By Sebastian Jacobs (pictured above with co-founder Matthew Waugh), CEO and co-founder, Conexie (Hatchery+ Cohort 2)
We started life as Fixit, and that’s how our startup was first known when we joined the UTS Hatchery+ program in 2016.
Once we had a couple of workshops under our belt, we quickly realised our branding and initial positioning was pigeonholing our tech-capability into only one offering – allowing users to report property maintenance problems. After many whiteboard sessions, we made the crucial move to rebrand to Conexie.
Since then, we’ve been growing exponentially, boasting hundreds of submissions and thousands of new customers. We’ve also acquired UTS and a range of strata and property management companies as active clients.
Tapping into the Chinese tech boom
We wanted to leverage the momentum of this rapid growth as well as tapping into the epic tech boom China is experiencing – China’s firms are driven by the energy of its enormous market and a fierce competition to innovate products that work for people as and where they live”, as the World Economic Forum recently posted.
Going about this without the right local market insights would be just about impossible. Thanks to our Hatchery+ connection though, we were lucky to be invited to mentor students from Shanghai Commercial School, who spent two weeks in Sydney recently undertaking a customised program to introduce them to entrepreneurship and innovative thinking.
We were partnered with a team of students whose task was to propose a strategy to help Conexie launch into the Chinese market.
Despite the students only just starting out in business, they were able to give us valuable insights that would have been a lot more difficult to discover on our own. These included:
- Integrating with WeChat (China’s largest social media platform with over 938 million active users) and leveraging their colossal number of active members to use Conexie;
- Partnering with bike sharing company Mobike to assist users in reporting problems with bikes;
- Implementing a reward system that would see top Conexie users rewarded with WeChat red envelopes.
These insights were extremely valuable as without this unique knowledge of the Chinese market, we would not have thought in these strategic directions – in particular partnering with bike sharing companies.
A new perspective
This idea alone has given us a whole new perspective on how we can utilise our app to not only manage property but also in managing other valuable assets such as bikes, cars and more – the sky really is the limit!
In addition, their suggestion of implementing a rewards system has made us rethink our strategy, not just when launching in China but also for our short-term strategy here in Sydney – an added bonus!
With these fresh ideas in our arsenal and understanding our target audiences better, we now feel a lot more comfortable entering the Chinese market. We now know which areas we can specifically target and how we can work alongside the Chinese government.
Our next steps are:
- Implementing a rewards system here in Sydney that would reward engaged users, using this as a pilot to see how it might work out overseas;
- Translating our app into Chinese in preparation for our entry into the Chinese market;
- Opening up conversations with WeChat and Mobike.
As a startup, you just never know what collaborations will prove the most productive, and in this case, the thinking of a few smart students has helped us open up a whole new ball game. Thanks guys – we look forward to seeing you in China soon!