Malaysian point of sale (POS) start-up StoreHub is on a mission to help businesses execute better, through innovative technology and great design.
Wai Hong Fong, StoreHub CEO and co-founder, recently talked to us about his company and how he has found working with Simmonds Stewart on their Series A capital raise.
the storehub story
Wai Hong refers to himself as an accidental entrepreneur. Most of his family are professionals and he says that it was a combination of kind of stumbling into opportunities plus being frustrated with a problem and wanting to solve it, which led him to where he is today.
After completing his BA in arts, media and philosophy at the University of Melbourne, he co-founded and became Managing Director at OZHut a lifestyle online retailer, where he did everything from writing code, web development and design, search engine optimization and even running the packing tables at the warehouse.
After 5 years at OzHut, he moved to China to study Mandarin and met a friend running a small retail store who asked him to look at his POS given Wai Hong’s e-Commerce background. He realised how terrible it was and not only wanted to help his friend fix this but other small to medium businesses that required offline and online sales support.
Wai Hong knew that the iPad POS was taking off in the US but there were no alternatives in Asia. With the belief that it was time for technology to revolutionise the traditional POS industry in Asia, and to help build better businesses, he co-founded StoreHub in 2013, along with current Chief Technology Officer, Congyu Li.
In the first 12 months of development, they bootstrapped the company then received a small investment from an angel investor, as well as a grant from Malaysia’s Cradle Fund. Wai Hong says that this initial funding allowed them to grow their product quickly and we’ve been cashflow positive and profitable since late 2015.
StoreHub is now a cloud-based iPad POS with inventory management, reporting and CRM, accessed via a mobile responsive backend, with over 850 retail stores paying a monthly subscription and customers in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
In addition to the POS product offering, StoreHub supports its product with exceptional customer service based on the business to consumer experience which is not commonly offered by the industry.
In 2016, StoreHub announced a partnership with Malaysia-listed payments giant GHL Systems to deliver a fully integrated mobile point of sale (mPOS) credit card terminal and iPad POS solution. They also secured USD$850k in their Series A capital raising round from 500 Startups, as well as investors in China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Wai Hong says that StoreHub now plans to grow at least another 5 times its current size in the next year, add complementary products to their core offering and also enter new South East Asian markets, such as Thailand and Philippines.
Wai Hong notes that the biggest challenge for StoreHub is hiring and managing people, especially on a shoestring budget, talent acquisition and management is key.
The POS market is also highly competitive however StoreHub manages to differentiate because of their broad offering and leveraging their customer service focus which is generally seen as an afterthought in the industry. Being product and tech obsessed has also helped them stay ahead of the pack.
working with simmonds stewart
Wai Hong primarily dealt with lawyers for the angel investment which involved local lawyers but it unfortunately turned out to be a painful and expensive experience.
He was then introduced to Simmonds Stewart partner Lee Bagshaw through former Simmonds Stewart lawyer, now investment analyst at tech VC Monks Hill, Lucy Luo. Lee supported StoreHub through the Series A capital raising, including drafting all of the documents which is unique for a deal like this, as investors usually provide the first round of documents.
Wai Hong says that it was our first serious cap raise and it was a refreshing experience given the angel investment round, knowing if I had an issue I would be getting sound advice. It made a huge difference that Lee thoroughly understood the South East Asian venture capital landscape, particularly as they had to negotiate with the investors.
Given Lee really understood StoreHub’s business, Wai Hong would work with him again on further corporate governance work like an Employee Share Options Scheme. He has also recommended both Simmonds Stewart and Lee to a whole bunch of startups.
He says not only was Lee fast at delivering the work which helped StoreHub maintain their professionalism with investors, but he gets the space, market standards and provides valuable industry insights. Wai Hong thought Lee’s wealth of experience showed specifically when he advised on the all important term sheet, his advice and guidance was spot on.
Wai Hong also thinks that the Simmonds Stewart Templates are also pretty cool, providing good information and learning points, and are a good starting point for legal work.
StoreHub’s growth is a testament to the company’s commitment to building a product and providing outstanding customer service. Simmonds Stewart can’t wait to see what Wai Hong and the team have planned for their ambitious next steps.