For Ohmyhome CEO Rhonda Wong, property transactions are more than just numbers on a screen.
Rhonda Wong could have stayed in her lane. She was living a comfortable life after having made her first million as a derivatives trader in Chicago when she was only 25. She returned to Singapore in 2008 and managed several businesses before starting Anthill Realtors in 2014. The consultancy sourced investment-grade properties for high net worth clients.
But the desire to start a business that could create a meaningful societal impact prompted Wong and her elder sister Race to launch Ohmyhome, a property technology platform that aims to simplify real estate transactions, in 2016. The idea was simple: let users list their properties for free and provide a chat platform for sellers and buyers to connect.
“Home is at the heart of everything we do. Growing up, my sisters and I moved many times, dictated by the fortunes of our parents’ businesses. We would move from small properties to large houses and then back to smaller again,” shares Wong. “But, no matter the size of our home, it was always filled with happy memories. You hardly hear anyone saying you should upgrade to a better home because a better home is one that’s filled with joy. The entire journey made us realise that there was too much focus on the price of a home.”
Ohmyhome initially focused only on HDB flats before expanding its reach to include other properties. Today, the start-up has served over 200,000 users, raised over US$2.9 million (S$4 million) in a 2018 Series A funding round and expanded to Malaysia in 2019 as well as the Philippines just last month.
While the pandemic provided logistical challenges for Wong and her team – “physical viewings were no longer allowed, so we had to scramble to set up virtual ones instead” – the CEO notes that the business has remained financially resilient. She admits, however, that remote leadership is challenging. “You not only have to manage your staff but also understand their family situations. With Zoom calls, you can see what’s going on. It made me realise that some homes are not ideally set up for work. It also made me realise that when my employee can’t work because of family situations, I just have to deal with it.”
The pandemic has also encouraged her to momentarily slow down, which also means taking stock of her wardrobe. The 34-year-old credits her sisters – Race and Roseanne, formerly the Cantopop duo called 2R – for her sense of style.
“They constantly made sure I was presentable,” Wong says, laughing. “Style wasn’t something that came naturally to me, so they’d observe what I was wearing and pass remarks like ‘Why are you not wearing any makeup?’ or ‘Don’t you know we’re going out for dinner?’ We still remain very close.”
For this shoot, Wong chose this mustard outfit from Hermes and paired it with a necklace. It’s very much in line with her fashion philosophy: be comfortable yet presentable and showcase your personality. “I have a young child. I like to be quick when I dress up so I can spend as much time with my son and husband, and get to work on time!”
Art direction FAZLIE HASHIM
Stylist DOLPHIN YEO
FASHION ASSISTANT THOMAS HONG
HAIR GREGO USING KEUNE MAKEUP LOLENT LEE USING DIOR
CLOTHES POLYESTER STRETCH TURTLENECK, COTTON WRAPS PLEATED FRONT CULOTTES AND ROPE NECKLACE WITH LEATHER STATEMENT PENDANT, ALL FROM HERMES. LEATHER BOOTIES WITH GEMS FROM ROGER VIVIER.