Interviews Singapore Maid Tech startup on how blockchain is helping the maid industry

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Loading Welcome to this week’s interview, Searchmaid is looking to be disrupt the Domestic Worker industry in the near future with big plans in the works. Today we have Co-Founder Bobby YEOH sharing with us about how Blockchain will benefit the Domestic Worker Industry. Would you mind sharing a brief introduction about yourself?

Bobby: Hi Melody, it is a pleasure being here today, I am an avid entrepreneur with my own businesses for many years now, based primarily in Singapore. My main specialties are taking care of operations and Business Development with many years of experience in sales and marketing. Domestic workers are a big market in Singapore and around the world and a lot of sensitive data about them are just aimlessly floating around the internet so we created Searchmaid to try and control this tsunami of data. I am lucky to have like-minded partners who are skilled in their own respects, all adding value to this platform we have created. Perhaps share more about your team?

Bobby: Sure, we all come from different backgrounds but have all experienced difficulties when engaging helpers. Our other Co-Founder Dennis has had helpers breach their contracts before with no one to turn to. Our Development team is strong and their capabilities can be clearly seen on our platform. How long have you worked together?

Bobby: We’ve worked together remotely for about 3 years, but we truly came together for Searchmaid since its inception about 1 and a half years ago. Can you share with us some of your plans for the Domestic Worker Industry?

Bobby: From the day we committed to Searchmaid, we have established a core belief to be at the forefront of the Domestic Worker Industry both in Technology Integration and business development. Talking about just the Singapore market alone, we are looking at roughly 246000 Domestic Workers actively deployed with about 4000 more every year. This is a lot of data to handle and for employers, having a vast selection may be quite daunting so we’ve streamlined the sorting process so they are able to source the helper that best suits their needs. We recognise Blockchain as the future of security and with the large amount of personal information Blockchain is quite a good fit for us as it is automatically secure and encrypted and with the nature of our platform the decentralised aspect of it is beneficial as well. What have been some of the problems regarding the Domestic Worker Industry of late?

Bobby: Most of the headline making ones are about welfare and fair treatment of workers, with the local Manpower Authority in Singapore implementing stricter guidelines for the dispersal of the Domestic Worker’s Personal Information and how it is portrayed. The case of which created the most attention was where Agencies who were using a marketplace application to post maid Biodatas, in order to save costs instead of posting them in the service provider section where some costs were involved, they were placed in the regular marketplace which basically commoditised them. This was a very demeaning and unfair way of representing them as they are human beings too. Recently there have also been increased worries about the dispersal of their personal information on agency pages too, so we will have to see what new regulations arise from this and work together with them. Quite the issue! So how do you see Blockchain integration improving things?
Bobby: Well, most people have the general belief that Blockchain is prevalent only in Cryptocurrencies but ever since its discovery more and more industries have found ways to integrate it into their ecosystem which makes it all the more exciting. Generally speaking the more links or nodes that are added to a chain, the more encrypted data will be and with just the sheer number of domestic worker Biodatas circulating worldwide, it would naturally be extremely secure. As I have mentioned earlier we aim to be at the forefront of the industry, so we are openly embracing the latest technology and working on ways to not only improve usability and matching but security as well. So what are your plans for Global roll-out?

Bobby: We have actively been in talks with countries in neighbouring regions that are both demand and supply in our industry, countries like Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, we have been understanding the local markets, the local Government guidelines and have already begun working on plans to expand into those markets. Why Domestic Helpers?

Bobby: From a business perspective when it comes to aggregator platforms there are many that offer these types of services, but we are looking to disrupt this market by implementing improved user flows and innovative technology. Another core aspect that we are working on is community engagement, where we reach out to Domestic Workers and advocate fair treatment and good working ethics on their behalf, basically representing them as the main voice. We work closely with the workers, agencies and Employers to bridge the gap between healthy work ethics and human rights, even collaborating with health coverage companies on a subsidized health plan. We also felt that domestic workers have always been put in a negative light and that not enough positive cases have been documented. Just hop online and search anything about domestic workers, its all negative and we are hoping to change that. What is the most exciting aspect of Searchmaid for you?

Bobby: Any form of impact we have on improving the fair treatment and work ethics for domestic workers on any scale is exciting for us, that means all the hard work we’ve put in has not gone to waste. We are also very excited when it comes to seeing other brands believing in what we do and the kind of collaborations that stem from our discussions! We are also passionate about improving the processes for agencies and are very thankful for their support. Ultimately, we are thrilled to be able to make some form of impact in the Industry for Agencies, employers and helpers and we hope to disrupt the  industry in a positive way. We hope so too! So what are your plans for the next 5 years?

Bobby: hopefully with the help of some of the advisors and investors that we’ve recently met, we are able to penetrate global markets starting with South East Asia and have branches up and running within those countries. We would like to get to know the founders better, so what is your favourite past-time?

Bobby: (Bobby Laughs) well as you can see.. I am very much an avid eater. I enjoy preparing meals and experimenting with different ingredients, and I also engage in the occasional food challenge. I can down a pint of beer in less than 10 seconds! Any interesting quotes you would like to share to end this session?

Bobby: Well here’s one I have always believed in:
”Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
– James A. Michener Thanks for the insights