What Gets Hong Kong “JABBED”? : Interview With Brian Chen, Co-Founder, Jabbed.hk

What Gets Hong Kong jabbed - Interview with Jabbed.hk

Despite being one of the few places in the world to offer accessible shots against Covid-19 to its citizens free of cost, Hong Kong is faced with a sluggish response from its citizens. To combat this, many organizations have introduced different vaccination incentives. The incentives, however, are vast and varied, and the information surrounding them are scattered and disorganized – almost to the point of confusion.

Necessity is the mother of invention. This need for a centralized platform for the Hong Kong vaccine reward scheme prompted Brian Chen, founder of MarTech Start-up Board Click, to create Jabbed. In a conversation with Chen, we look at how Jabbed, the most comprehensive vaccination rewards scheme app in Hong Kong, has become a household name.

What is Jabbed? And how did it come to be?

Jabbed is a comprehensive app that consolidates all reward and lucky draw schemes for vaccinated individuals in Hong Kong. The platform is community-centric and thrives on user feedback and collaboration.

The genesis of the application took place over a lunchtime conversation between Chen and a few of his interns about how incentive information was hard to manage. The state of things made it difficult for one to keep track of the incentives they had enrolled in, or to look for lucky draws that they may be keen on entering. Surely there must be a better way to organize the information?

Originally from Taiwan, Chen recalled how at the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Taiwanese people, as well as those from countries like the United States, had tackled the shortage of masks within a few days by developing applications that would intimate the users about the availability of masks in their localities. Other similar citizen-initiated movements had caused Chen to wonder why a solution could not be found in Hong Kong yet.

“I was talking to my interns, like, ‘Come on! it’s Hong Kong! We have enough talent. Someone must be better at doing this right?’”

The team behind the initiative

And so, they took matters into their own hands. During a long weekend in June, Chen and his team got to work. Starting from his interns at Board Click, Sahil Daswani, who is the software engineer behind creating the app, and Hayley Hui, who helps with translations, brainstorming, testing new features and BD-related work. Sau Chan, a fellow entrepreneur, guided the team on no-code app development and brainstormed ideas, along with Zuri Wong, a micro-influencer who took on the role of marketing manager to help manage FB and IG accounts. Prof. Simon Wang of Baptist University has also been a very passionate supporter of the initiative. His introduction of the team to multiple stakeholders and advice on PR has been invaluable to the team.

In three days’ time, the team had amassed relevant information, reached out to various restaurants and businesses for offers and created a no-code application ready for launch. Chen attributes the feat to the improvement in technology and simple community spirit.

“I really believe in those grass-root and bottom-up movements, because I believe that citizens have the most motivation or incentive to create a bigger good for our society, especially if it’s the common good,” said Chen, linking ideology to the application. “I think this is the best example and testimony of how technology can actually help our society as individuals, as citizens, to make our society better.”

The list of contributors would, of course, be incomplete without a mention of the many others who volunteer their time and energy to help the team with app feedback, offers and lucky draw updates as well as the users of the app who regularly send feedback, ideas and even donations to sustain the app.

A meteoric rise

The Jabbed app had humble beginnings. Unsure of how it would be perceived, the team experimentally shared the application with a user pool of only about 50 close friends and acquaintances for a soft launch. They wished to test the actual utility of the app through its growth. How viral could it possibly get?

To the team’s surprise and joy, within six hours of launch, their user pool had expanded from 50 users to about 1500 users and eventually reached about 3000 daily active users. Within a week, their user pool had grown to about 10,000 unique, active users.

The power of community

Keeping in mind that the Jabbed app is run on a purely voluntary basis, the question of why Chen and his team had chosen to put their time, energy and investment into an incentives application had to be asked. Having been educated in public policy, with previous experience in government and United Nations as an economist, Chen realized that top-down, socio-economic development probably wasn’t the most effective efficient way to impact society.

“The entry barrier for social impact projects has reduced significantly. Thanks to more manageable tech risks with various well-studied social enterprise models to learn from.” he explains. “So, when I observed this problem, I thought it could be a great opportunity to combine my career aspirations and skills from entrepreneurship to see what we can do to our society, as an individual and eventually now as a community.”

The impact of Jabbed

Discussing the impact of the Jabbed app on countering the reluctance of Hong Kong citizens towards getting vaccinated, Chen makes it clear that his team and himself had no political affiliations or motivations behind creating the app. The team believes that vaccination is ultimately a personal choice, depending upon one’s own circumstances. Their only wish was to create a platform where information was available easily to allow their users to make informed decisions for themselves. They accomplished this through the “News” section of the app, which is a compilation of up-to-date information about social distancing protocols, quarantine periods and other vaccine-related information.

What does the future hold for Jabbed?

The application has seen astronomical success in the short time since its launch. Having already accomplished its intended purpose, what could be the next step for Jabbed?

“That is a big question, isn’t it?” says Chen. “To be very honest with you, we just wanted to create an app that helps individuals in Hong Kong. It has its purpose and its milestone; we believe we have checked the milestone. The thinking that we have in mind is that we will let the community decide what we should do next in the end. Is it something that people want to turn into something more long-lasting? Maybe. But if not, we have done what we believe is the right thing to do. And we have no regret in putting our effort and investment in that.”

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