Rental apps are a dime a dozen in Malaysia. Although the property market has been slow in adapting to digital transformation, its integration of technology with the tenant matching method and property search channel has been the most mature.
Even so, the technology utilized in rental apps nowadays only captures 1% of the market.
“The development of the software is always evolving, so we have to ask ourselves, how can we evolve with it?” comments Earnest Wong, CEO and founder of Blue Duck Tech, an up-and-coming property rental platform that aims to bridge the gap between tenant and landlord through various seamless fintech solutions designed for the real estate industry.
Making the shift from management training commercial banker in UOB Malaysia to life insurance, Earnest Wong spent the last ten years working in the field before deciding to dip his toes into property investment. That’s where he ran into a problem.
“I realised that it wasn’t easy to be a landlord,” admits Earnest. “I had other commitments and didn’t have the time to give 100% attention to the property and manage deal with issues with rental deposits, tenant care and other miscellaneous tasks.”
After experiencing his fair share of worries and speaking to other property owners, Earnest found that he wasn’t the only one with this dilemma and sought to make a change. Matched with his extensive career in marketing, he and his partner, who would take care of the technical side of things, set out to create Blue Duck Tech.
Surveying the market, the pair aimed to create a platform that would fulfil what most rental apps lacked. This came in the form of one of the main draws of their service: a system that would to unlock cashflow via insurance and financing product for tenants and landlords; something Earnest notices that not a lot of rental apps offer, becoming a boon that helps them stand out.
“All rental apps in the market are predominantly alike in functionality. But what sets Blue Duck apart, in my opinion, is how we creatively go against the conventional way of marketing and how we work with partner agents to assist us in delivering our products,” says Earnest.
While the company is poised to soon be a popular choice, that wasn’t always the case for the team. In getting Blue Duck up and running, Earnest admits that there have been more downs than ups in their business journey, stating that the challenges were there from day one.
Because they were still a new face to the market, Earnest and his team were faced with the issue of figuring out how to bring customers to trust in their platform.
Especially when that called for proprietors to make peace with allowing tenants to move in before giving a security deposit, what would seem like a risk for most.
Yet despite some minor setbacks, and a debut in the middle of a national lockdown, Earnest credits the Blue Duck’s progress to those who trusted in the platform, both his customers and his team, who onboarded the company with nothing but that.
Now, the company is working with a total of 40 agencies with over 10,000 agents spanned across the general KL area. For the Blue Duck team, it’s been a welcomed encouragement that shows their moving in the right direction.
“We may not be at our best when you join us but to see us for our improvements. Every day I am reminded that they are the reason we can move forward and having them trust in our platform has been the most rewarding experience.”
To keep relevant with their clients, Blue Duck often revisit the user journey from time to time, gathering feedback to improve the customer experience. This culminated in the decision to bring their customers ease & convenience in their processes through the best way possible method known to modern society: a mobile app.
Although their app is still under development, Earnest and his company are well on their way to becoming crucial to the progress of the industry. When asked about his motivations for bringing the company to where it is today, Earnest simply answers, “I’ve never really thought about it,” with a laugh. “I think it’s the promise I made to my team when they first joined the company.”
“I find myself being more of a result-oriented leader and, at our current stage, we must pay attention to results and define our goals so that we may focus on achieving them.”
Off to a good start and ready to tackle new challenges, Blue Duck is working to establish their mark in the local market as the ‘Fintech in Real Estate’, powered by ingenuity and dedication to the customer experience. And with the looks of things, it’s only a matter of time before they set their sights on the bigger picture.
“At the moment, we want to focus on our market share in the Malaysia but would like to take the solutions across Southeast Asia in the next 2 years, which we believe will be possible.”
“We may be young in the market, but I see a bright future for us.”
Penny For Your Thoughts
How would you define a “good life” and/versus a “successful life”?
I want to know what it means too. The best way I can put it is that a successful life is about achieving something that you believe in and a good life is being able to do something that is meaningful to yourself every day.
If you could choose to be anyone in the world—fictional or non-fictional—who would you want to be, and why?
Maybe Naruto for his spirit and how he's always managed to counter the bad things that happen to him.
Advice you would give your younger self.
Learn faster and surround yourself with good people who encourage you to grow further.
I've come to realise that complacency is a killer. In my previous career, I was too comfortable with where I was and didn't have anyone to push me to think of the bigger picture. If you have the hunger to do greater things, go for it. When you meet different people, they will be able to show you a whole new world of possibilities.