Million Dollar Startups FEAT. 900online

Founder of 900online, Diana Salem and VP of 900online, Jax Chew

In this article, we interviewed the VP of 900online on their newly launched startup and the principles that guided them to their success in raising SGD $2 million in seed funding in 6 weeks.

This is Jax, I was the Senior Vice President for Ensogo Holdings (Known as for a good 5.5 years before leaving the company at April’16. My primary role in the previous company is basically a ‘jack of all trade’ in every department but managing the sales channel is my core function as Sales is what drive every business. We grew from a small start up of 7 and expanded our presence in 6 countries, till 1,200 pax company.

After exiting Ensogo, I met up with Diana (Founder of 900) who shared the idea of launching another E commerce site focusing on selling Outlet Store Labels. “We are filling up a huge gap in the E Commerce space” I thought. Diana have been in the trading business for a long time, have build extremely strong relationship with brands big or small and we feel that our skill set will be able to complement each other.

With a small working capital and a dream, we quickly assembly a team of experienced individuals with similar level of skills and believe in the team. We launched the website.

How did you earn your first sales?

Our first sales actually came from a overseas buyer, a single purchase of more then $1,500 worth of fashion accessories. They like the site, the design and found it interesting and easy to navigate. Most importantly, we position ourselves different from other e commerce players. 900 is Singapore’s 1st online outlet store Even though the economy is bad, it does not stop people from wanting to own a fashion label, 900 make it possible and affordable for everyone.

Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

We launched the site on 1st August. We planned out an exciting 12 weeks pipeline of interviews and focusing mainly on social media. The main focus for the next 3 months will be on Marketing, any sales will be a bonus. Having said that, most of our sales came from events and overseas corporate sales. I am pleased to see the kind of traction coming in just via word of mouth in networking sessions, people are getting excited about an online outlet store!

Tell us about your vision.

Both Diana and myself are extremely thankful for the entire 900 team for taking a pay cut and a leap of faith to join us. Now that our effort have paid off with the fundings, nothing stops us. Diana founded the company, and my adventure in the company started on 27th May’16. The company grew from a team of 12 to 24 now, doubled within a short span of 10 weeks and we got a $2 million dollars funding within 6 weeks. The speed of growth alone is a huge justification on the business potential of this start up. We are working towards generating $1mio in revenue by the Dec’16 and double the revenue and headcount by the Mar’17.

What tools and apps do you use to run your business?

The management teams here came from various e commerce background. Everyone have a voice of their own, thus, except for our email service provider, all other apps are created inhouse to cater to business needs.

How do you handle shipping and fulfillments?

900 wants to be make fashion label shopping easy for everyone. Customers are going to Jurong Outlet Stores, JPO or even the states to get these items. In 900, we want to deliver the items quickly to them. Pretty simple. Receive stocks > Stocks are accounted and QC-ed > Receive order and shipped out within 2 working days at max. We are preparing for the business to ramp up, we just got another unit of 1200 square feet in the same building because we have another 5000 SKUs due to arrive next month.

What are your top recommendations for new eCommerce entrepreneurs?

1. Find a niche market

2. Assemble a great team that you can trust, believe in you and the business. The team is the most important element to succeed. The management team came from startups that were from nothing to something. Ridzuan (Head of Marketing) came from TAG, it was only a team of 4 when he join and it became a team of 9 when he left with a monthly revenue of $1 million a month. Jon (Head of operations) came from Lovebonito, he was in the company since the beginning and ran its operations for the last 4 year.

We hope you will enjoyed this series. If you have any questions you’d like me to bring up with the entrepreneurs I interview or any startup that you think I should interview, let me know in the comment section.