Ezstay – Chatesat
Can you present a little bit about yourself?
I come from a small town in the countryside near Bagan, where my family runs a printing store. As I was quite good in school, my parents decided to send me to the university. So in 2008 I arrived in Yangon to study engineering. Since then, I live here in Yangon. That’s where my Ezstay journey began.
How did you end up being an entrepreneur?
After this study, I decided to launch my business with a friend from the university. The initial idea was to launch a platform to help people find roommates. There is a big issue about living here in Yangon: renting an apartment is very expensive. Indeed, you have to pay in advance for 6 months and the monthly rent is the equivalent of several months of salary. The consequence is that most of the people share their apartment with roommates, but there is no simple solution to find them.
So, with my friend, we came up with this idea of a platform Ezstay to connect potential roommates. We launched it and it worked quite well at the beginning. But quickly we realised that the market was too small to consider living on it. At this time the country was starting to open to the world and tourism went exploding, so we decided to pivotate. The initial idea was to be the Myanmar’s Airbnb. However we quickly realised that it was forbidden for a Burmese to host foreigners without the proper hotels licenses. We tried for a while to find another way around this constraint, but we didn’t.
So you were at a stage where you had to make choices about the orientation of Ezstay, what solutions did you find?
At this time we went into the new accelerator that had recently opened: Phandeeyar (https://rocketbike.org/en/phandeeyar-the-historical-incubator-of-yangon/). We really needed the help of experienced people to find the pivot we were looking for. So we got advices from them and decided to change the core activity of the company. Ezstay went into a booking solution for hotel across the country. Then we raised 25 000$ from the accelerator and started the new business.
At this time booking was already a major player right? So what differentiates you from them?
Booking is made for foreigners traveling around the world, so the tourists hotels are registered in it. However all hotels are not into Booking, and the prices are made for tourists. But many Burmese travel inside the country, we tried to provide them with a solution to book easily their trips. But we were running out of cash after a few time and we needed funds. However we didn’t get eventually to the next round of financing. The investors didn’t trust the model and the difference we could make from booking. Finally my partner left, and I had no choice but to stop the activity.
What did you learn about this difficult moment?
I learnt that you have to be very clear in your mind about the segmentation of the market you evolve in. Maybe my biggest mistake has been to get on a business covered by a giant such as Booking, and try to do the same thing for different consumers. It was too hard to convince investors about my added value.
So to sum up what I learned: be clear about the market segmentation, and be clear about your added value on it.
At this time do you still wanted to be an entrepreneur?
After this moment, one of my friend that I met at Phandeeyar asked me if I could join his company. So I joined Chatesat which had been created in the meantime as Ezstay. I joined it as the COO (Chief Operating Officer), so I remained in a startup and kept this entrepreneurship spirit.
Can you tell us a bit more about Chatesat?
Chatesat is a platform which aims at connecting freelancers with companies in need for a project to be outsourced. These projects can be very different from one to another: it goes from web development to graphic design through translation. It works as an auction: a company put a project on the platform, then different freelancers apply for it, asking for a certain price; then the company can check on the background of the freelancer, the project he/she has done, the overall grade he’s got from his previous jobs, and choose between the different bidders on the project.
Chatesat provides the company applying for its projects several advantages: first the price of the project is based on the law of supply and demand, so it is the right one. It has the choice between so many freelancers working with us without having to contact each one of them. For the freelancers, they have plenty of jobs provided directly to them, so they can remain freelancers and stay at their place and work for big companies.
What is the Business Model of Chatesat?
We offer 3 kind of services for the companies project:
- The standard one where the company is provided with a selection of freelancers which have not necessarily worked with us already. So they don’t have the grades from previous project
- A premium one, where the company is provided with a selection of the best freelancers able to work on the project, based on their grades from the previous projects.
For those two first solutions we bill the two parts: the company and the freelance.
- We have a third solution for the companies: we handle all the aspects of one projects. It means we handle the recruitment of the best freelancer we can. So we are signing the NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement), make all the aspect of the project and we deliver it done.
What are the next steps of Chatesat?
We need to secure our position in Myanmar, expand across the country. Then when we will be established enough, maybe go abroad. There is still a lot to do here in the country, many potential clients to convince, so we want to focus on the local market. Currently, we have some 27 000 freelancers on the platform and are backed by approximately 5 000 companies. So we have still a lot of possibility in terms of client acquisition.
If you want to learn more about his new project Chatesat, you can visit their website: https://chatesat.com/