What drove you to take the plunge into starting your startup?
It’s quite a funny story actually. Essentially, I forgot to buy my wife a gift for our seventh wedding anniversary. This was unfortunately the third time I had forgotten such an occasion. Long story short, that resulted in a three-day drama that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
I figured that I couldn’t be the only person in the world who forgets significant celebrations. This got me thinking about the fundamental social problem which is relationships being broken. For me, it was a three-day fight but for others, it could signal the end of a relationship. I wanted to address this social problem.
Eventually, I researched gift-giving platforms including Giftr. However, I found that it lacked a personal element and despite being able to order different items, it would all arrive on different dates and times which loses its specialty. Fundamentally, my reasons were to solve social problems (take my relationship with my wife), express love to the special people in my life and provide a personal touch to my gifts for them. That’s how Send My Love came into existence in January 2021.
We manage the entire gift-giving supply chain from collecting the various items, putting the gift together including specifications and delivery. Users can place a gift order in under 10 minutes and can even automate it. We’re a people-centric marketplace, not product centric. Send My Love isn’t just a platform to buy gifts. Our promise is to never allow your loved ones to spend their special days without gifts for the rest of their lives.
How did you put it all together?
Two words – strategic partnerships. Although this isn’t my first startup, this is my first time as a lone founder. I chose to work smart by outsourcing certain functions such as technical development. To get started, I approached a partner who had an existing list of products from various mid-high tier brands who were open to exploring selling their items through Send My Love. In return, my partner marketed my service to its networks. This provided me with access to brands and an existing list of clientele. Everything else, I learnt through experience.
What kind of resources did you tap into to get a head start – funding, favours, expertise, even space?
I got connected to my partner through a startup program run by an entity based in Singapore. The program received applications from over 80 startups across Southeast Asia after which two Malaysian and four Singaporean startups were selected. I’ve since made valuable connections among the startup community and plan to enter the Singaporean market in February 2022.
What were some of your key considerations (be it personal or professional) for starting a business in the middle of a pandemic?
I recently quit my job as a project manager in a KL-based IT company to run Send My Love full time. Since launching, I’ve secured two investors from Singapore and Hong Kong to come on board and even my boss has expressed interest to come on board as an investor! This has given me the reassurance that I need to go all in.
What have some of your biggest triumphs and challenges been?
My biggest win has been validating the idea. In the first four months since launching, I made over RM100,000 in revenue. However, we had to temporarily pause operations due to supply problems caused by the MCO. This gave me time to work on other aspects of the business. I have since relaunched the business in mid October by rolling out a mobile app and branding. Down the line, my vision is to digitalise the gifting industry by providing eternal love via NFTs which are non-perishable items and can be great investments for our later generation. Making our gift recipients feel loved and being part of such special moments is gratifying too.
The biggest challenge is keeping a balance among my startups, my day job and my family. I’ve also been experiencing migraines over the last three months.
What future does your startup hold for the world to come – pandemic or not?
There’ll be a shift towards holistic gifting. Instead of gifting physical products, people will move towards gifting services or solutions such as staycations, beauty services and even NFTs.
If you’re looking to start your business during a pandemic, ensure that your idea is something that can adapt to suit the changing market demands. It isn’t always about what you’re selling but how you sell it.
What would you advise aspiring founders looking to start a business in this environment?
Running a startup isn’t easy – it requires a lot of time and money.
Most founders have millions of ideas. Don’t be afraid to share your idea – the more you share, the more you’ll see your idea refined. You’ll be surprised to find how many people are willing to help with that. To know if it’s a good idea, it needs to solve either a social or business problem. It cannot be a founder-created problem. Your solution must be attractive enough to other people to want to adopt. Find a feasible and easy-to-develop solution to test your idea.
Founders need to invest time in networking and business expansion opportunities such as acquiring users and onboarding investors. There are many communities out there, so go and find them.
The most important thing is attitude. Founders cannot expect people to help if they can’t help themselves first. You must be willing to unlearn and relearn. Don’t wait for opportunities to come, go and search for it.
Send My Love is digitalising the gifting industry by introducing Eternal Love™️ – an imperishable gift as proof of undying love and investment for later generations.