One Catalyst Interior (OCI) was founded in 2018 and now works with a lean team of 6 employees. However, founder Richard Mah had no background in interior design.
After completing his studies in graphic design and advertising, he worked as a graphic designer for several years, but found that his potential was limited by his job.
And after talking to a few friends, he found that there was a gap in the traditional interior design industry.
In his eyes, a traditional interior design company takes around 3-6 months to complete its work and costs around RM 100,000. However, these designs are aimed at homeowners who live in the unit and do not want to rent it.
What about the busy lifestyle homeowners who want to make money on their investment? You can't wait 3-6 months for a renovation project and idle your investment.
So he gave up his job in the bank with only RM 2,000 and started OCI.
2nd from left: Richard Mah, the founder of One Catalyst Interior / Photo credit: One Catalyst Interior
He remembered the first few months of the company, he walked through his home and personally distributed over 500 flyers to his neighbors. None of them called back.
He found out that the traditional way of marketing is dead, and if he didn't do this task, he wouldn't know how ineffective it is.
It lives from a Chinese proverb, which, loosely translated, means that to be successful, you have to go your own way and find solutions by asking the right questions and not just blindly following the crowd. After moving to digital marketing, they finally got their first customer, six months later.
One Catalyst Interior uses a simple 5-step strategy to help its customers rent their units.
1. You have a quick setup process
According to the team, it only takes 30 days from the time the keys are handed over until your property is ready for rental. And based on their track record, they managed to complete 95% of their projects before the 30-day mark expired.
The OCI team understands that time is money and with every moment that your property is not rented out, you do not make money with it. If you use the traditional means, you will not make any money for at least 3 months.
Richard gave us a brief breakdown of their workflow:
- The customer registers online for an immediate offer.
- The team contacts the customer.
- Get the floor plan from the customer,
- Submit a revised quote with suggested color mood boards.
- The team visits the website and confirms with the customer that
- The customer gives the team the key and the work begins.
2. They purchase their products on site
OCI sources 95% of its products from local suppliers and factories, the remaining 5% overseas for certain decorative items.
By supporting local brands, the team strengthens the local economy and doesn't have to deal with shipping delays and costs. In this way, they can also demonstrate the craftsmanship of local brands in their units.
Photo credit: A catalytic converter interior
He also realized that there are a lot of hidden costs that normally go into a project, and it is difficult to win the trust of customers if they don't know what they are paying for.
Everything that belongs in the device, such as air conditioning, television, kitchen utensils and bed frame, is listed in the offer. As a customer, you know exactly where the money is going.
Richard said that the transparency of the process made customers more than happy to work with them again.
3. They offer a self-sterilization solution
Because of COVID-19 there is now a lot of fear and everyone who wants to rent a room is looking for safety for their health and safety.
To give everyone involved security, OCI uses a water-based self-sterilization solution with photocatalyst technology to remove microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.
According to the team, the solution is approved by FDA, MOH, MOE and SIRIM. It will also take a year and will also be used by hospitals and hotels.
Dictionary time: Photocatalysis is the process by which light supplies a mineral with energy, which then triggers chemical reactions in which organic substances are broken down at the molecular level.
One of the units is coated with the solution / Photo credit: One Catalyst Interior
4. You understand that personalization over unworthy aesthetics is important
When designing a unit, they try to leave rooms where a tenant can add their own twist to the unit and don't focus on over-design.
“Design and feeling are very subjective. Our designs are warm, cozy and sustainable. We actually leave rooms in the units so that tenants can add their own “colors” after moving in, ”said Richard.
Even if it looks perfect when a rental property is filled with decorations and random clutter, the tenant may feel that it is not his home and that he is only at home.
However, if you give them room to give the device its own touch, they will feel better at home.
Clear topic, but still room for personalization / photo credit: One Catalyst Interior
5. You have an ROI-driven selection process to increase rental returns
OCI also has a unique method of approaching the units they design. They do not work on units that do not bring the customer at least an additional RM 1,000 after their redesign.
If, based on market research, a customer's unit is unable to achieve a good ROI, the team will speak to the customer to discuss expectations and offer various solutions.
However, if the customer continues to redesign, OCI will continue to do so, but this decision is on the customer's shoulder.
Richard then gave us a simple example: If a unit took RM 30,000 to work and you only got a rent increase of RM 300, it would take 100 months (8.3 years) to recoup the investments you made renovation.
Ultimately, they want their customers to get the best possible return on their investment.
Although you do not manage tenants, you have contacts with 9 different agencies to list your properties in a network of over 700 agents so that you can easily find a tenant for your building.
view in the future
Understandably, all renovation work had to be stopped during the MCO. Richard then said at the beginning of MCO that the team had a warm and honest meeting to make sure everyone was mentally and physically ready.
"No one is left behind in OCI. We practice" executives eat last "- employees first, customers second and shareholders last."
They even sent disinfectants to all of their previous customers during MCO / Image Credit: One Catalyst Interior
As for the future of One Catalyst Interior, he told us that they have invested in technology and digitization to focus on the post-renovation experience.
The team found that design was not a customer's top priority, but communication. Customers wanted easier ways to monitor progress and faster updates for renovations, tenants, and defects.
"I am very grateful for the people I met on my trip and of course for the support of our customers. We managed to set up a small foundation last year and are ready for this year and after."
- Find out more about One Catalyst Interior and get an instant quote from the team Here.
Selected image source: One Catalyst Interior