Episode 013: Leon Chuah & Eddie Leung - Quid Pro Quo

Quid Pro Quo founders, Leon Chuah and Eddie Leung, are banking on people returning to the age of bartering.  Inspired by the story of One Red Paperclip, they have created a platform that makes trading items of value as easy as swiping left or right.

Quid Pro Pro is a trading platform that is based on the "swipe left or right" action that has become popular in many apps, particularly since the use of the action in the dating app Tinder.  The focus of the platform is to encourage trades, or barters, between users, where items of value will be swapped with no money changing hands.

Leon is under no illusions as to how successful Quid Pro Quo could be, saying "Eddie and I have no idea whats going to happen.  With most startups, you think you have a great idea, but to someone else it might sound crazy".

If I had this idea and didn’t take this opportunity, someone else will do it
— Leon Chuah

Leon moved to Melbourne, Australia from Malaysia 5 years ago and is currently studying for his Masters degree in Civil Engineering.  Leon initially thought that it would be too much for him to study and start a startup at the same time, but in true entrepreneurial fashion, he figured that if he doesn't do it, someone else will.  In fact when asked about how challenging it is, he responds simply "You've got to grind."

The idea for Quid Pro Quo came directly from an experience at university where Leon helped a friend with an assignment and received a beanie in return.  That one simple trade led Leon into developing the concept into a fully fledged startup idea.

The true story of One Red Paperclip was inspiration for Leon, who is fascinated by the fact that someone can trade up from a single paperclip to an actual house.

Eddie Leung, Quid Pro Quo's other co-founder, and Leon's brother-in-law, has another take on the value of a bartering platform.  The minimalist lifestyle is becoming more and more popular, as people look to de-clutter their lives and spend on experiences rather than possessions.  Their platform will allow users to trade items that they no longer value, for something that will add to their lives.

Eddie believes that Quid Pro Quo has the potential to attract niche collectors as well as the every day user.

After conceiving the idea for Quid Pro Quo, Leon's confidence was boosted when he approached the specialist app developer, Appster.  Although feeling slightly intimidated by the impression of the corporate nature of Appster, he was buoyed by the feedback from the meeting.  He then went to see Eddie, who could also see the potential, and a partnership was born.

Eddie, who has spent several years living and working around the world as a banker, was able to provide some initial advice on company and legal structures, and could feel the allure of the startup world himself.  Through the many complementary skills they both possess, Eddie is able to look after the business aspects while Leon is free to focus on the creative and engagement aspects of the business.

Eddie was also able to provide something else very important to a fledgling startup; capital.  Through his own networks and using his experience, he was able to organise a syndicate to provide some seed funding to help with the development of the app.

The success of a platform such as Quid Pro Quo will require a large user base, as valuable trades will only be found through having a large number of items on offer to trade against.  The app is currently in beta, with 100 users testing out the platform, and a soft launch has been planned for mid-march.  As traction is the number one goal, Leon has asked for all guests attending the launch party to download the app and post an item to trade.

As a first-time founder, networking events were initially intimidating for Leon, but it wasn't long before he understood the value of networking is in the connections and the feedback that you receive, and can offer.  Simply talking about your ideas, and hearing others talk about their ideas is like nutrition for entrepreneurs.  It's also helpful when founders promote other startups on their blogs or to their social network following.

Raising seed funding before development has been completed, thanks to Eddie's business prowess, has been key in getting to this stage, which Leon and Eddie are both incredibly thankful for.  The challenge for the business now is to gain traction and build that all-important growth.

For the co-founders individually, they have their own challenges in developing themselves personally in preparation for their anticipated success and the knowledge needed to run a successful business.

Monetisation is one of the key challenges for the startup, however, while they have several ideas on how they will earn revenue, their focus initially is on user adoption and growth.

If you want to sell something, you don’t really sell the product itself, you sell what it can do for the user
— Leon Chuah

As their first year's focus is going to be on marketing, Leon is keen to ensure they spend their efforts on selling the concept of bartering, and the experience of trading rather than the platform itself.  Leon believes in the philosophy that "If you want to sell something, you don't really sell the product itself, you sell what it can do for the user".  For Quid Pro Quo, this means selling the concept of bartering and the benefits of trading goods of value.

Leon is working hard on coming up with innovative ways to market his startup, like signage on bikes or other products that could be seen as potential items to trade.

Takeaways

Take advantage of opportunities

Opportunities come by every so often, but it is only those who take advantage of the opportunities that they are presented with that find success.  Leon is confident that if he didn't take this opportunity, someone else would have, and he would have regretted that for the rest of his life.

Use networks wisely

Leon and Eddie had a pre-existing relationship, however, if Leon had not discussed his idea with Eddie, they would not have become co-founders.  Their networks have also been helpful in forming and developing the concept to what it is today.  Discussing your ideas with your network can be an invaluable exercise.

Be innovative with telling your story

In today's world with so much information in front of our eyes every second of the day, startups need to find different ways to get their message out and get some cut-through.  Using different methods and mediums to tell your story can be enormously beneficial.

Contact

The app is now available from the Apple App Store and from Google Play.  You can download and post items for free, so check it out.  You never know what you might be able to trade up to.  Leon and Eddie would love you to try it out and give them any feedback you have.

You can also find out more by visiting the Quid Pro Quo website, or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks for listening

Thanks for taking the time to listen to this podcast. If you have some feedback you’d like to share, please leave a comment below!  If you enjoy listening to this podcast, please share it using the social media buttons at the bottom of the post.

If you have any questions or would just like to say Hi!, feel free to shoot me an email, or connect on LinkedIn or Twitter.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher so you can get the latest episodes as they are published.