Being a national ice hockey athlete and a Malaysia Book of Records holder, Kimberly Wan attributes most of her success to the immense support her parents have poured on her since day one.
Seeing them dedicate time, money and effort into having her dreams realised led her to aspire to giving the same amount of support back to young families and parents. After scouring around and brainstorming for the best method to do so, she decided to gather a community of parents onto one platform.
Together with the help of fellow Monash University graduate, Azlan Alam Malik who acts as the CTO for their startup, the duo built a platform that aims to harness strength in numbers from the parent community so that they can collectively take control over the prices paid to purchase their baby necessities.
For The Parents Of Our Country
Otomate Me is an e-commerce platform dedicated to helping parents save time through their self-regulating and adaptive bespoke subscription plans. Like other subscription plans, you sign up for a monthly “box” to be delivered to you. In the case of Otomate Me, what you get is curated baby products.
The whole idea started from the very common experience of not having an essential product on hand once you’ve finished using it.
Say for example, you have a bottle of shampoo that’s almost all used up. You’ll understandably want to get a new one, but most people wouldn’t want to stock up on too many extra bottles way ahead of time because of space constraints. But when it’s actually finished, you’re often too busy to go out and buy what you need exactly when you need it.
“We found that avoiding this [situation] wasn’t always possible without disrupting the other more pressing obligations of daily life. So we took to the shopping malls of Malaysia and spoke to some individuals. Based on the responses we received and the consequent preliminary validation from the market, we were able to identify our target market and ‘Otomate Me’ was born,” shared Kimberly, CEO and Co-founder of Otomate Me.
After all, busy parents will often find themselves at wits’ end when it comes to keeping a ready supply of baby necessities. Having a service to help them will take a load off their minds and they can devote more time to baby care.
Presently, the Otomate team consists only of Kimberly and Azlan while they work on stabilising their platform before focusing on expanding.
What They Offer
Otomate Me currently offers two distinct features.
Their first ‘Otomation’ service is a subscription plan curated by the parents themselves. The plan tailors to the baby’s recurring needs so that when a certain product is close to finishing, the parents can key in a rough estimation on when they feel it’s necessary to restock these items.
I find this quite different from other type of e-commerce platforms of the same nature just because of how the parents are able to control what their package includes. This is a plus point considering every child has their own needs and requirements.
The subscription also takes note of patterns to adapt and grow in tandem with the baby’s growth. This means that so long as the parent actively curates the package according to their own child, the platform will recognise these changes and display products that pertain more to the age group they’re in to fit their needs.
The second service offered is a group-buy service that draws on the community of parents who live within a certain geographical location sharing a common need: purchasing high quality baby gear for the safety of their young ones.
“A problem we saw is that high quality baby gear can range from RM1,500 to RM5,000 per item. What Otomate Me endeavors to do is be inclusive by aiding young mothers with the opportunity to group-buy these products and in return, receive a significant discount without stinging on the quality,” said Kimberly.
How this is achieved is through parents pledging themselves to a deal. Prior to logging in, parents are able to review the number of community members that have pledged as well as the necessary target to unlock the promised price. Good tactic to have mothers inform others to join in so they can all share the benefit of the discounted price.
Once the target is met, the deals are unlocked and those who have pledged will have their products delivered to their doorstep.
Currently, Otomate Me provides their service in both Klang Valley and Cyberjaya with a fixed price of RM5 for their delivery fee. The items will then be delivered within 2 working days.
“At present, we are holding off on plans to expand nationwide as it is crucial for us to extensively test our business model and put it through the test of time. We do hope to go nationwide, regional, and eventually, global in the future,” shared Kimberly.
Community For Mummies Everywhere
Though Otomate Me is very community driven, the team is taking a very hands-on approach when it comes to spreading awareness about their services.
“What this means that in addition to digital marketing and partnerships, we are always available during our on-ground events to educate and share Otomate Me’s mission with mummies and mummies-to-be. No doubt it is a slow process but it’s invaluable as it allows us to learn more about our market and how we can add value to their lives. And that is the core guiding principle behind our marketing strategies,” said Kimberly.
Community-based platforms can also prove to be a disadvantage if not done right. Taking the example of their second service, should there not be enough people pledging, the deal can’t be unlocked and no one is able to purchase the items at the discounted price. However, Otomate Me takes this from a different perspective.
“Because we are community based, it is paramount that we continuously take the time to understand parents and their pain points. Our goal is to give parents a service they can love and trust. It is certainly not an easy undertaking but we believe it is the most sustainable and true path for us,” said Kimberly.
Their next step in growing Otomate Me is through the Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator, where the team has been chosen to be part of the top 5 startups joining.
When asked what they hoped to gain from this accelerator programme, Kimberly said, “Over the course of the next 5 months, my partner and I are hoping to gain knowledge, insights, and learning experience from our mentors in Cyberview. We are simply grateful to be able to tap into the resources at our disposal as it will accelerate our growth.”
Everyone in this digital era can probably notice how e-commerce platforms are taking over. Otomate Me may not be the first one to offer services catered for babies and parents, but its flexibility in allowing parents control on what they pay for by making it convenient for them with catered options makes it a fresh new entry into the field.
Feature Image Credit: Compiled from Otomate Me