The Jay Kim Show with GoGet CEO Francesca Chia | Digital Asia

is a service in Malaysia that helps individuals and businesses get things done. Think of it like a Fiverr, only it’s in the realm of real-life, physical tasks. ’s vetted team of GoGetters are available for tasks ranging from pick-ups and deliveries to data entry to overflow help around holidays and busy events.

Francesca was part of the Alibaba eFounders Program and shares what inspired her most from the event.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • About Francesca’s educational and career background prior to
  • What is GoGet and who uses it
  • About the GoGet business model
  • About Francesca’s experience with the Alibaba eFounders Program
  • Francesca’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Listen to this episode on iTunes

Full transcript from Francesca’s interview

Jay: This week’s guest is Francesca Chia, co-founder and CEO of GoGet. GoGet.my is a marketplace for on-demand errands and deliveries powered by a community of runners called GoGetters. Francesca and her co-founder started GoGet to help busy people outsource their to-do list to a trusted person in the community. Francesca, welcome to the show.

Francesca: Hi. Thank you.

Jay: So why don’t you give our audience a little bit of background of yourself. I’m always interested to hear how entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs and what their career path was or their educational path was. So if you could, maybe give us a little bit of background.

Francesca: Sure. Great. First, to start off with, I am Malaysian, and I was raised in Malaysia all the up until the last few years of high school. And I went over to England to finish that off before I went to Chicago, Northwestern and graduated with and majored in economics and a minor in Chinese language and cultures.

After that, I actually decided to work in corporate for about four years. I was working in a management consulting firm called the Boston Consulting Group for about four years around southeast Asia. So that was really around Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, and one year in Australia. That was really awesome because I got some experience in industrial goods to government agencies to also telcos and media, as well as technology projects. So after four years of that, that was really the first step out from corporate where I jumped into GoGet. I guess we have not turned back since.

Jay: That’s pretty exciting. I’m always pretty jealous when I hear about… I spent a career on Wall Street. I’ll still sort of an investor full time, but there’s been many points along the way where I’m like — because I love startups, and I love meeting entrepreneurs. Was there, just out of curiosity, was there a certain catalyst or an event that happened in your life that you were like “Okay, you know what? I’m going to do this full time”? Where did idea come from?

Francesca: For sure. I would definitely start off by saying I’m not a planned entrepreneur. Definitely was an accidental entrepreneur.

Jay: Those are the best.

Francesca: Yeah. I don’t think I grew up going, “I would like to own my own company.” That just never ever came across my mind. I thought I would just work for someone. So the journey of going from that mentality to where I am today is probably really interesting. Definitely, there were events that caused me to then jump ship, and there were other serendipitous events that I will kind of say, I guess.

It was the fourth year in BCG and, as you may know, since you were in Wall Street, the tenure of management consultant usually goes up to an average of two years. So when you hit your fourth year, you’re the old one on the shelf, and it’s kind of weird that you’re still around the company. So if you’re not planning to be a partner, you’re probably thinking of something else around that time. So for me, I decided… That was definitely where I was hitting…it was my fourth year, and I was wondering what to do. I just did it very, I guess, BCG. I thought, “Well, if I I’m not going to be in BCG, I would like to do something I really can’t get if I was not in BCG.” One would be the social impact. Two would be I would be a stay-at-home mom. Or three would be I would execute and be able to make some decisions. Because in consulting, you tend to tell someone, but you don’t tend to do anything.

So I actually did start applying to startups, other startups. I applied to companies that were trying to grow. But very quickly, I guess, through those interviews, I realized that all this while in the last nine months, I did have an idea with a few friends, but we just thought it was a silly thing on the side that friends would just talk about around coffee and we would never actually end up doing it. And then we realized, wait, the coffee has gone into a PowerPoint slide, and the PowerPoint slide has gone into a spec for a technology outsourcing team to do, to then — oh my god — the technology team has actually produced a prototype. What do we do with this now?

So I think it reached that point just at that time when I was thinking also of considering what to do next in BCG, that GoGet had a prototype. So I actually asked for a leave of absence from BCG, and I said let me take six months off and try to execute this prototype and we’ll just see where it goes.

