This article was originally published here: Cynthia Jee Yoon Kim – Co-founder & CMO Venuerific
Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs, Cynthia Jee Yoon Kim was able to meet the challenges resulting from the pandemic whilst maintaining the focus of her business.
What’s your story?
Born in Japan and brought up in Korea and Canada, I’m a Canadian of Korean ethnicity. My journey in Singapore began when I went on an exchange during my last year of undergraduate studies from Vancouver.
After the exchange, I came across the chance of becoming a part of a very young startup. I felt passionate about it, especially because I grew up watching my father through his entrepreneurship journey and the impact he made. I wanted to discover entrepreneurship through the startup experience.
What excites you most about your industry?
The events industry was one of the most heavily affected industries due to the pandemic in 2020 and still has many governmental regulations upon event spaces and vendors alike. As the world moves towards automation, Venuerific helps venue owners improve their efficiency with less manpower while making more revenue. We are always evolving from a marketplace business, to content marketing, and then to software development. There is always something I can learn, especially in the events industry.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
There is a saying: your business will only grow as much as you do. This is why I keep pushing my own limits to grow our team and company. With team members who hold growth mindsets and our customers who appreciate what we do, and give us suggestions on the new features within our platform that could help them even further, are strong factors of my drive. When you see the direct impact Venuerific makes on the businesses and the people, it pushes me to think even more about what we can do.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I would say the most useful skills are immeasurable qualitative ones that I didn’t have a choice but to learn on my own through experience of managing a business; such as hiring the right people, letting go at times of people who weren’t the right fit, and being able to manage and lead different personalities. It’s not something you can learn right off the bat. I made a lot of emotionally-driven decisions in the beginning and made mistakes. But throughout my journey I defined the company’s core values and tried to base all my hiring decisions on them.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Your word is your bond.” I remind myself of this on a constant basis especially because the words I speak are something that I’m completely in control of and nobody else is. It’s the most magical thing. What you speak can create an energy for yourself whether it’s just chanting positive affirmations to yourself to be able to get that big contract or to be able to say words that can mean little to you but mean so much to another person. When you emotionally react to a situation and blurt out the words, it can be detrimental.
Who inspires you?
My ancestors, so my maternal great grandfather and my paternal great grandfather both were entrepreneurs during their time through the Korean War, building the biggest market that exists in Korea today called the Gwangjang Market — the first corporation invested and owned by Koreans during the time of Japanese colonial rule. They also provided for the less fortunate by building over 300 houses for the homeless who were most affected by the war. Their acts of kindness and entrepreneurship spirits inspire me greatly. I also grew up watching my father as an entrepreneur and my go-getter attitude definitely comes from him.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Covid-19 definitely changed the way we run the business entirely. It caught us off guard when we were used to seeing celebrations happen on a daily basis to completely none. The uncertainty as to how long it will go on for, and when it will be normal for us made us have serious doubts about the future of the business but it pushed us harder to grow our software and that push got us through to being a pre-approved vendor for PSG. It’s completely mind blowing when challenges can present new rewards and accomplishments for the company.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
The list could go on, but at the end of it all, I believe that I acted in the way I did because I felt that’s the best I could do at that point. I was able to learn because of those mistakes I made then and now I know what direction the company should take.
How do you unwind?
I’m a painting enthusiast! When I’m painting, I get lost in the zone and time just passes so quickly. I can just forget all the pending tasks or things that hold me back. It’s really therapeutic to be able to just paint different colours and focus on producing a colourful image.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
The biggest ‘ah ha’ moment was when event regulations kicked in with Covid-19 in Singapore but we realized we had missed out an opportunity in being able to offer our CRM solution to more venue partners through the PSG grant. When an opportunity falls, another opportunity kicks in. It’s a rollercoaster ride and things will work out in the end as long as you work towards growing the business. That’s the mindset change that’s brought us up to this point today.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance is a must-read. He is not only an extraordinary entrepreneur, but the way he grew SpaceX and Tesla from the ground up is truly inspirational. The challenges I would say are so great especially when you’re trying to create something that has never been done before (reusable rocket launch development, electric car). His trust in his team, his persevering mentality, and his management style and leadership to create the product with utmost attention to detail are traits I regard as something you need to be a successful entrepreneur.
Shameless plug for your business:
Venuerific is the largest event space marketplace in Southeast Asia. Since 2013, we have been helping people celebrate their momentous occasions at unique and beautiful spaces through our site. We also have a CRM solution for venue partners who list their spaces on our site to manage event bookings in the most productive way. We were recently approved as a pre-approved vendor under PSG (Productivity Solutions Grant) by IMDA, so meaning our clients get 80 to 98% support fund from Entreprise SG. It’s an exciting time for us to help businesses grow their productivity to new heights with our product.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
Follow Venuerific through the below links.
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series. Every entrepreneur featured has been recommended by one of our previous guests.