From a holiday to a startup idea
During a trip to Taiwan, Lee Zheng De met a local who provided many insights on the city that he called home, sharing the best neighbourhoods and night markets to check out. That was when Zheng De realised the importance of getting to know a local- they will teach you so much more about a city than you could ever research or plan for on your own.
And so, upon his return to Singapore, Zheng De and his team set up Tripcendo, an online community marketplace connecting travellers and local hosts with on-demand travel experiences.
His vision was to build a world without strangers, where we can all live local anywhere we travel.
Building everything from scratch
Tripcendo started off as just a 2-person team and with little to no capital, apart from the little sums of capital they had raised from our friends and families. Building a team was a huge challenge. They had to convince a developer friend to build the alpha version of Tripcendo’s website, after which they convinced an ex-Garena software engineer to hop on board.
And after convincing friends and acquaintances to join the team, the company now runs with more than 6 people in their team who are involved in building a product for the world.
As a startup, getting initial traction was tough. The team even went block to block around Singapore, passing hand-written notes within their neighbourhoods, to share their idea of showing a traveller around Singapore while earning extra income.
They also printed and pasted many self-designed posters at strategic locations to garner more attention for their brand. With limited funds, there was no other option than to do all these manually, in a bid to gain recognition for the brand and to spread the word.
Despite the challenges, Zheng De says that he cannot recall a time when he felt like giving up. He believes that starting up Tripcendo was already blessing in one way or another.
He shares, “[in] the world of 7 Billion people, my team and myself are all brought together with a common vision at this time and day. We’re also thankful to have an extremely positive and highly motivated team and to have a handful of family and friends to generated us with positive vibes only.”
The future of Tripcendo
The team at Tripcendo has big dreams. They recently hosted their first community meet up where they invited a group of their hosts from the Tripcendo Host Community to attend. The event was called the Tripcendo Host Festival. During the event, they shared their ideals, visions and even launched two hosting tools to help improve their hosting experience.
The team is extremely grateful for their host community. Even though they have won a few start-up awards, Zheng De says that their proudest achievement is the fact that every single trip hosted by their hosts result in a fantastic review by the travellers. Knowing that their platform has enabled travellers to enjoy a wonderful, authentic local experience is always the highlight of their week because ultimately, that is what the team aims to create–the feeling of living local.
In our team, we motivate and inspire one another and are all driven by the same vision. Personally, sometimes, I get my motivations and inspirations from senior entrepreneurs (people that started ahead whether successful or not). They give advices and suggestions, often it’s comforting to know we all face a few common problems. When it’s convenient, I drop by library to read books on successful entrepreneurs (Jack Ma and Steve Jobs) and love taking a walk in the nature too, it lets my mind be free.
They stay true to their vision of building a world where people can experience living locally wherever we travel. Future products will revolve around that vision, making experiences smoother and more magical for everyone in one way or another. Going global is definitely on their agenda. And following that, who knows, maybe Artificial Intelligence or even, Virtual Reality.
Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Zheng De: Yet again, I wouldn’t consider myself an entrepreneur yet but just someone who wants to build a product that impacts people on a global scale. The advice I would give is something I learned from Kevin Systrom, Co-founder of Instagram. That is “Learn enough to be dangerous.” I’m pretty sure lots of people out there are better in any set of skills that we can do but what anyone can do is start learning about something they want to build and just make a prototype out to test it.