We may be experiencing an overload of eCommerce options right now, but does that mean we have access to everything that we need? We have an infinite variety of choice, but does it make it the right choice?
Zowedo hopes to help you with that, at least for lifestyle, home and personal services all on a simple and easy-to-use web platform. We spoke to Co-Founder and CEO, Antoine Nicole to find out why he created Zowedo.
Antoine has significant experience in the technology industry after working for Schneider Electric in supply chain for 8 years in 4 different countries and then Apple as a Senior-Project Manager for AppleCare. Besides working in France, he has lived and worked in Asia, including Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Antoine credits his wife’s support for helping him take the plunge to leave Apple and setup Zowedo with fellow Co-Founders CMO Martin Ross and CTO Abhinay Singh.
When he’s not in the office, you might find Antoine cooking for family and friends on the rugby field somewhere.
Read more about his story below.
Sell us your company/service in 300 words?
We’re on a mission to democratise the service industry by connecting small and independent businesses to customers. We want to provide micro-vendors with a suitable retail platform to promote their services and tools to embrace the digital economy while providing the convenience and ease for customers to buy services the same way you would buy products online today.
Finding a good service provider for personal or home services is like finding a needle in a haystack. As a busy working professional and a father of two young children, I wanted convenience. A simple way to find a service provider, knowing what I will get for the said price and determining the quality of the vendor based on other customers’ feedback plus being able to make online appointments. Such an online service does not exist across the range of services an individual or a family might need. Zowedo is dedicated to personal services where vendors and customers enjoy the ease and convenience of acquiring and transacting services online. It is your one-stop-destination for everyday services.
We have created a proprietary appointment booking system that is connected in real-time to a customer facing marketplace (zowedo.com) so that customers can find, book and pay in sixty seconds for a service they need. The eco-system we created equips small companies and self-employed individuals who lack the resources and skills to bring their business online with a suite of scheduling and payment tools to participate in eCommerce effectively and offer their business to digitally savvy customers.
In a world of mobile convenience, Zowedo’s solutions is making an impact on how personal and home services are being bought and sold. Our partners can now share their talents and skills in a career that is economically viable and sustainable.
What is stopping you from having the largest company in the world?
We do not have to be the largest company in the world to be successful. Second largest is good enough ☺. Honestly, I rather Zowedo make a positive impact on people’s lives – our partners and our customers. Convenience for customers and helping independent business owners make a decent income.
Personal and home services is all about trust. You are inviting someone in your home, to teach your kids, to help at home, so as a customer, you need to be confident about the service provider. It starts with how the service is presented to a potential customer.
Zowedo has a huge vision and there are so many moving parts. Talent and financing is probably a common concern for every start-up. Besides putting our own investment into the business, we were fortunate to get support from family and friends on the journey so far. It’s going to take a lot more investment to realise our vision and expand around the region.
From the inception I wanted my co-founders to bring complementary skills to Zowedo. Abhinay, our CTO – brought all the tech know-how, product development and managing the tech team. Martin, our CMO – has a long career in marketing and understands digital consumer journeys. I look after strategy, partner onboarding, business processes and investment. Growing and hiring the right talents that share our vision and help us achieve it is our next step after raising our investment.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry in Southeast Asia, what would it be?
I think technology is overrated in many instances. There are over 4.1 million mobile apps available on the Google and Apple store, of which an average user might use about 25 apps regularly. What about the remaining 4,099,975? As customers mature and become savvy with technology, they are more critical and will ask questions about social responsibility, environment, etc. I hope tech entrepreneurs will consider how best to use technology to solve the world’s problems or improve the lives of people. Flashfood and Feedie are a couple of great examples of how tech is being used to reduce or eliminate food waste.
Several research studies have indicated that there is a huge disconnect in organisations among the millennials who are seeking purpose in their work and not only a paycheck. These are the very millennials that are powering the start-ups – purpose driven and not in it just for the money. I truly believe that technology will fuel much of the development of SEA into modern economies whilst retaining much of the Asian values like family, friendship, hard work. I hope that human connections and interactions will not be lost because there is an app that will do it for you!
Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology?
There are many exciting new products and ideas coming out of Asia lead by true grit entrepreneurs – there are so many of them. People like Anthony Tan of Grab, and the founders of Redmart come to mind for their tenacity to go into a space that was already crowded and totally reinvent the business that is better for consumers.
I particularly like the perseverance and vision of Oliver Tan, CEO of ViSenze, an image recognition AI company. Today this Singapore grown company powers the image recognition and visual shopping capabilities of brands like Huawei and Samsung mobile phones.
Maybe for every successful entrepreneur, there have been another 99 that have failed. They achieved success not because they were lucky, but through hard work and perseverance that shaped the products and technology to achieve success, we see today.
Having lived in Asia for over 12 years, I see so much opportunity and great ideas and I particularly like the spirit of collaboration the start-up community in Singapore has.
What would you want people to remember you for, 100 years from now?
We talk about the Gig and service economy over the last few years and while some companies truly transformed this economy, we saw some employment issues with hard working people living a precarious life, with long working hours, low income and the risk of losing it all if their gig source is stopped for any reason. This is not the freelance life we were promised.
When I started Zowedo and was doing some market research, I found an experience on Airbnb and it truly inspired me for Zowedo. It was a tour offered in Paris, with a rented bike, the guide was bringing tourists around Paris markets and local delicacies “Boulangerie”, “Fromagerie”, ”Charcuterie”. A revisited guided tour, simple and yet unique and refreshing. Someone with a passion and his unique skills, maybe not the right ones for a corporate job, was now able to build his service business and make it a sound career choice that is economically viable.
We hope to be remembered, not only as a successful e-commerce company but to have truly defined a new sustainable economic model for the personal, lifestyle and home service industry where customer and service providers can establish a mutually beneficial relationship.