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2013/11/25 by lingdecklee
[The following is an interview done on Sandy Wu, cofounder of Pinby.com.tw, with authorization for publishing on the personal blog of Start Jeffrey Up and the FB pages of Entrepreneurs Society of Taiwan (EST) and Plus8.]
- When was your startup established? 2011/10 started the startup; 2012/12 registered as a company.
- How many people on the team right now? 7 people.
- What is your business model? We are a marketplace for business and influencer. Business needs influencer to share product experience and interact with the business’s target audience. Influencer wants to experience more things in life and wants to make a living out of experience sharing. Therefore, we are a platform providing influencer’s product sharing service to businesses.
- Who are your main target audience? We have two kinds of audience: (a) influencer with fans on virtual platforms, for example, blogger, fans page owner, twitter celebrity etc. (b) small and medium online businesses.
- What value does your startup bring or what problem does your startup solve? The greatest drawback of e-commerce is it only shows visual value of its product. Therefore, consumers do not know how the product is really like, and they find it hard to make the purchase. For example, when there is a cake product, consumers can only see the picture of the cake, but they cannot get to know the taste of the cake, the texture of the cake, and they need to review others’ opinions to get to know more about the actual product before they purchase. These online shops need word of mouth marketing services to increase trust for their products. However, this kind of marketing is very complicated and very time-consuming or expensive. Our self-serve platform will reduce the complexity and time it takes to get this marketing done at an affordable cost. Our goal is to enable products from anywhere in the world to be seen by people that need the products wherever they are. Because we know useful products do not have geographical barrier.
- Why do your decide to do your own startup? It started with an important concept I learned – 格局, which can be somewhat translated as pattern, structure or horizon in English. Before I started Pinby, I started practicing Zen meditation. I shared my Zen journey with someone I met who was very depressed at that time. He became noticeably happier. When sharing positive stories with others, I sensed a strong feeling of happiness emanating from within. I felt that this is something I can do on an ongoing basis. I became certain this is what I want in life: to help others by spreading positive energy, when they get helped, they then also became able to help others. I was thinking, instead of continuing to do tangible products which is harmful to mother earth, I should try providing intangible services. I initially started by using influencer marketing to sell gift box, but then decided to open this influencer marketing platform to other selected products/brands so that good products/brands can be heard. I am building Pinby as an ecosystem that changes people’s life.
- Who inspires you the most on your startup journey? Why? My Zen teacher. And then that friend whom I comforted. They allowed me to begin thinking what my goal in life should be and how to use my business to achieve such goal.
- What is the most enjoyable part of your startup journey so far? Why? A memorable story was an year ago when I talked to a blogger one day and she told me that her family was all very happy when they received a box full of fishes from us, and the most memorable part was when I discovered she was still a student. It was memorable because I recalled how much sponsorship she has received from working with us, and it was already a significant income for a student, and she was making money out of her talent, she did not have to earn money by doing non-creative labor work. Her parents must be really proud of her. I am very happy that what we do can let artists do what they love and make a living at the same time.
- What is the most challenging part of your startup journey so far? Why? It is the moment when I lost passion in everything, including our business. When I just returned from Canada a few months ago, I lost passion in everything. While I was in Canada, I was with my loved ones all the time, and when I came back to Taiwan, I was in Taiwan, all by myself. Meanwhile, my family was suffering disasters in Canada, and I could not be there with them to share their burden. Therefore, my heart was lifeless that time. Finally, my energy came back after I realized I was not being a good role model for the company. I did Zen meditation to clear up the clouds in my heart, and it helped me to see the direction for the company and the strength to execute it.
- What are some of the advice that you, as a woman entrepreneur, would like to give to women that would like to start their own business? Do something for the world, not just for yourself. Even if it start as doing something for yourself, try to find the value of this business for others and keep it in mind. Have idea, test market, and do it. Don’t let “no resource” becomes an excuse for not doing startup.
[Sandy will be one of the three female speakers at the upcoming EST event: EST Speaker Night: Woman Entrepreneurs. Join us and listen to her startup stories!]