But within about three weeks, things that happened in those three weeks just was really, really serendipitous that it made me go, “Okay, I really need to take the ball that’s on my lap and just throw it as hard as I could in front of me.”

One event was that I had gone to grab ice cream on one of the days with my then-boyfriend-now-husband. And I don’t usually bring my dog with me for ice cream but that random day, I did. If you don’t know KL well…but we went for ice cream in Bangsar, which is really like the place where we actually started GoGet in that hub, because it’s the place that has a lot of… Because you’re based in Hong Kong, right?

Jay: Yes, that’s right.

Francesca: Alright. So I’m guessing it’s kind of like just Mid-Levels — fun place, hip place everyone goes to visit. Also congested, and it’s very painful to get to. So that was prime for GoGet.

I was trying to roll out in Bangsar, and I needed a partner, a partnering company that would be a good sponsor to team up for a partnership. And when I went to bring my dog to get ice cream… This ice cream shop actually has grass inside it. It’s kind of weird, but it has grass in it. So I was like, “Oh, I really shouldn’t bring the dog in because there’s grass in this thing. Right?” I’m like, “Hey, David, keep the dog out, and I’m going to get us ice cream.”

By the time I came out, the owner was talking to us and the dog. And the owner goes, “What do you guys do?”

I’m like, “Oh, I’m just trying to do this thing called GoGet.”

And then he’s like, “I love that idea.”

And I was like, “I’m looking to partner…”

And then he goes, “Oh my god, I would love to do the first partnership.” So we ended up doing a partnership which was GoGet.my Inside Scoop. It’s one of the best ice creams, I guess, artists in ice cream makers in KL. And we did delivery of ice cream just because I brought my dog, and the guy liked dogs.

I literally, I could name so many other events that happened that caused me to go, this is kind of weird. I think this is something beyond what I can do that is really making GoGet. Go for it. So I just kind of jumped the boat.

Jay: That’s an awesome story. Thanks for sharing that. I can say from personal experience that…we’re going to get into your business model in a little bit here. But there are so many times… And Hong Kong has a few similar type competitors to your business. But there are so many times where it’s, literally, oh, I just need X, Y, Z, and I just need someone to just deliver it, and I wish there was a service to do this. And so I guess one of those things where within those three weeks, you basically… There’s a saying where one person says something or two people, but then the third time, you hear them. It must have been something like that for you. That’s a pretty cool story, coming out from the corporate world.

I’m always interested to hear about how people get out of the corporate world, and I guess it’s a leap of faith to a certain degree, but I’m glad to hear that things are working well.

So let’s hear a little bit more about your business. Tell us the basic framework. You obviously started with the ice cream store and the first partnership. But what’s the basic structure of GoGet?

Francesca: GoGet, fundamentally, is a platform that connects users to people in the area to get things done. And those can really range from dispatch to even picking up something from the store and delivering something to your customers. And we have two main products, actually, in GoGet. One is for personal use, and the other one is called GoGet for business.

Businesses is actually one of the biggest use case for GoGet, especially the SME, which is the small to medium enterprises in Malaysia where, if you can already imagine, let’s say a small florist or a small bakery, they’re not going to have their own dedicated fleet or a huge team to help their operations. But when they need deliveries done for Mother’s Day or, for example, what just happened recently… Mother’s Day, all the florists are trying to ramp up as many deliveries in a single day, and they don’t usually have those fleets. So what companies do is they use GoGet for business, and it’s the same thing, but we connect them to a reliable part-timer that can get their deliveries done or marketing help done or even operations done.

So our vision in GoGet is really to create a new wave of what we call work. We believe that work doesn’t really have to be the nine-to-five in an office because of the amazing thing with that small little pocket device called a smartphone in your pocket that can now connect you to someone on the other side of the city. You can create trust, but so many ways. There’s payments that can go through that thing. So what’s really awesome now is that opportunities can be so much less restricted, and friction in the labor market can be reduced so much more than before. So we believe that work can be created for 15 minutes or for one hour. Or even when you’re 500 kilometers away from me, you can still help me out.

