Michael gets very passionate about everything he does as if a business has to be global or a run has to be a marathon. This brings momentum to companies Michael is engaged with and he seems to motivate people as if everything is possible. From building a management consulting firm to launching different tech start-ups, Michael is fascinated by sparks that turn ideas into reality.
Michael is currently CEO at POPETY, a Singaporean venture in the real estate industry as well as Partner at CH&Co, a management consultancy that provides services Financial Institutions worldwide. He also sits on the Board of Directors for several other companies.
Michael holds a Master’s degree in Economics and Information Technologies from HEC Lausanne and is Post-graduated from IDEHAP, IMD and INSEAD.
In your own words what is POPETY all about?
POPETY has the ambition to help real estate move into its next chapter. After 20 years of limited change, transacting and maintaining properties still goes through manual steps, paperwork and so many intermediaries. POPETY Application takes care of all market participants namely Owners, Seekers, Tenants and Agents and targets to be the one-stop-shop for real estate making it fair and efficient. The solution offers verified information on properties (no open listings) as well as automates activities such as issuing proposals or accessing services from selected partners (e.g. MyRepublic, AXA).
What led you to start POPETY?
As for a lot of people, I went through the difficult experience of renting/buying properties. The lack of transparence, the “old school” paperwork procedure and the time wasted in sharing information with all stakeholders makes real estate a “scary” industry. After so many years helping Banks navigate out of the same customer negative feeling, I thought real estate should also benefit from new technologies and shared economy and become as joyful as possible.
Could you walk us through your process of starting up?
POPETY is not my first venture. I knew (at least I thought I knew) what was laying before me if I was to launch this business. After selling my previous company, I was eager to start from a blank sheet again and was deeply convinced by the concept. Sharing the idea with couple of my previous investors, they not only encouraged me but also suggested financial backing. Combined with the facilities offered by Singapore, it was the trigger I needed to jump into the bus.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning?
Real estate in Singapore is a big thing not only in numbers but also emotionally. There are a number of perspectives to be considered for someone trying to “touch” it. Some are obvious like regulation but other are more subtle and require time to grasp. This market is deeply rooted in most Singaporean both as a place where your family resides and as an investment vehicle. Changing it takes patience and respect. Start-ups usually try to disrupt. We try to accompany in the change to come.
What is your long term plan for POPETY?
Our first focus is Singapore. We want to be locally strong and growing. This means supporting more customers here and offer them more/better services. At the same time we see signals for expanding abroad as our model is scalable. Our priorities will be dictated by our market traction as well as our investors appetite. We definitely see ourselves as a future global solution addressing large cities with similar behaviors.
What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship?
I was discussing this with a friend of mine teaching entrepreneurship at SMU. First I believe that most of us are entrepreneurs. You look at parents, they decided to launch a venture, their baby, without knowing all about its future but with the fundamentals that a) the felt they had to do it (dictated by nature) and b) they will do everything they can to make it happen right. That’s being an entrepreneur. Being a father of three, I must say kids are the least profitable venture ever and probably the most stressful.
Any tips of advice for achieving success?
After these years, I feel that entrepreneurship is like walking on a line between today and tomorrow. Once you decided to do it, you need to do two things: (1) don’t look down too much or you will fall. Fear is our enemy. (2) don’t stop walking or you will fall. Immobility is our enemy. Keep the faith and keep walking.