It’s very hard to find someone who genuinely dislikes a sincere and customised gift. And Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd seems to agree with this as well, boosting local Malaysian startup Printcious with a RM500,000 seed fund as part of their Cradle Investment Program (CIP).
CIP 500 is basically a commercialisation fund that technopreneurs can make use of to better commercialise and market their products.
Twin brothers and co-founders Vincent and Henry Tong started Printcious as an advocate of gift-giving culture to foster the relationships among people.
Their customisable designs and gifts range from mugs, to cushions and even T-shirts and phone covers.
Of course, not everyone has graphic design skills or the eye to make things look good, but they try to simplify the process as much as they can. It’s as simple as uploading photos or images, then reaaranging them and adding extra text if you wish.
There’re also ready designs available from local designers and artists, if you really don’t wish to put your own skills to the test. Alternatively, they also have a team of graphic designers on board who can also help customers to come up with the designs that they want.
Speaking of the funding on a blog post on their website, the Printcious team said, “With the CIP500 aiding us, we will definitely work harder to build a better experience for everyone.”
The Journey To The Funding
Vincent told Vulcan Post that the workings behind the scenes took a while to build up. They first had to learn how to best manage and grow the business.
He said, “To equip ourselves with knowledge, we participated in 4-month MaGIC Accelerator Program 2015 and 2-week e@Stanford Program 2016. From there, we have met a lot of good mentors who are willing to share their experience with us.”
They first submitted the CIP 500 application online November 2015.
After getting called in, they attended a five minute pitch and five minute Q&A session. That time, things didn’t work out.
“Unfortunately we were failed, probably because our business idea was not innovative enough and traction in sales revenue was not impressive. In short, we were not ready yet,” he said.
The team remained focused and directed their efforts towards improving their online design tool for customers to create their gifts easily. In that time, they also rolled out their Designer Marketplace in July 2016 and managed to acquire more than 500 designers to join and start selling their products for royalty fees.
Vincent shared that they also increased from 4 categories to 16 categories and 42 sub categories to date.
“In term of sales traction, in less than 12 months, we grew our sales revenue from 4 figures a month to 6 figures a month,” he said.
This year, they decided to try again and re-submitted their online application for CIP 500. And this time, they succeeded.
With the funding, they plan to push for advertising & promotion and to hire more employees in customer service, copywriters, creative designers and business development executives.
Growing Beyond Local Borders
Printcious is currently active in Malaysia and Singapore and has big plans for 2017.
“We are expanding to Australia, Indonesia and Philippines by Q1 2017 as the demand of customised gifts and online shoppers is huge.
As our gift items are small and not heavy, we can accept online orders from those countries, then produce the gifts in Malaysia and deliver there. Once the demand of the country has increased, we will look for potential business partners as our authorised local printers to reduce the delivery fee and speed up the delivery time,” said Vincent.
He also told us one of the biggest mistakes he made to date and what he learnt from it that might be of use to other budding business owners. “I was over-confident that I can do everything perfectly by myself. As a result, I was so exhausted and unable to sleep well.
From this mistake, I have learnt how to delegate, plain and simple. If you try to do everything yourself, you are only setting yourself up for failure. You need to know how to outsource.”
Feature Image Credit: Printcious