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Ohmyhome’s Rhonda and Race Wong on parenting, entrepreneurship and more

Acing motherhood and entrepreneurship like bosses

Ohmyhome is a homegrown PropTech platform that provides a unique one-stop solution to property needs in Southeast Asia. Embodying the spirit of entrepreneurship through their passion and determination to create an integrated ecosystem of property services, sister duo co-founders Rhonda Wong and Race Wong have created a platform that has transacted close to 5,300 homes in Singapore and Malaysia, which represents a combined value of S$1.6 billion. 

Most recently, Ohmyhome announced their launch into the Philippines property market where they see great potential for growth as the market is underserved by a technology-lead solution for transacting property.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis hit, many working parents struggled to balance work and home life, but the pressures of the pandemic have definitely caused the emotional strain on parents to stretch across the country. Figuring out how to finagle it all is always a challenge, especially when starting up a business while trying to cling onto the fleeting moments of your child’s childhood makes it a whole lot harder. Yet, there are those who manage the competing demands of work and home with apparently effortless grace.

We spoke to Rhonda Wong, CEO and Co-founder of Ohmyhome and Race Wong, CPO and Co-founder of Ohmyhome about parenting, entrepreneurship and more.

TVM: Do you think the narrative of “balancing being a mom and an entrepreneur” is exhausting as men never get asked these questions or do you think it is important to celebrate and encourage females, especially moms in the business world?

Rhonda: Some parts of our society still holds the view that women should be obligated to perform caretaking roles in the family, whether it is for children or the elderly. And we can’t deny that being a mom is indeed a common and valid reason for why many women have chosen to take a back seat in their careers.

We all only have 24 hours a day and we have to choose how we spend it. Therefore, I understand that it can be intriguing to know how female entrepreneurs make their choices, at times against all odds.

The fact that men are not asked this question could be a cause of frustration for some fathers who would like to spend more time being a dad, and yet society expects them to be less involved and less suitable to sacrifice their career for that reason.

To me, it is definitely important to celebrate one’s achievements regardless of gender. Men and women should both be given a fair chance and platform to excel and make decisions that allow them to best contribute to society. There are challenges all the time especially when you’re trying to achieve more, regardless of whether you’re a mom or a dad.

TVM: What does motherhood mean to you and how do you channel it in your personalities as well as in everything you do, including Ohmyhome.

Race: Motherhood has changed me. I try to consciously practise being more empathetic and patient towards people after becoming a mum and I have learned to communicate better too. Having a child is also a constant reminder that the work we do at Ohmyhome needs to have a positive impact on our society.

We understand that being a parent and working full-time is challenging, so we do our best to help our Ohmyhome team and make them feel supported. With that in mind, the office’s meeting rooms can be made into kids’ playrooms so that parents can take care of their infants whilst at the workplace.

Before COVID-19, we also hosted get-togethers with the Ohmyhome team and their families. For example, Bring Your Family to Work Day, Barbeque parties and even National Day gatherings.

TVM: What kind of relationship do you have with your mum?

Race: We have a very close-knitted relationship with our mum where we can lean towards her for support regardless of it being a personal, relationship or work issue. Growing up, our mum didn’t spend much time with us as she was running her business full-time and making ends meet as a migrant from Malaysia. However, she was always there for us when we needed someone to talk to.

This came naturally because our mum is a very kind, patient and caring person which makes her very approachable. As she is also a successful businesswoman, we share the challenges we faced at work with her and she provides good advice to us. She’s certainly a very all-rounded woman. Apart from work, any spare time will be invested in our family, which includes our parents.

TVM: What is the one thing you wish people would stop asking working moms and why?

“Why do you work so hard? Just stay at home and be a taitai.” To some people, I guess they have this idea that women work for money. But if a man marries a successful wife, will people say the same to him? And wouldn’t that be a very condescending remark?

Work has to be meaningful to everyone and for lucky people like ourselves, we work hard not just to make ends meet but to contribute to our society and to grow as individuals.

TVM: I understand that Rhonda that you have worked on several businesses, including retail in Singapore; import and export of equipment from the USA and acted as a consultant on other businesses, such as children’s education in Suzhou, China.

Could you share more on your experience with children’s education in China and how you apply that in your day to day life today?

Rhonda: My experience with children’s education was from a time when I was younger, single and business-focused. I found children’s education business has the potential to be highly lucrative on 2 spectrums, one form which is for the premium market, customized education, low student to teacher ratio, priced at high fees. The other form, affordable premium education managed at scale or digitized. With 4 grandparents and 2 parents to one child in China, there was high spending power available to contribute to each child.

I think a powerful business should have the opportunity to be highly lucrative, and also highly impactful in a positive manner. Most might think that children’s education is naturally highly impactful as it serves to educate our next generation.

Ironically, I found the impact portion of the business lacking, at least in those that I was consulting for. It functioned more like a business machine to take advantage of the demands of the community, priced to max out the affordability of the consumers. It was lucrative but wasn’t inspiring.

I continue to apply the idea of a powerful business at Ohmyhome. Given that real estate is the largest asset class in the world, the massive growth opportunity of our business as a one-stop-shop is a given.

But having a positive impact is equally, if not more, important, which is why we made Ohmyhome a free platform that is accessible to all. Quality, transparent services like one has never experienced before on any other platforms, bringing liquidity to the real estate transaction market which is traditionally illiquid.

Our platform enhances the lives of our consumers from the transactions of their homes to the maintenance of it for years to come. It is something that is powerful and something that we are very proud of.

TVM: I understand that Race you also have extensive experience in the film and media industry. From finance to the creative sector and now real-estate, you have a very diverse set of skills- what do you enjoy the most? Also, how do the experiences from one field inspire/compliment another?

Race: I like to create things where I can see the output as a product versus the finance industry where the output is in the form of profit and loss for clients.

In the film and media industry, I loved it when I had my first physical album (CD). I was lucky it existed back then because these days, most albums or songs end up as a track on Spotify without a physical product. The movie industry is a very special industry where the actors are part of the screenwriter’s or director’s dream product, playing out a role or life one would otherwise experience.

Now in the Proptech industry, my role as the Chief Product Officer allows me to continue to create products. The good thing is that this time, I am more in control of the dream product instead of creating someone else’s dream.

I think every person has a unique background and it all adds up to mould who we are and our abilities today. As an entrepreneur, I have to wear many hats a day when dealing with the different departments. I guess my background as an actress helps to have the ability to see and deep dive into the business, and yet also know when to step back and see the project or business from a third person perspective as an audience or customer. This is important because one can be very carried away in the creation process and lose touch with what customers actually want.

Founders of Ohmyhome– a promising startup and mothers, Rhonda and Race, have definitely proven to defy all odds with an insatiable drive, pursuing a trail-blazing career while devoting a staggering amount of time to mum duties. They are an inspiration to young moms in Singapore and around the region.

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