TL;DR – Francesca Chia, CEO and founder of Goget, an on-demand errands and delivery platform, shares the story of her start-up and tells us why it’s more than just about odd jobs – it is about re-defining work and the changing face of the labour market. While the journey hasn’t been easy, Francesca tells us what keeps her going through her dark days and why entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody.
“I never thought I would be a founder. It was the feeling that I had stumbled upon something, that led me to this,” said Francesca Chia, the effervescent CEO of Goget, a mobile platform that connects individuals looking for jobs with companies or individuals that outsource tasks such as manual labour. Just like her “Go-getters”, a term she uses that fondly refers to the community of people whom execute the outsourced tasks, Francesca eyes sparkle when she talks about her journey.
Francesca was working at a prestigious consulting group known as Boston Consulting for four years when she came upon a crossroad. It was time to decide if she would pursue her MBA, as was expected of someone with her level of seniority, or climb the ladder to even greater corporate heights. Francesca found herself thinking, “What else is there for me?”
She contemplated working jn an NGO, or getting the feel of a start-up, and even went on interviews. At the same time, she had started pilot-testing Goget amongst her family and friends. After doing trial runs for six weeks, she realised she was onto something.
The year was 2014 when Goget first started out – the same year that Uber landed in Malaysia. It was interesting that, at point, the same people who utilised Goget were the same people who were using Uber; there was still a lot of skepticism when it came to mobile apps and services. It was only in 2015 that they started to strategise their price points for services offered. Their IT department worked diligently on product development that same year, while the following year was spent on improving their efficiency model and growing the Gogetter community, which consisted of people from all walks of life and occupations including young students, retirees and even people with full time jobs looking to make extra cash.
The Tough Get Going
Francesca’s decision to leave behind a stable income and start her own business didn’t come without some backlash. Her mom worried about her and it took a good two years for her mom to understand what she was doing. Francesca counts herself as lucky that her Dad was a bit more open-minded – being a businessman himself, he was receptive to the idea of her starting her own. Her biggest lesson however, was learning that as much as society tries to conform you, they don’t have time for it.
“At the end of the day, your life and your goals are about what you give meaning to. Being fearful of what people might think of your decisions doesn’t get you anywhere. Honestly, people have their own lives and problems to deal with. No matter what anyone says, the failures that I have experienced were the biggest teachers to me. I’ve gained so much in the last three years doing what I have done,” she shared.
2016 was also the year they finally started turning a profit, around the same time they opened up Goget to SMEs. Businesses that involved perishable items such as cakes and flowers requested their services enthusiastically. These days, they troubleshoot other issues such as maintaining cyber-security and utmost quality. From a team of few, Goget has scaled to a staff count of 12 and that has meant that Francesca had to be on her toes – not just with running the business, but with managing people.
“I’m actually very strict but what makes it worse is that I don’t yell. I will say what I need to in a very calm way – I suppose that makes it even more intimidating! But the good thing about me is that I don’t hold grudges, once I tell you what I need to, I will move on. I don’t take things personally,” she shared.
Francesca attributes her hardy leadership skills to her time spent in University coordinating different student groups to attend events. She also rallied the troops at Boston Consulting during her time there.
Building a Community
“I have an urge to bring people together and I use this at work – I like to send out e-mails and other such things to keep the team united and cohesive. It’s a real joy to me to watch people come together,” she said. Not one to take her team for granted, she knows that they’re not here to earn big bucks. There is a bigger reason than money for them to be here, so she does whatever she can to keep them motivated.
“We genuinely believe we change lives and we have seen that with our own eyes. Team members who have joined us have been able to pay off their bills within months of working here. It is the Gogetters and my team that keep me going. They inspire me to be even better at what I do,” she said.
She uses her creative flair to inspire the team and community of Gogetters when the going gets tough. One exercise that she made them do was to write anonymously on Post-It notes, why they were at Goget. On the days they feel de-motivated, all they need to do is flip over a Post-It note to read somebody else’s motivation.
“It was such a powerful exercise that I even printed out the reasons and stuck it on our ‘Belief Wall’,” she shared.
Indeed, Goget is inspiring for a number of reasons, one of them being that Francesca and her team have always stayed true to their business proposition – which is connecting the city in an efficient way, and at the same time, giving people an option to earn money outside of the traditional 9am to 5pm structure. Because she believes so strongly in what she does, Francesca doesn’t pay any mind to competitors and would rather focus on Goget’s user base and ensuring they’re happy with the services.
Francesca does what she does because she knows that the labour market is changing at an unprecedented pace.
Dawn of A New Era
“The future of work is connected, inclusive, mobile and increasingly outsourced. Businesses are getting leaner and more efficient. The future of Goget involves our team codifying what businesses need outsourced,” she said. The reality of today’s world is, she points out, that people don’t have just one job anymore. Everything is being broken down on a project-basis and she foresees that we will be sharing labour, resources and spaces. Malaysia has already seen pioneers of co-working spaces as even large companies have already started sending their staff to these spaces to cut cost and be more efficient.
Exciting times, indeed! Which is why it was surprising to find out that Francesca doesn’t encourage just anybody to become an entrepreneur.
“Don’t do it just because it’s glamourous. It’s really hard and it’s not cool or sexy. Even when I started, I had no idea how hard it would be exactly. If you really want to do it, find something you really care about, something you want to strive for,” she advised.
Francesca practically glows as she tells us about some of the inspiring folks in the Gogetter clan – one mother who became a GoGetter so she could pay her own bills and at the same time take care of her child, earned enough money to enrol and graduate from a pastry course. Today, she is working with a baker who first connected with her via Goget.
“Paying someone for that 9 to 5 job has been proven to be less efficient than when you compare it with paying someone by the hour or by a task or project-basis — which is how Goget works. The business then saves on cost and efficiency goes up. To sum up, the idea is that the city can be your team,” explained Francesca.
Changing The World We Live In
When asked where she sees the company in five years, she confidently says that Goget will play a role in the future of the labour market. Essentially, the goal moving forward is to scale up the type of outsourced work that Goget does. For now, Gogetters are kept busy banking in cheques, delivering perishables and doing manual labour like moving furniture. Francesca envisions Goget defining other types of more sophisticated work and being able to provide such services. She also foresees regional expansion, but doesn’t want to rush into anything without testing what she can in her home ground.
“In a nutshell, Goget will become a great platform for people to find jobs in the future,” concluded Francesca.