Interview with Mandy Chan: Founder of Bow, a millennial entrepreneur defying all odds at 23

(picture courtesy of Mandy Chan)

1) Share with us the activities you took part in while studying in SMU, majoring in entrepreneurship, a business management degree.

I was involved in mainly two activities. The first was SMUX, an outdoor adventure club that meets every Wednesday to run around town. We also got to travel overseas to countries like Japan and Malaysia for trekking trips. The activities were all self-funded and self-organised. There were also activities such as skating and biking for us to partake in.

I am also involved in SMU’s Eagles Inc. Eagles is SMU’s million dollar funded entrepreneurship club. We host entrepreneurial programmes and events for our club members to understand more about entrepreneurship but more importantly, put their business ideas to the test.

As the current president of SMU Eagles Inc., I liaise more on the external side such as reaching out to speakers and partnerships for the club. One of Eagles’ biggest events is our annual P.A.K Challenge, which is co-organized with SMU’s Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE). The P.A.K Challenge is one of the highest funded tertiary entrepreneurship events where students can walk away with up to $30,000 in start-up capital. The P.A.K. Challenge is judged by the most distinguished panel of successful entrepreneurs in Singapore such as Jeff Tung from Sheng Ye Financial Group and Benjamin Twoon from Fundnel. Get ready to mingle alongside venture capitalists, angel investors, corporates and aspiring entrepreneurs! You can find out more about it here— http://www.smueaglesinc.com/pak2019/register.php. It is our third year running this competition for all promising student entrepreneurs!

(Eagles Inc is an entrepreneurship club backed by a S$2mm fund (P.A.K fund) for the sole purpose of raising the next generation of student entrepreneurs through an ecosystem that brings industry experts, corporate leaders, angels and Venture Capitalists with our students. One of the critical mandates of SMU Eagles is to facilitate the launch by inspiring, growing students interest and gathering all student entrepreneurs together to form a strong community)

2) What is your greatest takeaway from your education years?

I think the greatest takeaway is definitely the people. SMU is very business-oriented and many want to do more than just studying. I gained the most from meeting people with different perspectives and doing different businesses, stuff that are usually done outside of school. I also appreciate the resources and support that SMU gave as they helped me greatly in my entrepreneurial journey and nominated me for awards such as the National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards. All of which I couldn’t have done myself.

3) What was the inspiration behind Bow? What other exciting products or plans can we expect from Bow in the future?

The concept of Bow started when I went to work. I noticed that I was carrying multiple bags for different purposes, and Bow came about simply because I wanted to solve my own problems. The design of the bag Quiver was inspired by the many types of lifestyles individuals are leading these days.

In my entrepreneurial journey, there were many challenges faced. I was pitching to random people at bus stops, shuttle bus stops and at different places at Raffles Place. I was met with numerous rejections, which left me feeling despondent and out. I was really at my lowest back then and wanted to give up. But I chose to persevere as I promised myself that I would give my all in the gap year that I took for this. My team and I are thankful that after so many rejections, we finally found a manufacturer who believes in us and our products. Therefore, keep networking and talking to people in the process of your entrepreneurship journey.

We are currently also developing new prototypes such as a pouch and a smart shirt, so look out for it! Shall not reveal too much yet. Nonetheless, we strive to produce products that are niche and serve a particular purpose or need. Now that my idea is gaining traction, I want to use Bow as a platform to encourage people to be bold and live their dreams!

More than just selling products, Bow is a whole movement we are driving at. There were so many things I never knew could have happened if I didn’t press on. So I wondered, just imagine what more could happen if people just push on and fulfill their goals or dreams.

4) Where do you see yourself five to ten years down the road?

I will still be in the entrepreneur scene, with the same mission – to inspire people to chase their dreams fearlessly and endlessly! To push them to be bolder in their life!

5) What are your hobbies?

I enjoy doing yoga! I joined Yoga Movement sometime back in 2017 and I go running every Tuesday with a group of runners called the Superhero Runners. We would run around Millenia Walk and the central area. I haven’t joined them ever since I fractured my leg from bouldering but am looking to re-join them sometime soon. In the same vein, the BOW Tribe that we’ve founded is all about the community coming together for meaningful and purposeful sports community events. Find out more at https://bowforbold.com/.

6) What is one quote you live by?

The pain of regret hurts more the pain of failure.

7) Growing up, did you have a role model you looked up to?

Recently, I chanced upon Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX; and look up to her! Growing up, her father would ask her every week what did she fail at. And if she had nothing to say, her father would be disappointed. However, if she had something to share with him, he would be very happy. Indirectly, he normalised failure and shared that there’s no failure, only feedback. I heard about Sara Blakely through a podcast by Joe Rogan.

I like Sheryl Sandberg too! The reason is self-explanatory.

8) What is one thing you will tell your past self and your future self?

Past self: trust in the process. Future self: trust in the process.

9) What is the #BeBOWMovement about?

#BeBOW is a movement where we want to embolden more to take a leap of faith and chase their dreams. To have a community that inspires them every day to do more the ordinary in life.

At Bow, we believe that being bold is in everyone’s nature. Bow was created to bring out that boldness within people. To be fearless during challenges, to be that final push in the pursuit of your goals, to be the leap of faith into the unknown. Thus, with Bow, we are reaching out to the bold.

10) What advice do you have for young and budding entrepreneurs in the world?

I would say, be bold!! Take a leap of faith and dare to chase after your dreams. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

 

More about Mandy Chan

https://iie.smu.edu.sg/entrepreneurs/mandy-chan-bow-kickstarter-bags

https://www.asianentrepreneur.org/mandy-chan-bow/

https://www.businessinsider.sg/a-22-year-old-singaporean-woman-hosted-a-live-crowdfunding-for-her-self-designed-bag-and-it-drew-s8000-on-the-spot/

http://theindependent.sg/meet-mandy-singapores-super-fast-tracked-entrepreneur/

https://zula.sg/kickstarter-quiver-bag/

https://vulcanpost.com/611429/bow-bag-kickstarter-365-days-pain/

https://www.yp.sg/meet-the-student-entrepreneur-who-took-a-gap-year-at-19-and-secured-kickstarter-funding-in-3-days/

https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/young-entrepreneur-overcame-obstacles-bag-success

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