules posted there. Most of the modules that are reviewed are those that are popular while there are many reviews that are not reviewed and this could be detrimental in the long run. Maybe the founder should introduce some mechanics into the interface to motivate users to post reviews.

Potentials: 5/5
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Super excited for the site and see what it gradually evolved its revenue model into. Currently there are 1,831 reviews on 9883 modules and counting.

Anyways did a quick google on Niche Traffic but turned out that there isn’t a proper definition coined to it. Niche traffic refers to traffic from niche groups that visit your website, and in the case of Module-review, the niche traffic are from the tertiary segment of the education system.

[Startup to Watch] shopforme

Shopforme is a brain child of some peers of mine who went over to Silicon Valley.

Idea: You want something from somewhere else in the world. Post it there. Someone else at that part of the world will help get them for you.

Revenue Model: The transaction fee will be held by shopforme and will only be released to the person helping you to get your items when you actually get it. A transaction fee will be incurred and thats how shopforme makes money.


  • The revenue model is exactly the same as Taobao, the largest C2C site in the world. To facilitate payment and to ensure quality products, taobao has an entirely independent and secure online payment platform – Alipay. Alipay holds the payment when the order is placed on taobao and when the buyer receives the product from the merchant, he then validates the payment, and the payment is wired over to the merchant. This is a sustainable model and solves the problem of online fraud and allows buyers to check whether the goods are received before the payment is actually made.
  • So the problem of online fraud should be something that shopforme focus on. How can shopforme assure the buyers that the money entrusted to them will not be embezzled?
  • Also, there might be many people who are looking to buy stuffs from other places, and shopforme relies on users that are actually at the destination to go and buy the item, and then ship/bring it back to Singapore to the sellers. Heavy marketing has to be done to get more users onto the site and it has to be on a global scale. Illustration: I want something from San Francisco or Inner Mongolia, there must be someone based at those 2 places to help me buy the item. Even if shopforme limits the geographical area to lets say the states or China, shopforme has to market the site to Singapore (buyers based here), and to the users in States / China. So marketing is the biggest challenge to shopforme in my humble opinion.
Potentials: 3/5

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Lets see how it goes. The site is still on Alpha and there is only one person who has a wish list up there.
Anyways, a little more info for Taobao, taobao is under Alibaba Group which owns an entire e-commerce ecosystem of its own. The CEO Jack Ma, is the first Chinese to be on the Forbes magazine’s cover page and he is really really amazing: