TryThisOut!: My First Venture
When I came back from Singapore in 2009, I was a 19 year old teenager who knew nothing about starting a business.
THE VERY FIRST STEP
TryThisOut! was the company enrolled in the Maybank-MoneyTree Young Entrepreneur Start-Up (YES) Challenge that taught me not just the fundamentals of how to start a scalable business that investors would invest in, but also how to pitch, raise funding and actually implement the business with the funds raised.
We managed to raise RM25,000 from a crowd of angels, went on to execute the idea, secured clients such as News Straits Times Press (NSTP) Berhad, made money, became the best performing company in 4 months and also won an additional RM20,000 as champions of the competition.
“TRYVERTISING” & MARKET RESEARCH
TryThisOut! was a youth focused market research firm that focused on “tryvertising” & sampling, where students get to earn points and redeem free gifts by trying out free samples & giving their feedback on our platform.
After we’ve won, we continued to build the business in hopes that it would become the “next big thing”.
FIRST MAJOR HURDLE
However, we soon realized that what we were getting were mostly sub-contracts or sub-sub contracts from large research firms or small market research exercises from the relatively small research budget of companies in Malaysia, who are usually subsidiaries of large MNCs who are more focused on advertising and marketing products rather than doing research (research is usually done in their home countries or initiated by their Asia Pacific headquarters, who would in turn work with the respective Asia Pacific branches of large research firms like IDC or Nielsen)
We tried pivoting by moving into the video engagement space for commercials and films via a video role-playing platform called Whisperto.us under Klarssen Intelligence, held talks with telcos such as Celcom and Digi, but eventually realized that we are ultimately still playing in the same limited industry.
(Read more here)
While we would have probably been able to build it into a multi-million ringgit a year business over the years, it wouldn’t be “the next big thing”. Furthermore, it would have taken years if not decades of our lives to build it into one, and the figure would be in the low millions. Also, because of the nature of the industry, there is no clear exit strategy and we are likely to be stuck running the business for the rest of our lives, which is not something that we’d want to do for a solution like this.
RETURNING INVESTORS THEIR MONEY WITH INTERESTS
Hence, in the end, after 2 years or so of pivoting, we finally decided to liquate the venture and return all our investors their money, with interest, explain to them why we decided to liquidate, and thank them for believing in us right from the start and giving us this valuable opportunity to learn and build our dreams.
VALUABLE LESSONS LEARNT
Through this experience, I’ve learnt many valuable lessons that has helped me in my entrepreneurial journey till this day.
I’ve learnt how to identify a great & scalable business idea, the basic building blocks of a great business plan, prepare executive summaries, pitch & raise funds, manage the development of a platform, negotiate business deals, sales and also valuable lessons on choosing the right business partner, among others.
As part of the journey, I’ve also been fortunate enough to be featured in some online portals and media platforms such as The Sun, News Straits Times & Personal Money Magazine.
[Link to Aseanpreneur Interview]
A STEPPING STONE FOR THE LONG JOURNEY AHEAD
However, the most important thing that I’ve gained from this entire experience are the valuable lessons I’ve learnt and the opportunity to get to know the amazing network of mentors such as Dr.Siva (Founder of TeAM & Proficeo), Michael Reyes (CEO of Money Tree Asia Pacific) & Nazrin Hassan (CEO of Cradle Investment Program) who still mentor and help me till this day, and I am extremely grateful to them for the help and advice that they have given me over all these years.
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants…” – Sir Isaac Newton