Getting his ‘Building Startups’ fix

  • One-year break too long, takes time to get back up to speed to run startup
  • Many new entrepreneurs lack any form of domain knowledge, good to get a job first

Getting his ‘Building Startups’ fix

Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its series that profiles the 50 influencers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 2016-2017 (Vol 2), a special print publication released in February 2016. The digital version of that publication can be downloaded from the link at the top right corner of the page thanks to the sponsorship of Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia’s convergence champion.

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FOR MaidEasy Sdn Bhd cofounder Azrul Rahim, nothing feels better than being hands-on and building a startup from scratch.

“I think what I learnt from the last few years is that I enjoy creating new ventures a lot, as opposed to playing venture capitalist (VC). That’s low-adrenaline kind of work. I prefer creating something new,” he says.

Azrul is the chief executive officer of software company Slashes & Dots, and also an inaugural Digerati50 after he sold off the JomSocial social networking solution he had co-created to US-based iJoomla for an undisclosed sum in 2013, allowing him to focus on his family, as well as the next stage of his life as a VC.

Most of his 2013 was spent with his daughter, and VC-related activities – such as advising entrepreneurs and investing in startups. He invested in online wedding planning site iKahwin, and was at one point a partner at 8capita, an early- and growth-stage angel investment firm.

These days, he is no longer an active member of 8capita and most, if not all, of his time is spent on MaidEasy, an on-demand cleaning services startup.

“I think almost 100% of my time is on MaidEasy today. For Slashes & Dots, I have another manager who is running the operations. I am just there to provide support if needed,” he says.

While he enjoyed the moments he spent chilling with his daughter and engaging in VC-related activities, Azrul says he “kind of regretted” not returning to entrepreneurship quickly enough.

“A one-year break is just too long. It’s not entirely fun. I realise that if you stay idle for too long, it takes time to get back up to speed,” he says.

One thing is for sure, Azrul is now up to speed and having a great time seeing MaidEasy gaining momentum. The startup operates a platform that links individuals looking for cleaning services, with those who provide such services.

To date [as of Dec 2015], it has registered over 14,000 bookings, and has some 300 part-time maids in its portfolio. In contrast, during its first three months, it had some 1,000 bookings.

For Azrul, the decision to launch MaidEasy came from personal experience. “We used to have a full-time maid and she quite often talked about her friends who earned more as cleaners – and then she ran away! “After that, we had a string of even more unreliable full-time maids,” he says.

Then he met former Ernst & Young Malaysia auditor Bee Bee Sim at one of 1337 Venture’s Alpha Startups pre-accelerator programmes, where they exchanged maid horror stories and which led to the two of them launching MaidEasy in December 2014. Azrul is chief technology officer while Bee is chief executive officer.

While he encourages young people to become entrepreneurs, his advice is, “Don’t rush into it.”

“A lot of new entrepreneurs lack any form of domain knowledge. They don’t have knowledge of other industries.

“It is not a bad idea to get a job somewhere else for a while. Don’t rush into it. Find a good boss to work with for a while – that will make a lot of difference,” he says.

Meanwhile, over the next two years, Azrul hopes to grow MaidEasy in terms of bookings and its supply of part-time maids. “I believe the demand is there. Everybody needs cleaning services,” he says.

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