Billboards, classifieds, business cards and park benches with smiling faces—the real estate industry in Manila has always traditionally been offline. With no background in tech, but a passion to align the fragmented property industry, Chow Paredes digitised the experience of home searching.
She tells her story of how she took a leap of faith to shift an entire industry online.
The great leap
Before starting ZipMatch, Chow was a corporate real estate broker with a comfortable salary, leading a dedicated team.
“I wasn’t tech savvy, [or] adept about product development. I just had a passion to make the industry more professional”.
For Chow, something needed to be done about the abundance of unvetted property advertisements, unlicensed real estate brokers and a lack of overall public knowledge about the industry.
A licensed broker herself, she had all the answers but no forum or platform to unify brokers and sellers.
The stars aligned when she met entrepreneur John Dang, her soon-to-be co-founder. John knew tech, Chow knew real estate. It was a match made in digital heaven.
After months of working part time on ZipMatch and driving traffic to their marketplace platform, Chow took the big leap as a full time founder.
“Leaving my comfortable salary and amazing team at my old job was hard. I was a first time entrepreneur, and being in tech intensified that”.
“To be excellent, you have to be extreme”
Setting up their own office was a big challenge. Everything was late, the construction was a mess, and the contractor left halfway. Everything was rushed.
But as she dragged the mop across the floors of her new office and rolled in all the chairs, she told herself: ‘‘To be excellent, you have to be extreme. Once you have your own business, you never stop doing things to make it successful”.
The best digital learning curve
Social media has proved to be an excellent storytelling platform for ZipMatch. The business has seen a 1000% lift in leads captured year-on-year by ramping up and persistently optimising its advertising efforts on Facebook.
ZipMatch’s Facebook campaigns were also integral in the massive brand traction they saw. This allowed them to maximise per-user engagement.
“I’ve learned more as an entrepreneur than I ever have being someone else’s employee,” says Chow as she looks back at her career riding high on the corporate ladder.
Through her journey transitioning from traditional advertising to digital advertising, she realised that a significant part of her success came from being able to adapt to new technology and changing consumer habit.
The world is changing. As Chow says, people no longer simply search, they want to go deeper beyond a brand’s façade to “see, hear and virtually touch”.