The 4 steps YouTrip took to ensure financial resilience in times of crisis

Singapore-based payments startup YouTrip called 2022 an “eventful year” in a statement. As borders reopened and travel was back on our agenda, the company said it saw a 10.5x year-over-year increase in overseas spending as well as a 10x increase in user logins.

The company has recently launched new products such as YouBiz, which targets startups and SMEs in the region aiming to maintain and grow their global footprint through the payments platform.

Along with launching in-app travel insurance and securing partnerships with Singapore Airlines, Singtel and Booking.com, YouTrip enters its fourth year with a clear vision of what it wants to achieve.

“Our current priorities are to introduce new features and enhancements to YouTrip and YouBiz, expand our products into more markets in the region, and continue to strengthen our business through efficiency and cost optimization so that YouTrip remains resilient and well-equipped for the upcoming global macros Headwinds,” writes Weijern Lim, CFO at YouTrip, in a written interview with e27.

As start-ups in Southeast Asia grapple with the impact of successive global crises, we look to each other for advice and lessons on how to overcome them. And YouTrip is open to sharing their experiences. In this interview. Lim shares at length the valuable lessons the company learned, the choices it made along the way, and the type of mindset that is helping them get to where they are today.

For financial discipline

Lim explains that from the start, YouTrup believed in instilling a strong sense of financial discipline in the company and further strengthening efficiency and cost optimization during the pandemic.

Also Read: YouTrip Raises $30M to Expand into B2B and Enter New Markets

He lists the steps the company is taking to keep operations lean and efficient:

1. Review each cost item to identify areas for cost savings by either eliminating or reducing the cost
2. Renegotiations with major suppliers to improve commercial contract terms
3. Adoption of flexible working arrangements that allow employees to work more freely and efficiently
4. Building a robust finance team that was looking for ways to automate processes to keep track of costs and deductions

Regarding contract renegotiation, Lim explains, “Research the pricing of the industry thoroughly, including the market position of the vendors, the prices of the competitors and their portfolio of previous customers. Be aware of your working capital needs and negotiate your payment terms accordingly.”

“Retain flexibility in your contracts rather than committing to lengthy contracts or high minimums,” he says.

As the company behind YouBiz, a tool that helps startups and SMBs maintain or grow a global presence, YouTrip sees the value in having the right tools to help them work more efficiently. It uses tools like Zoom for virtual meetings and the messaging platform Slack for work communication, which has proven to be extremely helpful and productive.

As opportunities to travel return, YouTrip also sees the value in networking at offline events.

“Events are an effective way to interact with like-minded entrepreneurs and companies in the industry, as well as connect with potential partners, investors and customers. These interactions help build a personal brand for the company, especially as companies go increasingly digital,” says Lim, emphasizing the importance of researching event audiences and preparing conversation starters before going to an event.

Beyond VC funding

Raising VC funding has always been a popular option for many startups as they grow their business, to the point that it has eclipsed other existing alternatives such as government grants, venture capital, revenue-based funding and crowdfunding. In the meantime, these alternatives can help a company extend its runways.

Lim explained to e27 his experience of applying for grants in the past.

Also Read: Today’s Top Tech News: YouTrip Launches in Thailand, Gojek Launches Test Runs in Malaysia

“We have successfully applied for funding in the past and the experience has generally been very positive. Grant applications usually have very clear criteria that are publicly listed for applicants to follow, so companies know what materials to prepare for submission,” he explains.

“Once submitted, there will usually be follow-up work with the relevant authorities and institutions that require specific elaboration or clarification of information.”

The CFO has the following tips for startups looking to apply for grants as an alternative to VC funding.

“It would be helpful to do a thorough research of the grants available for your particular startup and industry and to speak to other entrepreneurs who have experience or have been successful in receiving these grants as they will be able to highlight the points you are making must pay attention to – particularly presenting proposals, documenting important business information, etc. – that best represent the startup, its products and services, and the benefits these solutions offer to users,” he elaborates.

“Agencies and institutions that offer grants usually provide a channel (via email or hotlines) to discuss all application requests. If anything is unclear, the startups should ask the agency or institution before submitting their application.”

And finally: “Keep the communication open with the agencies and institutions as the support can come in different forms, ie not all support will come in the form of funding.”

Outside of funding, moving to a service-oriented business is an option companies often use to expand their careers. Lim comments: “Focus on your customers and let them be at the forefront of all innovation and product development. The needs of our users and their payment needs have always been a priority for us at YouTrip as we embrace new technologies, develop new capabilities and strengthen our business model.”

Also Read: “In a Crisis, There’s Always an Opportunity”: Ben Mathias of Vertex Ventures

The silver lining

Lim ends the interview with a message about the most valuable lessons the company has learned during the crisis.

“Every challenge is an opportunity. In every situation there is a silver lining and you will surely find new opportunities in every crisis. At YouTrip, we’ve adhered to that mantra, staying agile no matter what, and thriving even in the midst of monumental changes and uncertainties,” he explains.

The lessons can be summarized in the following four points:

1. Focus on strengths and build on them. “We have remained true to our YouTrip mission of providing consumers and businesses with the best and smoothest multi-currency cross-border payments experience.”

2. Be imaginative and opportunistic. “We encourage colleagues to find better and smarter ways of working, leverage available resources and collaborate across teams to create new opportunities that enable them and the company to thrive.”

3. Be financially disciplined as investors look for cost discipline and profitable growth in startups. “Sustainability is just as important as growth.”

4. Keep operations lean and efficient by accurately managing various business expenses.

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Photo credit: YouTrip

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