Mother’s Day just passed and whether it be giving her flowers, bringing her out for a special meal, or spending some extra quality time with her, it was a day for us to express our appreciation to the women in our lives who raised us with so much care and tenderness.
A mother’s sacrifice and understanding helped shape us to be the grown-ups we are today but sometimes, we wonder. What are our mothers’ honest thoughts about our decisions?
This year, we reached out to 8 local entrepreneurs and asked their mothers how they felt when they found out that their children were embracing the startup life.
1) Wong Poh Khum, Mother Of Teh Yong Lin (Founder Of Kravve)
“I knew he liked having a business for quite some time. Although he was in college studying Psychology, he showed a strong interest in the business field. He tried many times to start a business and he would share all his ideas because he has a lot. But so far, I have never said no to his ideas because I support my children to do anything they want.
When he told me he wanted to be an entrepreneur, I felt a bit shocked because he was studying in the psychology field so I had hoped he would become a psychologist or psychiatrist in the medical field. But then he told me he joined a lot of activities and meetings that involved entrepreneurs where he was already communicating with these type of people. He wanted to reach his dream of building a business and becoming a millionaire.
He told me he quit his job a week before he actually did. At first, I didn’t understand why he wanted to do a startup but then he said he has been planning this for a year. So the only thing I can do is support him wholeheartedly although I cannot give him a lot of money. He started Kravve to help me as well as fellow housewives so I think what he does is a good thing and I’m very proud of him.”
2) Agnes Chew Tee Wah, Mother Of Tan Wen Dee (Country Head For Naiise)
“Wen Dee is one of those kids that ‘do first, tell later’.
I am very supportive of whatever Wen Dee wants to do but like any other parent out there, I was a little skeptical. Today, I am very proud of my girl. Good is never enough for her, she pushes herself to achieve whatever she puts her mind to, she’s a hustler!
As a mother, I get worried when I see her work too hard but her reply is always “If not now, then when, ma?”
Her mindset has always been take risks while you are still young. I was quite surprised to know she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Wen Dee didn’t perform well in secondary school but things changed when she went to college. Since then, she has always been a curious cat, wondering how people like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey made it to the top.
Character-wise, she has always been independent, strong and outspoken. You could see she’s the type of kid that you could just throw her out in the woods and she will somehow manage to find her way back. This young lady has a mind of her own, she finds joy in pursuing her dreams.”
3) Christina Wong, Mother Of Sarah Yong (Managing Director For GRVTY Media Malaysia)
“When she told my husband and me she wanted to go full-time into a startup and quit her Masters, we were shocked. Of course, it’s not that we didn’t want to support her, but we felt it’s a waste after spending 2 years in her Masters and quitting during her final year. We wanted her to finish what she started.
It was her desire to do her Masters, we don’t impose what she needs to do. I believe she’s mature enough to decide her own path. Lecturer or entrepreneur doesn’t matter, the important thing is that she is happy and can excel.
Now I can see how passionate she is about work. At the end of the day, she should enjoy and look forward to going to work because if not, she can’t grow. It’s not what she does that’s important to me, it’s how happy she is doing it.
I never expected her to be an entrepreneur, it’s so different from what she originally wanted to do but I’m proud of her because she shows results. She’s a perfectionist, she does things well, and she enjoys what she does which is fine with me.”
4) Sharon Yap Ser Ying, Mother Of Tan Yong Meng (Founder Of BuildEasy)
“Yong Meng only told me about BuildEasy when he already started the business, probably because he was afraid that I would have objections to this.
Doing what he wants is something that I will always encourage. However, at the same time, it’s a mixed feeling of both happiness and worry. Happy that my son is attempting to make a change to society but worried because you never know when he might come to you with huge debts that need to be bailed out, haha! I remind him though to always have his feet on the ground.
At a very young age, he was already earning pocket money in high school. His passion for competitive swimming allowed him to do part-time coaching for kids, essentially turning an interest into a money-making hobby.
Also, he started his renovation company as a university student after we decided not to give him any more pocket money for his living expenses. So you can say that I had more than an inkling that he would be suitable for this entrepreneurship life.”
