At the start of March, I finally took the plunge going back into the world of startups. I officially joined Myflat.hk as a full time UX & Product developer. Myflat.hk is local startup working on creating Hong Kong’s very own neighbourhood social network, it’s rather fascinating in what they (or we) are trying to build, essentially it’s all about connecting neighbours back together, when I was little, I knew every single one of my neighbours, my friends and I would ride our bikes and play at each other’s home until it was time for dinner, and there was a real sense of community and it felt safe. Over the years HK has changed, it has turned in to a rather cold place where we hardly even say Good morning to each other anymore. I hope this online platform I am helping to create would allow neighbours to connect and care about each other again.
I believe my fascination with startups and entrepreneur ship started during my teens, when I came across a book called “The idiot’s guide to Making Millions from the Internet” (I’m not ashamed to admit my love for “Idiots guide” and “For Dummies” books, they make learning easy) this book not only planted the idea of making money online in my head, it also made me realise how interested I was in various aspect of a business (Minus the tax side that is). As I was growing up, I worked with my parents in a Chinese Take Away and it was a very very hard job, my Mum and Dad would regularly work 16 hour days and would only get one day off a week, I really want them to have an easier life where they didn’t have to worry about money so much. The combination of the two meant building my own business a bit of a mission for me – and is still what drives me forward to this very day.
During my university years, I remember speaking to my friends about my goal of running my own business and I was told that would make me an entrepreneur, as much as I like the sound of this word, I struggle for the longest time to learn how to say it right, don’t even get me started on the spelling, I am incredibly grateful for autocorrect.
After graduation, i went into full time work and the idea of running my own business slowly faded to the back of my mind. Fortunately, a few years ago two things happened. The first, I started working in MixMedia – a Hong Kong web production house. I enjoyed my time there, the people were nice and the job was fascinating but also rather challenging, it pushed me both physically and mentally in so many ways. I’ve learnt so much during my time there (Tracey and Jeremy – thank you so much), I learnt about how to communicate with clients, how much effort it is to operate a business and most surprisingly of all, I learnt a few things about myself. I learnt that I am capable of being creative and I am more resilient than I realise (I also learnt of my bad temper specially when I get little sleep).
The second thing that happened is a book called 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. (I later found out this book also changed the lives of many entrepreneurs and startup founders) This incredible book woke up something inside me, it made me realise I still want to be an entrepreneur, I’ve just been waiting. Exactly waiting for what I’m not too sure, maybe it was for the right idea, the right skills, the right network, to have enough money or maybe it was for the moon to aligned correctly with the sun? This book really opened my eyes and kicked all my excused out of the window, it shown me what was possible in terms of building a your own business, some of my favourite ideas are:
- The importance of tiny experiments – trying and failing is a 100x better than to not doing anything.
- The 80-20 rule (Also known as the Pareto principle) – working more does not necessarily mean earning more, it’s about working on the right task
- Benefit of out sourcing and virtual assistance
This lead me to make the final decision to venture into my first startup company with another cofounded, without going into too much details it was a failure (point 1 above checked), learnt some valuable lessons but at the end I had little choice but to find myself a proper full time job. It was sad and I was angry, I felt like I had failed and I really enjoyed the HK startup scene where I made a number of good friends.
For that entire year at my “normal” job, I constantly felt the itch at the back of my mind. It was certainly good to be receiving a cheque at the end of every month, but it just didn’t feel right, I kept up with a number of side projects and experiments and kept my sight close to the HK startup scene, watching the HK startup scene gain momentum was very exciting, but I felt like I was missing out on something incredibly interesting and exciting. Finally, at the end of January that itch got the better of me and I decided to step back into the startup world, that’s when I decided to joining Matt and Antony at Myflat.hk.
There are a number of reason why I’ve joined Myflat.hk, the actual decision was relatively easy because I’ve actually been freelancing for them for a good while already, I have been working on the user-experience of the site and coding the HTML and CSS for their responsive site. Although I found the idea both fascinating and worthwhile from the very start the most important reason why I joined them is because I like them, I like the people I have been working with and I trust their ability to develop this project into something truly meaningful.
I think I joined at a pretty good time, our platform publicly launched in January this year and is gaining momentum, it’s pretty amazing to watch it all take place. I’ve read a few books on startups and entrepreneurship, but there’s nothing like really being inside one to see how growth takes place, how decisions are made. I also feel respected by the team by being trusted enough to have my opinion listened to. Unlike most large corporations, working in a startup also mean you get opportunities to work on so many different aspect of the business. My role ranges from writing codes, redesigning the on-boarding process to brain storming marketing campaigns, I even had a go at doing a voice-over an animations (and boy do I hate my own voice). Plus, I can’t imagine too many teams being able to tolerant my less-than-normal behaviours, juggling in the middle of a team meeting, doing yoga all of a sudden, handstand against the front door and using the big water bottles for weight training – thanks for putting up with me guys.
On last Saturday we took part in Cocoon’s startup pitch day final, after already winning at the semi finals last month, we once again pitched our startup against 6 other businesses. I had no part in the pitch but I was surprisingly anxious, I felt like my own work is being put under the microscope. Although I personally think we did a great job, the result was not in our favour. I was slightly disappointed but quickly realise it didn’t matter, because I know not only do we have a good idea, we also have an amazing team to make it happen, a team that I am dead proud to be a part of.
What about Getfit.hk?
I’m still working on this project, but progress is frustratingly slow. I would like to be working on this a lot more, but as always, life has a habit of getting in the way of the most perfect of plans. My current dilemma is if I should spend my time building the product or should I be working on the business plan for funding?