This week on FEW Member's Corner, we would like to introduce you to Jennifer Chin, Founder of Whizpa, a comprehensive website that allows parents to easily find and review kids' activities, services and product providers.
Whizpa is an online platform that aims to help parents navigate through the education landscape in Hong Kong easier; allowing parents to search, filter, compare and share reviews, ratings and rankings on different education providers.
What inspired you to start your company?
I was born in Malaysia, attended boarding school in the UK and later graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Cambridge University. Funnily enough, my first job after graduation was in investment banking instead of engineering. After spending 12 years in investment banking in New York and Hong Kong, I decided to take a break and spend more time with my children who had just started primary school at that time.
At the beginning, I didn't have much of a parent network in school as I was hardly on campus due to my busy schedule and travels on my job. Later, I was lucky to be able to build many strong mommy relationships through my children at school. We enjoyed sharing ideas and information about what, where and when kids should start different activities. We all love our children and every parent wants to give the best to their children. So the idea of Whizpa.com was born to promote transparency, convenience and intelligence amongst the parent community in HK when it comes to choosing classes/activities/education pathways for our children.
The inside scoop is what adds value in my opinion, and I hope this platform will help us parents navigate and sift through information on kids’ education in Hong Kong. Whizpa.com was established in Nov 2016 and there are now over 10,000 visitors to our platform every month, coming to search, review, read content and check out different class packages offered by our partners. Education providers like our platform because it is focused on kids’ education and activities, easy to use and has a clean layout. In addition to that, Whizpa.com is active in organizing events for parents and children around Hong Kong, partnering with different media companies.
What was the main issue or pain point you were trying to address?
I am a mother of 3 children from the ages 3 to 15 years old. I was a banker for 12 years in New York and Hong Kong before I ventured into education. I realized that information on kids activities and classes are normally passed around through word of mouth in Hong Kong despite the number of parenting magazines and online resources we have. There is so much information that it has become difficult to sift and navigate through the information or advertisements and find out what is best for our children.
For a lot of busy moms, building a parent network in school may not be that easy as we are busy with our jobs, travel and work. Hence, the idea of building an education-focused review and ratings platform to enable this process for parents was born. I started Whizpa.com to help parents search, review, compare and shop for kids classes/activities/camps conveniently without the stress of everyday life. A parent can simply look up things in the comfort of their home, office or wherever they are. The platform currently covers over 5000 listed schools, learning centers, education consultants, kids retailers/entertainment, kids healthcare, charities and all other kids’ activities providers in Hong Kong. Easiest way to describe it is: think TripAdvisor, but on education in HK!
I want to create an education-focused platform that increases transparency where parents can have a voice through reviewing and rating their experiences, exchange ideas with others through reading reviews and enable others to navigate through information easily and effectively, saving time and money. Parents can also compare prices and shop for different class activities on our Whizpa e-shop.
So far, what's the most challenging part of your journey?
The most challenging part on my startup journey is hiring good people whom I can work well with, bounce off ideas and take initiative on projects tasked. Good and reliable employees are hard to come by.
Can you share a bit about your fundraising journey so far -- mistakes to avoid and best practices?
Make sure the partner/investor that ends up taking a stake in your company can offer value added advices and relationships/networks instead of just financial support. Whomever you choose to partner or invest in your company should be passionate about what you are doing and have the same goals, not just looking to make a quick profit through exiting their investment.
What tips do you have for growing teams?
Make sure every employee hired can deliver results. Letting go of people is never easy but as a business we have to realistically assess the ability, performance and value-add of each employee and whether they are excited and keen to help the company grow - otherwise they will be dead weight to the company. Teamwork and communication are very important in growing teams as well.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Focus on my strengths and delegate operations and other parts of the business to people who are strong in the respective areas. This will be most efficient in ensuring success when people get to do what they are best at.
As a startup or new business, how do you build credibility and trust with your customers, your stakeholders, your business partners, etc.?
In order to build credibility and trust with my customers, I always make sure that I deliver what I’ve said I would do. As a platform serving both B2B and B2C, I make sure that the businesses that work with me can trust me and my team for the services that they have engaged us to do.
Secondly, I believe customer testimonials are the best way to promote and build the credibility of any business in the world. Not only do the businesses/partners we work with agree that customer testimonials are super important for their credibility, they also believe the most effective way of getting new clients are through word of mouth.
Hence, Whizpa.com is a great way for businesses that we work with to showcase their customer testimonials through reviews and ratings. The more businesses utilize Whizpa.com, the higher the value we can offer as a credible and neutral platform connecting businesses with customers. For B2C, we continuously deliver content whether online or offline in the most transparent way so that the public can see for themselves what our company represents. Trust and credibility also comes when we start working with well-established businesses. Our partners who work with us choose to work with Whizpa because they trust our team and our mission.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
For someone looking to start their own business, he/she should have clarity on:
Target market - who are the people he/she wants to target or help
Problem in the market - what is the issue/pain that they are trying to solve for people
Solution - how can his/her business help solve the problem
What is your personal success? What is company success?
My personal success would be defined as feeling the satisfaction of having done the right thing and being able to leave an impact on other parents’ lives, enabling them to have more time for themselves with less stress and worry over their kids education. Parents can get as much free information as they can with the hope of making an informed decision and giving their children the best learning or education opportunities.
My company success would be defined as seeing Whizpa grow and adopted internationally in major cities around the world where education plays a big part. The team behind the company who contributed towards the success of Whizpa, can then enjoy the fruits of the company’s success together.