We chat to a British couple about their IT support company that can help to streamline your home or office.
If you’ve ever sat at your computer looking at all the beautiful photos you’ve taken and wondered how on earth to store them properly, or you’ve had your Wi-Fi installed at home only to realise you can’t access it in the bedroom, you need the services provided by Tekkie Help. Set up by Bo and Sarah Pinel six years ago, the company has gone from strength to strength. We find out what they do, and how they can help.
What brought you to Singapore in 2010?
Bo: We were living in Jersey; I was working for a telecommunications company and we had just had our first son, Arthur. Having worked in the corporate world for over 30 years, I felt the need for a new challenge, and I thought Asia would be the place to take that on.
Sarah: Our family and friends thought we were crazy – packing up our home and coming to Singapore with three suitcases, a one-year-old and no job. That somewhat reckless decision has paid off though!
Why did you start Tekkie Help?
Bo: At first, I thought it would be fairly easy to get a job here, but in reality telecoms companies have plenty of local talent. I ended up finding a job working for a conference company, a while before setting up Tekkie Help.
Sarah: Bo realised early on that there was a gap in the market for the kind of IT support services he could offer, from helping people set up their computers at home after purchase, to phone set-up, and more, so we started offering a home technology support service.
Bo: Most expats start off here without the kind of network of family and friends they have at home, so they can’t rely on asking others to help out with tech issues. Then there’s the confidence to go to somewhere like Sim Lim Square and know what to ask for, and not worry about being ripped off! We found customers initially just through networking and then recommendations, and it’s grown from there.
How easy was it to set up the company?
Bo: It was really quite easy, and using Money Matters for business support certainly helped. We’ve been going for six years now, starting out working from our small apartment and then the spare room in our house. Two years ago, we expanded into our East Coast office.
Sarah: With a rapidly expanding team, there wasn’t enough room at home anymore so we knew we had to get the office space. It was also hard having two young boys running around the workplace! Our office is close to home and so really convenient for us.
What plans do you have for the future?
Bo: Taking the office space has enabled us to undertake more computer repairs, as we now have a workshop. We’ve also evolved into helping small and medium-sized businesses support their IT needs. These types of business usually don’t have their own IT department, so we can help with everything from supply of equipment and set-up of systems to ongoing support.
Sarah: We’re taking active steps to grow the business side of things, and we want to move into training as well. Technology is becoming so complex. There are courses on how to take good photos, but do you know what to do with them after that? What’s fascinating for us is that Tekkie Help has grown so organically. We’re both from marketing backgrounds and we created an initial marketing strategy, but we didn’t need to do much advertising; it just evolved.
What do you like about living and working in the East?
Sarah: Access to the beach, sea and park; it just feels less congested than other areas. I love the architecture of the shophouses, and it feels more Singaporean. There are some great coffee shops in our area, too, and the Vietnamese restaurant near the office, Long Phung, is really popular and very good.
What are your top three most requested services?
Bo: Sorting out Wi-Fi in apartments, getting things to synchronise, and computer repairs – especially hard drive failures, which happens much more frequently here due to the heat.
What’s been your most unusual request?
Bo: A while ago, we were asked to extract the data from an old 1980s organiser, which was interesting. We try and do anything we’re asked, and if we think we can’t do it initially, we will eventually find a way!
What pearl of wisdom would you pass on to a newcomer to Singapore?
Bo: Look for data points or telephone points in your new home before you sign the contract, because these are vital for ensuring Wi-Fi throughout the house. The concrete used in condos here in Singapore makes it very hard to provide connectivity through the home. If you don’t have these points, make sure you discuss this as part of the negotiations.
What advice do you wish you’d been given when you were relocating?
Sarah: Carefully consider costs here, including schools, cars and accommodation, because they are so much higher than most other countries. When we came over, there were very few groups like there are now on Facebook, so it’s great you can now rely on them for advice.
Which apps do you find useful?
Bo: We like WeatherLah – it gives you a radar view of the incoming weather so you know what to expect. We also love MoBike – it’s great as sometimes Sarah has the car to go into the office, so I just jump on a bike and cycle in.
Sarah: TransferWise is also really useful for bringing money into Singapore
#04-26 SoHo Life, 216 Joo Chiat Road.
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