Recently thrust into the spotlight especially due to the rise of demand in mosquito repellents in the fight against Zika, Theodore Khng’s claim to mainstream success is a homemade repellant that “smells like chocolate mint”.
The repellent is also non-sticky and non-oily, a common annoyance that comes with many off-the-shelf alternatives.
Under the brand Theo10, Khng initially started off four years ago creating homemade balms Theo10 Skin and Theo10 Heat, which treats skin ailments (like burns, eczema, bites) and aches (muscle aches, even headaches) respectively.
The latest product, a repellent simply named Theo10 Repels, was created just nine months ago, after 68 failed attempts. Definitely a timely creation, given the spike in demand of repellents and anti-mosquito products.
With all these successful balms under his belt, you’d think he has a degree, or professional training in chemistry and/or skincare.
Not exactly – he is actually a trained accountant, and the gig started simply out of boredom in London while waiting for his professional accountancy qualification test results.
What he was clear about, though, was that he wanted to create products with all-natural ingredients, and his pursuit brought him all over the world to place like India and the US.
Soon, government agency SPRING Singapore took notice, and gave him the Ace Startup Grant worth $50,000, which he then used to start up Theo10.
In a feature from Singapore Tatler, Theo10 Skin and Heat sales had grown from 4,000 in 2013 to over 14,000 in 2014, with reach extending to countries like Thailand, China, Australia and Canada.
Fast forward to now, and Khng has upgraded from his kitchen table to a factory in Mandai which produces 600 bottles of Theo10 Repels every day.
According to an interview with CNN, he also mentioned that sales have tripled in just three days since the announcement of the outbreak.
Khng has also told The Straits Times that due to the Zika outbreak, he has been taking in bulk orders from businesses and even hotels – on top of satisfying demand from retail outlets.
Success, Even Without Much Press Coverage
Given that the feature article was just published yesterday, a quick check on Facebook already proves that his formula was already winning even without much press coverage, and was sold out at various outlets around the island.
This is probably because Singaporeans are very cautious due to the rising cases of Zika (they might even bathe in repellent if possible), but the commitment to making sure the repellent’s price stays as per normal even if there’s a temptation to jack up prices to earn a quick buck is definitely one of the ways that the brand had won over its customers.
Judging from Facebook comments on his feature story on The Straits Times, it does look like many Singaporeans are either already fans of his product, or are new fans who are proud of their fellow Singaporean’s achievements.
One also openly wondered if the intention of publishing the article wasn’t so simple, but the theory was efficiently (and effectively) diffused by individuals who found the inclusion of such articles in their newsfeeds refreshing:
Going Places, And Helping Others Get There Too
A winner of 2015’s SE Asia Excellence Alliance Top 20 Aseans In The 20s Business Award and Shell’s LiveWire Awards in 2013, Khng also wishes to encourage young entrepreneurs in their pursuits via the creation of the Young Entrepreneurs Association Singapore (YEAS) with 9 other peers in different industries.
With the understanding that starting your own business without any help is an extremely daunting affair, YEAS is a platform where young aspiring entrepreneurs would be able to connect, and learn from each other.
Said Khng in an interview with Singapore Tatler, “I’ve met many aspiring entrepreneurs who didn’t know where to seek help. Our members are all from the same age group, so we relate to one another better.”
Khng is also an Associate Member of Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Member of Association for Small and Medium Enterprise (ASME) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and a Core Member for its Youth Network Function Committee – quite impressive feats for a 27-year-old who started his journey just 4 years ago.
Just 10 hours ago, he also posted an update on his personal Facebook that a crew from BBC’s Asia Business Report was filming Theo10’s products:
With his present success, and plans to move into more markets, we can only predict that we’ll be able to see Theodore Khng’s name more and more often.
Feature Image Credit: Theodore Khng’s Facebook