This S’pore Telegram Channel Lets You ‘Sharetings’ For Free
He’s only 25 years old, but Jonathan How has already launched his first app called Sharetings.
The National Technological University (NTU) undergraduate in business is also the founder of the popular Telegram Singapore Freebies (Sgfreebie) channel.
His mission is to democratize upcycling, and his business is driven entirely by the desire to reduce unnecessary waste by making it easy for people to recycle their unwanted items through an online platform.
“Recycling and donation campaigns can be annoying, but platforms like Sharetings allow you to (upcycle) from your mobile,” Jonathan said.
Such a waste
The inspiration behind Sharetings came from the stupendous waste Jonathan saw his classmates produce.
In what has since become something of a college tradition, dozens of students coming out of their dorms got rid of unwanted items every semester.
He sees it as a huge waste of materials.
“They were throwing away useful items, (and) there was a lack of digital initiatives to address this problem,” laments Jonathan.
When he was in his first year of college in 2018, he created Singapore Freebies, which allowed users to list unwanted items for free through a five-step process.
With the help of several friends and volunteers, the Telegram channel quickly made waves.
As of early 2019, Singapore Freebies had over a few hundred posts per day and over 5,000 subscribers.
The item receipt rate has reached a constant rate of 70% and more than 56,000 items have been listed by 2020.
Motivated by the increase in user numbers, Jonathan set out to gauge the gap in the market for app sharing and realized that Singaporeans were big on freebies.
For example, Singapore’s Facebook groups offering free exchanges had over 100,000 subscribers. Strong in demand, it is taking its next step in entrepreneurial territory.
Build a sharing platform
In June 2019, Jonathan applied for the National Environment Agency (NEA) call for ideas fund with the aim of raising the necessary capital to create a mobile application.
The plan was to create a platform that could succeed where Singapore Freebies failed.
However, Jonathan had to find a co-funding partner in order to qualify for the government grant.
It took quick thinking and resourcefulness to find a co-funding partner. He landed on Southwest CDC, which at the time offered Eco Fund Plus.
Over a coffee, Jonathan convinced committee members to award him the scholarship – a major risk, given that he was a young and relatively inexperienced student.
“My passion convinced them … It’s about presenting a case that people believe in, creating perceived value so that they buy into your presentation.”
Killing two birds with one stone, Jonathan was able to secure seed money from two government agencies by December 2019.
As of September 2020, Jonathan had created and released the beta app for Sharetings.
A significant advance over the Telegram channel, the app rewards its users for exchanging gifts in the app, is able to aggregate transaction data, and prevents scams through an automated moderation feature.
“This is definitely an important step,” says Jonathan.
A post-graduate project
Jonathan is currently close to graduating from NTU, and Sharetings is a project he plans to work on well beyond graduation.
“It’s significant,” he said simply.
Singapore Freebies users have posted stories about how their articles have helped others online.
Jonathan also hosted two events to raise awareness about sharing earlier this year.
The first took place in Choa Chu Kang and involved a free giveaway bringing together over six blocks of residents. The second event was organized in partnership with the Jurong Community Center.
Currently, Sharetings and Singapore Freebies users largely include housewives, and items shared online are typically home appliances.
Looking to the future, Jonathan wants to develop traction for his app and be able to contribute in a modest way to the burgeoning sustainability movement in Singapore.
“We can take advantage of technology to find interesting solutions to problems. It’s about (facilitating) for people to change their ways. “
Featured Image Credit: Shares
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