Hunger for Supper that Sparked Scratchbac

Hunger for Supper that Sparked Scratchbac 4000 2667 Design Business Chamber Singapore
Cheryl, one of the co-founders of Scratchbac shares about her motivation and inspiration behind the ground-up project.

Tell us a little more about yourself

My background is in mechanical engineering and product design. Since 2020, I’ve been working on a start-up I co-founded, Scratchbac, which is a proximity-based favour app where people in the community can give or receive help and resources from one another.

I am also currently pursuing my masters at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) under the Innovation by Design programme. Concurrently, I also volunteer at TechforShe, mentoring and helping to facilitate UIUX workshops.

I would say I have a strong passion for user-centric tech and aspire to make a difference in people’s lives and the community through innovative solutions to everyday problems.

I’m also a strong advocate for design thinking education and hope to help people of all ages to get into the design landscape.

How did Scratchbac come about?

My co-founders and I came to the idea of Scratchbac because of personal problems we faced during SG’s circuit breaker period. For me personally, circuit breaker came into implementation during my final term and by then, I was already quite used to ‘university hall life’ having stayed in hall for the past few years. So, one night I was up late rushing a project and really wanted supper. Normally, I would have no problem ‘jio-ing’ other students in our SUTD group chat to share delivery fees. But stuck at home, I had to either go hungry or bite the bullet and pay the exorbitant delivery costs myself. This started the train of thought: “Why can’t I just ‘jio’ the neighbours around me instead?”

What is your greatest learning experience from running Scratchbac?

That good design is far from just creating the perfect product. In the context of a start-up, everything is limited – time, money, manpower (and as a student start-up, we even lack experience). Early in the game, I often came up with crazy ideas and designs which I believed would solve the user problems in the best way possible. But often those ideas would get thrown out or be stuck in the backlog perpetually because they were just not feasible to be built with the resources that we had. It took a while but eventually I came to appreciate the idea of what we call the ‘build, measure, learn and iterate’ cycle. As a start-up, it’s not about building perfect versions of features from the get go but rather just what is good enough to test the hypothesis within our limited resources and building up from there.

It required a lot of humility on my part as a designer to move from seeing these limits as hindrances to appreciating them as opportunities for more nuanced learning. When development cycles are so tight, you are really forced to think hard about each decision you commit to making which I feel helps me grow as a designer as well. 

As a Co-founder, has entrepreneurship changed the way you view the world? 

Yeah definitely. One thing that is abundantly clear in entrepreneurship is that success doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by design. Of course, there is an element of luck or good timing in entrepreneurship – but fundamentally, if you don’t put the work in, you aren’t going to go anywhere. 

So, if you have a problem that you’re passionate about solving, put in the work and get it done. Don’t get hung up on the what-ifs and naysayers. Get serious, double down and be confident in what you’re doing. People are naturally going to respect and respond to that.

How do you recharge after work? Do you prefer a social gathering or a quiet retreat?

For me, my work involves a lot of ‘social activity’, be it discussions with my teammates, talking to users or different stakeholders. So usually, I’m more than happy to spend weekday nights in, watching shows or YouTube to unwind. 

Nevertheless, I’m quite a FOMO kind of person, so I rarely say no if my friends ever want to go out for some good food & drinks or for some heart to heart convos. Also at Scratchbac, we do have weekly ‘sports days’ where we try new sports together – which is a great way for us to get to know each other outside of work and to let off some steam if needed HAHA! 

Are there any books or podcasts that have impacted your life deeply that you would recommend to your friends? 

Hmmm deeply impacted… I’m not too sure but I recently read ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’  by Carlo Rovelli which I found quite intriguing. (I think if I didn’t end up pursuing design, I would have considered going into research on quantum physics instead!). Other good Introduction to Design reads include ‘Nudge’ by Richard H. Thaler and‎ Cass R. Sunstein, ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal, ‘The Mom Test’ by Rob Fitzpatrick. 

As a winner of Singapore Design Awards and Singapore Good Design Awards (SG Mark), what does it mean to you?

Hahaha to be honest I was quite shocked when I found out we won. To see our tiny start-up up there with all these well-known companies is honestly extremely humbling and it’s definitely a huge honour. But for me, I think the biggest takeaway has to be the connection to the design community that these awards have opened the doors to. Getting to meet and learn from this wide array of talented designers and solutions has been a great experience that has challenged me to grow even more as a designer.


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