5. Hamidah, Mother Of Redza Shahid (Founder Of Grub Cycle)
“When he first told me about his startup, he didn’t tell me many details and we didn’t have a long discussion. After attending a course in MaGIC for 4 months, he then decided to do his enterprise seriously. So I gave him my encouragement and full support because I thought it was good for him to be involved in this young entrepreneurship community.
Once Grub Cycle started, I definitely felt proud of him because he’s quite young to be doing a business. None of my immediate family are involved with business so he was one of the first among his siblings to start this. I was surprised at first but then I thought it’s okay to just go with it. It’s at least something different from his siblings haha!
He’s always had entrepreneurial characteristics. He’s very good at influencing his friends and he’s quite passionate in doing what he wants to do. He knows he has a way to convince people around him. Compared to my other son, he’s more outgoing and quite persistent.
He took an accounting course for his studies so I thought maybe he would be involved in finance but in the end he went the other way, but I’m alright with that as long as this is what he really wants to do.”
6) Erica, Mother Of Marianne Chuo (Country Manager For HonestBee Malaysia)
“By the time she came to talk to me about her startup, she had already made up her mind. She’s very different compared to when she was a young girl. Back then, she would be a bit unsure and ask me before making her decision. She’s become very decisive and I could tell she knew what she was getting into herself into and she was prepared.
Marianne knew what the startup was going to be like. I didn’t know what a startup even was until she explained to me. I’m happy for her choosing the entrepreneur life but at the same time, I was a little concerned. As a parent, normally we’d like to see our children having a stable job. Before HonestBee, she was a management consultancy firm for 6 years where she was doing fine so when she said she wanted to quit, I was concerned because it’s going to be a different lifestyle.
Helming a startup and taking care of everything is a big responsibility, so I was wondering if she could have a good work life. But then it’s her passion. The way she describes her work to me and how she does it, we could see tell she enjoys what she does so I will never say no.
I recalled when she was younger, she had a bike with training wheels on. One day, I saw her trying to take the wheels off because she said she didn’t need them. When she fell, she cried and there were some injuries but in a few days, she was already cycling on two wheels. Just like then, once her mind is made up and she knows she can handle it, she will do it well.”
7) Anita, Mother Of Stuart Thomas (Founder Of Babylon Vertical Farms)
“Stuart first joined the Enactus club in Sunway Uni and from there, participated in a workshop by Singapore International Foundation which saw him travel to Singapore and India to learn about their social enterprise scene. After those 2 trips, he spoke to his father and me that he was very keen to run a startup and told us what his plans and idea were all about.
At first, I was not too happy as I wanted him to continue his ACCA which he had started in 2013. To me, I wanted him to complete his studies and earn a degree for a better future for himself as I didn’t have the opportunity to further my studies but I didn’t force onto him to complete his ACCA. I’m hoping that he would do so soon.
I never would have thought that Stuart will be an entrepreneur. He had many ambitions when he was young. To name a few, pilot, policeman, engineer. But no matter what, I will support him every step of his career.”
8) Vivian Chew, Mother Of Nicolas Chin (Founder Of Postco)
“When he first approached me about his business ventures, it wasn’t really about making money but helping people to solve their problems. However like all mums, I was still pushing him to take his offers with banks with good income or with a reputable company. However he persevered and decided to push on and I’m glad he did.
Initially, I did not feel comfortable as I did not understand this whole thing about internet businesses. It took us many years before we can start our own business in our times. However, he was very persistent to pursue the idea and I want him to enjoy the experience and not lose interest so that he may pursue something that he enjoys doing every day. Thus we thought the process is a learning experience; the end result doesn’t necessarily matter.
When he was 15 years old, during his secondary school days, he was actively buying and selling guitars and guitar pedals on the internet. He bought cheap second hand guitar pedals from US and sold it back here in Malaysia. As parents, we thought he is spending a lot of time on the computer but looking back at it now, I guess this is where the idea of PostCo came out. Thank God that he is doing pretty well now!”
Mothers may not express it similarly but in the end, what they wish for the most is the happiness of their children. Whether it be through words or actions, know that they’ll encourage and support you through most decisions you make so long as you’re enjoying it and making the most out of your life.
Hoping all mothers out there had an amazing Mother’s Day!