VapeClubMY is an online store that specializes in Malaysian e-juices, and it was created to introduce the huge variety of Malaysian e-liquids to the rest of the world. Both its founders, Jeannette Goon and Jeremy Ong met through NEXT Academy’s Web Development bootcamp, and it was this catalyst that had launched their business in 2015, and they’ve been operating ever since.
Both Jeannette and Jeremy have the technical expertise to create or maintain any tech-based elements, but Jeremy — who’s our interviewee for the day — focuses more on the marketing aspect.
How VapeClubMY came about sounds like the perfect scenario for a cubicle dweller wishing to change environments. Jeremy had quit his job to attend the Web Development bootcamp, and that left him with the freedom to choose what to do next after he completed the course.
The vape industry was a booming market at the time, and that prompted him to look into building a business in that field. He was also inspired by Dollar Shave Club’s success and wanted to start a subscription box business for its stability and recurring nature. With that, he decided to build an e-juice discovery box subscription system for people to discover e-juices of all types.
However, building a business wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Jeremy faced a host of challenges that set the company back a little. First was the lack of promotional channels. Due to his business nature, Jeremy couldn’t put his products up on Facebook ads. So he focused on PR tactics to get the early boost he needed.
He also didn’t fully understand the market at the time, and would realize the B2C subscription model’s limitations due to the low number of credit card owners in the country.
Lastly, it was a challenging task trying to motivate his team members, especially when bootstrapping. Fortunately, Jeremy’s pulled through, and according to him, things get much better when a business becomes profitable.
Everything in VapeClubMY involves tech. They try to automate as many processes as possible to reduce churn and keep the team lean. They also integrate all sorts of out of the box software to their store backend. This includes software for marketing, inventory, and support. Being fully online, they’re also able to record precious data that they can use to their advantage.
On the contrary, if the founding members weren’t technically proficient, they would be paying a lot of money for software that wouldn’t be able to cater to their exact needs. Even when using out-of-the-box software, having technical knowledge means that Jeremy will be able to see through the padded sales pitches that SaaS sales teams come up with. It’s also easy for him to implement tech and automation into their existing ecosystem, without too much external assistance.
When asked for advice that he can give budding entrepreneurs, Jeremy had this to say: “Learning tech in this age is almost a necessity. A CEO is only as good as his CTO. Being able to meaningfully communicate with developers is one of the most important things these days. In outsourcing scenarios, you’ll also be able to better gauge the value of what you are paying for.
“Never be afraid to fail and put everything on the line. Test and fail fast, learn fast, and change fast. The anxiety and adrenaline you will undoubtedly experience when running a business is the best catalyst to learning fast. Start small, validate and then execute for growth.”
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