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Detrack’s origin story: How it all began
Dason and I started dating during our university days. As students, we did not have the financial capabilities to afford fancy date nights. However, being enterprising individuals, we came up with a business idea that could earn us some quick money for our ‘Project Dating Fund’.
We have had opportunities to be exposed to the basics of business when we were younger. I used to organize bazaars as an undergrad and helmed the Entrepreneurship Club as a school teacher, while Dason and his secondary schoolmates bought flowers from a florist and sold them to his classmates on Valentine’s Day. That short-lived stint became the catalyst for our florist business. It also helped that we knew a lot of couples among our social circles, which meant an existing customer base we could tap on and count on their help to spread the word about our services.
Some may quip that close friends, let alone couples, should not do business together as it might affect their relationship. However, for both of us, entrepreneurship has always been a big part of our lives. Hence, there was no major hesitation when I left the workforce to start an online florist business with him.
That said, it was no bed of roses. We faced numerous challenges. One of the most memorable incident occurring on the most romantic occasion of the year, Valentine’s Day. No amount of preparation could have helped us manage the influx of orders and the lack of visibility for last-mile deliveries. Customers were calling nonstop to check if their bouquets had been delivered to the intended recipients but we had absolutely no sight and could not communicate to them the information they required.
One thing rang true – there was a gap in this logistical chain and it needed to be filled. We researched for a solution to our problem but could not find any technology that could resolve this issue. That was when we decided that we would build Detrack — a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) startup focused on real-time delivery tracking and proof-of-delivery.
The process of ‘debugging’ Detrack
For most startups, the first hurdle is almost always related to capital. We struggled to raise money for the company as we were both unemployed and had no source of income.
Most startups are not successful immediately, some not at all. I remember being offered an opportunity to lecture part-time at Republic Polytechnic back then but Dason advised me not to accept the role. While we needed income, we also understood that we had to give our 100 percent if we wanted Detrack to succeed. That meant we had to fully focus on the business or we could lose this precious opportunity. Should we fail, at least we knew we tried our best. Eventually, Dason convinced me and we cashed out our insurance policies to fund our entrepreneurial dream, as well as to tide over the first year before the business broke even.
This initial teething stage was definitely one of the darkest periods in our lives as we had to live from dollar to dollar while raising our first child. Our families and friends were not only understanding but generous, purchasing daily necessities for us and even offering small loans. We are really appreciative of their support and encouragement, and that motivated us to persevere for our business.
We did met our fair share of naysayers. A few suggested we get a serious job – any job, in fact, to support ourselves and our families. Despite the cynics, we stood steadfast in our beliefs and continued working on Detrack.
Our startup journey was fraught with challenges as we had to build the software from scratch, troubleshoot tech issues and run multiple tests before its launch. We also faced difficulties recruiting suitable local talent amid the technological talent crunch back then. It was imperative we overcome these obstacles to ensure that Detrack delivered on its promise: enabling businesses anywhere in the world to deliver happiness to their customers.
We started with only three people in the company, ourselves and Dason’s brother, whom we roped in for his IT and technical expertise. In 2014, we launched Detrack officially and managed to break even that very year. That was a huge boost to our confidence and proof that our solution was helping companies solve their logistical problems.
Today, Detrack is a 20-strong team, with an annual revenue of SGD 2 million (USD 1.5 million), serving more than 700 companies from over 50 countries. Our notable clients run the gamut of companies from diverse industries such as Kerry Logistics, Nippon Express, and Harvey Norman, to name a few. Detrack’s solutions have also been translated to over 20 languages to better serve customers worldwide. We still have a soft spot for SMEs and that is why we insist on keeping our solutions affordable, as we are constantly rooting for them, having trudged the same path before.
Detrack’s dream duo – then and now
In the last eight years, Dason and I have learnt a lot more about each other through our professional and personal lives. Dason is the more tech-savvy of us two and as such, focuses on IT-related tasks for our brand, among other duties. I provide constructive feedback on how to make the Detrack app more user-friendly and accessible.
Our working styles complement each other. Dason tends to take a more macro perspective towards the business, with his involvement in strategic planning, while I am more attuned with Detrack’s daily operations and staff welfare. Since our company expanded, our roles have evolved and we are now CEO and COO respectively, welcoming new joiners who are able to apply their knowledge and expertise to the business, effectively supporting us as we scale Detrack to greater heights.
Naturally, there will be ups and downs when running a business together and while our opinions differ sometimes, Dason and I firmly believe in open discussions. When problems crop up at work or when something fails, we focus on the issue at hand to resolve it quickly. No matter the situation or outcome, we strive to remain objective and get to the root of the matter, as every challenge that we encounter presents us with a valuable learning opportunity.
If there is one piece of advice I have for couples who intend to, or are already running a business together, it would be to always make decisions together and to come to a consensus on all matters. Over the years, we have established a good rapport and created a safe environment to communicate openly with one another, without fear of judgment or criticism. This emphasis on open communication rooted in mutual respect has extended to our company culture as well. At Detrack, we encourage mistakes and celebrate failures because we know that through these experiences, our staff will be able to learn and develop their skills.
Our passion for Detrack is a huge part of our lives — sometimes, a little too much. As co-founders of a startup, work really never ends. While the business has occasionally kept us away from family, Dason and I still set aside time for leisurely activities with our children and loved ones.
As a couple, we find it important to schedule me time together. Even after 13 years of marriage, we celebrate month-versaries with each other. These celebrations can be simple movie nights or restaurant dinners where we unwind over a cocktail or two.
Balancing work and family commitments is difficult for both of us, but we try our best to carve out time for the people who matter. We are ever so grateful for the support of our families, especially our parents who selflessly stepped in to watch over our children and spurred us on from the sidelines as we hustled to achieve our vision for Detrack.
Working with my husband has been inspirational as I witnessed firsthand his tenacity in building the business from scratch. He has also been an anchor both at work and at home, which I am most appreciative of. Likewise, Dason sees me as a pillar of strength in our relationship and the best right-hand person he could ever have on this entrepreneurial journey of ours. Together, we have been able to build and grow Detrack to where it is today.
Dason ever said that he cannot promise me the moon and the stars but he can definitely bring me on a ride. As co-founders of Detrack, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions but now we are in the business of delivering happiness to others that we ourselves have had the privilege to experience.
Dason Goh and Fanny See are CEO and COO respectively of Detrack, Singapore’s first bootstrap logistics tech startup. The power couple has been married for 13 years, with 8 of those years spent working together on their successful delivery tracking company that powers last-mile deliveries and enables customers’ logistical control in a safe, secured, and stable manner. Find out more on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Youtube.