Throughout the interview with Keng Yew, we were able to understand the mentality of a true businessman. Having experienced failure and standing up again after learning form past mistakes. This is what shaped him to become successful in this marathon of life.
Keng Yew Tham ｜Founder of Supplybunny
Before coming back to Malaysia, Keng Yew was a PhD research student in the United States and had also worked in the Silicone Valley. In 2007, he decided to return to Malaysia to start a business, after failing twice in his business ventures, he was able to learn and improve from those failures. He later established Supplybunny, a business-to-business e-commerce platform that currently supplies ingredients to 1800 restaurants.
Q: How did you start Supplybunny?
A: I started Supplybunny in 2016 when the B2B e-commerce market was not at its peak. We only had between 30-40 customers as compared to the 1800 customers that we have in Klang Valley today. It is evident that the growth of the local e-commerce scene has been developed and shaped very quickly.
Q: Despite your previous failures, what made you continue to persist in business?
A: Facing failure is a common thing in business, in fact there are statistics that indicate the 3rd attempt as the one leading to success. As a businessman, I have the never-give-up attitude because in most cases success does not come instantly.
Q: How do you keep yourself motivated?
A: To me, admitting failure is not something to be ashamed of. During my first business, I was able to meet many people and interestingly, I met someone who later helped me to establish Supplybunny. There is a common misunderstanding about failure, because with it, comes a lot of other things that can help us.
Q: The Silicone Valley is a prestigious business dream for many. What are some of your most valuable learnings from there?
A: This is an interesting question because many people asked why I had returned to Malaysia. The people working in the Silicone Valley are from the most prestigious universities and the competition is very tough there especially in the IT industry. That is why there are many good products and company culture that derive from there. The Silicone Valley thought me that if we want to create something special, we need to have a very strong team.
Q: As an active investor, what advice can you give the youth who are keen on business?
A: Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur and a normal member of the work force, there are two things that you’ll need; vitality and clarity. Vitality is the positive energy or aura that you carry and emit wherever you are and the atmosphere will feel great when you’re around. Clarity is about being able to communicate effectively and speak directly in order to get your message across.
Q: What was the turning point in your life?
A: To me, the biggest turning point was when I decided to forgo my doctoral research in the United States and to begin my entrepreneurial journey. I cannot imagine myself being a professor at this point!
Q: What is the secret to success?
A: To put it simply, the secret is not to give up easily. If we are persistent, we will definitely achieve something. In the words of Bruce Lee “I am not afraid of a person who practices 10,000 types of kicks, but I am afraid of the person who practiced a kick 10,000 times.”
Q: In your opinion, what is the definition of success?
A: Every person has his or her own definition of success. It is important that we determine that for ourselves, to set our goals or targets and work towards achieving them. Do not let others define the meaning of success in our lives.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: Life is not a sprint, but a marathon. We must have the endurance and be able to withstand long hours or training.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
A: Life is full of challenges and pushing myself to the limit is the biggest challenge. We make decisions everyday and I remind myself not to make decisions for short-term gain over long-term wellbeing. Often people do not regret their career choices but they end up regretting to have neglected their family and friends.
Q: What are among the most precious to you?
A: Striking a balance. To me the most important thing is to strike a balance between time, wealth, and health.
Q: What is the most indispensable thing to you?
A: To me, the most indispensable thing is time. Once it has past, it will never come back.
Interview & Text: Jensen Thong
Wardrobe: Versace Homme | Longines Watch
Makeup: Zoeys Chen
Hairstyle: VV Chan @ Shiseido Professional
Photographer: Tian Xing @ Shooting Star
Creative Director: Chris Wong
Video Editor: JiaMin Chuah
Coordination: Alison Law
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