Huang Jing Jie from Novocall - Interview
Posted on August 22 2018
Read the insightful story of Huang Jing Jie COO + Co-Founder of Novocall, 'Increase Your Sales Calls From Website Visitors'.
'What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?’
The fire I feel pursuing my dreams. Every new day represents an opportunity to inch closer to my dream and my vision, and it’s an electrifying feeling to follow your heart. It’s like painting your own masterpiece, and even if you make mistakes along the way, the amount of learning you get is insane and that’s immensely rewarding.
Why and how did you and the team start Novocall?
My co-founder, Amos, was an intern in Singtel, when he spotted that traditional IVR (Voice Menu) that consumers dislike, was transitioning to a visual type of IVR. We felt that it was amazing how traditional calls could be innovated upon even further.
That gave us the inspiration to innovate how calls are made from websites and we launched Novocall.
We looked at how we can improve the current ways people contact businesses from websites. When someone is interested in a service, the typical way is to:
- Submit a contact form and wait for HOURS for an email response
- Manually dial the company’s number and even if the company manager is free enough to take your call, they will have no context of your query
- Use a chatbot to qualify and take over afterwards, which provides no emotional connection or relationship building
Merging these problems with our vision of innovating on calls brought about Novocall.
Novocall – Helping businesses increase sales calls through callback automation
‘What does an average day look like for Novocall?’
Working in a start-up, most of our friends assume that we burn the midnight oil every day. But that’s not the case! I believe that it’s not the hours of work you put in that matter, but the results. I’d rather have an employee who works 4 hours a day, achieving the same as one who works 10 hours a day. It’s simple efficiency.
We worked out a structure – 9.30am to 7pm for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and 8am to 8pm for Tuesday and Thursday. The longer days are days with more backlog
Despite having a structure, life in a start-up is sometimes unpredictable! There’re always occasional fires to fight or extra-long client meetings to attend. The hustle doesn’t stop!
What inspires you?
Firstly, seeing our product taking shape and being used and enjoyed by our customers is particularly inspiring. They give honest feedback, which motivates us to make a better product.
Secondly, my co-founders and my interns. Seeing individuals coming together, having a coalesced vision and working towards it together really fires me up.
Showcase by The FinLab – Novocall powering EU Holidays
What do you enjoy most about running your own company?
Making mistakes and learning from it first-hand. These are experiences that I could never get anywhere else.
Running my own start-up also gives me a sense of agency. I’ve spent my whole life in Singapore’s education system, and sometimes it feels like you’re just going through the motions. Working in my own company, managing my own team and working towards my vision. Now, that gives me purpose! It’s exciting. It’s meaningful.
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
Our first product was a flop – we pitched to a couple of companies & MNCs, got shut down, was super demoralized and we felt like we were going nowhere. We were grasping at straws and saw no foreseeable future of our (then) product ahead.
We later saw that the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) had an initiative that aimed to help travel agencies through technology. We decided to talk to travel agencies to find out the problems they faced in running their business. As it turns out, calls from websites were a huge pain point, and are often non-attributable to marketing campaigns. By allowing customers to request a callback from the company with a single click, it solves a lot of problems.
This was in line with our vision of innovating on calls, and we tested it out. The response was great, and we went on from there.
Although talking to STB and travel agencies subsequently was not part of the original plan but plain coincidence, we learnt to always keep talking to partners, users and customers – you’ll never know what you’ll learn or what opportunities will come along.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for Novocall?
The biggest challenge for Novocall is education – educating our audience of the value of our product and getting users and customers in a scalable fashion with low customer acquisition costs.
The software world is very crowded as new products and services come up every day, and it’s also expensive to stand out. It’s a tough journey, but I believe that by adding value to customers and being authentic will make us stand out.
Any advice for your previous boss?
Nope. I think everyone has their own path to take and their own story to write. It’s up to them to act on it.
Are there any brands, business’ or business leaders that you admire?
What would you like to achieve Professionally in 6 months / 1 year / 5 years?
In 6 months’ time, we would like to have even more companies and affiliate partners on board, achieving a steady and sizeable monthly reoccurring revenue. We hope to expand internationally, as well as onto 3rd party platforms such as WordPress. Finally, we would like complete our fundraising round too.
Over the next one year, we’ll have a solid base of customers, and will be aiming to a couple of enterprise level customers. We’ll also be moving the AI portion of product, aiming for further personalization and value to our customers.
In 5 years’ time, we’ll have a company that will be growing rapidly but still agile enough to adapt the tech landscape changes quickly. We’ll be readying for a pre-IPO or buy-out.
Any advice for talent looking to set up their own hustle?
I’m no expert, but here are the lessons I have learnt from my experiences:
- Solve problems
It’s important to have a vision that solves a problem. If you’re building something that doesn’t solve any problems, it’s not something people will buy. And the best way to build your product is to talk to your audience and your customers. They will give you the direct feedback you need to carry you through.
- Learn like crazy
Learning never stops. Through my start-up journey, I felt that learning new things is the most rewarding aspect of the job. Read more. Talk to people. Learn from people better than you. There are always new things to learn and new ways to grow.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s from a poem from Willian Earnest Henley, but I first heard of it from the movie Invictus, where Nelson Mandela recited, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
Is Novocall a great solution for your business?
Visit us at www.novocall.co
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