This year, TechNode will be starting a new initiative featuring interviews from startups, founders, investors, and ecosystem builders about their entrepreneurial journey. We hope to share many cool and inspiring stories with you guys to enhance your entrepreneurial journey.

To kick-start, we will be featuring Butleric’s founder, Ron. He will be sharing with us what lead him down this entrepreneurial road and his journey thus far. Butleric is committed to bringing solutions to business owners in the F&B, Retail, Hotels, Beauty and Wellness industry, utilising AI solutions at an affordable rate. Check out his interview to learn more about Butleric and gain exclusive tips from Ron about startups.

What’s your story? (Tell us more about yourself, how it all began)
My father used to own a retail store for over 30 years and I started working for him as early as 7 years old. Buying and selling required good selling skill sets and I’m glad my dad imparted that to me during my early childhood. He passed away due to cancer and that triggered my awareness for health and fitness.

With an exceptional performance in sales, I became a fitness manager at a well-known US fitness center at the age of 23. The main challenge was to manage colleagues who were much older and mature. I moved on to another local gym and managed the club, gaining exposure in different areas of the business. I had the chance to get involved in marketing and website strategy. Soon, I took the courage to set up my own company and got involved in technology.

Times flies and I had a few startups with different partners since.

I had great moments with those startups and partners but after 10 years in technology, serving small businesses and large enterprises, I realised that there was a need to solve real problems and issues faced by businesses.

The birth of Butleric is with the main objective to bring solutions to business owners from the various industries like F&B, Retail, Hotels, Beauty and Wellness with artificial intelligence. Through adopting our affordable AI solutions, business owners can now easily understand their business and make clever important decisions such as new customer acquisition, existing customer retention, wastage reduction and prediction of cash flow and pricing strategy.

I am glad to share this journey with my co-founders namely, Ranen Lee, Chief Operating Officer, Jun Teh, Chief Revenue Officer, Truong Phuc, Chief Technology Officer and the unsung heros — Tech Team who have been with me for the last 5 to 10 years.

What were some of the obstacles that your company faced during its initial years and how did your team overcome it?

We faced the issue of proof of concept and business management when we first started. We knew the gaps to fill but were unsure of the in-depth problems faced by restaurant owners and other business owners from retail, fitness, beauty and wellness on a daily basis. How we solved this issue was to work with early adopters, hearing their business requirements and then customising our solution to make it work for them.

The challenge was the great difficulty encountered in finding the right pioneers to join us. This is especially the case in looking for the suitable front-end designer talents on UI & UX as we had to implement it in a way that will be viable for our customers. In the end, I had to personally take over this design task and be hands-on, managing everything from scratch as I have extensive self-taught experience in UI and UX design.

How does your company separate itself from the competitors?
We see competitors as rivals. A rival is one in which we can learn from. A competitor is one we go against. I prefer to see our competitors as rivals as there are many areas we can learn from them.

We adopt an agile business mentality that allows us to pivot our business at any point in time. Should there be a change in the business environment, we can easily adapt and implement solutions in a matter of days due to our strong technical team.

Name a most memorable learning experience of your entrepreneurial journey
The most memorable experience was to have an empty seat in our meeting room. That seat represented a customer which reminded us of what they would say or feedback during every meeting that we have, regarding the features that we build, the process that we adopt and the pricing that we set.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have realised the various reasons why customers stop using our product that we had previously failed to understand. We tend to make decisions merely based on what we perceived our customers want.

We have since learned and made sure each of Butleric’s Customers has an active engagement opportunity with us through and through. It has to be a long-lasting journey with Butleric.

What do you think should be the most important characteristic for a startup and its team to possess?

The most important characteristic of a startup is tenacity. The team must have the tenacity to solve problems as efficiently as possible.

I personally believe tenacity either makes or breaks a startup as you will definitely face many challenges in the startup journey. Thus, tenacity keeps the founding team and key drivers going together. It is required to sustain and grow the startup. Those without this very important characteristic will drop off and that is game over for them.

What are you working on right now that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Currently, we are working on helping a restaurant owner to solve her daily challenges as her staff are mainly intellectually disabled. The restaurant has a great mission and is committed to helping people with special needs to be employable, effectively blending into society.

We are in the midst of using our award-winning artificial intelligence to assist her staff in customer facing and kitchen facing solutions. Stay tuned for more public release!

Being able to be involved in providing technology meaningfully and bringing smiles to those families is what drives me to get out of bed every morning.

What is your company’s five-year plan? Any market expansion plan in the pipeline?

A clear strategy for IPO in 5 years time. We are in good hands as our seed investor is managing Butleric’s investment relations. We have started generating revenue in Kuala Lumpur and is expecting it to grow faster than any other cities.

We anticipate launching our solution in Hong Kong in Quarter 3 to 4 in 2019, followed by Indonesia as well as Vietnam in early 2020.

To date, we have signed up more than 15 strategic partners. Our key focus is to onboard as many strategic partners as we could in those key cities that we are expanding.

What was your greatest fear being up against other international companies at the Global AI competition in China?

They are more established and stronger in all areas. The greatest fear was the branding comparison. As a startup, our brand association is less superior compared to these international companies.

Not forgetting the fear of being COPIED!

What do you think helped your company to win honours at the Global AI competition in China?

One key factor to win the honours was the practicality of Butleric’s AI solutions. It is easy to comprehend and most importantly its ability and capability of solving the cross system/platform/application integration problems that developers, merchants and tech companies have been facing. Another strong plus factor was my presentation in Chinese!

Looking back, what advice would you tell your younger self?
Haha, I will tell my younger self to be more fearless and seek help from top executives. Many opportunities had gone passed me and have become very successful today. During my earlier days, I was fearful of making a bold step to gun for those opportunities.

Another advice I would give my younger self is awareness and profiling. If I had known better, I would have evaluated my previous partners and co-founders with scrutiny from my earlier startups.

We’d like to hear from startup founders, investors, and ecosystem builders. If you are one or know someone who has a cool story to share, do let us know! Simply fill up the form in the link: