Franklin Tang has combined his interest in property with his IT skills and created a business and brand that would not previously have been considered.
What’s your story?
I started Habitap, Asia’s first fully integrated smart living platform, in 2016 to make smart living more usable and give users a more seamless experience. This idea came about when I was working with a global brand to co-build a prototype smart home and I faced difficulties in importing most of my equipment which required one to be technically knowledgeable and savvy to set up everything at home. I was inspired by the Singapore Smart Nation vision and felt that we needed a homegrown platform which catered smart technology to the way we lived.
What excites you most about your industry?
Our industry is about designing and building smart cities. What excites me about working on smart city and building projects, is marrying technology with literally a bricks-and-mortar industry and the impact on millions of users who go about their daily lives. In a span of four years, we have almost established a new segment of the build industry which did not exist before 2016 and we expect continued growth in the future. What people might not realise is that it is a lot more bricks-and-mortar than sci-fi technology which makes it really tedious to implement.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
For one, it is my passion for property and Habitap gives me an avenue to utilize my experience in technology but still work on properties albeit in a slightly different way. In business, I am inspired by fellow entrepreneurs who have built a global brand. My desire is to build our Singapore brand into a Global one, but more importantly, to bring smart technology to everyone in the world.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I think as an entrepreneur, you learn new skills and experiences every day.
First, it’s the art of building partnerships and extracting synergy. As Habitap scales regionally, we recognise the need for partnerships and have gained synergy in some of these partnerships. The world is full of opportunity and it is never a zero-sum game. The second important skill is the art of negotiation, which is important because once you have mastered this skill, it comes in very handy in all of life’s situations. Having empathy for the other party is important in striking a win-win situation.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The advice I vividly remember is that as entrepreneurs, we must ensure we are commercially viable which means the market eventually sets the price, not the entrepreneur. This has helped us greatly in always achieving the economic balance in how we develop, set prices and manage our costs. In other words, we work backwards from first valuing the product in the eyes of the customers to achieving profits by optimising cost. If we want to increase the price, we can only do so by increasing value.
Who inspires you?
My dad continues to inspire me. He built his business the hard way and he gave me an opportunity to learn. He provided a platform for me to explore entrepreneurship and encouraged me to be better than him. If I can borrow a line from him, it would be how each generation should be better than the last. That is so inspiring because, as a son and as a father myself, I hope that my future generation does better. As a member of the society, I wish for Singapore’s future generations do better.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
That believing in your vision and working at it despite people thinking it’s crazy sometimes takes you to the top of the class, the world’s class.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started 10 years earlier! Perhaps with a different business for its time but in pretty much the same way. I believe there is so much opportunity and so little time. I encourage anyone who is sitting on the fence of entrepreneurship to just do it.
Someone once told me, sitting on the same roller coaster at 8 years old versus 18 and 28 gives a completely different experience.
How do you unwind?
I watch YouTube videos about new car models, catch up with friends, or exercise. I usually run for an hour every day; this me-time gives me an opportunity to quieten my mind, reflect and regain focus.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
The importance of building your brand and business. With Habitap, we did extensive research globally before we developed the brand. When we started the business, we launched the brand and we have been building the brand since. It’s been a rewarding journey as we see how the brand and the business grew in tandem, each reinforcing the strength of the other.
Everyone in business should read this book:
It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small…It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton
Shameless plug for your business:
Experience smart living when buying this home…sometimes when you read the fine print, there is nothing smart about the home.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.