[quote style=”boxed”]Ideas come to be at the most unexpected time in the wildest places. When an idea hits me, I will whip out my smartphone and take a short note of the idea so I won’t forget.[/quote]
Ang Pheng Huat is the co-founder of Boxyroom, an online peer-to-peer marketplace to help expatriates and students, who are moving overseas for work or studies, search and reserve rental space in foreign cities safely with secured safekeeping of rental deposit until tenants have moved in happily.
Prior to launching Boxyroom, he worked for 7 years in the aviation industry where he was a product manager for one of the best airlines in the world. He took one year off from work to in 2010 to start a small computer hardware maintenance company. He sold the company in the following year. Always feeding his hunger for entrepreneurship, he started working on Boxyroom in late 2011 and the product was soft launched in October 2012. He’s happy to know more people and chit chat over a cup of strong café latte.
What are you working on right now?
Getting the word out to the entire about Boxyroom, primarily working on content and social media marketing. There is a huge number of students and expatriates out there struggling to find suitable housing in their destination cities. I strongly believe that Boxyroom is one service that needs to known to anyone who is planning to relocate to foreign city.
Where did the idea for Boxyroom come from?
The idea was conceptualized when a close friend of the founder was cheated of 1200 Euros when he tried to rent an apartment in Paris, while preparing to study there. He responded to a listing on popular classified ads website and was subsequently stung by this scam. The fake landlord took the money and fled. I thought there must be a better way of renting a place overseas safely through the Internet, directly between tenants and landlords, without going through a real estate agency.
How do you make money?
For each transaction, Boxyroom takes a one-time 10% fee from the deposit paid by the tenant. The deposit is equivalent to one month rent. The remaining 90% of the deposit is paid to the landlord when the tenants move in.
What does your typical day look like?
I always get up at 7 in the morning for my breakfast of muesli and cold milk. That’s the only thing I eat for breakfast. I’m a morning person so I get 75% of my work done before lunch. After lunch I would snooze for an hour so, waking up fully recharged. I would then continue to work at a slower pace until the late afternoon.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas come to be at the most unexpected time in the wildest places. When an idea hits me, I will whip out my smartphone and take a short note of the idea so I won’t forget. I’ll keep the note in my smartphone and go back to it 2 weeks later. If the idea still excites me, I’ll tell my friends about it and get their feedback.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The availability of cheap air travel allows ordinary people to see the world and experience other cultures at an unprecedented level. We can all now travel more frequently and further than we could 20 years ago.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My first job after graduating from the university was with small non-profit organization representing the education sector of a particular European country. I never felt so bored in my entire life while I worked there. It got so bad that I would pack up and go home while my boss was out for meetings. Before my boss could fire me, I quit after one month. If you don’t like a job, resign. The feeling of liberation is utopic.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have studied less and played more. Staying in school kills creativity.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stop worrying and just do it. If you screw up, try again. If you offend someone, apologise.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t consider my experience a failure since my computer maintenance company was making money when I sold it. What happened was, along the way, one fine day, I simply lost interest in what I was doing. That was absolutely unexpected. It just happened. I put the business up for sale a few days later.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you’re living in developed countries in Asia, such as Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, the opportunities for you to provide products and services for the elderly in the next 10-20 years will be huge. I mean HUGE. Start planning today.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would ban buffets from all restaurants in the world. It encourages gluttony and food wastage. When we go for a buffet, how many of us do not end up feeling sick from overeating? At the end of the day, can you imagine how much leftover food is thrown away?
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Bad food drives me up the wall.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Google Maps – This is the best thing that ever happened since the Internet was invented. I use it everyday to find my way to places and to plan my driving route to avoid bad traffic. Surfing Google Maps Street View is my ultimate time waster.
Stumbleupon – I have discovered that there are so many more cool and useful websites than I thought! Another great time waster.
Alltop – Probably the best news aggregator. It does the dirty work of filtering the most relevant news items in every content category imaginable.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Everyone must read “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael E. Gerber. It offers awesome advice on how to set up strong systems and processes in small businesses and explains why business owners must be managers, not technicians.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Richard Branson – My number one idol in business. He gave me the inspiration for the answer in Question 9.
Guy Kawasaki – You get tons of links to fascinating news and information from his Twitter feed.
Justin Bieber – Don’t.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
A few hours ago. My friends and I were discussing funny cat videos.
Who is your hero, and why?
Anyone who conquers severe illness or physically disability to achieve what they want in life.
What’s the key to maintaining good work–life balance?
Just remind yourself that you’re not born to work your whole life. You work to enjoy life. So make time to enjoy yourself.
What’s your current favourite food?
Japanese grilled ox tongue. The thought of it makes me drool.