Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chloe Lee has always admired the entrepreneurial spirit since young and hopefully to become one when she grows up. Chloe has always been a path of self-discovery. Chloe dropped out from Monash University because she failed the same paper too many times. After dropping out from Monash, Chloe went to study food science and nutrition in University of South Australia.
After graduation, Chloe decided to return to Kuala Lumpur, as she felt that its easier to actually get involved in business in Malaysia rather than in Australia. Upon returning home, Chloe followed the conventional path and pursued her early career with a few big corporates and MNCs within the food ingredient industry.
She also took the opportunity to do a MBA part time as she wanted to equip herself with greater business knowledge. As time passed, Chloe felt ever drawn to the need to achieve her goal of pursuing a business. Eventually, she decided to get out of her comfort zone and started SensoryHub. Chloe shares with The Asian Entrepreneur the story behind SensoryHub.
In your own words what is SensoryHub?
SensoryHub is a scent solution provider in the premium scenting category. We provide scenting solution in the B2B business model. We connect your brand to target audience through scent. We help business to amplify a brand message through scent. We only offer scent that matches your brand identity. Smell is one of the most influential senses among human five senses.
In today’s business world, aside from quality products and good service level, there is a lot of focus on customer emotion and customer experience. Our system releases pleasant aroma into commercial area thus creating an emotional touch with customers. It is invisible after installation, as long as the air conditioner is turn on, our scent will diffuse from air conditioner ducting to cover the area. Size doesn’t matter, as we cover from an area as small as a lift to large area like a shopping mall.
How did you come up with the idea of SensoryHub?
I did not come up with the idea. The strategy was long adopted by many successful brands. It is also the latest frontier that stands out from traditional visual and audio commercial advertising. I feel that there is a gap in marketing and branding currently, whereby most of the advertisement is targeting our eyes and ears. What about our nose? It is very important senses too. Thus, I see an opportunity in this market as it does create values for many brands, hotels, car showroom, property sales gallery, entertainment venue.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up SensoryHub?
The company was co-founded by myself and my brother (Jayden Lee). Jayden is the one who encourage me to take action while I hesitate on this life changing event. To make this company viable, we needed lots of courage and support from family and friends. I forgot how many times we pitch the idea to someone, but in the end, we found 2 partners who has vast experience in business and very successful in life. Whenever I face any challenges, I can turn to my partners for advice and guidance. Having them makes me a wiser person and I owe them a big thank you. We are blessed that our team has a good diversity of background to drive the strategic growth of the company.
Besides, my late father is my biggest inspiration as he prepares us mentally. We are mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario, if we fail, we will take this as a learning curve and come back to be stronger in the future.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
I guess most start up go through the same difficulties in terms of funding, getting customers, pitching the idea, dealing with supplier and the list goes on. We managed to overcome most of the challenges despite many ups and down. I suppose having the right attitude, a strong mindset and the right partnership help us through the difficult times.
One of the challenges we are still trying to overcome since start up is educating customers on the importance of scent branding. As scent branding is something that is intangible and difficult to measure, we are constantly looking for better way to educate customers on the power of scent branding and the values and benefit it can bring to their business.
How have you been developing SensoryHub since startup?
Since we began operation, we have been constantly improving on our product and services to our customers. We have a full range of scent system which covers from 35sq ft – 8000sq ft. For the scent, we have close to 100++ different types of pure oil in our library.
We are constantly looking for new product innovation in order to create the value we promised to our customers. We do not want to just meet expectation but to go beyond customer expectation. With this attitude, we have 99% conversion rate for those customers who took on our trial run service.
What kind of feedback did you get for SensoryHub so far?
Our customers are very happy and satisfied with our service. We get feedback like they feel very excited to go to work every day because they can’t wait to smell the scent. Some feedback that marketing with scent actually increase sales. We also have a sales gallery feedback that our scent kind of transform their business image. Staff of the sales gallery are perceived to be more professional and trust worthy.
Besides, we also received feedback that strive us to further improve. Some of our customers mentioned that they are unable to smell anything after sometime. We value these feedback and handle them carefully.
What is your strategy against your competition?
Every industry has its competition. For SensoryHub the competition is not strong as compared to others. Our products are position in the premium scenting category and differentiated from air refresher and aroma therapy. At SensoryHub, we use 100% pure oil with superior quality. Our scent is designed to match your brand identity. It is manufactured according to the strictest IFRA guidelines.
If you google “Scent Marketing” or “Scent Branding” or “Sensory Branding” you will find a list of company in similar category. We make our names by sticking to our core values, 1) to deliver “WOW” through service, 2) to make a difference for our customers, 3) treating everyone with respect. Our front-line service team will always make customer satisfy, happy and keep them excited. Those are the simple strategy we use for survival.
Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?
Scent branding is a 14 billion industry in the global market. Many marketers and retailer smell the success of adopting this strategy to enhance brand experience. There is opportunity in the premium category as it is not about masking odor but it’s about value adding. We need constant scent innovation, keep up to consumer trends and understanding consumer behaviour on scent preference in order to stay relevant in the industry.
What is the future of the industry?
Definitely optimistic about the future of this industry. Our aim is to create sensory experience between brands and its target audience. Thus, we need to get creative and innovative in order to stay relevant. For example, we are working on ways to scent parcel since E-commerce is booming. How would you like if the moment you open your parcel with a whiff of pleasant aroma?
We will not limit ourselves to just scent. Another project in the pipeline is Music. Music is another sensory experience we would like to add on to our portfolio. We want to be the hub of providing sensory experience.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?
In my opinion, there is no clear answers as it really depends on nature of the business. I would say certain part of Asia is less establish in term of laws, regulation and intellectual property. However, if you wish to start a F&B business is relatively easy in Asia. So it really depends on nature of business.
What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?
Still very old school types of thinking. In my opinion, the Asian entrepreneur is the hard working with all the sweat and tears. They work long hours thus usually do not have work life balance. The western entrepreneur is the work smart, play hard types and they are more driven by systematic approach.
Having said so, I do see changes in the younger generation of Asian entrepreneur. As they are more expose to the world and a diversity of cultures, they tend to work smart. The younger generation have the global mindset which strive them a competitive edge. I do read a lot about second generation leading family business successfully and strive to bring business to the next level.
What is your definition of success?
I guess the definition of success changes as we reach certain level in life. For example, when I was 20 years old, my definition of success is to graduate from university and start a career. When I was 30 years, my definition of success is to start family planning as well as running successful businesses. When I am 40 years old, my definition of success is to be able to inspire others. Take a step back and be grateful for whatever I have achieved. When I am 50 years old, I would love to contribute as much I could to the society
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I love to create and build a business from scratch. That’s like my childhood dreams. I want to have financial freedom, time freedom and location freedom so I have more bonding time with my kids and being able to take care of my family. My next stage in life is to focus on contributing to society and anything I could do to the less privileged. I always believe to help yourself first so you get to help others in a more effective way.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Learning from mistakes and being able to pick up yourself after failure. Embrace change and adapt to changes. Having the right attitude and positive mindset.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Everything started as nothing. You do not need to have big idea. As long as you have a dreams, take the courage to pursue it.