We recently got the opportunity to learn about what it takes to run a business well from Sharmeen Looi of ShopBack and Syed Mohd. Izmir of TAPAK. ShopBack rewards online shoppers with cash back rewards and TAPAK is Malaysia’s first and largest food truck park organizer. The pair gave 30-minute keynotes each to the students of INTI Business School and this is was our key takeaways from their talk:
#1 Hire People That Are Better Than You
Your talent can only bring you so far Sharmeen says, and a good team that is better than you will ensure your product goes further. The point is, your company is only as good as your staff.
#2 Create Something For The People
“Think about a problem that your users have, and give your product to the user that solves that problem.” When ShopBack was launched in 2015, we Malaysians faced GST for the first time. As Sharmeen says, it was the perfect time to enter the market, just as Malaysians were feeling the pinch of taxes, ShopBack was there to soften the blow. Sometimes opportunity and circumstance meet for your business, at other times, think of an existing problem faced by society, and offer a solution.
#3 You Have To Massage The Truth Sometimes
Syed Mohd Izmir recalled how he had to massage the truth in the name of marketing. When TAPAK was starting out, they had to convince vendors to join them. And let's just say they were not entirely honest in the amount of vendors they already had signed. It's a chicken and egg situation; he needed vendors to attract vendors. So he had to imply that they signed more vendors than he actually did. Which leads us to the next point.
#4 Great Things Come From Humble Beginnings
Today, TAPAK manages 250 food trucks that benefits its vendors and the Malaysian public that enjoy the food. On top of that, in April, The Penang International Food Festival organised the largest food truck valley in the world overtaking Japan, America, and Australia, among others. His point was that as Malaysians we can dictate the change we want to see. We don't always have to look to other countries for inspiration, we can create our own records and have ambitions to make our own dreams come true.
What is FOUNDERS?
The event, FOUNDERS was conceived with the aim of encouraging young entreprenuers to pursue their business dreams. Aimed at college and university students, these talks will be conducted from now till the main event in September. The founders of various startups will give 30-minute keynotes on actionable tactics for launching and growing a startup.
Students can also ask CEOs questions directly after each keynote and learn directly from industry experts who have made it. The next Founders event might be at a university near you, so keep an eye out on campus.