Mr Zal Dastur and Mr Kaiesh Vohra were working in a Singapore-based SME when they saw some of the struggles that the digital marketing department faced when getting sales leads online.
"The system wasn't transparent and fair. One person was in charge of digital marketing and her job was to note down all the leads that came in from the company's website, which would typically be about five per day. She was then supposed to give the leads to the sales team," said Mr Dastur.
But Mr Dastur and Mr Vohra, both 33, found that she wasn't doing that.
Instead, she was giving the leads to those she favoured.
"As the particular salesperson knew the leads belonged to him, he would sit on them and take his time to get back to the customer, so there was a huge slowness in the process of getting back to the customer," explained Mr Dastur.
During meetings, the duo realised there was no way of tracking how many leads each salesperson got.
"Someone would say they closed five leads out of 10, which is good. But in reality, he could have closed five out of 20. There was no way for us to know," said Mr Dastur.
Mr Dastur, who was the company's business development manager, also decided to test the sales team and called them up one afternoon as a potential customer, but no one answered.
Best friends since the age of 12, Mr Dastur and Mr Vohra, were schoolmates at Tanglin Trust School and then at United World College, found this a problem that many companies might be experiencing so they set out to start Lucep - a mobile app for lead and prospect management for businesses.
Mr Vohra, who has a degree in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, was born in the UK and is a permanent resident here.
"The tool allows sales personnel to connect with any prospect that comes on the company's website," said Mr Dastur, who has a masters degree in international business and marketing from Monash University.
Lucep has a widget that appears on a business' website, much like a customer support chat box. Prospective customers can enter their name, phone number, and question. On the business' side, a notification pops up on the salesperson's phone, who can then get in touch with the customer immediately.
Only the first salesperson who clicks "get it now" on the lead notification will get information about the lead, so it stops multiple salespersons from the same company responding to the same lead.
"This makes every salesperson in the team hungry for the lead," said Mr Dastur, who was born in Manila but relocated to Singapore because of his father's work.
The app also provides them with specific analytics on each lead.
For example, they can see how many times the customer visited the website and how much time they spent reading each section of the website.
This gives the salesperson the ability to call the lead instantly with information so they can better tailor their pitch to the customer. The start-up also sends weekly reports to companies that subscribe to its services.
"This is a more transparent process where you can see how many salespersons in the company received leads and how many they closed," said Mr Dastur.
Lucep, which also has an office in Bengaluru, has over 450 client companies which subscribe to its services.
They include Woh Hup Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, CapitaLand, Fullerton Healthcare and QVC Realty Co.
The companies either opt for a $25 or $30 plan.
While starting the company was administratively easy, hiring talent has been an "on-going struggle".
Said Mr Dastur: "Working in a start-up has a lot more to do with attitude than aptitude. Some people are not cut out for it because they don't have the right mindset."
Funding is another challenge the duo face.
"There are thousands of start-ups in Singapore but a limited pool of investors. The investors know that they are in demand so they can wait to see how successful you are before they invest," said Mr Dastur, who added that he started the business with Mr Vohra using their personal savings and funding from family members.
Despite the challenges, they believe that their persistence has paid off.
"It is especially rewarding to get feedback that our clients' customers are delighted they got such a quick response.
"We're helping businesses grow by responding quickly and giving them the information that is important to their customers. Seeing these companies getting sales and growing - that is what is exciting," said Mr Dastur.
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