This article was originally published here: Hakeem Sa – Co-Founder of ServiceBack.com
Hakeem Sa and Darren Chua have combined their different backgrounds to create a home service company.
What’s your story?
Hakeem Sa (H): I’ve always been in marketing. I did stats in National University of Singapore (NUS) and was part of NOC Mafia 8 years ago. I think it’s about creating an impact, particularly, what kind of impact, and the magnitude of the impact. With ServiceBack.com, we are solving the problem of highly inequitable acquisition costs borne by the customer.
Darren Chua (DC): I bring leadership & years of Tech and FinTech experience from across South East Asia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. I have founded multiple startups and franchise businesses with an emphasis on technology and efficiency.
What excites you most about your industry?
H: There is a huge amount of work ahead of us. The industry is so fragmented and broken and can be improved.
DC: It is still a very much “hands-on” industry and relies on people for most parts in terms of the service rendered. The challenge is ensuring that the quality of service is maintained at all times.
The challenges are the reasons that opportunities exist. Moving forward, we will be incorporating elements of FinTech such as Home/Reno Credit Line with partner financing facilities, installment payments for large ticket purchases and partnering with other payment providers for cross-platform rewards/merchant cashback.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
H: The opportunity to redefine and improve how things are done in the industry, thus making people’s lives easier and better. We’ve got big dreams. We’re looking to test and grow in Singapore, then expand into two cities by mid next year, then expand regionally thereafter.
DC: The very simple concept of creating Value. The product/service/platform has to address a primary need, not a want. I don’t want to create just the best home service platform but am more interested in solving an industry’s problem and addressing issues that are to come in the next 20-30 years.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
H: I can be very lean and work with and appreciate whatever little resources I have. So that helps, like what’s the worst that can happen? What’s worse for me is starting this, and not pushing it to its fullest potential. I’d hate to see that happen.
DC: I’m obsessed with efficiency and order. I’m driven by value creation and enjoy conversations about business and life. The most important value that I require is Integrity. I’m confident that I’ll be able to drive ServiceBack towards a FinTech focused company while providing true value to our customers and vendors.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
H: Sometimes, you just put your reservations aside and just go forth to chase for what you want.
DC: Be sincere, be honest and walk the talk. I think we are remembered not by the things one said, but often by the things one did. Being sincere and having a no BS policy has not only helped me in my startup journey but also forged great friendships within a very short period.
Who inspires you?
H: My mom, who has taught me the can-do spirit. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve it. She single-handedly raised 4 of us by herself, survived 3 different husbands, and set up a successful business that she later sold to a buyer.
DC: My Mentors – Brendon and Kim McQueen.
They guided me in my formative years as an entrepreneur and taught me everything I needed to know. They enabled me to develop patience and stability when making decisions. They tremendously aided in both my professional and personal growth as an entrepreneur, father, husband and son.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
H: I’m constantly learning new things in the industry. People outside the industry don’t know that a huge portion of what they pay for in the home services industry goes towards customer acquisition costs and not the service providers themselves.
DC: The beauty of life is that we never stop learning. I am constantly learning from my everyday experiences and through meeting people from different backgrounds. As a husband and a dad of 2 young boys, I learnt to enjoy and cherish the “now” moments and to pay attention to the little things that matter to my wife and children.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
H: I would do it just the same in the sense that I think when you don’t have any regrets, then you understand that it all culminates into who you are today. So I don’t think I would want to be anyone else, given the chance.
DC: What would the world be without music, art and film? Being born in Singapore, there wasn’t much emphasis given to the arts. We were encouraged to be engineers, doctors or accountants at a young age.
Given the chance, I would strive to be a film director or a chef.
How do you unwind?
H: I will go for a run or a walk. I also usually get ideas from my runs. Sometimes, I try to do a digital detox.
DC: Family time is important to me! I’ll put my phone and tech gadgets away. (means my wife locking them away). I love going on movie dates and nature walks with my wife too.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
H: Alignment towards one Northstar metric helps to simplify and clarify the direction that we should be headed in.
DC: Waking up everyday knowing and remembering what the original goal is. Sticking to the plan no matter how painful it is.
Everyone in business should read this book:
H: The Magic of Thinking Big By David J Schwartz.
It’s a good read as it helps widening one’s perspective on things, and life in general which let you see things from a vantage point.
DC: The Hard Thing About Hard Things- Ben Horowitz
A must-read for any Business Leader. This book is a guide to the hard, messy problems in business like losing deals, and failing companies, instead of the “happy path” in other books. It makes you appreciate how hard it is to run a company, strategically and emotionally.
Fun Quotes: If you’re going to eat sh*t, don’t nibble.
Shameless plug for your business:
H: It’s really simple and reliable! You can book home services on ServiceBack.com in under 3 minutes and instantly get cashback. With the earned cashback, you can use them to offset your payment the next time you engage any services from ServiceBack.com.
DC: As we stand today, ServiceBack is a platform that functions as a marketplace for consumers to select & bundle various home services with a cashback upon confirmation of sales. We do have our unique bundle and cashback mechanism that provides mega savings up to 25% across a wide range of home services.
How can people connect with you?
H: You can reach out to me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nurhakeem/
DC: If you love LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darren2424/
Or just the old fashion email: [email protected]
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.