receives US$155,000 Cradle grant

  • CEO declares startup is ‘ready to fly’ and achieve its mission
  • Aims to be Asia’s No 1 personal safety app, maximise every channel receives US$155,000 Cradle grantLATIN America, here we come! That, or something along those lines, must have been among the hoots of joy that reverberated in’s office when founder James Khoo and his cofounder Chin Xin-Ci were told they would receive a US$155,000 (RM500,000) grant from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.
The grant is being made possible under the CIP 500 (Cradle Investment Programme) managed by Cradle, an agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance.
Khoo (pic, left) had initially tried last year without success, mainly because he did not fulfil the criterion of having a full time cofounder handling the business side of things. This changed when Chin (pic, right) came on board last October. He reapplied this February.
In the meantime, was also given a lifeline when an undisclosed angel investor came on board earlier this year with an RM100,000 (US$31,200) injection.
Drawing comparisons with the Chinese idiom 箭在弦上 – which means adding arrows to the bowstring – Khoo declared that is “ready to fly” and achieve its mission to get its Watch Over Me mobile security app, targeted at women, on as many smartphones in the shortest timeframe possible.
Although no money is given up front, as the grant is based on reimbursement, it nonetheless will allow (Secure Me) to fast-track its expansion.
“We have plans to expand internationally, with Latin America being the first global expansion. We’ll be able to roll out by year-end and launch our marketing initiatives for the Spanish- and Portugese-speaking market,” Chin told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
But that’s not all. In the next 12 months, the team will be rolling out localised versions of Watch Over Me, adding features to target the family segment, and growing more enterprise tie-ups to deepen Watch Over Me’s penetration in South-East Asia, with Thailand and Indonesia as the next targets.
“All of this would have been slowed dramatically without Cradle's support,” said Chin.
The need to be aggressive is premised on the duo’s strong belief that within the next two to three years, personal safety apps will be default apps on every smartphone.
“Hence it's critical that we be Asia’s No 1 and maximise every possible channel – be it via direct consumer, strategic partner or licensing deals – to get Watch Over Me installed and our name and brand recognised,” said Khoo.
Besides the boost to their expansion plans, the CIP 500 grant will also likely boost their chances in raising more money with private investors.
The metrics they would be keeping their eye on would be revenue, number of users and cost per acquisition.
Currently, the app has about 128,000 registered users from all over the world, but most marketing efforts were put on hold in the past six weeks to roll out Version 2 of Watch Over Me, which will include some social features and user-centric enhancements.
“Our marketing efforts will resume after this launch and the injection of Cradle’s grant is very timely,” Chin said.
While is still very much a B2C (business-to-consumer) company, Chin said she and her founder are also open to anything that will help them achieve their mission faster.
“We've been working with a local telco to help achieve that goal,” she added, adding that could disclose who the telco is for the moment.
While they seem to have the wind in their tail, the reality is that there are a lot of personal security apps in the market. How does Khoo, as the developer of Watch Over Me, try to keep his app at the cutting edge in terms of features and user friendliness?
He acknowledged the fact of the competition and pointed to other good local security based apps such as MyDistress. But he was also quick to add that none pack a combination of features and usability quite like Watch Over Me.
Add to this is the fact that Chin herself was able to contribute to the development, mainly due to her own unfortunate encounter with crime last year.
“That experience helped me greatly with determining the direction of the product, in terms of functionality and usability. Khoo, thankfully, is supremely skilled at maintaining the effectiveness of all the features we offer, which is a very important (the most important, some might say) part of a security app,” she said.
But with the intense competition in this space, the app is, and always will be, a work in progress. As new operating systems, phones and products hit the market, will continually improve its offering, making Watch Over Me even more convenient for users, vowed Khoo.
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