As Micepad continues to assist businesses with a multi-functional event platform, it has been gaining a lot of attention as a breakthrough in the event industry. As a matter of fact, Mr. Jie Hao Tan, Micepad’s Co-founder and CEO graced the spotlight once again during a recent interview at Money FM 89.3.
Disrupting the MICE space with a seamless pre to post event experience
Money FM is Singapore’s first business and personal finance station. Hosted by veteran radio personality Howie Lim, several businesses, industry experts and business leaders primarily from the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector have been invited in the said radio program to share their knowledge and experiences to avid listeners.
Mr. Tan’s guesting, which aired last September 14, centered on how Micepad came to life and how it has since become a catalyst for revolutionizing the way events are executed. His radio guesting likewise underscores the growing adaption of technology in Singapore’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) space.
Micepad’s Humble Beginnings
Quite frankly, Mr. Tan himself admitted that developing the Micepad app was not their original intention and goal. “It was based on our first venture fresh out of school. We started this venture, sgpad.com whereby we rent out iPads, other gadgets to businesses, and soon many event organizers were so keen renting iPad from us.” He explains that the more interaction they had with their sgpad clients, the more they came to know and understand the struggles of managing events. That was when the idea for creating the Micepad app came to fruition.
When asked about the biggest challenges faced by event organizers, Mr. Jie Hao simply pointed how simple things, such as using excel spreadsheets, manually checking people on site as well as printing out everything on big sheets of paper are inefficient and not at all ideal. “Things are going to be very, very messy.” He emphasizes. There was also the dilemma involved in trying to use different event systems for check-ins and registrations. Due to the fact that all the event data, including registration data and feedback forms sit in different systems, the tendency is all the accumulated information will not communicate well with each other.
It’s not real-time. It’s all very paper-based.
“At Micepad, we try to encourage them to go paperless first.” The idea is to provide the clients with all the equipment and requirements that they need for their event. This, minus the tedious processes that ate up a huge chunk of valuable time that could have been spread across other segments to maximize efficiency.
Howie then asked Mr. Tan to describe Micepad to the listeners.
“The more important part is understanding your clients or your attendees on site; so we do a lot of engagement and interaction through polling, Q&A, sharing photos, business matching.” Surprisingly, people give a lot of their time and attention engaging to such data gathering methods. “They love to share”, Micepad Singapore’s CEO explains, “They are not just attending, they like to participate. Also, people, they like to take a photo and share it to everyone in the group.”
People love to share, particularly on their social media profiles, and this is something that the Micepad team uses to the client’s advantage. Micepad banks on attendees’ high regard for engagement to eliminate the need to sift through several hashtags and social media platforms, allowing businesses and clients to pinpoint insights and relevant feedback from attendees.
The Micepad app’s features were a true dream come true for all event planners stressing out over making a single event as perfect as how they envisioned it to be. However, during its initial debut, integrating Micepad’s features into the event industry did not go that smoothly.
When it was first introduced, Micepad’s innovative platform was not welcomed as warmly by businesses and clients belonging in the MICE space.
People are always hesitant to tech: How was Micepad able to deal with client apprehensions?
Upselling was the go-to strategy of Mr. Tan during the days when they were starting to pitch Micepad to their customers. While renting out iPads through sgpad, they introduced the Micepad app to various businesses and event planners as a way of initiating a working relationship. “It’s a door-opener for us and we try to upsell. The more we talked to people, the more we hear[d of repeating] the same problems and then we dive straight in.”
The combined value proposition of Micepad together with sgpad helped Mr. Tan show clients that they can aid event planners and business owners by providing the tech, hardware, onsite support along with helping them set-up an onsite network.
Upon building up positive reception from the MICE space’s sectors, Micepad has been gaining remarkable success particularly in trade shows, pharmaceutical events, and even in the financial services industry. Mr. Tan also stressed how segregated of a sector the MICE space is. Meetings and conferences alone cater to audiences ranging from hundreds to thousands, and the requirements and goals behind making the event possible vary greatly, too. Not only that, measuring event success for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions should not be clustered into a singular method.
“Micepad simply helps them [to] streamline all of the workflow and automate all the repetitive stuff so that they get to what they need in the shortest time.”
