Originally from Sydney, Renee moved to Singapore in 2010 while working as a consultant for a global ICT market intelligence firm. After 6 years in that field she took a break to have her first child. At the end of maternity leave Renee decided that she wanted to take the opportunity to pursue her entrepreneurial desire, so in 2012 she founded Travelshopa. What she loves most about her role in founding Travelshopa is the ability to connect with local retailers and designers and help them get discovered by residents, tourists and other business people.
travelshopa.com @reneelodens instagram facebook
It is essential to consider “what problem am I solving” at the development stage. For us we set out to solve a problem faced by local retailers and designers, and the discerning traveller.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Travelshopa was born from a gap in readily available information about the local shopping scene. There are plenty of sites, books and brochures that promote food and beverage, accommodation, what to see and do, but few resources go into the details of shopping. As an avid traveller and resident in a new city, I noticed a distinct lack of information about the local shopping scene.
Please explain your business model
While we are yet to monetise the model, Travelshopa has seen more than 200 Singapore based designers and retailers join the platform. We have had double digit monthly growth across all our metrics and we receive business listing enquiries on a daily basis, so one could say that ‘sales’ are going well.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
While a large part of Travelshopa’s content is now Singapore-centric, the online community site is in the process of expanding into other cities throughout Asia Pacific, and is continuously adding features to promote a rich user experience.
How do you make ideas happen?
Having come from a research and consulting background, I put a lot of attention on the importance of feedback on product development. I am always talking to clients, users, suppliers and partners about our “product and services” and refining them accordingly. I also work closely with my team to ensure they are on board with our approach and ideas to make sure they can be executed consistently across the businesses.
What does your typical day look like?
I am a morning person so I don’t mind that my human alarm clocks (my 6 week old boy and 2 year old girl) go off at around 6.30am. I then try to squeeze in some daily exercise with my husband when we spend some quality time catching up on our personal and business matters.
My working day starts around 9am by checking emails, social media and our business metrics. Then I usually tackle the to-do list across product development, marketing and editorial (all around nursing the little guy).
Most people assume that my day consists of shopping all day, while most days I am on the road, in meetings or planning. I sadly don’t get a daily retail therapy fix.
Early evening I allocate to play, bath and bedtime with the kids then after dinner I usually tidy up the day’s affairs.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
I will answer this from a Singapore perspective:
Being a start-up, our needs and wants differ quite a lot to established businesses. It has been crucial to the success of our business to work with people/companies that are well equipped to support and evolve with start-ups. Finding the right suppliers/service providers has been quite challenging.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Take the time to look for the right partners and staff, and select them based on a thorough selection criteria.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?
Many sites are integrating content into their offering.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
I think this point should be considered by all when creating a new business/product. It is essential to consider “what problem am I solving” at the development stage. For us we set out to solve a problem faced by local retailers and designers, and the discerning traveller. In a time of a fiercely competitive and international retail landscape (and the online world growing at double digit rates) it will remain our core value to promote local businesses and support local economies in various destinations. Keeping this at top of mind in everything we do, and everywhere we go is essential.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
It would be a dream come true to see local retailers and designers at key destinations in Australia listed on Travelshopa sooner rather than later. We are working on these plans however they won’t be executed for some time. Should any local retailers and designers, marketers, industry bodies/representatives, or partners want to discuss our launch plans, we encourage them to contact us.
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
Connect us with your favourite local designers and retailers are and we will work hard at ensuring they are on Travelshopa when it launches in Australia.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Catalina for the view
What is your favourite song by an Australian artist at the moment?
I will always love Tenterfield Saddler, Peter Allen.
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
If they come to Singapore, I will give them office space and take them around to all the cool shops for a day.