Founders Series: Jiawen Ngeow, Co-Founder of DayOne

The founders series takes a deep dive into the journey of Antler portfolio company founders and sheds light on the space they are building in. This week, we spoke to Jiawen Ngeow, co-founder of DayOne.

DayOne is revolutionising offline operations for stores by providing a turnkey solution that optimises and streamlines frontline staff communication and collaboration. Their mission is to make offline businesses as easy to run as online ones.

Tell us the story behind your name.

Everybody remembers their first day at work. As frontline service work is operationally intensive, the first day is usually a total information overload. We understand that it can be overwhelming for both the employers and employees and we wanted to change that. We believe we can make everybody’s first day a better experience - getting employees from zero to hero on their very first day.

We make employees experts on Day One.

How is what you are doing in this industry different and why is it needed?

The offline business is largely underserved and we’re helping business owners run their retail stores/cafes remotely and on autopilot . This ultimately allows them to save time and money.

How did your background in the retail space benefit you in the ideation process and creating your company?

My experience as a retail owner gave me a deep understanding of the pain points in employee training and management. Experiencing all the problems first-hand intimately enabled me to see through the lens of current business owners - what their key challenges are, what they face day-to-day and how it has hindered their business from growing to its full potential.

These insights helped us get to our product quickly. Over the years in the industry, I've also built up a network of thought leaders in the space, who can help shape our product and provide us with deep insights into the nuances of the problems we are trying to solve. We’ve been able to launch a working MVP within 2 months and our product within 3.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing in this industry right now?

Retail and cafe business owners are running this as a side hustle and they do not want to be physically present in their premises all day. This is also fuelled by consumers’ changing preferences in experiential and artisanal goods and services.

Can you share your co-founder story?

In looking for a co-founder, the things that matter are not always obvious at first - kindness, humility and integrity. But building a startup is a long and arduous journey so eventually, I think these factors are the ones that really “make or break” the experience.

Weixian is an excellent technical co-founder with a myriad of skills in branding, design thinking and growth. But to be honest I only realised how good he was at that stuff along the way, after deciding to start a company with him.

What advice do you have for founders thinking about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship?

Action is the difference between just thinking and talking about your ideas versus making it happen. There are lots of ups and downs but ultimately the payoff is worth it. It can be a really positive experience if you change your mindset to challenge yourself. I have been an entrepreneur for 12 years and most days I wake up so grateful that I chose a path that allows me to be the one in control of what my life, job and career would look like.

What have been some of the milestones DayOne has achieved since its inception?

We’re 20 weeks old as of March 2021. We’ve launched our product and have active users. Our waiting list is building up. We are also on track to ramp up our digital and social presences. As we have always been very customer centric and understand the importance of listening to all feedback, having an online presence enables us to engage our communities directly.

How has this growth been possible?

  1. Subject matter expertise to build a product that can solve the problem
  2. Experience in running startups previously so we do not make any rookie mistakes 
  3. Our methodology around user design helps us distill to the root of the problem
  4. Being deeply obsessed about the problem we are trying to solve

What is the vision for 2021 and beyond? 

Our goal? We want to create a new product category due to how we shape user behaviour and become the “operations brain” of every company in all offline industries across the globe. We want to give a breath of fresh air to offline industries, creating a new way of working for them.

Jiawen and Weixian were part of Antler Southeast Asia’s fifth cohort. They launched DayOne and Jiawen pitched at our Demo Day earlier this year.

Watch DayOne's pitch or get in touch with the team here

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