First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Serena Kao: Yes, this could be a frustrating time initially. We are doing fine and coping with the new normal. These are unprecedented times; however, we are giving our best to keep up with it. In hindsight, the family does have more time to spend time with one another, and we are very thankful that everyone is staying free from the virus so far.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded GoPurpose.
Serena Kao: I am the founder of GoPurpose – a b2b Purpose-driven platform with an e-commerce and retail presence for sustainably produced consumer lifestyle goods and home care diagnostic kits. All our products are due diligence, certified, and carefully curated to make sure we are aligned and practiced the UN 17 SDG, which we pledged ourselves into. We do track our progress and the social impact created with sustainable reporting.
I founded this company in 2013 with the purpose that I have and the life principles that I believe in, which is our responsibility to contribute back to society. At our company, we practice using the 4Ps- the planet, its people, One’s purpose, and obviously to keep with the sustainable profit. I am actively managing the company because it is something that I piloted since its full impact. My idea is to transform the supply chain industry, and I feel it’s so important that I am actively managing it. And because I truly wanted to create this impact, thus I founded this company.
I started helping people quite early in life, and trying to transform people’s lives has been a passion for me. It is an important part of my life, more so than the financial returns that I would get for the investments that I am putting in.
It all started when I was 5 years old. My grandmother took me to a Christmas party that she was hosting. That was the first time that I was exposed to orphans and realized how unfortunate it is not to have parents as a child. I started working as a volunteer when I was 10-11 years old, and more than a dozen people wrote back, thanking me for saving their lives. I was really touched and felt for them. In their letters, they expressed how they survived because of the financial support they received from me. It was just before Christmas, when I received those thank you notes, and it really was heartfelt for me. At the age of 15-16, I feel fortunate to be able to get my friends to sponsor an Indian girl and also a baby from the Philippines. All these instances made me realize the importance of a life well-lived.
As a grown adult, I was volunteering during the spare time I had while working in the banking sector. That is when I realized that helping someone financially who has difficulty to survive because of monetary issues, medical needs, or even for educational purposes can never guarantee that they would completely fight poverty. There has to be another bigger system whereby one needs not only school education but also the right education that is aligned with their purpose to manifest this skill and contribute back to society, people, and the planet.
And since I have seen these situations closely all these years, my conviction to bridge the inequality became firmer, and I started this company, GoPurpose. It is a supply chain B2B & B2C online and offline marketplace that provides sustainably produced organic, natural, and preventive healthcare devices for homecare use that could help transform lives and the planet and sustain our world’s beauty. With the help of our B2C e-commerce and life store GoNatuur, we were able to branch out to Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Herein Singapore. We are also due for other presence. I believe what goes around, comes around. If we treat our planet with love, it will shower us back with love. I think having built a true ecosystem is needed, and we always have to keep a check on that. And that’s why I build this company not just to give back but to produce profits that are sustainable in the long term and also to measure it.
How does GoPurpose innovate?
Serena Kao: As stated before, we have built-in a true ecosystem wherein we could help transform the lives of people, our planet by producing and providing sustainable organic, natural, and preventive healthcare and lifestyle products. For innovation, our first task is to build an ecosystem, which is the social part of it, and on the technology part, we use medically proven, FDA-approved test kits for fertility and test kits to monitor the reproductive health of both men and women, which I feel is very important as it affects the physical and mental well-being. The best part with these test kits is that we can use them at the comfort of our home with the utmost privacy, as I feel it is probably the most private information that we would like to hold to ourselves apart from cancer. I also strongly feel that we should keep a constant check on our reproductive health and ensure that we are free from communicable and chronic diseases. Our digital home test kits are patented, won the APAC award in 2018, and FDA approved. It is highly safe, giving one peace of mind, and is easy to use at home in their own privacy, which helps people monitor their reproductive system’s health in the privacy of their home. It’s available at an affordable price, as I believe bridging the healthcare gap is important.
We are extremely honored and grateful to have Bob Langer as an investor in this innovation. He has invested in more than two dozen companies, and Pfizer Moderna is one of his companies. Together with a team of esteemed doctors, scientists, universities, and experts, Bob has helped us in bringing this innovation.
