Fresh from a Series A fund raising led by Golden Gate Ventures, Perx is set to become more than just a mobile loyalty app. The single-digit million dollar investment is joined by other investors including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and Perx CEO Anna Gong herself.
Anna Gong may not have been the founder of Perx, but her results as Perx CEO has been nothing short of astonishing. Since joining, she has doubled the number of registered users from 200,000 to 400,000 in just one year with 5 million app impressions.
Roots in Technology
Anna started in Price WaterHouse as as a management consultant but very quickly moved into the start-up scene. “I felt a calling in sales & marketing and that took me through 4 start-ups. The learning process was akin to trial by fire, as I had little experience and knowledge before jumping into the world of start-ups.”
At Wily Technology, , she took on the role of Global Business Development Director and established their Asia Pacific sales channel.
Wily Technology was later acquired by CA Technologies, where she was promoted to VP of Solution Sales for the Service Automation and Cloud business units in Asia Pacific.
Headhunted by Perx
Anna was later headhunted to run Perx, initially as the head of sales, and a year later, as CEO of the company.
For Anna, it was the perfect opportunity to bridge both her startup and Asia experience. She was ready to venture back to the startup scene, with the mobile space being very hot, it would be exciting and challenging to foster a relatively young app.
The mobile loyalty app space was very competitive with similar apps in the market, but there was also a need to educate consumers. Anna enjoyed rolling up her sleeves again, taking on most of the roles from product management, HR to marketing and sales.
“I knew I was the right person for the job. I didn’t take no for an answer so I persevered. After receiving some great advice from a mentor, I changed my presentation to my then boss and eventually got the job.”
Growing the Merchant Base
A key goal to success would be to substantially grow the merchant base so it becomes a more comprehensive experience for the user. Throughout Anna’s career, she has always been involved in enterprise IT solutions so selling to the merchants came naturally. Perx has worked with over 500 merchants such as Saladstop, Koi Café, Resorts World Sentosa, Yoguru, Tigerair, Watsons, Zalora and Lazada.
“We focus firstly on the mechanics of the customer acquisition to drive more sales for our merchants. Then we apply continuous mobile customer engagement followed by retention campaigns. The outcome is very positive and the ROI proves itself.”, Anna says.
With the increasing strictness of privacy policies as well as high smart phone penetration in Singapore, app push notifications become ever more important as an advertisement channel for customer engagement.
How did you manage to convince a huge entity such as EZ-Link to work with Perx, a startup?
“Large enterprises want to partner with innovative and reliable solution providers and Perx demonstrated we had the solutions, resources, and capabilities to deliver. We also had a few years of mobile loyalty solutions, merchant and app user engagement to reference we are experts at mobile customer engagement and loyalty.”
What’s Your Biggest Challenge at Perx?
“My biggest challenge, like most startups, is talent acquisition. Moreover, I had to transform the culture to represent new leadership and new direction of the company.”
“Fund raising is a full time job in itself but fund raising and trying to build a business at the same time was no small task.”
“Embrace the adventure and have fun no matter how difficult it is, it helps you to keep going.”
Moving Beyond Mobile Loyalty App
With the success of Perx in driving mobile loyalty and engagement, Perx is now making the platform behind it scalable and available to enterprises as a solution so they can integrate customer engagement and rewards management.
Perx is currently only in Singapore, but will be looking to expand into other parts of Asia in the coming months.
What’s your observation of females in technology?
“I see few females in leadership positions in tech. However, it has improved over the last 5 years, but more is needed, especially in Asia. A few years back, when I was aiming for the VP of Asia Pacific for the cloud technology business, I was turned down twice.
“I knew I was the right person for the job. I didn’t take no for an answer so I persevered. After receiving some great advice from a mentor, I changed my presentation to my then boss and eventually got the job. I really believe in preservering. If you don’t ask and challenge what you believe in, then you are leaving opportunities on the table.
“For me, my role at Perx gives me immense satisfaction, being female and Asian to be able to run a tech driven company.”
Lessons on Entrepreneurship
“Don’t be afraid of taking risks and never give up. You will think about giving up many times, but eventually you will get through those difficulties and the gratification is immense seeing the results. Find an advisor or mentor. Having an unbiased and seasoned individual as my sounding board helped tremendously. Embrace the adventure and have fun no matter how difficult it is”, advises Anna.
“I think running a start-up is really based on a certain leadership style, not afraid to fail and lean into risks, the ability to roll up your sleeves and lead by example. Also, many entrepreneurs and leaders are shy about asking for help. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to the community. Many people will be more than willing to help.”
This article first appeared on the January issue of LadyBoss magazine.