Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Creating joy with Advocado - Xu Daxiang (Dax), Gozo Labs

This is the inaugural issue of the DBIT Startup Inspiration series,  a line-up of articles written by our DBIT students and staff about startup founders that they have interviewed in person.

One of the four focal training areas in the Diploma in Business Information Technology (DBIT) is Technopreneurship. Our objective is to inspire, develop and enable the next generation of Technopreneurs to startup their own companies with great innovative technology products that would impact and benefit the world.

I was really honored to be able to meet a very compassionate and resilient entrepreneur called Xu Daxiang aka Dax during a startup trip to learn more about the start-up scene in Singapore with my fellow course-mates on 27 December 2013.

Dax (in purple) sharing his story with us

Dax is one of the co-founders of Gozo Labs, a company he formed with his NUS classmates back in April 2011.

One interesting fact that I have found out is that Gozo is actually a Spanish word for “Joy”.  There is a important reason why the founders chose this name.  It is because one of the key aims of the company is to bring happiness to their client!

It may sound glamorous to tell others that you are the "CEO" or "Founder" of your own business.  But we discovered the real truth as we heard the other side of Dax’s story.

The story he shared revolves around a product called around!, a mobile application that Dax and his co-founders launched two years ago.  around! is a loyalty application that allows its users to earn loyalty rewards and unlock privileges at participating merchants. At that time, they experienced some success, and even got nominated for the "Top 50 Apps in Asia" Awards. But sadly, the team met with a really tough challenge in 2012...

To cut a long story short,  the company ran into financial troubles then. Not only were they not able to make profits, they had incurred a debt of $60,000. To make matters worse, they had gone separate ways with their investors!  At that time, Dax and his team had a tough decision to make.  To give up the business or ....

When all hopes seemed lost, that was when a miracle happened.

Dax, who is a devout Christian believes a miracle happened to him
in his most difficult time through the grace of God,
just like the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea

In fact, he experienced not one, but two miracles.

Dax vividly recalled the day after they had parted ways with their investors.  That particular day, there was an NUS Showcase Event held on campus.  Dax was not keen to attend the event at first. However, he went on to attend it, because he was running out of money to buy a meal then, and thought it was a good chance to get a “free dinner” to save money.  To his pleasant surprise,  by attending the event, he bumped into an investor who was interested to invest money into his company!

On the following day, Dax attended another event, and once again, he went with the same purpose to save some money with a free lunch.  Miraculously once more, he managed to meet up an executive of an MNC who was willing to partner his business. With the two events happening on consecutive days, who can argue that it is not a miracle?!

However, not all things went smooth-sailing, in 2013, with the market space getting more and more competitive, Gozo Labs was not able to keep up and had to shut down as a result. However with the team’s spirit of “Standing up every time you fall”, they came up with Advocado, a Shopify plugin that helps drive branding and Referrals for businesses through the use of social marketing.

Dax strongly believes that when a company makes a product, they should focus on its users instead of emphasising on making profits.  Thus, in the second iteration of their business, they continue to focus on making customers happy and to get good customer reviews and feedback. Dax feels that these good reviews are basically the best social proof a company can ever provide to its consumers.

Dax sincerely told us that although he had no success story to share as yet, he felt compelled to share with us five Key Learning Points that will help an aspiring entrepreneur in this arduous but fulfilling journey:

1) Maintaining good team rapport and spirit

2) Planning and Execution

3) Ensuring that the company always has  a good cash flow

4) Do not be afraid to fail and keep on trying

5) Passion (Enjoy what you are doing)

Thanks Dax! Those are great learning points indeed and we are very grateful to you for taking the time to share your story and inspire us to be strong and perseverant like you!

We wish you and Advocado success in 2014 and may you continue to bring joy to your customers and impact the world with your technology products!

My fellow DBIT students and Korean exchange friends
listening intently to Dax

Group photo after the interview with Dax!

This entry is written by DBIT Year 3 student, Richmond Goh.  Richmond's dream is to be able to have his own business and to be an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs who is able to make an impact on the lives of millions of people.

During his free time, Richmond likes to play all kinds of sports especially tennis. Richmond is also an avid gamer, and plays various genres of games ranging from DOTA to casual iPhone games.
Born in the month of May, Richmond is a true-blue Taurus with great perseverance. He picks himself up no matter what obstacles he encounters as he believes "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up".  To him, true strength lies in how many times a person stands up after falling.

Connect with Richmond at his Facebook profile to talk to him! :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is a very good write-up. Your interview seems to have been very informative, and you were able to clearly relay it to your readers.

For businessmen who are experiencing financial troubles, I would recommend pitching for an angel investor as these investors would not only be willing to provide you financial assistance, but would also provide business mentoring services.