Lost and Founded Series - Talenia Phua Gajardo

Serial entrepreneur, art lover and perpetual collaborator –like a work of art, Talenia Phua Gajardo is many things to many people.


Serial entrepreneur, art connoisseur and perpetual collaborator – like a work of art, Talenia Phua Gajardo is many things to many people. She, however, prefers to be defined by her own life's work. And that's hardly trivial, when you consider what strides the 29 year-old founder and CEO of The Artling – an online platform that both sells and promotes modern Asian art – has made. A graduate of London's famed Central St. Martins, Talenia embarked on a soaring career with eminent British architect Zaha Hadid before founding her own architecture and interior design firm, T+. A strong believer in the need for more accessible contemporary Asian art online, Talenia wants to change the misconception that art resides solely in the domain of the super-wealthy. Attempting to paint a more complete picture of Talenia, we speak to the self- confessed film lover and find out what she thinks of coffee, laziness and hyper-intelligent people.

People say you are "Talenia Phua Gajardo, CEO of The Artling". Who do you say you are?

I'm an art, architecture and design lover. My work also defines me and that's who I am. 

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.

Raising my very first seed round of funding! 

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

None that I can think of.

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 let you know once I've raised my final round! 

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 can't say I've reached that kind of low yet –where I've wanted to give up everything or kill someone. That's extreme. But I will say that I have a low tolerance for carelessness and laziness.

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

Working on refining my deck for the next round of fund raising.

Also, coffee!

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

I'm not as active as I'd like to be, unfortunately, but I try to play some sport whenever possible. I also spend some time on the weekend unwinding, exploring new places and visiting galleries or museums.

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

Be open to other people's ideas. Collaborate. Explore. Make mistakes but recover quickly.

Movie or song that best describes you.

I have a list of movies.... there are too many.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The Fountainhead (1949)

Fight Club (1999)

Inception (2010)

Herb & Dorthy (2008)

Into the Wild (2007)

Favourite quote.

If you're going through hell, keep going.  - Winston Churchill

Who and what inspires you?

Hyper-intelligent beings, loved ones and art/architecture/design. 

Tell me about Talenia Phua Gajardo in 2030.

I'd like to be running an art/architecture/design hub and creative center or institute. This will ideally serve as the largest resource in the region for professionals and students to explore and immerse themselves in.

Photo-credits: Senatus.net

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