Interview with Brian Chin of BUTLUR
What is BUTLUR?
BUTLUR helps discerning people enhance relationships by assisting them in the discovery of thoughtful gifts. Those who join our social commerce platform have access to gift recommendations generated by BUTLUR’s adaptive algorithm. Membership is free and our curated gifts are sold at retail price. In addition, BUTLUR members get access to premium services such as custom designed products, personalization options and gift-wrapping.
Tell us about the business – right from when you first conceived the idea to where you are now?
BUTLUR was first conceived out of my personal frustration at trying to find an appropriate gift for someone who seemingly “has everything.” There were several gifting sites on the web but nothing that catered to my needs.
BUTLUR’s target demographic is high-income earners with sophisticated taste who are short on time, need gifting advice or both. Hong Kong is an ideal test city for the Company’s concept given its distinct population mix and attractive demographics relative to BUTLUR’s target audience. Thus far, feedback has been tremendously positive and the Company looks forward to growing the business.
How did you decide upon the name BUTLUR?
It took a while! A butler is someone who typically has astute taste and the ability to give helpful advice. BUTLUR is a bit of a play on words for “Your Butler.”
Tell us about your team. Did you have all the expertise you needed to launch this business or did you have to outsource any of the components?
Currently, the team is composed of myself and one other person. My focus is on the business, finance and sales while Dennis focuses on web development and functionality. I purposefully structured the company to have a very lean business model with low fixed costs, no inventory and negative working capital which allows us maximum flexibility in building our business.
I am not a proponent of outsourcing so I am trying to keep everything in house. We are currently looking to add a developer (front and/or back end experience) as well as a marketing person.
What was the development process like? How long did it take?
Before diving into the business we did some initial surveys and research to assess the market opportunity. Once we were comfortable with that we got a functional site up very quickly in order to get real feedback from customers. We’ve been able to adjust and execute several iterations to our business model since we launched.
What are some of the biggest challenges you encountered so far?
One of the biggest challenges we are facing here is finding employee talent, especially on the technical developer/ UX/UI level.
Did you raise funds to launch BUTLUR or was it self funded?
To this point we have been self-funded. However, we plan to raise outside funding in the near future.
What’s next for BUTLUR?
We’re continuing to innovate and improve BUTLUR’s service offering. We’re looking forward to introducing some improved functionality and continuing to build BUTLUR’s membership base. We plan to raise some funding to launch a formal marketing campaign for BUTLUR. BUTLUR is striving to become a leading social commerce platform for people looking for gifts with ease and convenience.