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INNOVATORS VS COVID 19

Entrepreneur Bounces Back from Failure and Generates $1M Revenue during COVID-19

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Henson Tsai SleekFlow

We talked to Henson Tsai, founder of SleekFlow, about customer experience platforms and this is what he said about it. 

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Henson Tsai: Our team at SleekFlow is doing great and we’ve managed to grow our SleekFlow family by welcoming 6 new members to our team since the pandemic started.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded SleekFlow.

Henson Tsai: I graduated from Imperial College London and returned to Hong Kong to work as an investment banker at HSBC as well as Ernst & Young. I felt that I wanted to create more value for society and saw an opportunity in the food delivery scene while working in Central, Hong Kong’s Central Business District. Armed with some experience and capital gained from exiting a company I founded while in University, I founded TasteOut, a food-ordering platform for takeouts. 

However, In 6 months, I burned through 6 digits’ worth of funds and had to fire 7 employees – One of the hardest decisions I ever made to date. One day, while running TasteOut and looking through customer conversations, I realized that customers tended to use a myriad of different messaging apps and there was true value in a platform that could unify customer communications to adapt to the up-and-coming trend of social commerce. I then pivoted and founded SleekFlow.

Since exiting beta in March 2020 and spurred on with the need for team-based customer service on instant messaging due to COVID-19, SleekFlow’s monthly recurring revenue has tripled to more than 1 million HKD, thus achieving 5 times the returns with 1/3 the investment compared to TasteOut. Since then, SleekFlow’s rapid growth has attracted the attention of various VCs and investors and is currently closing a funding round for expansion into Southeast Asia.

How does SleekFlow innovate? 

Henson Tsai: SleekFlow innovates by constantly engaging with our customers to understand their needs and find out their wants while keeping discussions open with our dynamic team that never fails to experiment and iterate.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Henson Tsai: In the early days of the pandemic, SleekFlow experienced a fall of more than 60% in revenue due to COVID-19. SleekFlow kept a lookout for new industries to impact and revolutionize. The efforts paid off with a new focus on digitizing the luxury retail sector, allowing SleekFlow to stage a formidable come back and record a 400% increase in revenue in the second quarter of 2020.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?

Henson Tsai: Thankfully, SleekFlow did not have to let go of any of our employees, instead, we needed to hire more employees to cope with the increased demand and we are very thankful for that.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient? 

Henson Tsai: We spent more time communicating with our customers as our product was constantly improving and we were releasing new features almost every other week. As a social CRM company, we mainly used SleekFlow to manage our customer information and communicate with them through various messaging channels.

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Henson Tsai: Yes, we did, we benefited immensely from the Hong Kong Government’s Distance Business Programme (D-Biz) that supported enterprises to adopt IT solutions to continue their business and services during the epidemic as the mainstream businesses were exposed and introduced to the upcoming trend in social and conversational commerce. 

Your website?

https://sleekflow.io/

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