Digerati50: A little positivity goes a long way

  • From going door to door to suppliers now knocking on their doors
  • Everything can be learnt – with the right mindset and attitude

Digerati50: A little positivity goes a long way

IF there’s one thing that Lavinie Thiruchelvam (pic, left) and Tay Shan Li (pic, right) have learnt from their four-year-plus entrepreneurial journey, it is that one should never stop learning.

The founders of Babydash, an e-commerce site specialising in baby products, also believe that anything is possible as long as you put your heart into it.

“Nothing is rocket science. Everything can be learnt as long as you have the right mindset and attitude,” says Shan, while Lavinie adds: “Anybody can do anything. I mean, look at where we are right now. And we had zero knowledge in technology when we first started Babydash.”

The two ladies, who both turn 40 in 2016, say they have also learnt to believe in what they are doing.

“People are going to say ‘no’ to your idea, but if you believe in yourself and really work hard towards it, to me there is no such thing as it won’t work,” says Lavinie.

“You have to be constantly positive and charged up about what you do. For me, I draw positivity from success stories.

“I’m really optimistic, I’m like the bright light – while Shan is the one bringing me back to reality, slowing me down a little before I get way too excited about things,” she laughs, to which Shan quips: “Yes, I’m like the dim light, but I guess this makes us complementary of each other.”

Being ‘tech noobs’ has its benefits too, says Lavinie. “We came in completely clueless and we learnt everything from scratch.”

“So in a sense, I feel that this made us more open-minded to options,” Shan adds.

Back in 2011 when Babydash first started, the duo says many decisions were made based on “gut feel,” and they are thankful to have made the right choices.

Lavinie says the duo faced a completely different set of challenges back then, compared with what they are facing now. “In the beginning it was all about learning all the things needed to run the business, including teaming up with logistics providers and … suppliers.”

Shan says that another challenge back then was that the duo had to go door-to-door to companies to ask them if Babydash could carry their products.

“However that has changed – now we have people coming to us to ask if they can list their products on Babydash,” she says with a smile.

Then there are the more important intangibles. Lavinie says she’s still learning to balance her time between work and family.

“I was bad at managing my time in the beginning because I prioritised my business above my family. For me, I felt that because we were a young startup, that it was either we make it or break it, so I had to put in my all and build Babydash up to a certain level.

“In order to put in so much effort into the business, something has to give way and in my case, it was my family time.

“For now, I’m still working to balance work and family but when Babydash was first started, I worked like crazy,” she says.

On the other hand, for Shan, running her own business has allowed the single mother to spend more time with her daughter compared with when she was working in a bank.

“I wasn’t spending enough time with my daughter in my previous job, where I only get to see her once in a week. But now I can pick her up from school and then go back to work after putting her to bed.

“This is so much more flexible,” she says.

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