Do you ever wonder where entrepreneurs or start-up founders get all their energy and motivation from?
If you have spoken to some of them, you would have noticed a string of commonalities.
Leaderonomics had the opportunity to speak to five Malaysian start-up founders on how passion and purpose play a pivotal role in the journey to grow their businesses.
These founders are among the 20 finalists of the Alliance Bank SME Innovation Challenge 2016.
Co-founder of Grub Cycle, Redza Shahid
Three years in an oil and gas firm and a short stint in an angel investment company later, Grub Cycle co-founder, Redza Shahid decided to start his own social enterprise.
Redza was fuelled with a burning passion to provide everyone – regardless of their income – with the same opportunities. Combined that with a goal to build a sustainable environment, Redza and the other co-founders decided to provide food and beverage businesses a platform to sell surplus food to the community at a bargainable price.
Part of the values that Grub Cycle has is to be an active change agent in the community, hence this is why part of the business’ proceeds are used to subsidise the cost of basic food necessities for lower income families.
With regard to sharing his passion with stakeholders, he said: “It’s about having regular chats about the purpose of the company and ensuring transparency in all that we do.”
When the going gets tough, he assured that having the right people around him helps to keep him grounded.
Watch the video interview with Redza:
Co-founder of Amazin’ Graze, Amy Zheng
Amy Zheng and Ching Yi Lee met in Kuala Lumpur, and discovered that they had a similar quandary: a difficulty in finding local healthy snacks that are tasty, good-for-you, and inexpensive.
Together with Sabrina How, they formed Amazin’ Graze, a healthy snack company that produces affordable allnatural snacks that caters to the local palate.
Despite being a relatively young start-up, everyone in the team is multi-functional and is always ready to roll up their sleeves to accomplish the tasks at hand.
The founders believe in inspiring each employee with a greater social mission to improve community health while giving them room for personal growth. That way, it ensures that the employees are equally passionate about what they do.
They constantly align themselves with the company’s purpose by seeing through the team’s personal growth. Besides that, they always keep in mind the core values of the company and what their healthy snacks stand for.
Zheng said, “Yes, making money is a measure of success. But what drives us all is seeing our team care for each other, grow, and passing on that passion to others.”
Watch the video interview with How:
Managing Director and Co-founder of Shapee, Eaugene Eau
The idea of body shaping and body slimming is not uncommon among women. What’s interesting to note is that products that aim to shape the body can be incredibly expensive and may bring about negative consequences to the wearer such as discomfort, pain, and other health implications.
Well aware of this, Eaugene Eau and his wife, Fion Tan started Shapee, a company that aims to help women of all shapes and sizes to look good and feel confident through affordable shapewear and maternity lingerie.
Through the collation of customer feedback, they sought to address pain points experienced by customers, and from there developed a product that is so comfortable that it can be worn for five to eight hours. It literally feels like second skin!
Eau, whose passion lies in running a business, says that while starting a business is not easy especially in the early phase, staying true to one’s purpose is crucial.
When asked how he sustains his passion, he responded by saying that the feedback given by customers is what motivates not only him but the entire company to continue doing what they do and to strive to do better.
He said, “Even though I’m the founder, I maintain a good relationship with my employees and customers, to understand their needs and pain points, and to improve from there.”
Watch the video interview with Eau:
Founder of Supermodel’s Secrets, Michelle Chuah
A trained marketer, Michelle Chuah was at the crossroads of her life when her right eye went blind and she was unable to find a job. She ventured into modelling and learnt the secrets of looking good using only a few beauty enhancements without breaking the bank. It was a challenge being a model as Chuah had to purchase many types of beauty products. Sadly, most of these products were either really expensive or hard to find. She spent a lot of time studying them and had a lightbulb moment: why not share the knowledge with everyone else who want to look good, the natural way? And that’s how Supermodel’s Secrets came about.
It is an online store that sells beauty products for women and men with an aim to enable everyone to look good and feel confident affordably without surgery.
Chuah’s passion for beauty products is evident from the fact that she sources and tests products on herself to see if they actually work, before releasing them to the market.
She confessed that while her competitors may have the ability to take an idea/product from her, they are unable to take her passion and drive away.
To ensure that her fellow employees share this same passion, she conducts one-on-one sessions with each of them, so they have a full grasp of her background and the vision of the company.
She said, “You need profit in order to fulfil your purpose. . . but, the bigger picture (purpose) is important to drive you forward.”
Watch the video interview with Chuah:
Co-founders of LocalUsher, Sabrina Cheng and Hui Lin Ng
Sabrina Cheng and Hui Lin Ng are electrical engineers who quit their jobs in Singapore to pursue their passion in travelling via LocalUsher.
What started as a platform for locals to usher travellers around in Malaysia soon turned into an online lifestyle platform for urbanites who are bored with their existing leisure-time options to discover and book unique experiences and/ or fun things to do around them.
Cheng and Ng are purpose-driven individuals, with an aim to get LocalUsher to be the go-to website for people when they think of weekend activities and retreats.
“As an entrepreneur, fulfilling your dreams is important but money should still be considered an important factor as well,” Cheng said, when asked how purpose is sustained despite challenges.
“Most entrepreneurs do not draw a salary for the first few years, so it is important that you are able to sustain yourself and meet all your financial commitments.”
By constantly reminding each other about the company’s purpose, the duo agree that it is easy to get distracted with administration tasks, people matters, new projects and competition.
It is a challenge to find the balance between striving for profits and working towards a purpose, but they advised that while profits bring in investors, purpose leads to a sustainable business.
Watch the video interview with Ng:
In a nutshell
Everyone has the ability to come up with brilliant, lightbulb ideas. However, not everyone has the ability to succeed in the execution of those ideas.
Interviews with the entrepreneurs above validate the fact that passion and purpose are essential must-haves to drive entrepreneurs to continuously grow their business till their goals are achieved.