INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Alpha Bierneza, Singapore

This app allows travelers earn extra cash by ‘tompang-ing’ in safer way

It devises a system to avoid fake requests.

The whole buy and sell market is flooded with various request and fulfill apps to suit your needs but there is one problem that all these have in common - fake requests. This is where Tompang the World (TPTW) comes in.

“Tompang” is a local term in Singapore which means to request a traveller to carry you an item from his trip. TPTW, in essence, run on the global marketplace where the platform connects travelers worldwide to requesters so that people around the world can shop globally by requesting, without having to fly across continents themselves to get the product they want, or pay exorbitant shipping fees. Travelers can also earn some extra cash by "Tompang-ing" ("piggybacking") off of traveler's excess luggage space. TPTW’s service is not limited in Singapore.

TPTW is similar to other buy and sell app, but the team behind it argues that demanding a deposit be put down prior to being able to publish the post is what make their app different. According to co-founder Jenn Ong, the app will ensure the validity of each request while allowing multiple requests of the same item, and eliminating repeat items on the user's interface.

According to Jenn, the increasingly globalized and sharing economy allowed them thought of capitalizing the concept of crowdshipping. TPTW he said, is about being able to shop wherever you want, regardless of where you are. It is essentially a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform, connecting your “request” for an item, to a travelling “mule”- from anywhere across the world.

“One of our Unique Selling Points is the ability for a single request to receive multiple offers, thus allowing the Requester to choose the counterparty who can provide the best value, whether it be on price, service or other factors. We also hold money in escrow to ensure delivery and fulfillment of requests, which also ensures validity of posted requests. Advanced functionality includes tools for customers to "favorite" items, a "deliver by" date for time sensitive items, a chat function, etc.,” Jenn explained.

Request & Fulfill concept

The idea to request & fulfill has been around for many years. Jenn who studied overseas would often be asked to tompang (buy) things and bring them back during the holidays. But as he grew older, the only things that changed were the reasons for travel and the products people wanted, he said.

Jenn said that while the Internet has made many products available, people still weren't able to obtain what they want, or were asked to pay exorbitant amounts due to excessive shipping costs, regional restrictions and pricing disparity. There is no doubt then, he said, that the informal system of asking traveller to bring you back items from abroad still exists. TPTW wanted to formalize it.

According to Jenn, the team has originally built the Request & Fulfill function into their first app, Tompang, which was launched April 2014, to provide total solution where users could buy & sell items, and if they couldn't find it, make a request for someone to fulfill it. But after much discussion internally, and with their community, they felt that the International nature of the Request & Fulfill function was not in sync with the local-oriented P2P Marketplace. And to truly work well, it required additional functionality, some of which didn't apply to the marketplace. Enter TPTW, a standalone app that allowed users to Post a Request and/or make an Offer to Fulfill a request.

The team behind the app

Jenn Ong, co-founder spent most of his formative years traveling and studying overseas. He began his primary education at the Anglo Chinese School in Singapore, and moved to the UK to complete his secondary education at Haileybury College. Jenn then returned to Singapore to serve his National Service as a Supply supervisor. Upon completion, Jenn went to the US to complete his bachelor’s degree in Finance and Management Information Systems at Boston University. Jenn has worked with Crown Games, a subsidiary of Crown Entertainment, in setting up and streamlining their online gaming system in the early 2000. Subsequently, he also assisted in setting up Sterling Senses, a cosmetic distributor/retailer. From 2003 till now, Jenn has been with Metro Holding Limited as a Business Development Manager, exploring new industries and products, as well as working with existing partners in their property development business. 

Janet Ong-Tay, co-founder, is a serial entrepreneur. She co-founded the restaurant chain Billy Bombers, which she later sold to HESHE holdings. She also co-founded an e-procurement software company, and was key to the development of its software engine. She later also sold this company to Rothschild Singapore. Awarded the coveted Most Promising Young title by the Singapore Tatler, her entrepreneurial nature has seen her spearhead the expansion to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and China for DTS. Janet was also an inaugural Singapore-Australia Young Business Ambassador.

Ben See, Operations, has founded several of his own startups from 1999 to 2012. His startups ranged from system integration and digital consulting services, to educational products. He has also had the privilege of working with companies such as Singapore Power, SMRT Corporation, Singapore Exhibition Services, and Mindef in his 13 years as an entrepreneur, and additionally managed to establish an office in Wuhan, China, for one of his ventures.From 2013 to 2014, he worked as a Director in Edenpod; a Singapore-based business incubator for Mobile/Web-Solution Startups. Edenpod invests and works with individuals and companies that have innovative ideas, helping it create and realize its true value for its partners, clients, investors, and more importantly, its consumers. During this period, he analyzed and brainstormed business models for the various startups while performing the role of operations, project management, and business development. He is currently also the external reviewer/mentor in the Entrepreneurship Project Review Panel (EPRP) at Nanyang Polytechnic. Here he evaluates start-ups, and makes recommendations for its support and funding.

Singapore Business Review seeks out for outstanding mobile apps - from productivity tools to games - by Singapore-based developers. Kindly message Lee Anne Babierra at research@charltonmediamail.com for possible feature.

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This app allows travelers earn extra cash by ‘tompang-ing’ in safer way

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