House calls is a series of profiles of some of the committed and enthusiastic members of the team that is driving Reap forward. We want to know why they are with Reap, what roles they play and how they see the company now and in the future. In the second of the series we talked with someone with boundless energy and who sees great prospects for the company.
Burgers and His Job
Burgers play a large part in people’s lives, usually for the wrong reasons. However, Felix came to Reap as the result of conversations in a well-known burger chain. This led to introductions to, and then meetings with co-founders Kevin Kang and Daren Guo. Felix was at the time working with Live Nation, the ticketing and entertainment giant. He joined as the eleventh member of that company’s regional team and was attracted by the nature of the business as well as the flat company structure.
The company inevitably grew but Felix began to think that it was getting too big. The meetings with Kevin and Daren came at the right time. Felix asked them if there was an opening and joined Reap a year ago. Felix was again attracted by the flat company structure at Reap and by the culture of openness and transparency that Kevin and Daren have encouraged.
Felix emphasises, as Kevin did before, that the key to growth and building a robust network of customers is education and trust. Felix is a prime example of how education allows those who are energetic and hard-working to take full advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. A native of Hong Kong, Felix left to attend Loughborough University in the UK to study sports management. He transferred to the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he graduated with a degree in sports and fitness administration, and management. As if that were not enough Felix returned to Hong Kong to earn a law degree at the Chinese University.
Growth and Reap Card
His love of sport, he represented his universities at tennis and rowing, has translated into an intense aura of energy and enthusiasm that plays well at Reap. The essence of his position at the company is to drive opportunity. That means his task is to grow the number of users. Felix showed the same determination and commitment that was apparent when we talked to Kevin, with regard to the next stage of the company’s development. Felix talked about the corporate credit card that is due to launch in a few months. That will entail communicating with the network of satisfied customers who are now using their own credit cards through the facilitation of Reap. Felix will have to make them satisfied customers of Reap’s own card as they grow their own businesses.
The launch of a card is ambitious but Felix and the rest of the Reap team have even greater development plans. Felix talked about Reap’s ambitions to have a presence in Japan. Reap plans to introduce a number of products, some of which require licences. In an approach that typifies Reap’s flexibility and its ability to solve problems in a lateral thought way, it will be linking with a long-established and well-respected soy sauce company. The two will establish a joint venture and the Japanese company will deal with the regulatory requirements. For the remaining product, Reap needs only to declare that it is a business. Felix is also looking at extending Reap’s services to mainland China. However, Reap will not operate there; it will facilitate the business of others and will work with a partner.
In the longer term Felix sees that the credit card business to business market is untouched in Asia and that Reap is looking at how it can extend its facilitation and provider services. He mentioned Singapore and the opportunities it offers as the gateway to south-east Asia. Felix backed Kevin who talked to us about possible future southward moves to Australia. Proving the words of Frank Tyger that, “Ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose” Felix thought that getting a foothold in the USA is entirely feasible. If his eyes are on the stars, Felix acknowledged practical realities by saying that his USP is “scalability at the right rate”. History is full of those whose ambitions outran their abilities to build strong bridges behind them.
Partners are the key
Felix makes the point that the most important task for the future is to spread awareness of the brand. The existing network is crucial for this. Felix described the process as an inverted funnel. Existing partners and stakeholders are the key to spreading appreciation and commendation to their own networks. Felix considers the fact that Reap is a software company at base means that it can scale easily. The opportunities are there to spread the name and reputation of Reap further and further online, and to foster relationships.
Felix acknowledges that, as Reap expands its range of services and its geographic reach, it is likely to approach the boundaries of other company’s interests. At the moment, Reap has a good relationship with Stripe and Visa, but will that continue? Felix thinks that there are a number of possible solutions that will enable the current synergies to prosper. One approach is to continue the partnerships that presently exist, with Reap running on a parallel and complementary path. Another is for the company to allow partners to take a stake in it whilst allowing it to remain independent. Nothing has been decided and the flexibility and networking abilities that are the distinguishing features of Reap may well allow the company to navigate the transition to greater growth as an independent entity whilst still maintaining good relations. Indeed, showing Reap’s abilities to exploit its strengths whilst providing value to more traditional players, Visa will be a partner as Reap launches its new card.
Trust issue is real
The question of security on the internet has never been more of an issue than today. especially where financial transactions are concerned. The ability that Felix and the rest of the team have to bring networks into being and to nurture them stands them in good stead to reassure customers. The relations that Reap has established with existing players in the mainstream financial field has led to upward networks that are as strong as the downward ones for customers. Felix pointed out that Reap has no sales staff; every member of the team is responsible for building trust, relationships and networks.
Felix knows full well that trust is the basis of any relationship. Reap introduces itself through social media and then builds trust through personal contact. Felix says that his aim is to use this approach to get one hundred percent trust. Only through personal contact can you overcome natural, initial resistance from customers and partners. This approach played out well in a recent user support project that Felix is proud of. Through the use of technology Reap was able to give a better service to users and at the same time to reduce the payment lag for Reap’s services.
As a small but dynamic business Reap acknowledges the problems that the pandemic brought, particularly in the restrictions on face to face meetings. However, Felix says that the difficulties throughout last year have brought opportunities. Those opportunities have enabled Felix and his colleagues to continue their mission to fuel small businesses’ ambitions and to help them think bigger.
Felix embodies the enthusiasm, ambition and drive that fuel Reap’s progress. His energy and sporting abilities are an example to all of us. So, if you see someone running determinedly from his home near Sai Kung to the centre of town, leaving cars and buses behind, follow him. It will be good for your health and you may find Felix leading you, not to a burger joint but to one of the many good coffee shops in the town.
Reap is proud of building its success on the foundations of making businesses think that they are bigger than they are, and fuelling the ambition of small businesses. We have great staff and partners, but we never forget that our progress comes from giving you the best solutions that we can, and removing, not adding to obstacles in your way as you make progress as well.