Mr. Jie Hao Tan discloses the perks and demands that come with being part of the growing Micepad team
After Mr. Tan explained how Micepad functions mainly for different events, Howie’s next question was a solid one. “What keeps you going?” the renowned radio personality queried, in light of the busy nature of the MICE industry and all the small-end niches that comprise it.
Free participation is mainly the biggest reward of working for Micepad. “I really, really like this job because I enjoy being in the events. We have been to so many events, listening to all the thought leaders speaking. It’s very fun and very good to be inside.” But the real catch for Mr. Jie Hao is being able to provide real value to their clients. “After they had a good event, they will never want to go back to paper.” As Micepad continue to surpass client expectations, it has been common for existing customers to approach the Micepad team and book them for their next event that’s set to take place roughly 6-12 months in the future.
Micepad’s continuous expansion both locally and internationally provided a more in-depth perspective on how event management and demands vary across various regions and cultures. Although the teams in Micepad’s main branch and in its Taiwan and Hong Kong arm face similar challenges, the local team stands out because it does things differently from the other branches. “Very often we also have the same event, it’s just intended for a different audience. But, there’s a lot of different requirements from the different local teams.” Mr. Jie Hao gave a sample scenario, wherein an event is being held for both the Singapore and Hong Kong office. Although the objective for both events is the same, the local team’s coordination differs from that of their Hong Kong counterpart. That being said, Micepad presents a holistic data because both the performance in Singapore and Hong Kong are taken into consideration. He adds that the variety is a lot of fun. “The way everyone do things is so different, we get to adapt and we try to make sure we found common ground and we try to make sure we present[ it] in a digital way.
What’s next for the Micepad Team?
In terms of how the SME space is as an industry and a population of potential clients, Mr. Jie Hao Tan describes it as the “most friendly one that you can find in the world.” He cited the big 1-day to 2-month difference in terms of how long it took for them to establish Micepad in Singapore and in Taiwan.
He further explicates, “When you want go to other places, you realize the culture is so different- how they want to talk to clients, or partners… You probably need to have lunch with them or go for a drinking at night. In Singapore, things are so much more straightforward. Especially the clients that we work with are multinational professionals, so they see the value very, very quickly then if you are able to provide something that truly solves their problem, I think price can be negotiated. Whereas, in some other markets it’s really price-sensitive.”
A recent survey earlier this year showed that only about 14% of SMEs are thinking about internationalizing, a feat that the Micepad team was able to achieve in such a short amount of time. “Every delegate is probably a potential client.” The beauty of delegates attending events which Micepad helped organized is the possibility of gaining a referral to the delegate’s home country. For example, a delegate from Taiwan attends an event in Singapore. At the end of the event, they approach Micepad requesting to bring the same digital experience back in their country. This has happened several times with delegates from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
“We are operating in such a niche industry.”, Mr. Jie Hao points out. “So if we don’t go big, we can go home. The other competitors can just come in because Singapore is the easiest place to do business. The US and European companies will just come in and step into our turf and take away our business. Unless we put up a strong front and our value proposition leaves all the wrong impact, then we will not be able to survive in the longer term.”
From a 3-person tech team last year to a 15-person tech team this year, Micepad is surely in for drastic expansion plans ahead. As a matter of fact, the brand has already added more people in the sales team and the tech team and even branched out to different locations to serve more customers. Mr. Tan his team are also prepping for several leisure and business events to cater to.
At present, the entire team is now close to reaching 30 members. From their humble beginnings in SIngapore, the Micepad team expanded to Taiwan three years ago and then to Hong Kong and Malaysia in the last 2 years.
“I think we probably expanded too fast in terms of having local teams. Right now it’s really a time for us to double down our efforts in the local market that we exist. ” Mr Tan adds that they are seeing good potential in other locations such as Thailand and Malaysia, with all the international events taking place in those areas. The company is also actively looking for partners to help them in growing their existing team across multiple cities and countries in Asia.
Mr. Jie Hao Tan’s Tips for Small Businesses and Start-Up Companies
He first emphasizes on the importance of focusing on revenue. Without an ample amount of money to fund a venture, then there will be no source for paying rent, salary and all the vital expenses of running a company. Finally, Mr. Tan clarifies that the Micepad team is not obsessed with the product itself. Rather, Micepad is obsessed with its clients. “We really listen very very clearly and deeply to what [it is] they want to achieve. From there we try to build a product that [will] truly solve their problem.”