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10 Minutes With…The Founders of Butler Asia

An interview with the Founders of Butler Asia

Hong Kong is home to an abundance of creative talent, spanning across different career paths from chefs to designers. Each week we interview creatives and entrepreneurs from across the city to learn more about their passions and aspirations. This week, we got up and personal with the founders of Butler Asia.

Image courtesy of Butler Asia


The Questions

1) Can you tell us about your background and how you got into your current career?

Background

We are three post-90s co-founders and similar to many unicorns in the start-up world, the 3 of us all studied in globally reputable universities and kick started our career from front office investment banking and private equities at the likes of Goldman Sachs, UBS, HSBC, Wells Fargo and The Carlyle Group. What is unique about our trio is that we are all from Hong Kong, native Hong Kong-ers who grew up here in the 852. Furthermore, we met at a very young age, from primary to middle to high school in Hong Kong and went to the UK for university and landed in the same industry post-graduation; this has given us a huge edge in terms of working chemistry. Another huge advantage of running our business in the industry that Butler belongs to is our experience in Hong Kong, this has provided crucial insights for us as we are enabled to understand the domestic helper and home industry (a phenomenon which only local Hong Kong-ers would understand over time).

Why this industry

Many asked us how and why as an investment banker, a job environment that is fast paced, and deals with transactions that are over US$ billions frequently, would jump into a detail orientated, quality driven, “down to earth” (as some may view it) home services industry. Our response is that although the nature of work might be less in terms of monetary value, we think the importance of home experience is something crucial in one’s life, something far more than what money can account for.

How & why Butler Asia

When we were still doing investment banking full time, the three of us needed for this service personally and gradually realised it was an excruciating process to manage home (especially with exceptionally long hours). We felt very frustrated with the constant need to do housework & chores when we finally get time to ourselves (off work) where we preferred spending time with our friends or just simply resting. What is even worse is that when we tried to look for help, we realised that things like quality, reliability, after services, communications etc. was all by chance, even if we were willing to pay a premium, it was difficult to find good helpers who would treat our home as if it was their own or spend the time & effort to really take good care of it. We had to explain multiple times for various services to multiple vendors (i.e. from buying new sofa to housekeeping to cleaning aircon to setting up new wifi or wanting a new plantation to set up for home or just delivery of flowers); and this process was so time consuming, repetitive but had to be done. Finally, having Mr. James Riley, on a personal capacity, the Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental Group as our mentor and business advisor, we hope to grow and continue to bring high-quality hotel-style home concierge services to the Hong Kong community.

Our vision

To redefine living, elevate lifestyle, and build the future of home experience.

2) Could you tell us about Butler?

Asia’s first home management concierge company in Hong Kong, bringing hotel-grade services into people’s homes. Being one of the world’s busiest metropolitan cities, Butler has entered the right space to provide a new and curated lifestyle among Hong Kongers. We are a one-stop shop home service provider for anything home related.  More importantly, we help manage your home through our Mobile App and we provide an in-house trained digital Home Concierge team that takes care of everything from hosting a home party, fixing a washing machine or arranging for routine air-con cleaning.  We provide the best-in-class user experience for clients to have a peace of mind. Our Butler team prides ourselves on serving our clients with unparalleled attention to detail, discretion and confidentiality. Imbued with our smart operating system, our digital Home Concierge is at your service to take on any requests, from floral arrangement to planning a home party or scheduling a handyman—all done prior your next Butler session. Some may refer to us as the digital version of Batman’s Alfred or Ironman’s Jarvis – we are powered by human-centric technology and driven by experts and we bring the five-star hospitality experience into your residence. On a monthly subscription model, we deploy in-house trained specialists to take care of home needs; from housekeeping, food preparation, grocery, laundry or closet management, whether you need it on a daily, weekly or one-off basis. Being one click away, Butler hopes to break new grounds and to promote the pursuit of a new generation of attitudes towards life and to redefine “home” for Hong Kong people.

See also: 10 Minutes with…Vanessa Wong, Founder of Qraftie

Image courtesy of Butler Asia


3) What services do you recommend for a newly-moved couple in Hong Kong?

