YourAM is a web-based application build to automatically organize and manage business appointments in real time via the web and SMS. Short for “Your Appointment Manager”, the application is designed specially for small service-focused businesses that need to handle appointments for groups of people, such as health care services, service centers and the like.
On top of that, the application also generates appointment analytics that allows businesses to figure out key insights and trends using their appointment history. “We don’t want to create a system just for businesses to make appointments, we want to take over and manage it for them through software automation,” says Ivan Tay, one of the co-founders of YourAM, who adds that the application can also be used by individuals – think personal trainers, property agents etc.
“YourAM is a complete solution to sharing, managing and analyzing your entire organization’s business appointments. It is like a very smart virtual personal assistant who handles both you and your staff’s appointments 24×7, 365 days a year,” Ivan explains. “With YourAM there is no more need to have a dedicated staff to manually deconflict appointments and schedule equipment while juggling with specialized skilled staff requirements. No more need to manually send out confirmations and reminders via SMS and email. No more messy calendars and difficult to read hand writings. No more guess work when it comes to figuring out important information and trends in your business.”
Working On The Idea
YourAM was launched in March this year by Ivan and his fellow co-founder Ching Boon under their startup Quadedge. Ivan is the self-professed geek of the company, and Ching Boon provides the creative input that drives the Quadedge‘s products and services. “I like to think that we have a pretty lethal mix of skill sets and talents when it comes to pioneering new products,” Ivan reveals. “Basically, we are entrepreneurs, people driven by a natural desire to build products, innovate and make a difference.”
When Ivan and Ching Boon first started working on the idea, they had wanted to design a piece of software to aid businesses by automating all or most of the redundant tasks in their daily operations. While talking to one of their customers in the service industry, they found out about the difficulties that can occur between a business and its customers over the management of appointments. After talking to other businesses, they realized that appointment management was a critical part of many service-based businesses, yet far too many of them still relied on traditional methods such as appointment cards, emails and booklets to manually track and schedule appointments.
They faced numerous challenges in building and growing YourAM. “On the technical end, creating smart algorithms that can automate, scale and perform reasonably well under unlimited scheduling possibilities was a feat,” Ivan reveals. On the design front, creating a user interface (UI) that can properly scale was another. “I even had a vet who called me one evening telling me that the software I was proposing could not be done,” Ivan says, recalling how that totally fired them up.
YourAM‘s main business model is based on monthly subscriptions, and it provides different service plans at different prices to meet different needs. “Economically priced plans is our strategy to allow us to reach the masses from busy individuals to large organizations,” says Ivan. It also has a free plan – with limited features – to encourage adoption and use.”We are currently also exploring the possibility of a software licensing revenue model,” he says. There’ve been companies asking them to integrate YourAM‘s service into existing software as well.
The sign-up rate for YourAM, Ivan reveals, has been very encouraging. “We have a wide range of people using it that we never even thought required our services,” An example: teachers who use YourAM to make appointments with their students. We are constantly amazed as to how our current user base is shaping our idea of who should be using it.
Interestingly, despite being a Singapore-based company, most of its user base are not local. “Trying to reach out to and win local customers is a real challenge,” Ivan says. “Local businesses don’t seem to be as open in adopting technology to aid their operations as compared to foreign businesses.”
YourAM is currrently privately funded. Tay says they prefer bootstrapping, and are fans of startups that have single-handedly built their success. “We recognize that if we want to accelerate the grow of YourAM we might have to look into raising some additional funds,” admits Tay.
“Back then I thought (entrepreneurship) is about smart people changing the world. Now I think that entrepreneurs are just truly crazy people.”
Tay says his perceptions about entrepreneurship has changed since his university days. “Back then I thought it is about smart people changing the world. Now I think that entrepreneurs are (just) truly crazy people,” he laughs.
Entrepreneurship, Tay says, is a high-risk, high-gain gamble. “Calculated risk and risk management is important to an entrepreneur’s success but in the end, it is still very much a gamble,” he explains, adding that it involves faith, a never-give-up mentality and an all-or-nothing pursue towards your goals with no certainty of success.
“Having the best product does not necessary mean success,” he warns. “Having the best team does not guarantee success either. There are so many factors that are outside of an entrepreneur’s control, that you have only to do your best, give it everything you got and hope for the best.” In the end, Tay says, the most important lesson is to never give up. “If you believe that you have a really good product and there is a fighting chance that you can make a difference, then give it your everything, hold on tight and never let go no matter what comes your way.” It’s also important to surround oneself with a talented team with the same do-or-die attitude, he points out.
“(But) I am no expert in this field of entrepreneurship. I am too figuring it out like everyone else.”