So what we’re trying to do is really change the way the future of work looks like and change the way people envision being able to connect and earn money on a very micro level. And so that’s really what GoGet tries to do, which to empower one end to earn money in a trusted solution. And on the other, we’re empowering to businesses to scale their operations without scaling their full tech costs.

Jay: Yeah. That’s so great. It just shows you the power of technology. Your model has been done in various different ways. There’s freelance services like Fiverr and this sort of thing that you can hire someone to help you out with a task or a project. But I’m very, very intrigued when it comes to real life tasks and errands and this sort of thing.

Can you give us a couple of examples? What are some of the most popular projects or tasks that people use GoGet for?

Francesca: Sure. You’re right. This is very physical. We actually have arms and legs moving around the city. The bread and butter for what we do at the moment is picking up and dropping off things. It’s really, really obvious because that is like the most commonly used case for a business when they think of this right now. But you can see that this will go beyond that very soon. What do they bring, and what do we pick up and drop off? Essentially, we’re really known in the market for perishable and high-care goods — so cakes, flower deliveries, balloons to cupcakes and odd shapes like plants. Because essentially, you can’t put those items into what we call Post Malaysia. I’m sure Hong Kong maybe is…Hong Kong Express. I don’t know. Is there a Hong Kong—

Jay: Yeah, Hong Kong Express. Hong Kong Post.

Francesca: Okay. Great. In Malaysia, you can’t put it in a carrier company because they’re going to put it into a distribution center, onto a conveyor belt, and by the time it reaches the customer, it’s completely broken.

So in the past, people would actually be only limited to… Like a bakery could only serve people who would either pick up the cake from her bakery store or people who she was willing to get into the car and delivery it to or have one guy be her dedicated fleet to do that.

So you can see how limited a bakery was before this. They really couldn’t serve as much. Now we have bakeries across the whole Klang Valley, and they don’t need to increase their fleet, and they can take as many orders because the community around them called GoGetters are now their Flexi Fleet. So that’s one of the biggest use case that people use us for. It’s all these perishable food items to flowers that cannot go into a conveyor belt but still need to get delivered from businesses.

Jay: Right. So this is pretty interesting. When I think about an F&B-type operation, generally they might have someone in house, but, again, you’re limiting the amount, the volume that you can actually process. And then they have companies, intermediaries, such as Deliveroo and this sort of thing that could, if you’re an F&B, maybe you could pay a little bit of money and sign up for their service and expand your distribution that way. But then, when it comes to these sort of things, the goods that you were talking about just now, there seems to always be scheduling issues. So it’s like “Oh, we can deliver it, but it has to be in between two and four” or whatever. So I guess your company will actually assist in expanding the time frame as well.

Francesca: Yeah. We actually deliver an SLA of one hour. So as long as we pick it up at one, we’ll deliver it at two, if that makes sense. So they are able to then tell their customers that if their order comes in, it can be delivered within the next hour. They just have to be able to put that into a system in time so that our technology can then send it to the nearest GoGetter. And we provide this as a special benefit to business account users. We have a 100% guarantee fulfillment between 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Monday to Saturday so that they can be kind of doing these deliveries with ease and not worry whether or not it will get sent or not, as long as they put in the time that they want us to pick it up, our SLA is that we’ll deliver within the next hour.

Jay: Wow. That’s pretty incredible. I’m not that familiar with KL, but for a city like Hong Kong, it’s a logistics hub, so you would think that one hour would be possible, and there are still very, very few places that can actually do it or guarantee that. So I think that’s pretty impressive.

Let’s talk a little bit about the GoGetter side. I like how you started off with a philosophical vision of being able to create work for people and not necessarily a nine-to-five or a specific schedule, but it could be smaller micro-increments of work. And I think that’s a great concept. What does it take to become a GoGetter? How do you vet these people? How do you get them on your platform? How can you insure the quality control? Tell us a little bit about that side.

Francesca: Sure. It’s so complex, but it is basically our core, and it is so important to us. We value GoGetters just as much as… They are an extension of our office. We always treat them as family because the happiness of GoGetters and their satisfaction is really going to be extended to the service that people receive.

