As a child, Audrey spent a lot of time at her parents’ stall in Toa Payoh, frying and packing yóutiáo (油条), hot dough fritters, for customers to take home. Today, the 34-year-old is at the helm of You Tiao Man Pte Ltd, a company that is rooted in her family’s 60 year-old business. She embarked on the mission to take the business to a new level.

A New Recipe for Success

The first, and biggest step Audrey took in setting up You Tiao Man in 2018, was to upscale manufacturing, taking it from the small hawker shop to a factory. Next, she started making yóutiáo available to more consumers by supplying to restaurants and online stores. She also invested in R&D to develop variety, such as charcoal and whole grain yóutiáo, to attract consumers who want options.

Audrey and the yóutiáo manufacturing business are now in a comfortable position. But, it took many months of toil and tears to get here.

“Setting up a business was the hardest thing I had to do in my life,” said Audrey of the early days. That was when she would brave Singapore’s scorching heat and pedal door-to-door on a rented bicycle, to find customers for yóutiáo.

“People always say ‘you are very lucky, you got what you want’,” she said. She continued on, “But, I actually think you have to work for luck.” Still, it did seem like luck when Audrey received some unexpected, but much-needed help from her bank.

“I saw one day on Channel NewsAsia that UOB was running a competition called Tech My Biz,” recalled Audrey who immediately visited the website for more details. “It was for SMEs trying to scale up when they reach a certain point of growth, when they can no longer manage the administration aspect. I looked through some of their programs and felt that it was really relevant for me so I decided to give this competition a shot. And I won, yea!

Getting BizSmart

Unafraid of failure and determined to move the business ahead, Audrey bravely adopted digital solutions to solve her business productivity problems. “Business has grown to a point where we can no longer manage a lot of functions manually such as logistics and scheduling,” shared Audrey. They were dealing with half a dozen office applications that were disparate. What the affable and straight-talking Audrey didn’t realise was that she wasn’t the only business owner with this problem.

In the recent ASEAN Transformation survey conducted by UOB, 60% of Singapore SMEs indicated that they are keen to use technology in their businesses. However, as Roy Choudhury Debarun, Senior Vice-President and Group Head of UOB BizSmart, noted many SMEs are still reliant on the traditional software licensing model.

“The role that technology should play in your business is to enable you to perform better, not complicate your life,” said Roy. He added, “If the solutions are under one umbrella or infrastructure, then your solution is not only more capable but more efficient making life easier for you.”

Receiving a two-year subscription to UOB’s BizSmart cloud-based solution after being chosen for the Tech My Biz transformation in Singapore, You Tiao Man has experienced a swift and simple digital turnaround.

Tapping on three digital solutions, Audrey has fixed most of her business problems, from deliveries which are now optimised with real-time route planning and delivery schedules, to digital payments.

“Their invoices and receipts, whether virtual or paper, are enabled via a QR code to make sure that You Tiao Man is able to collect payments instantaneously and credit it to the appropriate account,” explained Roy of the smart payment solution.

By integrating UOB BizSmart to their payment receivable solution, You Tiao Man now has end-to-end control. Audrey also enjoys more timely and seamless payments that she easily tracks through UOB BizSmart that’s linked to the company’s UOB bank account.

The feature which is the favourite with both the staff and Audrey, is the HR feature which uses facial recognition and GPS locators. Installed on mobile devices, the app has made clocking in/out of work more efficient and easier.

Best of all, the many different apps that Audrey once struggled with, are gone.

What UOB provides is a SME centric platform, where you only need one or two different apps and they will merge all your different functions together.

In a very short time, operations at You Tiao Man have come a long way. “Everybody doesn’t like change,” acknowledges Audrey, “So, you have to move, you have to change,” she says.

As Roy also pointed out, “Taking that first step and the change management that is required, is where the hard work is. That’s why UOB is determined to support SMEs in their digital transformation journey.”