Focus Malaysia: A streamlined rental experience

Published by Aliff Yusri, Focus Malaysia on June 2015

SPEEDHOME offer regional renters a one-stop solution for all their accommodation needs

Finding a property for rent in Malaysia has traditionally been a matter of trawling likely neighbourhoods fro agent banners and communal bulletin board notices, followed by interminable site visits, negotiations and if the renter is lucky, a tenancy agreement for a new address not too far from where they work or study.

 

While online portals such as iProperty and PropertyGuru have streamlined the process somewhat, one local technopreneur has foreseen a future where owners and tenants can engage with each other directly, facilitating transactions with minimal effort.

 

A tireless innovator, he has wasted no time in creating a mobile platform to bring that future to life.

Invention through necessity

“I got the idea while I was trying to rent out my own strata property. I began advertising through the usual suspects, which tend to rely on agents. It was tough… I messaged close to 50 agents, and only two consistently followed up with me. It took us a month to find a renter, and at that time, the market was still optimistic. You can imagine the number of people out there experiencing the same problem,” says Saywa CEO Wong Whei Meng.

 

A mechanical engineer by training, Wong got his start in the web hosting industry, eventually going on to establish an email marketing firm during his studies at the University of Sunderland in the UK. Here, his talent for business came to the fore, building it into a RM3 mil concern and utilising the cash flow to fund subsequent ventures.

These included a content delivery network under Aflexi Sdn Bhd, whose infrastructure would go on to power one-third of the public cloud after its acquisition by London-based provider OnApp Ltd. Wong’s latest venture, Saywa seeks to similarly revolutionise property rentals by applying his digital acumen to the market.

Building a bridge

“There’s a duplication of effort right now, because owners are furnishing the same information to different agents over and over again. But if you put that information into an app, it can be broadcast to a larger audience with much less effort. On the flip side, tenants no longer need to deal with agents and can reach out to owners directly,” he says.

 

Working with the mobile platform due to its growing influence and accessibility, The solution was initially launched in April as Saywa, a play on a vernacular word for “rent” and Wong’s intent to “wow” its users. Creation of the app was outsourced overseas, with Wong spending nearly RM40,000 of his own capital to fund its development.

Dissatisfied with the preliminary results. Wong sourced domestically to refine the product, leading to its current iteration.

 

Throughout the process, simplicity and convenience were prioritised above all else, minimising the number of points where users could lose their way. Even registration is streamlined as much as possible, requiring only a mobile number to begin posting or searching through the app.

Towards seamless transactions

“We’ve had over 2,000 users and 600 listings since we launched, primarily around the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang, and we’re planning on going regional by the end of the year, targeting Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. ‘Saywa’ is definitely a Malaysian thing, so as we grow overseas, we’ll be rebranding to SPEEDHOME, choosing the name from a domain that recently became available,” says Wong.

 

While considering investments in support of the regional launch, Wong will also be working to expand SPEEDHOME into an entire ecosystem of related services, such as moving logistics, domestic cleaners, and phone, television and broadband installations, as part of his vision of a seamless rental journey for the tenant. SPEEDHOME will be available on Android and iOS platforms, with additional functionality planned for subsequent updates.

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