Without a doubt, joining our Butler Club to gain access to Home Concierge. It is hard to isolate just one service to recommend as Butler is a collective experience. To begin with accessing the Home Concierge services is always recommended. The fact that newly-moved in couple may be flooded by all the mundane things they need to find out or personally setup for their new home, they can delegate and let our Home Concierge team do it for them. From sourcing furniture, to ordering them, arranging logistics for delivery to assembling and aftermath cleaning, a one stop shop solution for them. Furthermore, we can provide recommendations on more specialised requests given out vast network of local trusted vendors. From finding the best quality flower delivery, to best handy-man to good catering companies, interior design companies etc. We also offer help on smaller nitty gritty daily issues, such as finding that BBC channel to view or having trouble with electronics instructions etc. As an extension to settling in the new neighbourhood, we also have partnerships on Staycation plans with Mandarin Oriental and K11 etc. The luxury names of the hotel industry. And of course, through our Home Concierge, our team will also recommend the best on-going servicing plan from housekeeping to food preparation or laundry, a best mix fitting the couple’s lifestyle.

See also: Tea WG Launches Darjeeling First Flush Harvests

Image courtesy of Butler Asia


4) What is the best thing about Butler right now?

The best thing about Butler is our determination to make a change for the better. We want to disrupt the way the home keeping market works and how the public generally feels about home. We have been a home management concierge company in Hong Kong providing a new meaning and curated lifestyle into people’s homes for the past few years. By bringing hotel concierge service into people’s homes, the high quality of living lifestyle has brought joy into the lives of local citizens.

5) How have clients been using Butler services amid the current COVID crisis?

Our clients have continued using our services given their trust and standard we bring to them. Our reassurance of their health and our staff’s health as priority was of utmost importance. We are proud to announce that 95%+ of our clients has stayed with us during the COVID period. From client’s perspective, we’ve rolled out many COVID-19 services which are very popular, from cleaning groceries to spraying Nano photocatalysis service to setting up home working stations and assist in purchasing face masks, cleaning products or even test kits. From our internal policies perspective, we’ve implemented extremely stringent measures. From mandatory daily body temperature checking for all our staff to fresh new protective gears such as face masks and gloves for every different session to minimise outdoor exposures to fresh sets of protective wear in client’s home and sanitisation products such as anti-bacteria spray. We also have relevant strict 14 days no work policies for our staff or turn down servicing clients that live in certain areas in Hong Kong due to COVID-19 reasons if applicable.

Image courtesy of Butler Asia


6) What’s the most unique request you’ve had from a client at Butler?

Instead of answering what is the most unique request we have received, we like to share an experience of how we value add to a client. In late 2019, we had a client who is a senior executive of a multinational bank, just relocated to Hong Kong for not long. Soon after he moved in his apartment, he started using Butler. As he has no experience living in Hong Kong and does not have the time or knowledge to setup his home, Butler literally did everything for him, giving him the peace of mind. This includes sourcing furniture, arranging delivery logistic, sanitising the items when they arrive, setting up wifi, suggesting latest home gadget such as dehumidifier, setting up a tv box for UK channels, stocking his home with his favourite wines to arranging handyman to hang his arts. Until today, he is still an active client that we upkeep his home 2 times a week. This entire experience is exactly what differentiate us from any competitor. It is not necessarily one particularly service request that makes us unique, it is the combination and continuity of how we take care of our client’s home.

7) Where do you see Butler in the future?

In the near future, we see our “brand” to be known throughout Hong Kong and educate the public of the new concept of Home Concierge, disrupting the market in a good way, revamping the living experience. Even for those that have not used us before, they would know about our premium quality services and the new concept of Home Concierge. Similar to the concept of “Raze”, although not every building, individual or transportation is using it, it is a brand that is widely known across Hong Kong for it’s Nano photocatalysis sprays. In the mid to long run, we will solidify our business and become Hong Kong’s number 1 in terms market share and establish the new standard of Butler. Furthermore, we will be expanding beyond Hong Kong to all the major metropolitan cities.

See also: 10 Minutes with…Chef Hui Mei Tak, Mr. Ming’s

Image courtesy of Butler Asia


8) Can you tell us why your service is unique to the market?

It is unique because there are no other services out there that offer what we offer. What we are offering here is as close to a legitimate butler as possible by leveraging today’s technology in order to recreate the experience of having an actual butler. It includes professional and personalised expertise combined with conveniences of a human driven technology (i.e. our Home Concierge and App), a unique mix that brings a 5-star hospitality experience into your home. We hope the general public would put more attention and be more aware of the importance of home. With the goal of being a  platform that can change people’s lifestyles to become more convenient, we strongly believe that people deserve a better home experience and we hope that we could build a community with a standard of living for our citizens.

Find out more about Butler Asia services here

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