The way we build GoGetters, it really starts from just branding. We never started with the name “runner” or “errand boy.” There was a reason why we first even just chose the word GoGetter because we wanted to make sure that they were respected in the community as equals and were also resourceful and very, in a true sense, of being a go-getter. And we want to change the way people view customer service through GoGetters because in Malaysia, a lot of people would view this kind of job, unfortunately, a little bit degrading. It wouldn’t attract the right talent to provide great customers service.

Jay: That’s not just Malaysia. I think that’s pretty much everywhere, unfortunately, but it’s true.

Francesca: So we said, from the get-go, we did not want to build an errand boy or a fleet mentality. It was really a community of GoGetters. From that, already from the get-go, it naturally filters the type of people that, firstly, applies to us. And then, when they do apply, they have to go through an online application. So you can do this at home just with your smartphone. Just whip it open and just start applying.

So do go through some information about the company and then some basic Q&A, as well, just for you to make sure you understood what it’s about. But we do invite you into the office for a session, and we’ll actually go through one hour with you, just walk you through the app, what it means to be a GoGetter, our culture, what it means to provide good service, and ultimately, what it means for them to own their own business with it. Because we always say that they are not coming in to be staff for us, but they’re coming in to build their own business on GoGet. So they have to know how to earn a lot more or how to get the best network so they can continue to earn a lot. And we teach that in our training session.

And then when they finish the training session, we do have a problem-solving test just to make sure they also learned what we told them — how to earn and how to be a good GoGetter. And we go through, obviously, the ID checks. So we have three layers of identity checks. Trainers are also trained to do Q&A in these sessions so that they do leave prepared to take on some jobs.

But training doesn’t end after that. So even though they’re verified after they pass the test, they do end up getting tips regularly from us. The technology also empowers them to earn more as they go. We do events. We do physical community events where we bring them in, and we get them to meet each other, because it’s more than just earning. It’s also a community around it.

Jay: That’s fantastic. I think that’s a pretty innovative way to go about it. You’re right that they are pretty much the front line of your business. Like you said, they’re an extension of your company, more or less.

Can you talk a little bit about the revenue model that you guys run? What do you charge on each side and how you pay out the GoGetters?

Francesca: It’s a typical marketplace in that sense because what we do is we just take a cut of the transaction that goes through the platform. At the moment, it’s by a commission on a job, but there is another revenue stream which is also for business accounts. So, as I mentioned, there are two types of accounts. One is for the personal account, but second is for a business account.

With business accounts, there are benefits such as the 100% guarantee. We also provide insurance for goods in transit. And we give them access to the top-tier GoGetters. So there’s a lot of extra features that a business gets from tracking to proof of delivery and things like that. With that, we charge them a 10% management fee when they top off their credit packages on GoGet. So everything is via credits for GoGet Business. It’s cashless. And businesses just top off packages of credits. And we just charge 10% for that management fee.

Jay: Interesting. Okay. And on the GoGetter side, is there a… I guess, do they get ranked? Is there a social element to it where if someone completes a task, then the customer can actually rank them, and they get… Is there that in place?

Francesca: We do have rating and reviews as a module. So every job can be rated and reviewed. But we also do other things. Even at events, we do ask merchants who their favorite GoGetters are and vice versa, and we give them mini awards. But we also recognize top-tier GoGetters. We count them as elite GoGetters. And that’s when they’ve kind of gone through more than 50 jobs; they have more than 4.8 stars as their ratings; and they don’t have any active strikes or complaints on them. Then they get invited to this special pool, which not only gives them an extra training ground of how to be even better as a GoGetter, but it also gives them access to job as priority over other GoGetters first. It’s like leveling up, if that makes sense.

But it’s not all jobs. It’s only selected jobs get their priority.

Jay: Interesting. I like that. That’s a pretty innovative way. Just out of curiosity, what is the mode of transportation that most of your GoGetters use? Is it their choice?

