Integrating the ‘mobile data deprived’ with hotspot partners & communities

Lin Shu Fen, Co-Founder – Gluu Life
An experienced media and technology executive who has built businesses and product platform/eco-system, Lin Shu Fen, Co founded Gluu Life, Singapore’s first P2P (Peer to Peer) mobile hotspot platform.

As the former Vice-President/Head of media and broadband connectivity business of integrated telco in SG, she was responsible for P/L, business, product platform development and marketing for quad play operator in SG. She managed $600m revenue, led strategic multi-m network platform and content business cases and has also created & brought to business, success award-winning OTT video-streaming service for quad-play operator.

The team saw it as an opportunity to tackle one of today’s leading issue among many – the lack of mobile data, that led to Gluu Life. Seen in a recent data deprivation survey by Circles.Life, it was reported that 50% of surveyed consumers exceed their monthly mobile data, with 6 out of 10 consumers barely getting by with their current data plans.

Powered by its crowdsource marketplace for mobile data, Gluu Life’s ecosystem of hotspot partners and community of users can share their unused mobile data with the data deprived. Users can also source mobile data from the Gluu cloud globally – this would mean doing away with the hassle of acquiring Wi-Fi dongles and data cards when overseas!

Lin Shu Fen is also a speaker at the upcoming ConnecTechAsia summit in Singapore in June 2018. She shares some more insights from her professional journey & her plans to scale up her venture in this interview with ABT.

Tell us about your most cherished milestone.
Not sure if there’s a “MOST CHERISHED”. Every milestone in my life is the universe delivering a learning experience for me, and they did in shaping who i am today and how i can contribute to life. From having children, to taking challenging leadership roles to starting my own business. I believe the consequences of any life or business event is driven largely by how one chooses to perceive it.

What is Gluu Life all about? How is it a disruptive idea in the digital world?
The core values of Gluu Life is about trust and simplicity. We founded it, wanting to bring more trust and positive energy to consumer experiences especially in areas that are ripe for disruption. We believe if the system and model fosters trust amongst the community, it cuts down unnecessary layers and costs, therefore the experience will naturally improve significantly.

The founders are big believers of decentralisation as a force to deliver these values on mobile connectivity, which has become a big part of our lives and its demand is only expected to soar. Gluu is a peer to peer marketplace for mobile data that will be built on Blockchain, leveraging on the community and its innovations to significantly improve the supply of the mobile data, so access to connectivity is as easy as electricity. Our mission is to create a secure and available WiFi cloud for our users who can tap on it anywhere. Especially when you travel, to have an easy and consistent experience of accessing connectivity can be such an empowerment.

Our users share their mobile data on Gluu for rewards through a virtual currency known as “Glits”. These Glits can be used to exchange for products and services at the GLUU Store. Travellers can source for cheaper and better quality connectivity through their mobile phone, without the inconvenience of queuing and setting up dongles and data cards. Gluu will deploy AI and Blockchain technologies to provide a platform that will optimise these P2P trades through GLUU fair trade policy, GLUU secure connect, etc.

We believe we empower our users to get more value from data by participating in the supply or being at the right place at the right time.

Tell us more about the collaboration opportunities that Gluu Life offers.
We welcome anyone who wants to participate in the Gluu P2P economy, as well as brands and partners who can enhance our connectivity cloud footprint in terms of coverage and/or partners in the Gluu store through their compelling products and services. We believe we are a compelling O2O partner for any brand. Through our usage data, we hope to drive insights that can improve consumer experiences at the end of the day. We are setting up the Gluu Data Foundry for this purpose.

Do you feel privileged as a Woman leading a technology firm? Tell us more.
I feel humbled, and privileged that I have this opportunity. it requires incredible support from my family members and friends. It is also my responsibility to do my job well to be a testament that women bring major value to the table in the traditionally male-dominated industries. I believe firms led by a strong women representation are the ones that will outlast.

My co-founder is a male. We don’t look at it as male or female thing but a productive and complementary application of our strengths and skills into the business. This way, we can make up for each other’s weaknesses as well. We believe the output and value is significantly larger than the sum of each of us. We make special effort to be honest and communicative because in the early stages of the start-up, founder or team synergy is very critical to growth.

We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, or a nice entrepreneurship story but fizzle later. We are here to stay, and continually build value for our shareholders.

What are challenges that you face in business as a Techpreneur? How do you overcome them?
As start-ups, you are building something out of nothing much. Most variables are not in your favour. Whether it is convincing talents to join your new start-up, persuading partners to work with your new brand or to support your programmes, its cashflow so one has to be incredibly smart and shrewd with financial management.

Start-ups are disruptors and magicians by default because they lack – funds, infrastructure, existing base etc but they have to still make it work and make a grand story out of it. So they turn every problem into opportunity by perceiving differently from others. Because of this, they unlock value that wasn’t previously seen.

I used to look for experience and skills when I hire to make up what we lacked. It was difficult during our earlier days because we could provide neither security nor certainty. Now I look for people who are hungry but determined to work with us because they are the best learners. It matters less that they did not have relevant experience, as long as they believe in our business and values, we’ll create something exceptional together. Our business model is disruptive anyway, so there are not many precedents we can find anyway.

Your thoughts on the key areas that need to be addressed for securing online data of the users
Secure connectivity is an essential, and users will expect this for public wifi zones moving forward. This concern is at Gluu’s core, hence Gluu Secure Connect is designed to ensure connections between devices and to the internet are secured.

What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
Between my founder and myself, we have many plans, business models and potential pivots in our heads because there’s so much potential with Gluu. The reality with start-ups is you have to be nimble and responsive to the market development.

Gluu is focused on launching well in Singapore and a few key markets in SE Asia. We want to see how users benefit economically from participating in the Gluu economy, and work with our partners to drive great experiences.