Meet Kek Hean Hooi, the Co-Founder & CEO of Antbuildz.com, a visionary leader who has redefined the landscape of equipment rental in Southeast Asia. With a background in engineering and a career that spans diverse industries, Kek Hean Hooi’s journey epitomizes innovation and resilience. From his early days in the corporate world to spearheading a groundbreaking online platform, his story reflects the unwavering commitment to innovation that drives modern entrepreneurship.
Navigating a path from a Japanese Engineering company to a career in Singapore’s crane rental sector, Kek Hean Hooi’s career trajectory was marked by a deep desire to challenge norms. The inception of Antbuildz.com in the midst of the pandemic showcased his ability to transform challenges into opportunities, introducing a new way to access and rent equipment. As the CEO of a pioneering startup, Kek Hean Hooi’s journey inspires those who aspire to create meaningful change within their industries.
Can you please provide us with some information about yourself, including your early life and education?
I have an engineering background and began my career with a Japanese Oil & Gas main contractor, where I spent five years. Afterward, I transitioned into an M&A Analyst role before ultimately joining one of Singapore’s largest crane rental companies.
The idea started to take shape while I was working at the crane rental company. The concept of creating the biggest online rental platform in the region was actually turned down by my previous company because no one believed that online rentals could work.
Just think about how you used to book hotel rooms 15 years ago – calling a travel agent, walking in, or sending email reservations. Now, that entire process is completely dominated by rental platforms like Agoda, Booking.com, and Airbnb. The equipment rental industry is currently where the hotel industry was 15 years ago, and we’re witnessing a shift in rental preferences. So, the decision becomes clear: Do you want to establish a traditional rental company, or do you want to create the largest online rental platform? The answer seems obvious.
Could you tell us about your company and its presence in the Singapore region?
Antbuildz.com was founded in June 2020, a time that many would consider unfavorable due to the ongoing pandemic. However, this period turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Antbuildz.com. Surprisingly, the pandemic worked in our favor and played a significant role in our success.
Imagine a scenario where every construction site comes to a pause, and no equipment is being rented. This situation could create immense stress for any rental company. However, our solution was embraced by several reputable partners, marking the beginning of our expansion and increased visibility.
Just two months later, we achieved a significant milestone by transacting the first ever online equipment rental in Southeast Asia. From there, the adoption of online equipment rental was exponential, with all our key metrics experiencing remarkable increases.
As of today, we have successfully onboarded more than 200 valuable rental partners in Singapore, and our platform boasts a selection of over 2,500 equipment options available for rental.
This year, we’ve taken a step forward by expanding our operations to Malaysia!
How has the year been for your company in terms of overall performance and achievements?
Overall, the market’s acceptance of online rentals is strong. It has been proven that as long as you offer great value, the B2B platform will undoubtedly become the next big thing in the market.
Our number of equipment rental rate search experiences growth each month. It has evolved into one of the most crucial resources for quantity surveyors, purchasing professionals, and even executives when it comes to checking equipment rental rates.
In the current competitive market, what does your business offer that sets it apart from others?
In contrast to the traditional rental process that involves time-consuming research, phone calls, and emails to find the right equipment, Antbuildz empowers users to swiftly search, compare, and rent equipment with just a few clicks.
Our platform not only provides users with access to a fair and transparent market but also ensures a more secure rental process through comprehensive agreements and the unique Antbuildz Protection Plan. All of this can be accomplished with just a few clicks. Imagine having thousands of equipment rental rates right at your fingertips.
What measures do you believe employees and organizations can take to build effective teamwork and foster unity within the workplace?
As a first-mover startup, we’ve taken on the formidable task of challenging the long-standing status quo and reshaping the way people have been renting equipment for more than half a century. It’s undeniably challenging. However, with a solid belief in our vision and the steadfast dedication of our team, we’ve been able to make a meaningful impact. Our team consistently aligns with our vision, diligently working towards it, which keeps us efficient and focused on our purposeful journey.
Do you have any advice or tips for startups looking to follow a similar pathway to your company’s success?
While our team might be small, I’m not in a position to offer advice to others. However, I strongly believe that every exceptional idea needs to be accompanied by an exceptional founder and team that relentlessly pursues it. Belief is the driving force – once you believe in something, you start witnessing its realization.
Connect with Kek Hean Hooi on LinkedIn.