The SmallTalkBigTalk’s website
Hi Jack, can you tell us about yourself and your background?
I was born in Malaysia. After finishing high school in Malaysia, I went to university in Melbourne, worked in Kuala Lumpur and in Singapore for a few years after graduating with an IT degree, before migrating to Australia 9 years ago. I was in IT for the last 16 years, worked in Finance, Consulting and Telco industries. Quitted IT in June 2012 to become a full time dad for my second born. I’m married and I’m a father of two, first son named Sean, a energetic boy who is turning three this december. The second born is my Business, who was born on the 16th Aug 2012, its name is SmallTalkBigTalk.
What’s the story behind SmallTalkBigTalk?
Inspired by our own experience and background — my wife is Korean, we have been travelling and living in many countries — we see a common problem in every cities we go, where people are living within their own community. Everyone has a dream before moving to a new country, they want to learn the language, experience the local culture, have local friends and have a good lifestyle. But sadly, for some of them the reality doesn’t match once they arrive in the new cities, and before they know, they start moving into their own comfort zone, speak only their native language, mix within their own community and start forgetting about their initial dream. I am so sad and so upset about this situation — it doesn’t need to be this way, everyone has their own skills and strengths — and just because they are slightly disadvantaged from language and local knowledge, they are not able to live the lifestyle they deserve. There is something that needs to be done here. Imagine how much they can contribute to the economy if we can help to resolve this problem, and this is why and what we are doing!
I would like to take the credit, but I am not this smart. My wife Chloe saw this model in other country many years ago, we are taking this original model, combining it with different flavours like social networking, native market focus, Australian culture and lifestyle, then repackaging it to become SmallTalkBigTalk.
Tell us a bit more about what SmallTalkBigTalk currently is
Launched mid August, I started the market evaluation 5 weeks afterwards by conducting Talking Groups (consists of 1 Host and 4 members). The Host guides members to have an English conversation for an hour with a prepared topic, the objective of this is to collect feedback of the session. We ran about 100 hours, members who have attended the Talking Group are ranging from people just arrived in Australia for 2 days to those who have been living here for over 5 years. Members are loving it, 80% of them keep coming back, just because they are getting so much value from this Talking Group. We have officially launched our business yesterday.
Sessions have been free for a while but not anymore. What is the business model behind the concept?
The Talking Group was free while we were in Trial Period, which has ended two weeks ago. We ran them for free because we wanted to make sure our members were getting the most value from our service before they actually start paying. The Free Trial Period is also the period of time we used to conduct our market response. We learned from the feedback given from members who attended our Talking Group. They told us what they want, they told us how we can improve, they told us how we can help them. The learning we got is so invaluable. In conjunction with the business launch this week, a new product with all the learnings we received over the last 3 months will be introduced. This is to make sure our members get the best value — getting 3, 5 or 10 times what they are paying for.
As a brand new entrepreneur, what is your daily ToDo list?
Measure twice and cut once. Make quick decisions and take quick actions, then adjust, repeat and repeat until it is right and move to the next task.
How do you plan to get your project growing in the next few years? What are you expecting for STBT in your wildest dreams?
Vertically we can expend to other languages, horizontally we can expend to other cities and countries. We will be going to all major cities in Australia beginning of next year. Wildest dreams? I wouldn’t call it a dream, because I have already seen that happening in my eyes.
Have you got any exclusivity you want to share with NQAB’s readers?
A lot of Entrepreneurs, including myself, started a company without knowing what business is all about. Building a good product is essential, but making it profitable, sustainable and growable is a different thing and is a killer to many businesses. This is the reason why statistics show 87% of the businesses fail within 3 years. Do yourself a favour if you are building your first startup and you are not from the business side, make sure you understand the business of your startup as quickly and as detailed as possible. Go and spend some money attending a course or a program if you need to!
Entrepreneurs are magicians, we envision as far and as clear as we can. We bring people onboard and roll out the vision. A very experienced entrepreneur describe this as “It is simple, but it is not easy; it is not easy, but it is worth it”. Enjoy the ride!
Thank you so much Jack for sharing your adventure with us. All the best to your new born, SmallTalkBigTalk!
Make sure to visit the SmallTalkBigTalk’s website