We do not usually do this (getting the founder to write an open letter to all users), but we’ve realised that we’ve been running Swapie for slightly over a year now, and that it is timely that we all publicly reflect on our journey (and explain our latest moves).
Start With Value
Our path as a team hasn’t been the smoothest-sailing and, unlike what many think of operating an online platform, we do not always build things that customers want, and hence have to pivot (see below).
But what has remained constant in everyone that comes through our doors is the shared mission to use digital tools to improve ecosystems, and hence build a better, more financially smart world for everyone to live in.
Change Is The Only Constant
In fact, that was our initial conviction for Swapie v1 as per the image above, that we thought people would work together to extract benefits from financial institutions. We were wrong. It is only looking back in hindsight that we’ve realised that people like me and you are blessed with abundance, and would not bother with say, $100 more cashback each month.
Then, armed with experience in B2B sales, we turned our focus to serve SMEs with their perpetually most pressing need - cash flow. There still wasn’t Covid-19 then and the economy was booming. Options were aplenty. Logistics providers did the same without the risk we had to bear. Failed.
Of Course, Of Cause
Swapie v3 was way more successful than versions 1 and 2 combined, and that has been our longest-standing product for now. However, when Covid-19 hit, we looked around us (see video below for the lyrics Hey, now look around you…) and business owners, much as they are hit, still had personal finance safety nets.
The rest of Singapore, in particular the lower-income families, those without access to financial tools and are unable to extract excesses from the system, became those who were hit the hardest. Some livelihoods were so disrupted that there was no future in sight.
We started doing research on causes served by social services (such as elderly, youth, and single parents) and tinkered around ideas with social workers on how best we can help those hardest-hit by not the pandemic, but the resultant economic meltdown.
It was also at this time we looked back at Swapie v1 (or v0) and asked ourselves the core reason behind using technology to bring value to ecosystems. If we were to help the “fortunate” in “peacetime”, then we should help the less fortunate in “wartime”.
Was it even a Thursday that we thought of this idea and did a small trial on it? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter.
What matters now is that we will be shaking up the giving-in-kind landscape in Singapore. Beneficiaries deserve better, beyond hand-me-downs. Donors deserve a slicker experience, transparency, and a modern, socially distant way to help within your means.
Here Comes The Shameless Plug
So, every article comes down to this. Childrens’ Day is round the corner, and we can put smiles on kids’ faces by putting school bags on their backs. We’ve sourced for some cool designs well-liked by 6-year-olds starting primary school next year.
All you need to do is entrust $12.70 with us, and one kid will go to school a happy kid next year. Hopefully without masks.
We thank you in advance for (1) reading to our thick-skinned sales pitch; and (2) making a small difference in the small ways we all can.
Koh Kang Liang