Lost and Founded Series – Douglas Gan

Douglas Gan, Co-Founder and CEO of VanityTrove and Vanitee, loves challenging the status quo. That explains why he’s a five-time serial entrepreneur, and he’s only 32.


Douglas Gan, Co-Founder and CEO of VanityTrove and Vanitee, loves challenging the status quo. That probably explains why he’s a five-time serial entrepreneur, and he’s only 32. The movie that best describes him? Limitless (starring Bradley Cooper). There are no limits for this innovator.

People say you are " Douglas Gan, Co-Founder and CEO of VanityTrove and Vanitee". Who do you say you are?

I'm Douglas Gan, a lucky son of a Gan who wakes up everyday pursuing his passion and living his life to the fullest. Recently, I tied the knot with my lovely wife Kanna Kawaguchi who's Japanese and she's fully supportive of my entrepreneurial journey with her awesome bentos!

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.

There were a few moments like this:

  • When I sold my first company
  • When my forum OhGenki became the top 2000th website worldwide
  • When my mobile app ShowNearby achieved 21 million searches a month when just 3 months back it was 400,000 searches
  • When VanityTrove setup in 7 markets within 18 months of operations and it took only 9 months to grow from market 2 to market 7
  • When Vanitee launched its mobile app in April 2015 and is now achieving great daily success!

What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?

I didn’t exactly hide anything from my parents. But they never knew that I seldom went to school. I spent most of my time doing business and my mom who's half aware would often assist me in my business including setting up my first company under her name.

I guess paper qualifications are important to parents and if I had told them I'm not attending school they'd probably have disowned me.

What's the most eccentric thing about you? If VCs found out, they wouldn't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.

No idea. I think it's my eccentricity that helped me get VCs on board easily.

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!

I cried when I realized how important Vanitee was to me and the public at large.

I teared when I realized that the beauty industry had no good folks looking at it seriously. It's the opportunity that truly combined all my past experiences in online businesses, forums, female portals, web and social media agency, location based services, mobile apps, search engine optimization, etc.

You may read the story of why Vanitee on my blog.vanitee.com.

What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?

I'm working on my Q4 priorities and still refining the product features to be launched this quarter.

I wake up feeling happy, warming up to my lovely wife beside me and looking forward to the new challenges awaiting me.

How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?

I plank every night and I swim 2-3x a week. I also walk a lot and take the train if the distance is train-able despite driving to work.

I am never tired from work, in fact if I stop working I stop living my life. I do take my mind off work when I watch Suits or Heroes or Jin Yong Martial Arts or when I’m in theatre or at the Movies.

Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.

Join a startup or build a strong team, if you can't do either you should go back to office jobs.

Don't waste time living someone else's life. If you can't live your own life, then please, wake up your idea. It's probably better to live in someone else's life than to not have a life at all. After all, you can never achieve something on your own. So why not?

Movie or song that best describes you.

Movie: Bradley Cooper in Limitless

Favourite quote.

Time is always too short for those who need it. But for those who love, time lasts forever.

Who and what inspires you?

My mom inspires me. She's the sole reason why I started my businesses and the sole reason why I flourished.

Challenging the status quo inspires me.

Tell me about Douglas Gan in 2030.

Happy Co-Founder, Executive Chairman, Father of 5 Healthy Children and Constantly Innovating.

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