Vanessa Keng, co founder of The Golden Concepts, an e-commerce store selling products to enable ‘ageing well.’
What’s your story?
I’m Vanessa, co-founder of The Golden Concepts, an e-commerce store that curates products to enable ageing well. The idea behind our company first started when my co-founder Chang Xi and I went to Denmark on a university student exchange programme. We observed Danish seniors embracing ageing and living life to the fullest, while not being limited by mobility challenges. Upon returning to Singapore, we were inspired to bring home this positive and independent culture for the golden years. In 2011, we started The Golden Concepts, working from a small home office in Singapore. Today, we have an office, warehouse and showroom to serve our customers better.
In my free time I sing and play the guitar in local bars and pubs around Singapore. I started practising yoga two years ago and am now committed to practising four times a week.
What excites you most about your industry?
There is so much space for innovation in the eldercare industry, especially in Singapore. Even though we consider our country as being well-developed, most eldercare products available here have been around for decades with little or no improvements made in terms of function and design. There are many individuals and companies creating new solutions today which we are excited to introduce to our market to enable our seniors to age better.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m born and raised in Singapore, and Asia is such a unique part of the world that has so much to offer and grow.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. It is easy to set up a business here and the high level of technology adoption makes it easier for e-commerce sites to reach out to their audiences.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
When I was first starting out, everything was pretty much new and it was quite scary making mistakes. I consulted a wise friend (who had already started several businesses) about how I should proceed with a particular decision and he asked me, “What’s the worst that can happen?” “If you can accept the worst, then just do it,” he advised.
Every time I am faced with a difficult decision, I’ll ask myself this question. It may sound rather pessimistic, but this piece of advice has helped me to become more decisive and aware of the risks that I’m willing to take.
Who inspires you?
My parents! They are really cool. Even though both have opted for early retirement, they have busier schedules than most people I know. My dad turned 64 earlier this year and he rides his road bike competitively, and trains about five times a week with a bunch of younger guys. He also teaches ukulele to seniors, goes to the gym regularly, and practises yoga with my mom. My mom is 61 and loves dancing. She and my dad have been ballroom dancing for the past 14 years. She goes for Zumba classes twice a week. Even though she has osteoarthritis in her hip and knee, it doesn’t stop her from living an active lifestyle.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Take the time to discover what is important to you; don’t just go with the flow of what society or people around you demand from you. Then invest great time and effort into these things, and commit to them with discipline. I carry this commitment in all the things that are valuable to me; my loved ones, business and personal development.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Looking back, I would have started my company earlier when I was still in school and not waited until my graduation. I believe the earlier you start, the earlier you fail and the faster you learn. For those of you thinking of starting a business, just go for it!
How do you unwind?
Yoga, reading a book, an occasional holiday surrounded by nature.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. Beautiful place and quite affordable.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Shameless plug for your business:
Visit our store www.thegoldenconcepts.com today and learn more about the innovative solutions we have to enable your loved ones to age positively and independently. We ship internationally too, so help us spread the word!
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.