His last job prompted him to start his own business

Wong Chee Kui is the founder of Recherche, a curtains and blinds company. Before setting up his venture, he was selling curtains to businesses for his previous employer. After learning the ropes, he decided to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, something that he had always wanted to do.

So how did he get started, especially when his business has high overheads? Here’s Chee Kui’s story.

How did you get into the business of curtains and blinds, and why the name Recherche?

We wanted a unique name so that if we go into other businesses, we can still use it. Recherche means exotic here. We hope we are different than the others.

I have always wanted to do some business since young. I even thought of doing some AV rental business previously. However, I did not have the guts to start one as I lack the experience and contact. After working in my former company and learned the ropes, I decided to start this business as my first step into entrepreneurship.

Were your loved ones supportive of you starting out on your own?

My dad was very supportive of my idea and is always very concern about my business operations and profits. My mum, on the other hand, was quite unsure of the business and she would rather I work for someone than to start a business.

 

What were the challenges you faced when setting up the curtains and
blinds business?

When we started, we had a hard time looking for end consumers to buy from us.

When you started Recherche, did you require a massive amount of capital? Can you share how much did it cost you to setup and how did you raise the
amount?

We kept most of the expenses low when we started to the extent that we only bought one laptop to share among the three of us for those paper works and quotation typing. We raised about $150k to start off. The balance was used to roll the business as we believe that we should not owe any suppliers money.

We often hear people talk their business ideas but do not do anything about it because of capital. Do you think that it is a legit reason for stopping them from starting their business?

I think it is essential to have a strong capital. Although most suppliers give us 30 or 60 days credit, we believe in paying them early, either C.O.D (Cash on Delivery), cash in advance or on a 2-week credit. By paying first, suppliers are very much happy to work with us and are more efficient when we need help. However, if capital is a problem, start-ups can try to get more partners, investors or crowd-fund.

What are the challenges ahead for Recherche?

I think challenges ahead for Recherche is innovation. In terms of getting new products or unique products.

For people who want to start their own business, what’s your advice to them?

If you can, try. Entrepreneurship is fun although tiring. Watch your expenses and try not to have debts. Networking is important, talk with more entrepreneurs and learn from them.

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