Rhonda Wong’s vision of “making it” is not of herself, in fact, her millionaire status has no bearing on what she considers “success”. In our email interview with founder and CEO of Ohmyhome, the young entrepreneur told us her about what drives her and what her definition of success is.
“Success encapsulates character, wisdom, contribution, elegance and the journey that got you there.”
After graduating with a distinction from Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Rhonda became the only female trader in the history of Nico Trading. Based in Chicago, Rhonda had made her first million by the age of 25. However, for her, Singapore was always home. She returned to Singapore in 2014 and made a name for herself, founding Anthill Realtors where she brought hand-picked properties to investors.
By the time she turned 30, Rhonda had decided that it was time to give back to Singapore and the best way she knew how to do this was to use her expertise in property to help HDB owners and renters. Developed with her sister, Race, Ohmyhome was launched in 2015 to help turn home-searchers into home-owners directly and all for free.
Thank you for taking the time to tell us your story, Rhonda!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born in a village in Malaysia and then raised and educated in Singapore. From there, I went to Michigan for University where I had majors in Finance, Entrepreneurship, Accounting and a minor in Economics. My first job was as a treasury bonds options trader in Chicago. I came back to Singapore to be with my parents and started a bunch of businesses which eventually led to developing and launching Ohmyhome. My first ambitions that I can remember were to be a musician, a volunteer and a doctor.
You were a millionaire at such a young age. How did this happen?
The earnings were largely from trading.
What impact did your wealth have on you and your attitude towards life?
I wouldn’t quite call it wealth. At that age perhaps it seemed as though I was ahead but in the big spectrum of wealth and the successful people in the world, it really isn’t something I would rave about. Wealth is often a measurement of success but I hope everyone will agree that there is so much more to the meaning of the word success. I may have made some money in trading but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself successful. Success encapsulates character, wisdom, contribution, elegance and the journey that got you there. It is an art. And sometimes people with all that combination appear to be rich with nice houses and cars, what people don’t see are the journeys behind.
Wealth is a form of power, one who uses their power to improve the lives of others, is someone I would consider successful.
Why did you decide to start Ohmyhome?
I spend a lot of time at work and I used to think that I’ll just work for the sake of making money and then I’ll use that money to do the things that I like. Then I remember hearing a famous basketballer saying how blessed he was to be paid so well for doing something he loves every day. That stuck with me. I thought that made a lot of sense. Since I’m spending that much time, why don’t I do something that I love that is meaningful at the same time.
I have volunteered across the world from Dominican Republic to Myanmar and found that very often the ones who need the most help receive the worst help. I’ll like to change that, a step at a time if I can. Living in Singapore we are generally very blessed but we do face first world problems. 82% of our resident population living in HDB traditionally have a lack of options in transacting their own homes. But in reality they are fully capable of helping themselves if someone were to just make the process simpler. So we started Ohmyhome, simplifying the process of selling, buying, renting your HDB, so that today, everyone can manage this process themselves completely free of charge. And if they were to need an agent to assist, our flat fees are more manageable at $2,888. We have an exceptional team of highly experienced agents, and we’ve been getting wonderful reviews from our customers, which reaffirms that we’re on the right track.
Tell us a little about the product (Ohmyhome). What does it do and what is it all about?
Beta-launched in May 2016, Ohmyhome is a real estate platform and a CEA licensed real estate agency that allows users to buy, sell or rent HDB flats on their own without any hassle. Ohmyhome connects home searchers to home owners directly, for free. All listings are genuine, by owners, non-duplicated and simple to browse. Users can ask for free of charge assistance over the Ohmyhome hotline 6886 9009 anytime they need. For people who prefer a human touch, affordable additional agent and documentation services are available for a flat-fee of $2,888, regardless of HDB size or price.
Who do you think would most appreciate this service?
82% of all Singaporeans! The sellers, buyers and renters of HDB property now have choice. Our hotline, informative website and live chat, has all the required guidance to let users buy, sell or rent their HDB via the Do-It-Yourself platform (completely free). If you would prefer to engage an agent or documentation service, we also offer these options at prices that generate significant savings.
What’s coming up next for you and Ohmyhome?
More great stuff! We work endlessly in trying to improve our users lives and trying to solve more of the issues and difficulties they may face when it comes to housing. We won’t stop improving.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone wanting to start their own business?
It’s tough. Very, very tough. You must be one who enjoys challenges and are very passionate about your business at the same time because there will come days when you ask yourself whether it is all worth it. This is why it is always so important to start your business for the right reasons, hopefully meaningful ones.
We all have heard that it’s tough and that it takes hard work, but here are 3 areas that could be the ‘make’ or ‘break’ of your business.
Partners. In my experience, the inner strengths of core values and character traits that a person possesses is far more important than outer strengths in wealth and network. Lucky if you found someone who has a great combination of inner and outer strengths, but if I could only have one, I would choose to have a partner who aligns in values and has strong character traits. When your inner value systems align, problems such as trust, loyalty and disagreements over money that often tear a business apart are naturally avoided.
We must always put our people and our clients before our bottom line. Only true character will stand the test of time.
Managing cost is a very important skill set. It is very easy to overspend, whether it’s your own money or your investors’. I am a numbers person. I spend solid time sitting down by my computer to allocate budget to various departments before I begin spending. Even so, there will still be costs that I’ve overlooked, so allow about 20% of variance. Never allocate 100% out. That has helped me in keeping cost under control every time. There are many things that are really nice to have, but you can’t have it all, so focus your spending on the core goals that you are trying to achieve with that sum of money.
Hire wisely and be good to your team. I love my team and I sure hope they love me too. Take time and effort to select the right teammates. Aside from strengths and skill sets, I place much emphasis on cultural fit. One bad blood is enough to break a happy team. Never forget to treat your team well and appreciate them. It is your team that will help you get started, acquire customers, work through weekends, build the company. As someone once told me “Companies don’t go global, people do.”
Ohmyhome is available on the App Store and Google Play
For more information:
Ohmyhome Hotline: +65 6886 9009
Ohmyhome Email: firstname.lastname@example.org