Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Worthy Book on I.M. magazine (Jan 2013 issue)

Personality Profiles
Ken Kho & Han Jia
Occupation: Co-Founders of Worthy Book
Base: KL
Jia – i.m… all about providing consumers discounts and freebies from the best brands!
Ken – i.m… passionate about promoting interesting brands and sharing goodness with everyone!

Tell us about yourselves
Jia (26): I graduated from Oxford University with a Masters in Engineering, Economics & Management.  I spent a year in Corporate Finance of an investment bank and then quit to co-found Worthy Book.

Ken (30): After spending 7 years in UK, the land of nasi lemak and teh tarik proved too strong a lure to refuse! J Though armed with a Masters degree in Engineering, I never really wore the yellow helmet long enough to keep it warm… I camped at an IT company for 6 years until one night, the computer screen greeted me – “Wake up, Ken… Follow the white rabbit…” – there was a knock on the door, in came Jia, I remember taking the red pill – and the rest was history...

Tell us about “Worthy Book”
The “Worthy Book” is a range of mini consumer guide books in various genres, each packed with hundreds of physical discount vouchers and attractive deal coupons featuring top brands in Malaysia. The variety of genres for Worthy Book planned includes – Ladies edition, Entertainment edition, Halal edition, Student edition, Tourist edition and so on – all of which are based on a yearly affair (i.e. the coupons are valid for an entire year)

The latest 2012 - 2013 Food & Beverage (F&B) edition is currently selling in all major bookstores such as MPH, Popular, Borders, Times, Kinokuniya and selected Mynews.com outlets. This scrumptious edition includes offers from more than 55 brands across 30 major shopping malls in Klang Valley featuring the likes of Subway, Carl’s Jr, Krispy Kreme, Wendy’s and many more! Example deals include absolutely “FREE meals” at Kim Gary, “Buy 1 Free 1” pearl milk teas at Share Tea, absolutely “FREE beers” at The Beer Factory, “Buy 1 Free 1” cupcake at Cupcake Chic, “2nd drink for only RM1” at Boost Juice Bars and 250 more exciting deals, promising more than RM 3,000 in savings.

How did you came up with the idea for it?
We wanted to bridge across credit card privileges + online groupbuy deals + blog reviews + yellow pages into = an ‘all-in-one’ instantly-redeemable coupon booklet provides strong call-for-action. 
We felt that it was an awesome product because it helps the brands in effective marketing and it helps consumers save!  We were young, we were naïve and we took a leap of faith!

For a consumer, how is it different from Group Buy sites that are all over the place?
We focus on brands (most of which we personally like J) that mainly can be found in shopping malls i.e. reputable, with multiple outlets – because we want to bring maximum convenience and flexibility to our consumers in terms of travel and peace of mind.  

Also, our coupons are mostly valid for a year.  Plus with RM29.90 only, you get hundreds of ready-to-use vouchers (275 pieces in the F&B Edition).  Last but not least, Worthy Book also offer freebies too (no payment necessary)!

Were there lots of obstacles in coming up with Worthy Book or was it smooth sailing?
We were naïve and thought it was a low-risk “easy job” at first, and boy, did we underestimate the challenges!

There is a Chinese saying that goes like this – You must have a good sense of control on 3 critical elements – ‘Right Timing, Right Venue, Right People’ to ensure success in your daily undertaking.   To be frank, we had a lot of “zeros” – zero capital, zero track records, zero VIP connections, zero experience, zero industry knowhow and we are not even from KL.  We relied a lot on common sense, passion, creativity and hard work to make things work. Without the burden of knowledge and experience in this industry to cast a frame of “industry practice” around our creativity, we were able to do things in unconventional ways.  Having said that, it would have been great had we knew some of the rules of the game in hindsight to save time and effort, so yeah, there are always pros and cons to starting out early.

How do you feel about your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Ken: One area that I hope we can improve on is to be able to raise a sizable sum to advertise and market our product in a big visible way – In a B2C business, I think this is crucial, as it can make or break a young alternative business. Simply put, “There’s no use having a really good product if nobody knows about it (fast enough)”. 
Sure, free social media helps, but if you want to really consume the market in a big way, traditional mainstream advertising such as TV, radio, billboards and bus wraps are still very influential in terms of visibility, brand recall and consumer confidence. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of cash without instant guaranteed ROIs. 
So, I feel that as an entrepreneur, one of the best hat tricks to have is to know how to attract angel investors to believe in you, believe in the business prospects, and to back you on investments. We are trying to work on that.

Jia: It has been fun, exciting and lots to learn from but of course packed full with trial and errors as well as blood, sweat and tears. 
The best moments are seeing our fans sharing photos of what they have enjoyed on Facebook and asking us when the next edition is coming out.  It has also been cool and fulfilling to work alongside some of the best brands in Malaysia. 

Any funny stories to share from your entrepreneurial journey thus far?
Ken:  Once, I asked our intern – “So, you got in touch with the client boss?”, “Ya, he told me to contact his colleague, someone called P.A.”

Jia:  After a month of trying hard, my first client (a beauty saloon) agreed to join us because she felt I was someone she could trust J

Any future plans?
In the short term, we would like to carry out our planned release of different targeted editions, e.g. F&B edition, Shopping edition, Tourist edition etc.  We believe being targeted is beneficial both to consumers and our clients. 

In the longer term, going digital (web & mobile) and going B2B (corporate marketing solutions) is definitely on the cards. 

Who inspires you?
Ken: Generally, successful entrepreneurs or businessmen younger than me tend to make me feel stupid and that really gives me a good kick in the back. Celebrity personalities that inspire me include Steve Jobs and Chris Gardner (portrayed by Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness”)

Jia:  I am inspired by corporate figures, entrepreneurs, artistes, sports figures etc, because I believe we can always learn from people around us. 

What is your advice to readers who are keen to be entrepreneurs?
Ken: Experience is only useful if history repeats itself.  Just Do It. 

Jia:  Use your common sense, hardwork, creativity and passion to the max.