What will you do at the 11th hour?
Jun Yuan is a personal friend of mine and I’ve seen him create this mobile application from scratch. Had the privilege of learning from his co-founder Ting Hong on the work they do and how their journey has been so far.
1) Hey Ting Hong! Share with us who you are and what is it that you do for a living?
I was from the sales industry for about eight years, managing a group of fifteen people. Before that, I was working both part-time and full-time as an engineer before and after my schooling days in PSB Academy where I pursued my degree in Engineering.
Currently, I’m at the 11th Hour full-time with my Co-founder, Jun Yuan.
2) How did this idea, 11th Hour come about?
Jun Yuan ran a Bak Kut Teh stall where he faced many challenges with leftovers, especially during lull periods and raining days. He was concerned about the waste, sometimes as much as ten to fifteen bowls a day!
That got us thinking, what if we could come up with a solution that allows us to respond to these last-minute scenarios in real-time?
Jun Yuan was someone who used to run an F&B business so he can tell you that there’s not much resource out there to help F&B owners prevent food wastage. In order to overcome this, many F&B outlets run one-for-one closing hour promotions. Others run ad-hoc promotions using standees or fliers.
However, this doesn’t solve the root problem of food wastage. There were many initiatives by government and non-profit organisations as well but a lot of them have limited success.
When we brainstormed, what we concluded was that ad-hoc, last-minute promotions was the way to go. Imagine a situation where outlets can quickly create last-minute offers through a platform with a click of a few buttons and people from around the vicinity can see and take up these exciting promotions.
That’s how the idea of 11th Hour came about.
3) What makes 11th Hour different from other F&B mobile apps?
Most other F&B mobile apps that we know, you’ll have to plan promotions in advance. By doing so, users can abuse and time the promotions. On top of that, if a merchant wishes to make any changes or end the promotion half-way through a campaign, they’ll still have to honour the deals.
For 11th Hour, merchants can respond to the current situation at anytime. They can immediately pull out their mobile phone or tablet to create a promotion in less than a minute. Users around the area will then be able to see and response to these last-minute deals almost instantly and seize any deal that catches their attention.
I’m sure nobody can resist turning down a good deal, right? For others, they find this a very unique concept; a fun initiative to tackle the food wastage problem.
4) What were some of the challenges faced when starting this business and how did you manage to overcome them?
At first, it was to have a reliable mobile app developer. The first two teams didn’t manage to commit full-time or produce satisfactory work after a long period of time. This delayed our project considerably. The third team was a local, outsourced company and they were the ones who developed the app that you see today.
Initially, we went out there to give flyers to increase the awareness. Many merchants were sceptical of the idea and were hesitant to enrol with us. It was only after being featured on the newspapers and magazines when we started to gain more traction. Subsequently, it’s our continued activities that more merchants started to believe in the idea and came on board to join us.
5) To date, what’s the response so far and how did you mange to let the public know about your business?
In the short span of time since 11th Hour was launched, a number of media outlets such at The Straits Times, TODAY, The Guardian, Tech in Asia, Vulcan Post, e27.co, Eco Business and The Middle Ground picked up our story and featured us in their publication.
The Straits Times
Tech in Asia
The Middle Ground
I think this has been the most effective way for the public to get to know us and what we do.
Facebook has also been another useful platform to get the word out. Here’s a short video to introduce what 11th Hour does.
Since late last year, 11th Hour has been downloaded more than 10,000 times.
We’ve received great and constructive feedback from both users and merchants from time to time and overall, the feedback was positive.
6) “Failure is the mother of success”. Share with us the number of times you’ve failed and how did you stand up every time after you fall?
In my early years in the sales industry, I was expecting and demanding everyone to perform like me. I wasn’t able to get along with those who view things differently from me. After a while, I learned that everyone is different. All of us defined success very differently. Each individual has his or her own unique strengths that he or she can contribute to the team.
I was very blessed to have great teachers and mentors during that period, giving me countless opportunities to perform and shine. However, I still remained stagnant for a few years.
From this, I learned that if I don’t proactively improve myself consistently, I’ll not be successful regardless of the amount of help and opportunity given to me.
Personally, I believe that each and every encounter in life is either a success or an opportunity to learn.
7) To all aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners out there, what advice do you have for them when they hit a road block or come to a crossroad in their life?
Maybe I’ll just share what has worked for us so far and that’s to have a very strong belief in the vision and to stick to the process. I also believe that it’s important to consistently network with people who are way more successful or who have already accomplished what you want to achieve in order to grow or overcome any major roadblock in life.
8) In your opinion, what do you think is “make or break factor” for individuals when the rubber hits the road in business or life for that matter?
You must persist and not give up. Many people give up just when they are about to achieve success.
9) What’s your main goal you’re working towards in 2017 for 11th Hour to achieve?
We target to expand to three countries, more than quadrupled all our key metrics and have our very own in-house mobile development team.
10) In your own words, what does it mean to “Love the Life You Live and Live the Life You Love”?
It means making your dream become a reality and living it every single day.
I’ve read through all the articles about his company and I must say, what Ting Hong shared in this interview is just a tip of the iceberg. Together with his co-founder Jun Yuan, the both of them went through several ups and downs pursuing this endeavour and calling it a “roller coaster ride” is an understatement.
To wrap things up, the name of their mobile application echoes a very important question one must ask during their entrepreneurial journey or life for that matter – what will I do at the 11th hour?
Both you and I are not immune to problems. That’s just the way how life works.
Problems can either make you or break you. The hammer that breaks glass can shape up the steel. It’s up to you to be a piece of glass or a rod of steel.
At the 11th hour, what will your decision be?
Thanks Ting Hong for sharing your journey so far building this company and I wish you and Jun Yuan all the best. The both of you are game-changers in your industry 😉
Lim Ting Hong
Co-founder of 11th Hour
11th Hour founders Tan Jun Yuan (Left) and Lim Ting Hong
Ting Hong is the co-founder of 11th Hour and together with his partner Jun Yuan, they are set to take the F&B industry by storm.
When faced with excess capacity and lull periods, F&B businesses create last-minute deals on 11th Hour.
#1: Find last-minute steals happening around you.
#2: No middleman. Hear it straight from the merchants.
#3: Lowest price guaranteed