Francesca: Yes, it’s completely their choice. They can have a bike or a car or even SUV. We do have some that actually don’t even have vehicles. They just do jobs that are requiring foot or… Because we’re not only dispatch. Like I mentioned a little bit in the earlier part, we actually connect businesses to part-timers even for operational tasks. Sometimes businesses will ask, “I need someone to come here during Mother’s Day to tie all my ribbons in these flower bouquets because I have a thousand, and I will pay you $10 per hour.” GoGetters just show up, and they’re like “Alright. I’ll just tie ribbons for about five hours.” And that’s just what happens.

Jay: I think that’s great.

Francesca: Yeah, they don’t need a car for that.

Jay: That was actually going to be my next question, Francesca. Is there bespoke requests that could be submitted, and you just answered it. So I think that’s actually really cool. It’s almost like a concierge service where it’s like “I need this problem solved. Can you help me?” And you could probably find someone to help you.

I wanted to ask about what your current goals were for 2018. It sounds like things are picking up, and you guys are getting some great traction. Are you guys only in Malaysia, in KL at the moment? Are you looking to expand to other cities?

Francesca: Yeah, so for 2018, where we stand and where our goals are is to… We’re still very dedicated and focused in Klang Valley. We want to make sure we serve this market really well. We started in 2014 in June, but we really only built the GoGet business product in 2017. So we feel that there is a lot of space still for us to get a very strong hold in the Klang Valley for SMEs, and we don’t want to get distracted yet, because we want to get really good in Klang Valley to do that.

So by the end of this year, our aim is to focus on building more and more SMEs to come on to GoGet and use us first as dispatch and then more and to really end the year with a strong technology platform, as we continue to build for that with the super, awesome team that we have. We only have around 11 people in the office, so it’s a really lean team. It’s just to grow revenue so that we can end the year with strong profits. And then next year would be the year if we were to consider to move on to other cities, which would be 2019’s plan. But before that, we would also want to make sure we go through and build the other modules beyond dispatch more, because we want to get a larger share of people’s wallet before we move on to other geographies. So we want to make sure that in the SME, if we serve one business, we’re serving them not just for dispatch, but we’re serving her for also tying the ribbons really well and also finding her an admin data entry person when she needs it. And when we can provide that full solution, then we would start scaling to different cities so that we can get a really product that can scale to different areas.

Jay: Sounds exciting and yet very challenging and daunting. But I’m sure that you’ll be able to achieve everything that you set out to.

I wanted to, as we look to wrap up here, Francesca, you were obviously a 500 Startups program graduate or portfolio company. I know that you went through the Alibaba eFounders program, and so we’re kind of tied up with doing this promotion with the 500 crew who I’m very friendly with. And so I wanted to just ask you about your experience during that program there. What was it like? Were there any interesting takeaways that you would want to share with the audience?

Francesca: Definitely. I think the Alibaba eFounders program that we just went through was… I don’t think I will do it justice when I say it was just really good. I need to have a better word for that. It was very insightful and extremely enlightening. I must say before we went — and it wasn’t just me — I know a lot of founders were very hesitant to give up 10 days to a program like that and to not really know what you were going to learn. It was kind of a big risk to be like “Okay, we’re just taking 10 days off our venture just to do this.” But within the first day, I think we quickly realized it was a program that was to, firstly, immerse us into how ventures in China, and how Alibaba themselves, have really used technology to bring about a lot of social change and bring about a lot of development change in a country. Their main aim is to see how we can do that with our nation.

All the founders that were invited were all people in new economy models and open platform models. So the main belief is that these types of models that would connect people, such as GoGet that connects businesses to GoGetters and vice versa, we’re going to be models that really help to bring about a lot of social change in economies. They can also help develop it very well.

It had a great objective, to teach all these founders how companies have done that in China on a very large scale and how we can learn from them. So they gave us time with top management. We got to meet Jack Ma himself. But we also even got to talk to, even right down to the big ecommerce stores that were listing in China. And it just showed us how… One of the biggest lessons was to think about ourselves as ecosystem players.

What we mean by that was that if you look at Alibaba, obviously Alibaba now has payments to ecommerce to logistics to big data to tourism to last mile, new retail. Everything is under the Alibaba umbrella at the moment. What they do really well is, of course, that they connect all of their assistants as best as possible, and they make this ingenious big-data power play on it and literally, you just cannot leave the Alibaba ecosystem if you are even in a single one of their apps. And you cannot really leave it, as well, when you’re in China because one part of your day is going to touch the Alibaba ecosystem.

