Moving on, Launching Designjar, Joining Mind Fund as Entrepreneur-in-Residence.
It was only a few weeks after I stepped down as co-founder and CEO of Shopline and I was already set to take my next steps. However, since it was the holiday season, I took the opportunity to relax with family, reflect on my experience and recharge after 2 years of starting and running a company. Fast forward to January, it was time to put my personal plan to action. My goal to start 2016 was to reach out to as many people as I can in the community. Whether it be investors, advisors, fellow founders, friends in the media or corporates, I really wanted to reconnect with the great people that I have met in the past few years. Especially those who have supported me along the way. I’m always appreciative as these are the folks that shaped the entrepreneur that I have become in such a short span of time. Those are the relationships that I will never take for granted. It was also a very good time to do it since Hong Kong had its annual StartmeupHK festival in January. Which is a week-long celebration packed with startup events. It also brought out a lot of friends and key figures in the community, not to mention a Venture Forum event that featured Elon Musk.
During that time, I had a chance to catch up with many founders in Hong Kong and learn about how they’ve been progressing in their own ventures. Some of which were already profitable and expanding rapidly. I was happy that a few had even offered me a chance to join their team. In the meantime, I also met with quite a number of investors and was grateful to have gotten a few offers to join the buy side of the equation as well. However, as much as I was impressed with the opportunities and glad that at least I had a few options to consider, deep down I knew what I really wanted was to build something new.
Along the way, I have been brainstorming with a friend whom I’ve grown close with over the past few years. (His name is Jonah, you can read about his journey in a recent Tech In Asia post) Our initial ideas ranged from a restaurant recommendation engine, to an online résumé creator, to a professional network for hairstylists. However, as we progressed through the ideation process, I knew that I really wanted to do something that I enjoyed and was confident enough that it was something people needed. That one thing was design. Aside from being CEO at Shopline, I was also the sole designer on the team. However, I simply wasn’t able to focus all my attention on design as the business grew. We needed more help but hiring designers is never easy and working with freelancers was time consuming and can often yield disappointing results. This is the very problem that many businesses face. Having a great logo and branding is one thing, but the ongoing challenge is maintaining that brand in your social media and marketing message. That is the driving force behind Designjar. We are launching Designjar to provide businesses with bespoke graphics for advertising and social media marketing, when they need it. This includes standard digital ad banners, graphics for Facebook and Instagram to engage with your followers, and other types of graphical assets for your brand. The model will be simple. Join as a monthly member, schedule your requests for these custom graphics and they’ll be delivered to your inbox by the time you need it.
While we are still only several weeks into our venture, we already have a good number of customers committed for when we fully launch the service. We are solving a real pain point for many businesses and we have seen it first hand through our previous startups serving small businesses. For those who are interested, sign up for an early invite here. (and get a free ebook from us). Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter.
Aside from Designjar, I’m also announcing that I will be joining Mind Fund as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR). The team is led by Adam D Lindemann, Tak Lo and Mark Cheng. They are running an outstanding fund and development studio where they back some of the brightest founders in the U.S. and across the Asia Pacific region. Its most notable investment is in the company that created Flipagram, leading its Series A. I’m most excited about the opportunity to learn from both sides of the table while also giving back by drawing on my own experience and supporting the teams wherever I can.
It’s approaching the end of Q1 and things are happening according to plan. I often stress the fact that as a startup entrepreneur, the people around you are what’s most important. Your fellow founders, your team, your investors, your customers, your family and your friends. They are the ones that will lift you up when you’re down. Treat everyone with the level of respect and sincerity that you’d expect in return, and you’ll find yourself on a much smoother path toward achieving your goals. For me, everyone in the community has been extremely helpful during my transition coming into 2016. Hopefully I was able to achieve the same for them. Here’s to the continued uphill climb for the rest of the year. Onwards and upwards!