Coming from a background in finance, Abby Zhang co-founded fashion rental platform YEECHOO in 2014. The entrepreneur shares her journey -- both the challenges and successes along the way.
Launched in Hong Kong, in 2014, YEECHOO is Asia’s largest program for renting designer outfits and accessories. Choosing from hundreds of designers, customers can order online, select a rental period, and the company will deliver the apparel to your doorstep. The company also has a brick-and-mortar showroom in Central, Hong Kong, where customers can try on looks.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
Be a forever student
Every step is its own success. I always compare myself to myself. I have a very strong drive to learn a lot more about things I don’t know -- I always want to learn.
Listening to other successful entrepreneurs’ stories and how other people built huge companies around the world compared to myself, I see what kind of skill sets I lack and what I could have done better. So, I think constantly a mindset of constantly learning is really important.
People are everything
I never really used to understand when people said ‘people are everything’.
Now that I've run a business myself, I really understand it. The ability to speed things up or go above and beyond really comes down to the people on your team.
When you are looking for help, it’s not about if finding the cheapest workers, it’s about finding people who are are capable and driven.
Find great mentors
I have a different set of places that I turn to for advice and support. I draw from a lot of mentors, so basically these are the people I have met along the way through networking. These are people who are older than me and have experienced more than me and have set up successful businesses in the past.
I really look up to them. I put in the effort to stay in touch and to honestly ask them for suggestions. Most of the time they are super nice and genuine, and they will give you their valuable time because that’s actually how they became who they are today, getting help from other people when they were in their shoes.
Immerse yourself in the startup world
The second group is what I call my start up buddies -- these are the people who are of a similar age and also building up businesses. We all face different problems, with different priorities or different teams -- but there are a lot of different practical things that we discuss together. We brainstorm and swap thoughts over a casual call or dinner.
I also listen to a lot of podcasts. They’re very helpful when it comes to clearing my mind and seeing how other people approach their problems. Some podcasts I listen to include "Masters of Scale" with Reid Hoffman, "How I Built This" with Guy Raz and "The Tim Ferriss Show."
Harness the data
I think there is a very specific piece of advice that I still find very useful -- to track every single thing I can to track, collecting all the data that I can. I track how customers interact in the showroom, on desktop, on mobile. I use the data to help guide me towards the next decision. The data-driven kind of mind set is very important to me.
Engage with your network
As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly out there socializing and meeting so many people. The people in my network that I have accumulated are a great resource. I you meet one entrepreneur, they will tell you ‘you should meet this other person’ -- this kind of referral through friends is how I build a network.
A FEW MORE QUESTIONS
How do you start your day?
I start my day around 8am. I love working out in the morning -- it’s a huge part of my life. I do boxing, do some HIIT or I go for a run, I usually start with a workout.
After my workout I will either stay at home or go to the office and read up on the news. I love catching up on start up news like TechCrunch, 36KR and Business of Fashion. I'll work through the news, then emails, and then get to the office around 9-9:30.
How do you like to unwind?
I like taking short weekend trips when I don’t have obligations. I just climbed Mount Fuji last weekend. I’m very Chinese, so I love to go for a massage once a week, or once every two weeks.
Do you have any favorite meetings spots in town?
I love Holly Brown. It’s my favorite place, because when we first launched YEECHOO, it was essentially out of Holly Brown. When we did not have an office and we did not have a showroom that was our office and our showroom.
Do you have any tips for productivity?
I have a to-do list for all my work -- I use Asana. For me, I learned a lot about being efficient from my training in finance and banking. I think the key for multitasking is to have priorities and do one thing at a time. Multitasking isn’t about doing a lot of things at one time. That’s how I improve my efficiency.
Any final words of advice?
Get yourself out there and talk to a lot of entrepreneurs. It might sound scary before you start but it’s a small step that leads to another. You might think that, you know, these people have achieved a lot but even they started small! That, and read articles and listen to podcasts -- you can learn so much from other people.