“We always think about doing the right thing first, then the money later,” says Rhonda Wong, who co-founded the real estate platform Ohmyhome with her sister Race.
She recalls one time when a client hadn’t paid them, and they were counting on that money to take care of one of their other customers. Now that the money hadn’t come, where would they get the funds?
For the Wong sisters, the solution was a no-brainer. Though they could’ve made excuses and told their other customers to wait until they had the funds, they chose to pay out of their pockets.
“When you share the same values, the decisions become much easier,” says Rhonda.
Rhonda acts as the CEO of Ohmyhome, while Race is the startup’s COO. Having a sibling as a business partner can be a bit tricky, but the sisters’ partnership is as harmonious as any can be.
Not only do they have similar values, they also know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That way, they can assign tasks to each other without having to worry about hurting each other’s pride and ego.
“If I know Race is really good at something, I can just say, ‘Hey, can you take care of this assignment because you’re a lot better at it than I am.'”
It’s not (just) about the money
When she was younger, Rhonda wanted to be a full-time volunteer and help children, but her parents, who are entrepreneurs themselves, advised her to start a business instead. They told her: “You could do work that is meaningful but that can also bring you a lot of success, and with that success, you can make a bigger impact.”
This was what prompted her to pursue a business degree from the University of Michigan. “I had no idea where Michigan was, I just went,” she says. “I just wanted to be in the best business school because education is expensive and I wanted to make sure that I make the best use of my time.”
After getting her degree, Rhonda worked as a trader, and though it was a financially lucrative job, she wanted something more. She wanted meaning — something that would bring value to the world.
And that is precisely what led Rhonda to start Ohmyhome with her sister. Ohmyhome lets users buy, sell, and rent property on their own, making the process as fuss-free, simple, and affordable as possible.
Its innovative features like “Open House” and “ShoutOut” (which match tenants and buyers to property) make finding a home easier than ever. And for those who prefer a human touch, Ohmyhome also offers agent services at a fixed rate.
“We came up with fixed rates because we know a lot of people cannot afford the full fees that the market is charging today,” Rhonda says. “Even with such low rates, we still come across people who just cannot afford it, and so sometimes we offer our services free of charge. Helping people is something that I’d like to spend all of my life doing, if I can.”
Like all entrepreneurs, Rhonda had to make a lot of sacrifices in her lifestyle when she launched Ohmyhome.
Rhonda and Race didn’t pay themselves for the first two years of Ohmyhome, and had to adjust their spending accordingly. Until now, Rhonda still feels some financial strain from having her own business, particularly when it comes to taking care of her parents.
Like most Asians, Rhonda yearns to spoil her parents, to spend time with them, pay their bills, and buy them everything they want. By choosing to run Ohmyhome instead of simply following the money, she’s doing the opposite of fulfilling that desire.
Rhonda considers herself fortunate that her parents don’t pressure her into spending her resources on them. “I don’t feel that stressed every day, I just feel guilty some days,” she says. “I just tell them to stay healthy, and live a very long life because I can’t wait to spoil you, but it’s not gonna happen today.”
“The human mind and body are a lot stronger than you think, because being a mum is a lot more tiring, but we function very well. It just reminds me of how we strong we are.” — Rhonda Wong
Now, Rhonda doesn’t have the luxury to spend leisurely afternoons with her mother, but she does make it a point to carve out time to spend time with her family whenever she can — whether it’s stepping out of the office to have lunch with her parents or waking up earlier to take a walk with her one-year-old son.
“When you’re a mum, you just learn to be a lot more efficient,” she says. She goes to bed at midnight so that when her son comes into her room to wake her up at 6:30, she’s ready to wake up, take him for a walk, and have a quick breakfast together.
The sacrifice has been worth it. Every day, Rhonda walks into an office full of passionate and positive people. “It’s just amazing to have the right people with you as you push the company to greater heights and to know that they have been with you yesterday and they will be with you tomorrow,” she says.
Rhonda and her team put in long hours to make things at OhMyHome run smoothly, and the customers notice. “We get very good 5-star testimonials on our Facebook, and these are all by real customers,” she says. “It’s moments like this that you know your hard work has turned into something real.”
Read more profiles of inspiring women like Rhonda Wong here: Power Women.