Singapore Sparks Interview: Khailee Ng of

How did SAYS come about and where is it going?
SAYS was born out of conversations with advertising friends, who wanted new ways of engaging social media users with great content. We used SAYS to popularize a group buying site I co-founded called, which was later acquired by Groupon. Some of my former team members still run Groupon Malaysia and other Asia Pacific offices today. This is why I believe in what SAYS can do and replicating its power in new markets is naturally, the next step.

What was it like when you first launched?
SAYS first took off in 2010 in Malaysia, where there was a very active social media population. It was a very good test location for a global social media company and the response was encouraging. We grew to over 400,000 users, reached half the social media population in the country with our campaigns and worked with 70 of the country’s largest advertisers.

Why did you to decide to expand into Singapore?
My mom is Singaporean and I come back to visit family very often so it’s like my second home. We’re still testing the waters at the moment but with several thousand users and seven major advertisers signed up, it feels like it’s off to a good start.

Does the style of usage differ across the markets?
Yes and no. Some things don’t change. Users such as those in India and the Philippines, enjoy news and sharing them with friends. Australian users however, seem to have a different motivation behind sharing. It’s early days yet and we still have a lot to learn about the usage metrics. The landscape is also evolving. But as we launch more features, we’ll find out more about what’s important to focus on.

Local start-ups have invested in similar ventures—what do you think of them?
I like how quick Gushcloud rolls out new features. It seems that all of us are trying to crack this model in a major but scalable way. There’s a lot to learn from each other as we fine-tune our approaches.

What’s been some of your biggest challenges?
The scene is heating up and more players are making their moves in the key markets. Rocket Internet has even launched a clone of SAYS. Right now, we’re striving to innovate and scale faster while keeping quality standards. This stretches us a team and we’re excited about the challenge.

What do you think of the Singapore start-up scene?
It’s fun. I was speaking at the most recent Echelon event and am impressed by how Singapore is shaping up to be a great hub for startup activity.

What do you foresee for SAYS in the next five years?
As a product, it’ll be something useful to millions of people. As a company, it has to be a game-changing workplace. We’ve recently been featured on WorldBlu’s list of the World’s Most Democratic Workplaces alongside and it’s a small step towards what we really want to create: a great company that truly improves lives.