Wai-Lun Hong is co-founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Snaptee, a mobile design app that empowers everyone to design their own unique T-shirt with a few taps of their smartphone.
Always try to contribute to something bigger than yourself. Remember that you’re being given an awesome opportunity to do something different and new and with that comes a wonderful responsibility to bring about change. So whenever you face doubts or challenges, remind yourself that you can benefit another person or another group of people or even society as a whole with your efforts.
I think any success we have will be due to hard work and a good attitude. At the start of every day, we gather for a meeting and the first thing we ask ourselves is: “In what area does the possibility exist for us to achieve more than 100% improvement?” Even though the ideas that come up are rare and difficult to achieve, we go after those goals wholeheartedly, knowing that failure is likely but the best way to learn.
Being an entrepreneur (or a builder) has always been a dream of mine and of my co-founder Gary Lee every since we met on our high school basketball team. I spent 2 years at Microsoft and Razorfish, working on someone else’s ideas, until I realized that I could make a bigger impact by working on my own ideas. The shift is a natural progression if you are hungry to contribute.
We closed a seed round of $600k in early 2013. More details can be found here onTechCrunch.
We ran a closed beta for a few months so we had a chance to prepare well. We launched to the US, Japan, and Western Europe. TechCrunch coverage and being chosen to be featured in the App Store helped with momentum. We also ran over 10 social media campaigns simultaneously.
The demand is natural since T-shirts are a staple in most people’s wardrobes and many of them have wanted to be able to create their own T-shirt at some point. We have simply built the tools and services that fulfill this need in a unique way. As a startup and a new product, the bigger challenge is to build awareness quickly. Once users know about Snaptee, they happily join us in this creativity revolution.
Press coverage has been helpful and we have been experimenting with some paid channels which make me optimistic about the results moving forward.
Snaptee has an open and fun working culture. There’s a lot of laughter and camaraderie every single day (except when we are rushing to fix our crushed server as users flood in…it happens at a startup). The culture is very much based on a value system that we all subscribe to, grounded in doing good, creating value, and learning. When you and your team are on the same page about how you want to work, what you hold yourselves to, and what you’re setting out to achieve, it makes the office very energized and mission-driven. Each win is a collective win, each failure a shared learning opportunity. Our culture is something I’m very proud of. And though some of our team members are in different countries, we still manage to maintain the feeling of being a family. Our team is made up of people from different backgrounds and experiences, which works to our strength since Snaptee exists at the intersection of many things including tech, design, manufacturing and commerce.
My daily work can be summarized as Communication, Connection and Exploring opportunities. Basic tools that I can’t do without are Gmail, Kissmetrics and Google Analytics plus our in-house admin panel.
We don’t have a big startup community in Hong Kong, but luckily there are some great people here and the community is growing fast. StartupsHK leads the community. We’ve also had good opportunities to interact with people from startup communities from all over the world like YC, 500 Startups, and Founder Institute which has been really helpful to us.
The coolest thing is seeing our users wearing their own creations in a picture they posted to social media. The can barely contain their pride and excitement. That feeling is amazing.