Lost and Founded Series – Fong Wai Hong
Fong Wai Hong, Co-Founder of StoreHub, calls himself an “Accidental Entrepreneur”. Find out his back story.
Fong Wai Hong, Co-Founder of StoreHub, an iPad POS system, calls himself an “Accidental Entrepreneur”. Find out the back story behind his founding of StoreHub, and how it led to his father accidentally discovering his flunking of five university modules.
People say you are “Wai Hong, Co-Founder of StoreHub". Who do you say you are?
I'd say I’m the Accidental Entrepreneur. Many people start businesses because they have big dreams and aspirations to change the world. I kinda stumbled into it. My first startup, OZHut, was an award-winning niche online retail business in Australia. I was a fresh graduate from Melbourne University back then, having just completed my BA (Media & Communications and History & Philosophy of Science), and my only expectation was to work in marketing at some IT company. While contemplating a gap few months, my uncle asked me to help out with listing a few things on eBay. One thing led to another and OZHut grew into a $300k business in its first year and a $5m(revenue) business after 5 years. I left the company and went to study Mandarin in Shanghai and travel a bit. While travelling, I met a friend in Fuzhou who was running a chain of lingerie retail stores. He had just implemented a new POS system which was horrible. I agreed to speak to his developer but got incredibly frustrated with their lack of a drive to improve the system. This frustration led me to explore the idea of building a great POS system to solve this pain and eventually led to the birth of StoreHub. All in all, accidental entrepreneurship seems to be the pattern I’m observing about my life.
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.
When we had an investor commit a significant portion of our series A round after just meeting for the first time for 45 minutes.
What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?
My father didn’t know that I had failed 5 subjects at university till many years later when he read about it on the front page of a major newspaper. I just didn’t know how to tell him, as he was quite strict about these things, so I guess this route is not too bad!
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.
I have an obsessive personality and I’m a gamer at heart. Put together, it makes me an obsessive gamer that wants to finish everything I start.
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!
Yes. There was a season where we kept missing our targets and we’d just let go of three of our first 4 hires. One left because he was homesick (he moved to KL from Penang), another had abysmal sales and the last one had family issues. In the month prior, I remember talking to my one employee where we agreed that if we couldn’t get 20 new customers that month, that we were shit and shouldn’t be in business. We got two. There was definitely a lot of reflection at that time trying to figure things out.
What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?
We’re building a platform for SME retailers to provide a WOW in-store experience in their brick-and-mortar store and embrace omni-channel commerce in a super easy and affordable way. I love the passion and the creativity that emerges in running small business. SMES are 90+% of the GDP of most economies and I believe empowering small businesses to be awesome is a world-changing endeavor.
How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?
I have a business coach based out of Silicon Valley with experience coaching Fortune 500 execs and startup founders in the US. She’s been a Godsend in so many ways as we work through challenges and my personal growth as a startup Chieftain, especially given how fast that role changes in its form. I used to bowl three times a week, 10 games a session after which I’m usually drenched in sweat. I don’t do enough of it anymore. I should!
Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.
Use tools. We use 29 different tools here at Storehub with the average team member using 20. Tools give us leverage to deliver value in a big way. I covered 20 different tools in a talk I gave recently, and listed them here.
Movie or song that best describes you.
I would rather fail in something that would eventually succeed then succeed in something that would eventually fail.
Who and what inspires you?
My pastor-doctor-philosopher friend in Melbourne. He shared the above quote with me and his own life reflects this philosophy. I’m most inspired by people that live for something greater than themselves.
Tell me about Fong Wai Hong in 2030.
Father. Geek. Thought Leader. Accidental Entrepreneur.
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