It came about when I realised the degree in music I was studying for was not something I want. My passion was always music but the degree taught me how to be a performer and not the business side.
I was more curious of that (the business side). I thought why not explore to see if there is a potential growth in this market.
The music industry doesn’t have much support from both private and government sector, which led alot of local talents moving overseas to gain popularity before coming back.
With this little experience, I wasn’t ready to go into it. It was a struggle, so I went back to university, did my degree in commerce; but before that I sat down with my dad.
He has a unconventional parenting method of his own, something that I’d pass on to my own kid. He said: ‘you’re smart I know you’ll get it but let me count the cost in funding your degree and all that extra cost of accommodation and cost of living.
You see this amount here – RM300,000 to RM500,000. What if I take that money, give it to you to start your own business and you don’t need to go to university?’
I was 19, failed my first business, lost my footing for the longest period of time. I knew I need to be in an environment to gain my footing again. My response to him was to get a higher education.
My dad asked me why do I wanna study commerce and why do I wanna go to university, but I knew this is the right one for me. I need to share my experience with people my age. University was a good experience and a place for me to study.
My main aim at that time was to work in an investment bank or go into management consulting. I was young, full of self-confidence and highly influenced by the people I stumbled into.
I tried to pursue a career in consulting, worked six months of consulting in Australia and some work with a company in America.
Then I attended a community event and my friend who worked in a local venture capital in Malaysia was introducing venture capital to the public. From that event, I met two ladies of whom one of them got me to work up consulting slides.
This was where I started my exposure to the tech start up scene. I met a lot of entrepreneurs at this time. One thing led to another and three months before I graduated I got this random email from a person to be a launch manager for Yelp in Malaysia.
I thought this was a good opportunity to come back to Malaysia, packed my things and moved back to KL. In my stunt to launch Yelp, I thought I could have my own team but I had to do everything my myself.
My biggest challenge was learning to manage a huge number of people, including hiring and firing close to 300 people. It was an interesting experience, the pay was extremely good but I was tired, burnt out and had no weekends.
Since I was back in Malaysia, I thought let me understand and get connected to the tech start up scene here. That was when I started working with Aizat at his then tech management company. In 12 months we networked with so many people, understood how the ecosystem is and the amount of innovation in place.
I had also went back to my family business. I was figuring things out. I knew I was passionate with the tech space, digitalization and how innovation can help the economy.
And that is how the idea for Dropee.com came about.
We understood that FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) products move fast every single day. People keep thinking prices keep increasing but the fact is there are multiple layers and middlemen that are in the supply chain.
These days with the internet you can know who is buying your products.
There are many brand owners who doesn’t know this because the middlemen refuse to give the information to them.
Today we are the one stop shop for inventories and have retailers from a small town pub all the way to four star hotels. What we sell is convenience and transparency in pricing.
Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centrewas the someone from day one who can hook us up with the right investors or partners. They have been helpful in networking, connecting us to people within Malaysia, regionally and globally.
I had grown up in a family of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship was sort of my second language. We believe in owning scalable and sustainable businesses. Scaling and we have that.
We understand the trading industry quite well and I am confident we can make it into a profitable business”.
Lennise Ng is the Co-Founder of Dropee. She was recently awarded the ‘Founder of the Year’ Award at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards!
Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!
Photostory by Christine Cheah
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa
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(This post was first published on October 25th 2018)