Whether you have an established business, are a startup founder or you’re thinking of starting a business in Singapore, it can all get rather complicated and time-consuming. To help with that, ZING was created! Built in Singapore by Aussie expats Amy Bourke and Paul Cameron, who are also owners of beauty salon SkinFitness, ZING is an all-in-one business management app and online booking system that provides the tools you need to run, grow or start a business. We caught up with Amy on her new venture.
We haven’t caught up in a while! What have you been busy with?
Yes, it’s been almost three years – how time flies! Lovely to catch up again; things have changed a lot since we last spoke. SkinFitness is now a mature business and part of the fabric here in Singapore. It’s such a delight to offer a service that so many expats enjoy and we have a wonderful client base that I’m so grateful for. It really has been an awesome experience.
Since launching SkinFitness, has anything changed in how you run the salon?
Yes! When we originally started the business, the plan was to open several locations both here in Singapore and across Southeast Asia. However, throughout the operating process, we stumbled across a much bigger problem to solve and took quite a different turn.
I always knew that being a small business owner was going to be hard work and would require spinning a lot of plates. One thing we underestimated was just how difficult it was to set up the technology we needed to run the business. For SkinFitness alone, we needed a website, online booking system, client forms for skin consultations, a point of sale system, a loyalty program, gift cards, customer relationship management (CRM), an email campaign builder, employee scheduling, reporting, digital screens and more.
In fact, when we first started, we were using 12 different SaaS (Software as a Service) products to operate the business successfully, which was nuts. It took a huge amount of time to research and assemble all of those products; it was also expensive, at US$700 per month, and difficult for the employees to use.
We found other business and startup owners had the same issues, and after struggling with it in our own business, we decided that there had to be a better way – so we built ZING. This is an all-in-one business software platform and online booking system that provides business owners with all the tools they need to operate their business successfully in an end-to-end, simple-to-use and affordable product. SkinFitness now runs entirely on ZING, from our website, e-commerce and booking system right through to our marketing tools, team and inventory management, and our reporting and analysis. We’ve replaced the 12 products with one and it has made an amazing difference to our business.
Congrats on the launch of ZING; tell us more about how you started it.
Building technology isn’t easy, and if you don’t have the right team it can be an absolutely disaster. Luckily, my husband Paul Cameron has spent a lifetime in tech and worked with some of the best in the business. That’s how we were able to establish the incredible team we have to deliver ZING in all its complexity and in record time. We have over 30 people working with us now and, thanks to technologies like Zoom, we’ve been able to access talented people from all over the world. Our Chief Technology Officer is in Slovakia, our lead architects in the Netherlands, our developers in Ukraine, India and Mongolia, and our in-house designer is based in Los Angeles. It’s an amazing way to work.
Another challenge we had was to raise enough capital. This was honestly the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. In the beginning, all we had was an idea and a PowerPoint presentation, and it wasn’t even a good presentation! Selling an idea off a piece of paper is almost an impossible task, but because we believed so passionately about the need to solve this problem and the tremendous opportunity it presented, we persisted. It took literally hundreds of pitches and eventually we achieved our first successful raise.
We sell ZING as a SaaS product with a monthly subscription. Being a cloud product, there is no messy software to install or need to update all the time. The booking software has been designed predominately for appointment-based businesses. Currently in Singapore, we are working with salons, chiropractors, counselling services, consultants, personal trainers, gyms and yoga studios. We have clients in Australia, Denmark and Slovakia. We’ve also just signed our first US location.
How has SkinFitness helped with the development of ZING?
We’re lucky to have SkinFitness as we continually test everything there before releasing it to other businesses. When we initially went live with ZING for the first time in June 2020, it was right after the lockdown. It was all a bit crazy.
Firstly, we didn’t realise just how busy we would be. People were desperate to come in; we received 148 bookings in 24 hours, all on ZING. Unfortunately, our developers had incorrectly loaded the client data – the names were correct, but the phone numbers were all mixed up. When clients book, they receive a confirmation via text, so within one day I had 148 complaints. One of my male clients contacted me to ask why he received a booking confirmation for Brazilian IPL! I can laugh at this now but at the time I was in tears. There were many “bumps” at the start so it has been an incredible advantage to have our own business act as the pilot for all of the features and updates we continually release.
What makes ZING different from other business management software?
It offers all the tech tools needed in a single application. So many products out there only cover single elements (like finance or e-commerce) so the business owner is left with the arduous task of assembling what they need altogether. With ZING, we handle every touch point, from your website and payments through to the marketing tools needed to keep clients returning – all in one place. Plus, it’s super affordable with packages starting from just US$99 a month.
How do you juggle the two businesses and your personal life?
I had to read that question twice – personal life? I’d previously been a big believer in work-life balance but that pretty much went out the window when we started ZING. It’s all consuming. We work seven days a week and are always “on”. It’s actually a bit addictive as you see the result of your work almost daily with new features being released or new clients coming onboard. I love it.
Luckily, we’re a husband-and-wife team. I can’t imagine doing this without a partner who’s in the same boat, as we share the highs and the lows, which we refer to as “champagne and razorblades”. At the start, we used to celebrate the wins but then crash with the lows, which isn’t sustainable. We’re both much more focused now and know that there will continually be great wins and equally many challenges. That’s just part of the deal with a startup.
I do manage to keep focus on my health though, as I realised early on I would need to be fit to keep this pace up. I hit the gym regularly and love to squeeze in some nature walks here in Singapore when I can. We’re also lucky to have a fantastic group of friends who are super supportive and also a lot of fun, so the occasional famous free-flow brunch helps keep the balance in check.
What’s next and upcoming?
We’re continually releasing new features almost on a daily basis now. We’re also currently working to onboard a large chain business here in Singapore that has eight brands across many locations. They’re experiencing rapid expansion with one of the brands and will be rolling out across nine countries, all on ZING. This is really exciting for us as they, like us, were frustrated by the need to use so many products. They love the simplicity and power that ZING has delivered to their operations.
We’re also exploring the medical industry and have been approached by a group of doctors who are facing the same problems. It’s so interesting working with them and understanding that they too face the same issues – so ZING Medical may not be too far away.
Our goal this year is to reach 1000 locations, release amazing new features and grow our USA footprint. We’re so excited to see our “baby” grow quickly and appreciate the fantastic feedback we receive from our clients. We love working with business owners; they are absolute heroes and it’s awesome to support them. It certainly is a wild ride!
Why choose ZING?
It’s great if you’re just starting a business, as it can help you save time and money in the long run. Businesses need to digitise now more than ever. Using a single online booking system saves a huge amount of time. Also, managing client data across multiple platforms can be very challenging and time-consuming. ZING delivers instant savings as it replaces multiple products and helps businesses to drive revenue. There’s even a website builder with hundreds of templates that’s easy-to-use with drag-and-drop functionality. ZING includes tools like a loyalty program, email campaign builder, client segmentation, e-commerce, online bookings and more, which all assist in attracting returning customers.
For customers, it’s easy to make bookings as no app download is required. There’s no need to create an account; you can simply click on the “book now” button on the website of your provider, select your service and view available appointments. Once selected, the booking confirmation is automated and confirmed in a few seconds with both the business and the client being notified with an email.
For more information on the online booking system, visit zing.work.
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