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Innovation is not always sexy and big (and that’s a good thing)

“Innovation” is one of the sexiest words in the tech industry. Companies go on and on about their cutting-edge products, staying ahead of the curve and implementing innovative solutions. But what does innovation really mean and how do you actually do it? We talk to the best person at Klook to answer these questions, David Liu, our Chief Product Officer.


David_Liu_CPO_high_res.jpgDrawn to Klook's hunger for impact, David Liu joined the team over 4 years ago. As a huge travel fan, he's passionate about making travel more accessible for our global user base.


Innovation at Klook: 20% sexy new products, 80% optimization

We’re understandably excited to chat to David about innovation and all the amazing things we do at Klook, but he quickly brings us back to Earth. “The way I see it, there are two levels of innovation,” he explains. “Many people see innovation as building something big, sexy, creative… basically new products. That’s a part of it for sure. But to me, there is also another part of innovation — finding different ways to do things.”

“Anything you do will have more than one solution and we always want to find the best one. Constantly optimizing, in a big or small way, is where innovation starts. 80% of our time is actually spent working on seemingly small innovations that have a big impact, the other 20% is big product launches like Klook Live!.”


klookhome.jpgFrom international to home-based and domestic, our website has evolved this year to meet the new reality of experiences


How can a small change have such a big impact? Let’s imagine that we want to add a new feature to our Klook app: we want users to be able to wishlist activities. That might sound like a small and relatively simple change but, as David explains, the implications are almost infinite.

“For starters, where do we put the wishlist button? What does the wishlist look like? And then once the user added something to the wishlist, what do we do with it? Do we notify them when the product is on sale or selling out? Do we use it to recommend similar products to them? Can they share it with friends? And if they can share, do we reward them for bringing new users over to the platform and how? There are tons of ways to make users’ lives easier. Even the smallest thing can have a positive impact on our users and big business implications.” 

And though it might seem like launching new shiny products that generate media buzz would be more satisfying than making these small iterations, that’s not how David sees it at all. 

“I love to analyze, really get to know what the problem is and how we can solve it. It’s the problem solving and building things that I find truly rewarding.”


Keep calm and solve problems

Our Product team serves as a bridge between the Technology & Engineering team and the users. What that means is that Product studies the user needs and comes up with solutions which the Tech team then translates into actual code and systems. Together, they build the products that Klook users use. 

This is never just a linear “come up with a solution and build it” story. Tech and Product work through many iterations of the product, testing, finding issues, fixing them. Depending on the level of sophistication, developing a new feature can take anywhere from three weeks to four months. 


Many of our Product & User Experience colleagues work from Klook tech hub in Shenzhen


“In Product, there are always challenges and things will always go wrong,” says David. "But we’re not here to panic, we’re here to solve. Once you start thinking about solutions and you get the ball rolling, you worry less. I have confidence that if you have the right team and analytical approach, you will find a solution that works.”

But even with his calm attitude, David admits that his work sometimes keeps him up at night. “If I built something that users are not finding useful, I immediately want to fix it.”


Anyone can innovate 

It is a common misconception that innovation is reserved for a specific type of company or a certain department. But that’s completely wrong. 

“Innovation is not only about product and tech, it’s for everyone,” says David. ”No matter what you do, you can always do it better. An innovative company is one that always asks: how can we do it differently?” 


Curious what the Product team has been working on recently? Check out Klook Live!


Still not convinced that you too can be an innovator? Let’s say you spend two hours a day checking your emails and you want to cut that down to one hour. If you form a goal, identify the problems and start coming up with solutions, what you’re doing is effectively innovation. It all starts with noticing a problem and having the willingness to solve it.

Asked about advice for anyone who wants to give it a go, David stresses the importance of trial and error. ”I suggest that you start small and celebrate every time you succeed. Celebrating milestones will give you the energy to keep going. If you fail, don't worry. 10 times you try, 8 times you fail. Just keep going.”


We’re always looking for curious minds

See Product opportunities


klook.pngPosted by Klook Careers

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