Innovating in the spirit of Iron Man
Jarvix might seem like another startup in the next generation of FinTech solutions, but Co-Founder and CEO Samson Ho (BBA(IS) 2017) has his eyes on a greater prize: developing an ecosystem of internet solutions inspired by Tony Stark and his AI powered assistant J.A.R.V.I.S.
“I’m an Iron Man fan, and the reason why I named this solution Jarvix is to inspire us to automate repetitive tasks for business, just like Tony Stark did. We can make an intelligent and comprehensive platform to solve problems and turn boring tasks into easy ones,” he says.
This strategy looks across a range of markets, powered by data, which could pay great dividend given the success of large tech companies like Apple and Uber in branching out their products and services. Indeed, Uber is where Samson and his partner met in 2016 while they were both working there. “We learnt how to optimise and automate services all based around data,” says Samson. “What we figured out was getting offline data is a key to making a good business,” he adds.
Rocket boost to business success
The team’s first creation was Jarvix.ai, a cloud application that enables merchants to automate marketing and inventory management, combine the- point-of-sales system with customer relationship management tools measuring membership and sales data. “From this we discovered that many SMEs are underserved by banks, many banks are unwilling to provide credit card payment processing services to them, while at the same time charging high rates for other services along with long waiting times and complicated registrations, and this was causing trouble and cash flow problems for the likes of beauty salons, fitness and educational centres, therefore we created Jarvix Pay,” says Samson.
But Samson and the team had to prove Jarvix Pay could really do what it claimed – aggregating payment platforms, providing applications, APIs and plugins, while eliminating long application process, annual fees, miscellaneous charges and minimum deposit requirements. “I think one of the challenges is getting your first customer, particularly within FinTech. I had to go door to door beauty centres to sell Jarvix Pay, but no one had heard of it and I couldn’t provide any successful cases. However, it helped me understand the needs and pain points of customers,” says Samson.
From local SMEs to the world
Jarvix Pay is now used by more than 5000 merchants, integrating online and offline payments in one plug-and play solution. The next step is to create “internet economic infrastructure”, which essentially is providing businesses a platform to deliver products to their customers. An example of this is their JumpPoint global logistics platform that connects businesses with logistics companies across the world, automates and optimises fulfilment, along with Jarvix Credit that provides pre-approved, personalised business loans to merchants.
“These types of services propel us to be a channel partner for the new wave of virtual banks and internet companies coming online in Hong Kong, we help them serve merchants much more efficiently by allowing them to tap into our merchant network,” says Samson.
Business idea started in HKU
Jarvix was Samson’s final year entrepreneurship project at HKU Business School, with professors helping him plan and design solutions, along with mentoring and networking opportunities. For Samson, what is more important than creating an entirely new business or innovation is reducing the barrier of entry to something and helping the mass market enjoy services and goods that were previously priced steeply.
Expansion during the pandemic
So has COVID-19 made an impact on business for Jarvix? “Of course, it has, but certain sectors like logistics is doing very well. Hong Kong lagged behind on digital services, but this year has almost been an education for many people, changing how consumers and business changed how the city worked,” Samson says.
Going forward, Samson sees Jarvix going global with a focus on Southeast Asia. “The internet penetration rates are getting higher and higher, they are mobile first, and Hong Kong has strong connections with both the culture and people. The fact that many in Southeast Asia don’t have bank accounts is beneficial to us,” he says.
So what would Samson say to budding entrepreneurs? “Don’t start a business unless you find a serious pain point that is common around the world, and the market size is already very big, but also happens to be niche enough that no one else is in it yet,” he says . “Then you just need to dominate the market with an aggressive pricing and growth strategy,” he adds.
With the spirit of Iron Man behind Jarvix anything is possible – what will the next step be?