And the concept behind that, though, was that, one, if you create… If you recognize that for players to be strong, we have to apply and work together as an ecosystem. For us in GoGet, we are an ecosystem player for more logistics at the moment. How can we lean on ecommerce players as well as payment players to make sure all of us can grow faster? And that’s a big takeaway that I took.

And I think it’s very common that most of us, when we do our own ventures, we’re thinking really only in our own space. “How much more market share can I get just for GoGet and my industry?” But we’re not thinking how I can help, in a way, do something where the ecommerce player that I’m partnering with is going to get more so that I can also get more deliveries. And that mentality, I think we should really kind of remind everyone to do so that, wherever people are, they’re growing the ecosystem and not just themselves.

Jay: Yeah, that’s really interesting, and I think that’s very relevant because a lot of times, you just get too pigeon-holed and selfish, really, just thinking about what you’re supposed to be doing, which I guess is a good thing. As a startup founder, you should be 100% focused on your company, but it’s an interesting perspective of thinking about the bigger picture.

Francesca: Yeah. Exactly. And especially for marketplace models or open-platform models. If you think about it, the bigger your users or whoever is plugged into your platform are, the bigger you are too. So you want to always empower people. You want to always empower the people that are plugged into your ecosystem. And that’s really important.

Jay: Absolutely. Well, Francesca, it’s been so great catching up with you. Thank you for coming on and sharing your story. I just have a couple of final questions for you before you leave. The second-to-last one is something that I like to ask anyone that comes on my show — all the entrepreneurs. As someone who has come from corporate — I have a soft spot because I worked in corporate as well or banking and this sort of thing. And someone that’s come out, and now you’re successfully running your startup… If you have one piece of advice for maybe aspiring entrepreneurs or maybe female founders or entrepreneurs, what would that be based on your experience.

Francesca: I have had this question before, and I will always say the same answer. It is to genuinely care about the problem that you’re solving. I kind of emphasize this even more, I guess. I know people are like “Yeah, I’m really trying to solve this problem.”

I’m like “Yes, that’s great, but let’s just make sure you really do want to do that.” Because when times get rough, when you’re down, and you’ve been punched five time, and you’re on the floor bleeding, that’s the one thing that’s going to make you get up. So I just really hope whenever people are starting ventures, they do start it for the right reasons, which is not to make money or to think it’s sexy or think “Yeah, I think in five years, it’s going to be really cool, and I’m just going to get a lot of money in my bank.”

It’s actually like, wait. That’s not the reason to start a company.

Jay: Definitely not.

Francesca: You need to really care about the probably fundamentally and solve it because, trust me, if you’re going to make money, you could make money in a much faster way somewhere else. And this is so much higher risk.

Jay: Definitely.

Francesca: This is a space for you, more for problem solving and sometimes problem solving without getting anything in return. And that’s something you kind of want to go in with so that you know you’re really solving a genuine problem you care about because that’s going to pull you through the thick sludge when you get through that.

Jay: Yeah, that’s good advice. You pretty much have to have that mindset, and if you’re not ready to basically do it for free for the rest of your life, that’s sort of, to that extreme, then you probably should just stay at BCG or wherever you are and earn that nice cushy paycheck.

Francesca: You earn so much more, and you get holidays.

Jay: Yeah, totally. And you can just unplug. So, Francesca, last question — where can people find you, follow you, connect with you, and learn a little bit more about the great stuff that you’re working on at GoGet?

Francesca: Yeah, of course. Firstly, you can definitely find out more about GoGet in general by going to GoGet.my. For me personally, of course, you can just ping me on LinkedIn. I’m Francesca Chia, just on LinkedIn as well as Facebook. And you can just find me through there.

Jay: Fantastic. Thanks again for sharing your story, and we will definitely be following up with you and be tracking your progress because I’m excited at what you guys are working on there. And we wish you the best of luck.

Francesca: Thanks so much.

Jay: Alright. Take care now.

Francesca: Alright. Bye.

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