Janine Teo shares her corporate experience in tech and marketing with the fashion world, helping support fashion and beauty SMEs to grow in the highly competitive world of fashionistas!
What’s your story?
The entrepreneurial spirit has always been in my blood. I started my first business at 22 in the beauty industry, and founded other profitable companies in the technology and food industries. I am currently the founder & CEO of byCurate.com
I also have a strong international track record in sales, marketing and revenue management in the corporate world, mostly in the highly competitive hospitality industry. I have worked in 8 different countries, in addition to training and supporting hotels across almost 100 countries.
On the tech side, I have published research in IEEE, ACM and SCS conferences in the field of parallel simulation.
What excites you most about your industry?
byCurate is in the fashion and beauty industry. What excites me most is our customers – women.
The role that women play in society is evolving rapidly. Fashion and beauty is an integral component of a woman’s life, and I am excited to be a part of it!
There are many small and medium companies trying to enter the fashion industry. They offer refreshing alternatives to the mass produced apparels out there. byCurate’s mission is to support and help grow these SMEs.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and raised in Singapore, so I am 100% Asian!
Other than Singapore, I have lived in Thailand, Indonesia and Maldives. I have also worked with teams in China, India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Turkey.
I really enjoy and appreciate the diversity Asia has to offer in terms of cultures, languages and history. The subtle differences between the Asian countries might not be always obvious to the rest of the world. This means that doing business in Asia can be challenging, but very interesting and fascinating too.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite is Jakarta at the moment, it is vibrant and brimming with opportunities! The young people there are hungry for opportunities, and the entrepreneur spirit is alive and well.
During my tenure in Jakarta, I met quite a number of big venture capitalists who share the same views. I foresee myself spending more time in Jakarta in the near future.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Obstacle is the way.
My life has not been smooth sailing. When I was still studying, my father’s business was facing some challenges, and we were ladened with debt. I had to find ways to support myself and the family. I worked 7 days and held 3 jobs. This forced me to think outside the box, and led into my first crazy venture of importing sewing machines.
Honestly, there were times when I wallowed in self-pity. Now looking back, I am grateful for these obstacles, as they have made me the tough, savvy, business person I am today.
Who inspires you?
Peng Tsin Ong – he is a dear friend, mentor, and a very successful entrepreneur, now venture capitalist.
One of my key learnings from him is, “Find out your purpose in life, then go all out to fulfill it.” Seeing how he is living his life to the fullest and making the world a better place, I feel that I want to make a difference too. That is why I chose the path of entrepreneurship.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I have recently sat through pitches of many hopeful entrepreneurs, and seen things from a venture capitalist’s perspective.
What I realized is that while many entrepreneurs are knowledgeable about the industry that they are in, they often neglect the business aspect of their startup. I recently met a game developer who is so in love with his game, that he neglected the sales and marketing aspect of the business.
This has inspired byCurate, where I am leveraging my 12 years experience in sales, marketing and revenue management, to help boutique brands grow and be successful.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have left the corporate world earlier and plunged into full time entrepreneurship sooner.
However, I believe that everything happens for a reason. My corporate experience has equipped me with international exposure, network and the knowledge of how big multinational corporations work. It has also honed other skills that are crucial to growing a business.
These experiences have helped me evolve from a geeky software engineer to the well-rounded person I am today.
How do you unwind?
I enjoy rock climbing and scuba diving. These help clear my mind, and recharge.
I am a very curious person, so discovering new places and cultures is also another way to relax. I usually try to pick up the local language when I travel, so that I can attempt some basic conversations with the locals – just for the fun of it!
I find that you see the world from a fresh perspective when you truly immerse yourself.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali is still my favourite place. It has good food, good diving and a rich culture.
Having said that, I would usually pick a place I have not visited before for my vacation. For example, my husband and I went trekking up the remote hills of West Papua recently, and made friends with the tribal people there.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Peter Thiel’s From Zero To One is one of my favourite books. It is a great book for aspiring entrepreneurs, and it has definitely inspired me. Because stories of the hardship behind successful entrepreneurs are rarely published, many people might think that success is pure luck. Success is rarely luck, it is really about hard work and strategic planning.
Another book that I really like is Crucial Conversation by Kerry Patterson. This book has helped me navigate through difficult board meetings and discussions when stakes are high.
Shameless plug for your business:
byCurate.com is an exciting ecommerce platform for women, representing emerging designers and boutique brands. It aims to offer a unique shopping experience for the sophisticated and savvy modern woman.
With a strong team in place, we are ramping up in preparation for our launch this September. Currently, we are in the process of shortlisting the vendors. We are happy to hear from independent brands who are looking to grow their business.
byCurate aim to be ASEAN’s biggest platform for women.
How can people connect with you?
Through LinkedIn, Facebook or
through my personal website: www.janineteo.com
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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