Victor Chua, Jorena Tan, & Ee-lin Chua, co-founders of Fairmarch tell us how they connect, empower and sustain their clients’ businesses.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Victor Chua: While 2020 was a tough year, the Fairmarch team has grown more resilient, and it has been an opportunity to review our priorities as we ramp up our growth plans for 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Fairmarch.
Victor Chua: Being an enabler is especially important to me as I grew up with an autistic brother and witnessed several people close to me experience mental health issues. After working as an engineer for 10 years, I decided to pursue an MBA at Tsinghua University to broaden my horizons and contemplate the next steps. While in China, I witnessed the role that start-ups could play in solving environmental and social issues. This started me thinking, and when I returned to Singapore, a chance conversation with a friend led me to join Fairmarch as a co-founder. For me, Fairmarch is an opportunity to connect, empower and sustain businesses with a socially driven mission.
Jorena Tan: I come from a digital marketing and PR background. For me, growing up and working life had its challenging moments as I am deaf. However, I was supported by many around me and was inspired to pay it forward. I want to raise awareness of the challenges that the deaf face and encourage my deaf fellows not to let one’s inability stop them from achieving their dreams. For me, Fairmarch is an opportunity to do this.
Ee-lin Chua: A lifelong learner, I am constantly pushing myself to embrace new experiences. My career has taken a slightly different path ranging from strategy development work to driving regional growth for a tech company. I joined Fairmarch as a co-founder as I was looking to drive impact beyond a company’s bottom line. What excites me is the ability to make a difference as well as have the autonomy to shape the growth strategy for Fairmarch.
How does Fairmarch innovate and stay relevant?
Jorena Tan: Fairmarch is a one-stop marketplace offering a sustainable revenue source for socially driven businesses while enabling consumers to support the causes they believe in. We have differentiated ourselves in an otherwise fragmented social enterprise space by building an ecosystem that small businesses can easily plug into. By providing marketing and operations support, we enable these businesses to synergize their efforts and optimize their resources.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Ee-lin Chua: While 2020 was challenging, we were still able to grow our business as online shopping became more prevalent. We saw increasing interest in our platform as consumers were looking to shop for goods, especially during the Christmas period. In addition, there was significant interest from corporates who were looking to purchase care packages for their employees or organize online events since large-scale offline events were no longer allowed. All in all, 2020 was a good year for us.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Victor Chua: It is not easy running a start-up, and this has been a steep learning curve for us. It is easy to get distracted as there are many different opportunities to pursue. Hence, it is important to take a step back and remind ourselves what our priorities are so we can stay focused. As time is of the essence, one also needs to be comfortable making decisions with limited information. We must not be afraid to fail as one’s mistakes can translate to future successes.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jorena Tan: For us, it is about staying true to our core mission of providing socially driven businesses with a sustainable source of revenue. This forces us to prioritize relentlessly. The questions we ask ourselves before embarking on a new project are 1. How does this impact the people/businesses that we want to help? 2. Is this a scale-able idea? 3. Does this fit with our longer-term strategy?
Your final thoughts?
Ee-lin Chua: We want to build a future where every dollar spent contributes to a better world. This was the vision we had when we started. As we translate this into reality, it is critical to remain mission-driven as we create a community that connects like-minded people who want to do good with businesses that drive social impact.