Entrepreneur

How These Groupon Alumni Turned A Simple Watch Into RM15,000 Kickstarter Funding

Mavis Chuah and Max Phoo met each other while working in Groupon. They eventually discovered a shared spirit of entrepreneurship and a desire go beyond their basic 9 to 5.

This led them to start Madroc Hood, a startup watch brand successfully funded on Kickstarter offering up an array of trendy watches for the hip crowd of today.

“Many businesses aim to solve other people’s problems, whereas we truly sought to fill our own void of life’s mundane journey. Hence, Madroc Hood was born,” Max said.

A Foundation Full Of Ideals

Image Credit: Madroc Hood

The origin behind the name “Madroc Hood” is a curious one. Simply enough, the name’s first two letters are the combined initials of both founders’ names: M for Max and Mavis, H for “Hoong” the last part of both their Chinese names. This served as the starting point.

The second part of the name, “Hood” (which is what they prefer to call themselves), represented a sense of belonging, a group or a brand that would help you relate to a certain class of society.

They also decided that creating such a unique name would help them get their name out in the online sphere.

Currently, Max and Mavis are running their business on their own. They identify themselves as a bootstrapped startup aiming to provide customers with the best experience with their quality and customer-first approach.

Everything is done in house—product development, design, marketing, photoshoots, and sales are all handled by the duo.

“We believe in keeping a lean team as this will allow our business to stay speedy and agile in launching new products.”

Trendy Timepieces For All Times

The watches of Madroc Hood are described by Max as “minimalist unisex watches” that are a “great fit for any occasion”. Their prices range from upwards of RM250 per watch.

The watches share similar cases and dials (except for their customisable Memento series), and the ability to mix and match these and other components allow the duo to create new collections without too much outside engagement and makes for a scalable cost-effective business model.

Their watch collection includes three distinct series—Minutes (their most minimalist design), Motion (with designs by the Madroc Hood team), and Memento—a watch with a user-customisable dial (personal photos, designs, and art can all be placed on the dial).

Image Credit: Madroc Hood

The materials for their watches come from various sources; their Quartz movements come from Japan, their leather straps from Hong Kong, and their cases from China.

When asked to compare themselves to more well-known competitors, Mavis described Madroc Hood’s watches as more versatile and suited any occasion, as opposed to the “mature, working-class and formal market” targeted by the likes of Daniel Wellington and MVMT.

“Comparitively, Madroc Hood’s target market leans toward a youthful, hip and stylish dynamic,” she added.

On The Early Days And Getting Kickstarted

Image Credit: Madroc Hood

With each forking out RM10k from their personal savings, they started down an unfamiliar path.

As with any business, the duo were initially met by more questions than answers and found their early days surrounded by doubt and uncertainty. That was when they turned to Kickstarter.

“There’s always uncertainty when you start a business, and I thought the best way to test the waters would be to ask the customer directly.”

With close to no knowledge of the platform or how crowdfunding worked, the experience was an eye-opener.

“I still clearly remember the day when our first Kickstarter order came within the first hour of launch. We called each other and screamed our excitement over the phone.”
– Mavis

Using Kickstarter came with the added benefit of helping them better understand their target market.

“It was the first step for us toward testing out our idea and gauging market response. The key takeaway for us was really being able to understand our customer demographic better, such as location, age, the product environment as well as receiving any other helpful feedback,” said Mavis.

In the end, the campaign managed to hit the targeted goal of AUD5,000 (estimated RM15,600), marking their endeavour as a successful one.

“Kickstarter has been familiar to me as a backer, but not as the one being funded. It was an unfamiliar experience and putting things together was a challenge. Their stringent approval process meant that we had to submit every bit of detail for them to vet through,” she said.

The biggest obstacle to getting funded was driving attention and traffic towards their campaign via social media.

Max attributed it to a lack of knowledge, but they were lucky enough to receive help from third party review sites such as Grouphunt.

The Memento Series, with their customisable watch faces / Image Credit: Madroc Hood

The View From The Hood

Speaking on the potential threat towards traditional watch-making by products such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear, Max was confident in the ability of the analogue timepiece to retain its importance as a fashion accessory.

“Listing our products on various marketplaces, I realised how our watches were classed as ‘accessories’. Simply put, traditional timepieces have become more of fashion pieces than tools for telling the time,” he said.

“This makes traditional watches unique and irreplaceable; because while the software and features of an electronic watch can become outdated, traditional watches will never go out of style.”

The two also share the same positive sentiment concerning the future of watch-making in Malaysia.

“I think there is a future for making things in Malaysia, not just for watches. Malaysia is a country with highly talented people and there are plenty of successful home-grown brands such as Pestle and Mortar, Photobook, and many others,” said Mavis.

“There’s a huge untapped market that leaves entrepreneurs lots of opportunities to explore.”

Feature Image Credit: Madroc Hood

 

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