Jeffrey Yuwono is the general manager of local creative technology studio The Ching Chong Group, which is preparing to launch the Android version of its free geo-blogging mobile app Feecha.

What makes Feecha different from other similar concept apps?
The local, neighborly aspect is what makes Feecha unique. A post about an amazing curry dish or a sales promotion around the corner is more relevant than something similar posted from halfway across the world on Facebook or Twitter. On Feecha, the people you talk to and the things you talk about literally share common ground.

How do you see it growing over time?
Feecha will grow one neighborhood at a time, from Tiong Bahru to Menlo Park, and then to Harlem and Mongkok. Currently, we have made Feecha available only in Singapore. Once we have achieved that and completed the Android version, we will begin to roll out Feecha globally.

Why did you choose to start it up here?
Singapore is an ideal location because for many of us, Singapore is home. It also has an excellent infrastructure and business environment though we wish it had better mobile internet. Is there any reason really for Singapore to lag so much behind Korea and Japan? Other than that, it’s an ideal test market—Singaporeans are English-speaking, smartphone-savvy, geographically isolated and quite frankly, fickle consumers. If we can win in Singapore, we can win anywhere.

What do you think of the startup scene in Singapore?
It’s young and it’s growing. I’ve been impressed with all the energy, variety, government support and media interest. We attended both Echelon and Startup Asia, which are two excellent startup events. The foundation is there for a Google to emerge from Singapore. There are still some elements missing, though. Singapore lacks mentors who have been a part of building a world class venture—everyone seems to be figuring things out for the first time. The mentorship model is what makes tech scenes like those in Silicon Valley, New York and Israel successful. Also, a lot of Singapore’s best go into finance, medicine and law, and even those with engineering backgrounds prefer to work for large corporations. Starting may be easy in Singapore but finding enough talent to scale may be a challenge. We’ve also been told that Singaporeans are not too supportive of local companies—their apps are often seen as inferior.

What have been some of the challenges involved in getting Feecha off the ground?
New users’ first instinct is to use Feecha like they do Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram. When they do, they miss out on Feecha’s unique potential to help the user learn about a location and interact with the people in it. Our challenge has been to show users what new things are possible with Feecha. Fortunately, many have responded to our efforts with unbelievable engagement.

Is it already being used in ways you hadn’t foreseen?
We initially set out thinking Feecha was going to be a geographic directory of interesting things with social elements to it; something people check for a couple of minutes a day. What has surprised us is the unprecedented amount of social interaction and time that have gone into its usage—people love that they are interacting with others near them. They love Feecha’s “neighborhood feel”. We had two musicians who lived in the same area interacting for the first time over their common passion. It is those kinds of interactions that we have been floored to see. Feecha has become like a watering hole where animals from all walks of life in the same savannah can come together and hang out.


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