Do you need a tech degree to create a successful travel app? Not really. Charlotte Chen proves that all you need is years of experience, the guts to keep on trying and an idea that will take the digital world by storm.
CLickRF, Corbis/Click Photos
Don’t be afraid to chart your own path
“I’m from a family of entrepreneurs [who are involved in fashion], so from day one, I knew I wasn’t really fit for a [typical] working environment. But I think I went through the whole banking thing because I needed to do something completely diff erent to see if it might be worthwhile.”
Never fear failure
“I created an app in 2012 called Ninja Rooms – it was an app that let you book hotel rooms at the last minute. But when we showed the app to hotel managers, they said “you don’t have experience or a track record, why should we give you the rooms [to sell]?” I knocked on hundreds of doors, but we couldn’t secure anything, and the app failed. But you can only get better after you fail. In each experience, I learnt to sharpen my judgement and pick the right people in the right business at the right time.”
Money is important, but it’s not everything
“Money shouldn’t define your success. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a millionaire so bad so I went down the [banking] route. But after grinding for five years, I realised that money doesn’t buy you happiness.The soul searching happened when I realised I had to do something that I was passionate about to make my life better.”
Don’t just follow your passion
“People will always tell you to follow your passion, but that alone isn’t enough. You need to be good at it and the world must need [your product]. So you could be passionate and good at what you do, but it won’t work out if the world doesn’t need your stuff . You need to be able to hit all three criteria.”
Even the finest ideas need honing
“Spottly started because co-founder Edwyn [Chan] and I wanted a platform that made travelling easy. He wanted an easy way to bookmark and store all his favourite places and I wanted an easy way to compile my recommendations from my frequent travels! The idea fell into place quickly, but we took 10 months to conceptualise and execute everything before we launched. During that period, we changed our tagline 15 times!”
2007 Senior Associate at Macquarie Bank
2011-2012 Co-founder of a web start-up, and Director of Ninja Rooms 2005 Transaction Services Associate at KPMG
2012 Brand Strategy and Business Development Director at Bao Bao Wan Fine Jewelry
2013 Founder of Empypr & Co, a boutique fashion PR agency
2013 Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Spottly
What is Spottly?
If you’re looking for an easier way to store your travel must-visits, Spottly might just be your new travel BFF. This nifty app lets you save the travel spots that you want to see, or have already visited. Just snap a picture, geo-tag it, and you’ve got a scrapbook of places that you can easily share with your friends. You can also follow other Spottly users to find out where the hippest people hang out.
Spottly is available for free at the Apple App store and Google Play.