I recently had the chance to interview Benjamin Yee, Founder of EMERGE App, an inventory management solution for small businesses.
Here’s brief intro about Benjamin Yee:
Benjamin founded Higher Identity in late 2010. The company built EMERGE App (emergeapp.net) with a vision to put affordable software in the hands of all businesses selling physical products (distribution, wholesale, trading & e-commerce model). The visions’ to revolutionize small business are ran through technology.
Benjamin also founded Drooling Apparel Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. (previously called Drooling Closet) during his student days. The company produces customized t-shirts with a factory in Malaysia. It grew into a strong local brand, serving major companies, school and government agencies in Singapore. Benjamin now serves as a non-executive director at Drooling Apparel, where the company remains profitable.
Here’s our conversation about the growth of EMERGE App & Benjamin.
1. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Initially it was the excitement of selling things and making money at the same time. Soon after, i felt that i needed and wanted to be able to scale the value that i can bring to the society.
2. When did you first know that you wanted to start your business? What was that moment like?
Estimated 95% of product wholesale & trading company globally are using spreadsheets, hardcopy paperwork & memory (yes, memory) to manage their orders, inventory & billings. This process is extremely unproductive and especially if the team is small. This man-hours loss instead should be focussed on sales related activities to grow the business.I wanted to help this gigantic industry adopt software at a much faster rate. I and my team developed a cloud solution: EMERGE App, focused on user-friendless, affordability & For traders not keeping stocks, keeping partial stocks or selling entirely from stocks, simplicity is the key to disrupting in this industry.I started EMERGE App after failing to find a suitable solution online for his T-shirt business he started during Polytechnic School days. I believe if this problem if faced by him, millions of entrepreneurs worldwide will face it too. Developing EMERGE App was not an overnight thing, and I met at least 150 product wholesale & trading companies around the region to understand their pains before launching the App. Also, while creating EMERGE App, they also implemented the software as customised enterprise solutions for companies that had actual inventory and order management issues. This experience was also translated making EMERGE App as it is today: a tried and tested problem solver.A cornerstone of EMERGE App was when 2 employees decided invest their own money into the company. EMERGE App is also backed by venture funding, and leading investors include TNF Ventures & 21 Black Partners.
3. Tell us about your journey so far. What is the current team size , revenues and in how many countries have you expanded to?
The journey so far has been amazing, with great support from both our customers and our investors. Just read the reviews we have at Getapp, Capterra or FinanceOnline, and you will realise that we have a good product that is actually solving our customer’s issues out there in their business operations. We are very proud of our product and the progress we have achieved so far, and we want to spread the word and make EMERGE available to more small and medium businesses out there. We have an awesome team of 10 spread across three countries, namely Singapore, Vietnam and India.We have customers all over the globe. Currently we have users from 5 continents of the world. We are actively serving about 100 companies worldwide, with most clients coming from the US and Europe.We cater to companies from a diverse range of industries, ranging from healthcare, tooling systems, jewellery to the food and beverage industry.
4. Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, I have faced many challenges in the journey and here is the top 3 challenges I have faced.
Founded in Singapore with lack of engineers to begin with, it was extremely difficult for us to attract great talents with long working hours and depressed wages. Initially, we relied on foreign engineers but after a short while, the Singapore government wanted to protect jobs locally and decide to make it difficult to hire foreign engineers. It was awfully difficult for us then but we overcame it by setting up our Vietnam team.
As we bootstrapped from the beginning engaging in software customization projects, every cent that was going out had to count. It was years of regular sleepless nights going to bed not knowing if you are able to issue month end salary. This taught us to invest our money wisely and perhaps one of the most important aspects of running a startup: cash.
5. What are some of your favorite books?
On Building Business – Secrets of Building Multi-Million Dollar Businesses by Adam KhooOn Building Product – Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
6. What’s next for EMERGE App?
Serving 30,000 customers across the globe!