An under-served market. With lots of room for growth. And opportunities for more people to find convenience and cost savings. That’s what Thong Mei Chuen saw before she made Tribecar – a hourly car rental platform pegged at affordable rates – a reality here in Singapore. Chuen, as we all affectionately know her here at Trehaus, is a go-getter mom of two who has made motherhood and work work for her. She shares in our Member Spotlight this month with us on why Tribecar, and how it is working out for her while being a mom.
8 Questions for Chuen
Tell us more about your business and why you started it.
We have been invested in the transportation business for almost 20 years mainly involved in traditional car rental and leasing. Two years ago, we felt that not only was the car rental industry becoming increasingly saturated, the landscape was being permanently altered by Uber and Grab. As a result, consumer behavior has evolved and it was imperative we do the same.
Together with our co founders who are proud graduates of NUS, we were able to revitalize our traditional assets (cars) by putting in place a fractional car booking platform – Tribecar. Today we have over 120 cars in 95 locations across Singapore, and rental rates range from $2-6/hour depending on the booking time. We felt the need to disrupt the current car rental model by giving customers the freedom to book cars at convenient locations whenever they wanted at affordable rates, and the response and utilization rates have been encouraging! We’ve also recently started working with taxi fleets, which is a nice endorsement for our technology.
What has being an investor taught you?
That all the pre-investment courtship means relatively little in the whole journey. The party only starts after we’ve signed the deal and begin to execute as a team. Keeping your eye on the ball is just as important as being nimble and knowing when to change directions.
What are the highs and lows of starting this business?
Lows – starting out with zero funding and trying to prove the business model on a shoestring budget.
Highs – seeing the vision begin to take place and how far we can run with this.
How did you hear of Trehaus?
Received a mall flyer with Trehaus advertised – caught my eye as I was a new mom at the time
How has your experience at Trehaus been so far?
Wonderful! The team is the heart of the place. Dani, my daughter, and I have grown so fond of everyone and always look forward to our time at Trehaus.
What made you decide to bring your daughter with you to work?
It wasn’t a decision really – any place that allows me to maximize productivity and time with kids is a no-brainer.
Has bringing your child to work affected your productivity / efficiency at work?
I’m probably slightly less efficient than if I were at a regular office, but I’d be a lot less happy there too. It’s great being able to take a break at the Atelier to see Dani and hang out with other parents.
Entrepreneur, mompreneur, businesswoman, work-at-home mom… what would you describe yourself as? What would you say to moms like you who would like to become an entrepreneur?
Haha – how about “mom-trying-to-survive-kids-and-work!” Being a working mom has taken efficiency and multi tasking to a different level, as I’m sure all mothers can appreciate. What has been important for me is being able to stick to some sort of schedule to carve out time for the kids, my marriage, work, and importantly, some downtime for myself.
An investment banker for 10 years before starting Tribecar, Chuen serves as the Director at Tribecar, juggling motherhood (she has two beautiful girls!) while at it. She started the business when she and her brother noticed an under-served group of car hirers who wanted very short-term rentals, ranging from mums to nightshift workers, and took the plunge with this idea of disrupting the current car rental business model.