We talked to Tng Bing Rong, COO of Theo10 about their philosophy of promoting only 100% natural products.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tng Bing Rong: Firstly, I come from a humble family in Singapore and we live a simple modest life within & under our means before COVID-19 times. Hence, even when COVID-19 arrived, nothing much has changed for me and my parents in terms of our daily needs. However, as Singapore and the World implemented stricter measures, we are unable to travel and tend to go outdoor lesser and avoid crowds when we do travel outdoors.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Theo10.
Tng Bing Rong: I started as a young entrepreneur at the age of 21. Before joining Theo10, I was the Founder & CEO of a Games Development Studio which obtained several awards, including an accolade awarded by Rovio (Creators of Angry Birds), and Ubisoft Redlynx (Acquired by creators of Assassin’s Creed). I also sat as the CTO responsible for overseeing technical aspects of an agricultural portfolio company.
From a chat with a friend, I was convinced by the huge potential & I eventually joined Theo10 as the COO. Combining expertise from gamification, digitalization & investing, I oversee the daily operations of Online-To-Offline (O2O) Commerce, Business-to-business (B2B) and plan the path ahead which involves pipeline for new products (R&D) & branching to other countries. (Distribution).
How does Theo10 innovate?
Tng Bing Rong: The world today is very different from the world a year ago. We need to be constantly up-to-date with the needs & wants of users. We always try to understand what the world needs. The world today is also a ‘WE’ economy where working with partners & entities are crucial for us to innovate quicker & better. This has also led us to develop a first-in-the-world patented cure, which is set to be released, for a common yet Infectious disease.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tng Bing Rong: Since COVID-19, Theo10 has pivoted business in several directions.
- Disruption in distribution channels
- Roadshows & exhibitions dropped from up to 16 locations per month to 0. Online sales have since become the forefront of the business as retail shops also impacted the business’s distribution, causing business revenue to drop by more than 50%. B2C is now refocused to B2B2C.
- The team have now adjusted to more online content creation; Videos & focused social media engagements, as well as revamping the website to introduce membership & reward systems.
- Reshuffled Product Launch
- We pushed forward the launch of hand-sanitizers from a year-end pipeline to start of last
- We pushed back and adjusted several product launches, such as the patented technology mentioned above.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tng Bing Rong: When we changed the pipeline & launched our hand sanitizer, we saw a huge spike in traffic within hours. And within a day, we knew we had to increase our manpower to keep up with the projected demand. Manpower swelled from 5 to 20 within days.
To make things worse, when one problem was solved another came. We have never imagined that we will be experiencing bottling issues. We were facing difficulties getting our bottles from China, hence we looked for a friend in Thailand to supply, but the bottles could not reach in time by courier. Hence, I had to fly myself along with Mr. Khng and 3 others for trip to Thailand and hand-carry 250kg back each time, flying a total of 5 times within 5 days. All of that with production resuming upon flight landing.
We also had to stop the production of other products so as to prevent cross contamination, and also to keep up with the demand of sanitizer.
The lesson learnt is to never give up. Keep forging ahead & get help quickly when necessary so that one can make better progress rather than to struggle & sink.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Tng Bing Rong: I do not let problems go unresolved & get overwhelmed. If a problem is detected, it will be solved quickly. And I’ll never allow myself to make decisions based on emotions. I have an urgency of time but I do not get anxious easily as long I know I am working on the problem.
To not be overwhelmed and revolving around the same few problems, I also involve myself in social organizations by contributing to them and give back to the society. I have been a member of The Morning Greeters since 2016, participating in Relay for Life & Run for Hope. My past project with Singapore Kindness Movement, which aimed to promote Kindness, was the project which bagged me an international award. I am also an Advisory Member of the North West CDC Crisis Management Advisory Group.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tng Bing Rong: Because we deal with a big range of products, competition in each product branches into many other competitors. And in a fast growing digital world, the world & myself are our competitors. I have been in the game & pushing myself to beat the game, constantly striving to create a more effective tactic to improve the outcome.
Your final thoughts?
Tng Bing Rong: I really have to thank my team as everything was only possible with a lean yet adaptive bunch of them. We were so busy during COVID-19, but we went through day & night just to make the preparations possible. The drive was also to ensure that we could help Singapore in times of need, especially so as a Singapore company. We had to forge ahead to make sure everyone is able to get access to resources as quickly as possible. Strong pillars in the company as well as mindsets are very important especially in unprecedented times.
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