While on an exchange programme in Canada, Marcus bought a laptop from an American boutique company called XOTIC PC and was blown away by its friendly customer service. “It was phenomenal customer service,” he said. “The way they make you feel, and how they follow up after delivering the machine. It was very personal service, and it felt like you always had someone you could talk to.” Such service was unheard of in Singapore at the time, and Marcus came back wanting to change that. “Our business philosophy is built on great customer service,” he said. “In Asia, customer service normally takes a back seat, so if we get this right, we can really stand out.
“When customers come to pick up their PCs, we don’t just hand it over. We talk to them to find out more about their needs. Being Singaporean, they do get a bit surprised when we try to engage them like this.” So when he was 26, Marcus started doing serious research into the business, and speaking to suppliers and component manufacturers. Aftershock was officially launched less than a year later.
Different Skills And Ideas
Since Aftershock started in 2012, at least 15 other computer startups have entered the scene. Some are still around, but most of them did not take off and had to fold. Marcus estimates that the typical lifespan of these startups was only around a year. When asked about Aftershock’s ability to succeed, Joe pointed to the differences between the two brothers as a key reason. Many companies are started by friends with similar skill sets, something that isn’t always beneficial for the company, as these founders might not be able to cover a wide enough range of skills.
In contrast, Marcus and Joe bring vastly different skills and ideas to Aftershock. Both studied at SMU, with Marcus pursuing information systems, while Joe studied psychology. Joe’s skills now sit with the branding and marketing side of things (“creating the whole company look and feel,” as he describes it), while Marcus’ logical thought processes were put to work setting pricing strategies and planning products for specific demographics.
“Running a business is almost like playing an RTS [real-time strategy game],” Marcus said. “It’s highly strategic and you need to commit everything if you want to be the best in this industry.” Another unique selling point and reason for Aftershock’s success? It offers free after-sales services, such as free cleaning if you bring your PC or laptop back.