DSYR’s quest to promote lifestyle by design: Page 2 of 2
By Gabey Goh November 22, 2013
Business by design
Chin and his fellow cofounder Yeo Kian Howe, who is also the chief operations officer, have always wanted to start a business but weren’t sure what exactly they should do.
Chin holds a law degree from Sheffield University but discovered his passion for all things digital, clocking up six years in Internet marketing and e-commerce, specialising in social media platforms.
Yeo holds a degree in Business and Commerce from Monash University Australia and worked at a few prominent Malaysian startups before taking the leap of faith to found his own. He shared that he has always been fascinated by startups, knowing that it is the place where he’d learn the fastest.
Inspiration for the duo's first venture came one day in February of 2012 during lunch at a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.
“This particular restaurant serves its food and drinks in the most well-designed mugs and cups we’d ever seen. We asked ourselves, why couldn’t every restaurant be like this? Then, it dawned on us that we needed to make that change, to build a culture for design. We spent the subsequent months planning on how to make an impact,” said Yeo.
The early days of DSYR reads like any other bootstrapped startup’s journey, with the founders having to juggle multiple hats and tasks.
“We did the designing, curating, copywriting, uploading of products and packing on our own. Those were the days!” quipped Chin.
When asked to share a memorable moment, Yeo pointed to the company’s very first merchant who designs inspirational posters that were a big hit with the visitors to the site.
The team drove to meet her in person in Shah Alam, and convinced her to sell her creations on the site and arranged a product photo shoot.
“This is one of my favourite stories because we were the first platform she marketed her work in, and with the earnings she made showcasing her work with us, she eventually went on to open her very own shop in Publika.
“This is exactly what we hope to achieve and I would love to be able to continuously tell more stories of this nature,” said Yeo.
Yeo also outlined two main challenges for DSYR, the first being the need to educate and encourage local designers to think and grow big, and to always be mindful of global markets and perspectives.
“But the evolution of that is happening pretty fast. We see differences in mind-sets now compared with the mind-sets of local designers whom we approached say, last year,” he added.
The other challenge is centred on the consumers, with Yeo noting that while diminishing, there is still mistrust and fear when it comes to purchasing online.
“Hence, we put a lot of effort and commitment into ensuring each customer’s buying experience is seamless and as fulfilling as possible,” he added.
DSYR began life powered by a three-man show, but has since grown to a current headcount of 15.
At the end of 2012, it managed to secure an investment from a Malaysian angel investor to expand the team and re-launch the site in March of this year, with an adequate marketing budget to raise awareness.
Chin declined to name the angel investor or share equity information, citing a confidentiality agreement.
When asked about the site’s revenue model, Chin said that DSYR is an e-commerce website with an element of flash sales and has since also moved into featuring products in permanent categories. DSYR gets a cut from the sales of merchant’s products via the site.
“In the future, if other ideas arise, we will look into them and take appropriate steps to formulate a new revenue stream,” he added.
Plans for the team moving forward is to strengthen DSYR’s position in Malaysia and to also look closely at which countries to expand into. Localised websites for Hong Kong and Singapore will be launched in the coming months, according to Chin.
The motivation to keep going is fuelled by the team’s belief in its mission to spread good design and celebrate creativity.
“We truly believe that in order to live life to the fullest, we have to get out of our comfort zones, get out there, get noticed. You can’t do that by being normal. You have to be outrageous. Don’t go for the black, white or brown shoe you see on the shoe rack. Pick the neon turquoise one.
“It’s the code we live by and hope to empower the people of Malaysia with the same spirit by broadening their options and helping our local design scene grow.
The day we have equal local designers matching or even surpassing the numbers of international designers on our platform will be a great day!” said Chin.
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