Lost and Founded Series - CRIB Special: Mei Chee
’If you want to walk far, walk together,’ asserts Mei Chee, co-founder of CRIB, believing that their best years lie ahead of them.
Author: DBS BusinessClass, Administrator of DBS
‘If you want to walk far, walk together,’ believes Mei Chee. In 2014, the regional head of product marketing at a global technology firm co-founded CRIB (Creating Responsible & Innovative Businesses) alongside Elaine Kim, Marilyn Lum and Tjin Lee. A social enterprise that aims to empower women from all walks of life to become successful entrepreneurs through networking, matchmaking and business incubation, CRIB also envisions a society where women - and mothers in particular - are able to achieve work-life balance and have a fulfilling career while making family a priority. Besides admitting to secretly being a geek, the technopreneur and Harvard Business School alumni also firmly believes that CRIB’s best years lie ahead of them and hopes that through CRIB, she can help birth many responsible and innovative women-led businesses in Singapore and beyond.
People say you are "Mei Chee, Co-founder of CRIB and regional head of product marketing at a global tech company." Who do you say you are?
I’m a daughter, a wife and a mom who’s blessed with supportive family and friends. My passion is to enrich others’ lives by transforming ideas into reality.
How did the four of you meet? Tell us your side of the story!
I was introduced to Elaine through a mutual friend and initially helped to develop CRIB’s website (www.crib.com.sg). From my experience as a mom who transitioned between corporate and entrepreneurial life, I understood the challenge faced by women, especially mothers, to balance work and family. CRIB’s mission to empower women and create successful businesses help to bridge that gap. This resonated with me, and I readily accepted when they invited me to join as a co-founder.
How do you think the four of you complement one another?
To quote Ratan Tata: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.” With the help of dedicated volunteers, the four of us have accomplished more and done things better as a team. In CRIB-speak, we are a team of A - Angels, B - Business Enablers and C - Creatives, necessary elements in a successful co-founding partnership. Find out which of the three you are at membership.crib.com.sg!
What was the best moment in your startup life? It was so good you wanted to fly BusinessClass somewhere with someone, and pop open the most expensive bottle of champagne there.
CRIB hasn’t reached her first birthday yet, so honestly, “the best is yet to be”. That said, one highlight for me was to see our first member sign ups. I spent much time ironing out the details and (seemingly endless) kinks on the website, membership portal and payment mechanics. After our soft launch late last year, I was elated and validated to see that others believed in us too.
Have you ever cried? Or what was the lowest, crappiest moment in your start-up life? You wanted to give up everything. You wanted to kill someone. (During your startup career of course) Tell us more!
When there’s too much to be done, not enough time to do it, and no money to compete. One of the challenges with a social enterprise is attracting and motivating a talented team so we can sustain and scale accordingly.
What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?
I’m a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. I don’t totally hide this, though I do often reign in my geekiness :)
What's the most eccentric thing about you? If VCs found out, they won't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.
I’ll go out of my way to listen to and share my thoughts on proposals, especially if there’s a personal or social impact, even if the business idea may not be as viable commercially at the outset.
What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?
Too many things! I always run a mental tally of things to do and how to improve them. But family comes first every morning.
How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?
Take time to recharge. Build a trusted team. Immerse in ideas.
Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.
Stay true to your core but be open to new directions and alternatives.
Movie or song that best describes you.
The Hundred Foot Journey
“There are many points in life when we cannot see what awaits us around the corner, and it is precisely at such times, when our path forward is unclear, that we must bravely keep our nerve, resolutely putting one foot before the other as we march blindly into the dark.”
Richard Morais - Author, The Hundred Foot Journey
Who and what inspires you?
Mother Theresa’s selflessness. Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s courage to speak up. Amelia Earhart’s determination.
Tell me about yourself in 2030.
I’ll still be a daughter, a wife and a mom - my son will be in NS! But I hope that through CRIB, I will have also been a “midwife” to many responsible and innovative women-led businesses in Singapore and beyond.
What is the one biggest barrier in empowering female entrepreneurship in Singapore?
Women tend to lack confidence and connections.
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