We also believe in bringing sustainable innovation into the packaging of our products and are working with suppliers who bring sustainable packaging into the picture. For instance, our chemical-free product Mulieres is total Ecocert, fully biodegradable even from packaging and completely toxic free yet cleans and removes stains very well. Just a combination of 2 product categories, it is multi-purpose household and laundry cleaner. We are proud that all our producers pledged and understand sustainability, and we work closely with them to ensure that we sustain our planet. We make sure that all our products are verified and certified.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Serena Kao: Yes, obviously, it does affect businesses, especially in staffing issues. Initially, due to government regulations, only four employees could come to the office because of the lockdown and restrictions, and there were a lot of things to be taken care of, such as product sorting, product dispatched, etc. It does create a lot of frustrations as logistics and production are affected, but at the end of the day, we just must deal with it. But the positive part is we can see that people are getting aware of how they want to live and consume more sustainably.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Serena Kao: Yes, I must make difficult choices. Like all other organizations, there are some productive and less productive employees, and we want to make sure that everyone becomes more efficient and resilient as our purpose speaks. We did let go of a few employees after their contracts expired with us.
As an entrepreneur, lessons are learned almost every day, and one just has to cope with it and keep going.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Serena Kao: Well, for a start-up, you always must deal with stress and anxiety as it’s part and parcel of it. In a start-up, you try to bring in new ideas and also ensure that the ideas are integrated into the backend of the work system, so there will always be different reactions to them, and you have to deal with it. So being a founder and entrepreneur, managing one well being is crucial with good reading, retrospective times, and also exercise. But most of the time, you need to communicate with the team, how to deal with it as well.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Serena Kao: You can say our competitors can be anybody as well as no one because we are among less than 8% of companies who are aware of sustainability and are practicing it truly. On top of that, I prefer to turn competition into collaboration. In competition, people innovate but do not sustain. In collaboration, people sustain with positive actions. In our business, we partner. Besides, since we walk the talk — due diligence, proper certifications are made. We are making sure that our products are natural, organic, and certified. As of now, we really do not see many of the competitors who believe in the same mission as ours. There are quite a lot of competitors who are selling organic and natural products, but our mission is a bit different. We really are willing to walk the talk and measure the impact that is created as a consumer, supplier, distributor, or business owner; when you source or buy from us, you are truly creating an impact. We can give you the exact figures, whether quantitative or qualitative researched data when you are purchasing from us as a consumer or business owner. And thus, we feel that it is a necessity that we pilot this and showcase it out to everyone. And this is how we are going to stay in the game as we really make sure that we have done the due diligence.
Your final thoughts?
Serena Kao: And that goes to my final thoughts too. Align your mission and actions together. Set a clear goal, and truly perform, track your process’s impact and sustainability with real actions. If it is a success, keep doing and innovating it, and if it is a failure, that’s great- you learn from it and fix it. Always be positive and turn competition to collaborations and make everyone work towards that common goal so that we can all sustain our mother earth by living a more meaningful life. Let’s start our word with our lifestyle consumptions..!
Serena Kao: We are planning to create a new video, and hopefully, it will be out in the nearest future. But, yes, we do have a crowdfunding video which was produced a long time ago when we piloted our mission GoPurpose in 15 cities around the world from throughout the globe, from building sustainable business models for ongoing non for profit, social enterprises, and start-ups that help to solve issues in problematic areas to tackling talent issues in developed countries where we want to sustain the workforce. After much hard work, we have managed to accomplished close to 70 percent successes in our mission and achieved education and business success in deforestation to trafficking issues by creating sustainable jobs, to categorize and minimize space waste in developed countries through the use of using unused spaces ( especially useful for the elderly and students); identifying, educating and creating sustainable, profitable library and computing learning centers to protecting the well-being and bring nutrition to poverty-stricken areas. We started with crowdfunding and implementing the solutions where we use full transparency to track the social impact created. We want to make sure that we can transform the current non-profit model, start-up social enterprises into something truly sustainable with viable business models to scale and sustain their organization.
This is when we shot the video; please watch it. We would also like to share our LinkedIn pages for GoPurpose and GoNatuur. Our employees who are passionately involved in researching to showcase our researched topics. If you would contribute, please write back to us with the topics, and we will research it for you. Also, sharing our other social media handles below, please follow us for our latest product innovations and real-life stories.
If you like, support us. Let us all start our actions and sustain our mother earth by consuming sustainably.
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