New Markets, Unchartered Waters. Interview with Ms Kylie Teo, Founder for Furpal
Have you ever wondered what exploring business ideas in a brand new market would be like? Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? But before we cast that idea aside, let me share with you a journey of exploration, a journey to passion by Ms Kylie Teo, founder of Furpal, a platform that strives to enrich the lived experiences of both dogs and humans.
Furpal aims to provide a safe space for dog lovers, who do not currently have the privilege to own one, to still experience the joy and excitement of dog companionship. Through this community, dogs, owners and interested participants can equally benefit by leveraging the platform to educate one another about dogs and reinforce positive socialising interactions for their furry companion.
Ever since young, Kylie adored dogs. But, despite their cuteness, the idea of keeping one wasn’t encouraged in her family. Hence, she yearned to have a chance to interact with dogs. When they subsequently got one, Kylie had to live abroad for a year and terribly missed her furry companion. In hopes of finding some comfort, she visited dog cafes. However, the lack of intimacy in the setting diminished the full experience. This was when she birthed the new idea of connecting dogs and dog lovers together through a platform so that those without one can still enjoy their companionship in an intimate setting.
Beyond dogs, Kylie loved building things from scratch. Despite the lack of an existing business model to emulate and having to learn almost everything, she found excitement in exploring and inventing. In particular, she enjoyed the fact that she could be fully involved in all aspects of founding the company and bringing her service to life. The pure joy throughout the process told her she was one, a girl made to be an entrepreneur.
The Journey That Is Not All Rosy
Being a pioneer in this new market, Kylie had to reach out to the community to introduce her new business idea. She leveraged social media channels, got the contacts of Singaporean dog owners and personally pitched her idea to every single one of them. She visited parks, dog cafes and many other events to introduce her service to the pet market.
Now, finding the perfect partner with a common goal is also difficult for Kylie. In her unyielding efforts to find the partner, she has pitched her ideas at a wide variety of events - accelerators, school assemblies, to friends, and even NOC. Although there were some who expressed interest, many were hesitant to wholeheartedly commit since being an entrepreneur could entail not having that stable pay, and always having to work harder than the normal nine to five job that may pay higher. Despite this, Kylie remains hopeful and resilient in her endeavours.
1. Research, Research, and Research!
Cover all grounds pertaining to your business ideas. Reach out to the targeted audience, industry experts and fellow peers to identify the general sentiments on all sides.
2. Have the Guts and the Determination.
Have the guts to lose money, have the guts to lose everything.That's what you need as an entrepreneur. Never take no for an answer. When faced with rejection, don't resign to fate and think you're going to fail. A real entrepreneur will know how to make it happen.
3. Expect the Unexpected
Be open to change and feedback from clients and users. Be adaptable to the changing climate and circumstances. Be able to critically identify next measures to implement to ensure your business stays relevant.
Realistic advice: Knowing what it takes
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. There are certain qualities and traits that are essential in being successful. For one, an entrepreneur needs to have the sheer determination to stick it out till the end and the guts to lose it all at the end. One also has to be extremely self-initiated to get out there and sell your business. The ability to never take no as an answer and rise after falling is vital too.
Having said that, Kylie emphasises that being a part of a team does not make you any less successful than an entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to try it out. But if you find out that this is not the path meant for you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Wise Words for the Dreamers: Seize that chance, take that leap
“Don’t be afraid of failure. That's the key to being an entrepreneur. In fact, be proud that you are failing at one thing every day. Don’t tell me what you have achieved. Instead, tell me what you have failed in. Know your failures so that you don't become scared of them. Acknowledge it because without failure, you're not innovating enough.”
Article by Samantha Vun, Researcher/Writer under Content Creation Division in NES.