"In order to truly innovate and improve on existing processes or methods, you’ll also have to be open and curious about other people and domains." Meet Elson Ee, co-founder of platform GetSpaces, as he shares with us his entrepreneurship journey.
While some entrepreneurs are driven primarily by a grand vision, Elson Ee of GetSpaces belongs to a rare breed: he enjoys the work of building, accelerating and innovating organisations that serve a unique goal. To hear him elaborate on his experience in the start-up world is to understand his deep enjoyment in learning to create functional systems that drive great organisations. GetSpaces’ trajectory as a young property-based start-up is evidence of the meticulous and flexible nature of Ee’s leadership.
“What I cannot create, I do not understand” -- Richard Feynman.
For Ee, Feynman’s quote underlies a key reason for his early engagement with start-ups, eventually starting one himself. “I realised that I could spend plenty of time trying to understand how great organisations work from an academic perspective but would never be able to get that same level of understanding unless I tried to do it myself.” This hands-on perspective shapes this co-founders’ preferred mode of working, which is to be personally engaged in executing the finer details of a given task.
Such a meticulous modus operandi is reflected most clearly in GetSpace’s positioning in the crowded property-tech market. As a platform for on-demand hourly space rental, Ee highlights the specificity of GetSpace’s pricing strategy (hourly, with no hidden charges), the accuracy of their availability calender and the standardisation of payment processes as key factors in differentiating themselves from the competition. Ee credits their early partners and customers as instrumental to their success today.
“Marketplace businesses have a “chicken and egg” problem,” Ee explains. “You can’t get demand if you do not have enough supply, and vice versa. In our first few months, the initial hosts and guests who took a leap of faith in our product and gave us a go were instrumental in getting the momentum growing.”
COVID-19 struck a significant blow to the burgeoning start-up for a platform reliant on events. According to Ee, the months of effective lockdown in Singapore in 2020 resulted in a total cessation in GetSpace’s business, with “practically 0 transactions” during its peak. Even with the eased restrictions, the continued limitations on gathering numbers damped GetSpace’s growth rate. According to GetSpaces’ internal calculation, the pandemic set their growth plans back by two years.
However, the conscientious nature of Ee and his team meant that they were able to observe the shifts in the market and take advantage of new opportunities. The advent of “hybrid-remote” work arrangements and the rise of the content creator economy meant increased demand for space rental. Ee’s diligence meant that the start-up could “exercise greater flexibility…and tweak [their] marketing and growth strategies towards these new markets”.
GetSpace’s journey has only begun, and Ee has a kernel of advice for all entrepreneurs. “We…recommend learning and jot down your initial assumptions when conceiving of a new product. Then, always work towards testing them as part of your product strategy.” From conceiving a product to better serve the property-spaces market to pivoting from a global pandemic, we are excited to see the continued growth of Ee and the GetSpaces team.