How Kravve Empowers Others To Monetize Their Skills And Passions
Crunch Spotlight is a Crunch-driven initiative aiming to add value to and inspire both our community and industry leaders across the nation through interview-style articles. Join us as we discover more about the story behind different industry leaders’ lives and journeys towards where they are now, and how they have transformed into the people they are today. We hope you get inspired by these stories and realize that you are capable of achieving your goals, too.
Have a passion for food? Always dreamed about making a side income from your baked goods or cooking? Well, Kravve should be at the top of your mind! Kravve is a homemade food and grocery marketplace made by Malaysians, for Malaysians; with a mission to empower local moms and pops and people like you and me to earn a living for themselves!
We had the pleasure of hearing from Yong Lin, one of the co-founders of Kravve, about their very real and raw journey of starting their own business and how they got to where they are today.
1. Please introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
Hey! I’m Yong Lin, the CEO and co-founder of Kravve. What I do is pretty much everything! Since we are a smaller company, I have to do things from managing people, setting up the goals and responsibilities, making sure the company growth is on track, to doing marketing, taking out the trash, and sometimes cleaning the toilet too! When you’re in a startup, this is the way it usually is before you scale up afterwards to get more specialization in different roles.
2. Tell us more about Kravve and what makes your company tick.
Here’s our story. You see, to you and maybe a lot more people out there, “Kravve” is probably just a new word that you discovered today. To our customers, Kravve could be a place to find handmade food & groceries from their favourite local moms and pops. To our sellers, it could be a place for them to make a living by selling their products from home.
But to me, Kravve has been my entire life for the past 3 years. It is a vision that I’ve spent 100 hours per week, 7 days a week, for the past 3 years, hoping that one day it could realise its potential.
Kravve is a marketplace where we empower local mom and pop artisans to turn their passion for food into opportunities. Imagine a future where working a 9-5 job is not the only way to survive. What if selling food from the comfort of our home becomes a realistic way to make a full-time income? At Kravve, we want to enable everyday people around us to be able to do that. That’s what we’re all about.
3. What was the inspiration behind the founding of Kravve? How has this inspiration sustained you and your business, especially through the tough times?
It all started because I don’t come from a wealthy family. I still recall one fine Sunday when I was sitting at the dining table casually chatting with my mom. You know, mom being mom, she was delightedly telling me how proud she was that all our relatives, neighbours and friends loved her homemade pumpkin jam. They were constantly raving about it! The pure joy and excitement in her eyes stay fresh in my memories after all these years.
Having worked in the startup industry for a while, I know that when “people love the products”, this means that there’s a chance they would want to buy it. That’s where I had an idea; she could sell her products online and make some money as a side income for the family!
Long story short, we didn’t make it. Selling from home is an extremely tough process. Making a full-time income from this is even tougher. There simply isn’t a platform that enables small players like my mum to succeed in selling her food products.
That’s why we started Kravve. When we first started, we had nothing. And I still recall for the first 6-12 months, we were just taking an RM500 salary! If you ask me, I’d say days were tough. But looking back now, I am glad that we did it. Today, I can’t be prouder to tell you that Kravve is one of Malaysia’s largest platforms for local moms and pops to make a living from selling handmade food & groceries they make at home.
4. Are there any people or organizations you look up to that have influenced or inspired how you run your business? What exactly have they taught you, and how do you bring this to Kravve?
I think it’s Grab! In my opinion, Grab has to be the largest and the most impactful social enterprise among all companies in Malaysia, having driven the most impact by contributing and creating a lot of jobs and livelihoods for Malaysians.
Just imagine if Grab wasn’t around during the pandemic. How many people would have lost their source of income and failed to survive during this time? My aunt, who was in tourism, had lost 2 years of income due to the pandemic. The only reason she survived was that she was able to work as a driver with Grab. Malaysians were still able to make an income to sustain themselves and their families just because they had a bike or a car. That’s what I think impact is all about, and this is why we have ‘impact focus’ as one of our values in Kravve.
5. Now that you mention it, we read in your blog that Kravve is powered by 5 principles. What would you say is the most important and non-negotiable value among those five principles?
Kravve is guided by five principles:
- Customer obsession rather than competitor focus,
- Passion for invention,
- Operational excellence commitment,
- Long-term thinking, and
- Impact focus.
Focusing on customer obsession is, in my opinion, the most crucial value that keeps us going. By concentrating on what we can accomplish every day, we attempt to continually create excellent user experiences. From sales, marketing, to support, everything we do revolves around the needs of our customers.
6. Tell us more about the process of how our readers who love cooking or baking at home can start monetizing their skills and passion at home with Kravve. Where can we begin?
You can easily start an instant online shop for free on our website! It will take less than 5 mins to set up, and with that, customers can buy your products directly and pay via online banking, card or e-wallet. You’ll also be able to take orders on social media, messaging apps and email!. All orders can be managed easily directly on Kravve’s dashboard. Focus on making the products, and we’ll handle the rest.
7. For most young Malaysians, starting a business is extremely scary. It’s a big risk to take and success is never guaranteed. What was your journey like starting your own business? What are some key challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I tried so many different things during my university days. Eventually, I discovered that I really want to be an entrepreneur. Why? Because I really like the satisfaction of creating something and seeing someone use it. It brings me great joy and satisfaction to know that my creation or business has positively impacted your life, whether it has helped you or brought you happiness. To me, starting a company is not always about the money. It’s about the satisfaction of making a dent in the world with your very own hands.
There were tons of challenges we encountered on the journey of starting Kravve. One of the key challenges was not having enough money and just burning through my savings when we were just starting out and didn’t have any traction. It was a really demotivating and tough time, but what helped me overcome that was a strong belief that our business will succeed. I think what truly matters as an entrepreneur is whether or not you believe in your idea and aim, whether it’s something that you really like and want to do, and whether it’s something that you would die with regret for not doing it. It’s really about taking the leap and giving it a shot.
8. We often hear that the entrepreneurial journey is a lonely one; were there peers, mentors, coaches or programs that you joined that supported you as you grew the business?
Yeah, the entrepreneurial journey can really be a lonely path, at least in the beginning. I’m actually very grateful to have three groups of people in my life who have supported me throughout my journey.
The first one is definitely my family. Although they initially didn’t quite understand what I was going through and wondered why I left my stable job that offered decent pay to start a company and become ‘jobless’, they were still supportive of me and my dream, especially my parents.
The second group of people has to be my co-founders, who have been through the toughest moments with me; and I’m so glad that we are experiencing the glorious moments together too. We truly understand what each of us and the company are going through at different moments.
Finally, I’m also very grateful to have met a lot of inspiring and insightful mentors, investors and accelerators that have been with us since the very beginning. Shout out to 1337 Ventures, SOSV (a Silicon Valley US-based company), and also our 160 individual investors who invested in us during our crowdfunding round earlier in 2021.
There was a program which we were very lucky to be part of – The Coach & Grow Program (CGP) by Proficeo. Unlike most other programs which were standardised, CGP tailored their mentorship accordingly based on our company’s needs. Since we are in the eCommerce space, one of the notable coaches that we were assigned to was Shylendra, former Country Manager of Property Guru. Having someone experienced in the field to mentor us was very insightful and it helped me to steer clear of roadblocks, which in turn, accelerated our growth.
9. What skills have been most useful to you thus far? What would you say is the most important skill to have in the working world?
It has to be the ability to learn and relearn things. We are all in an environment where new skills and information emerge as fast as others fade. I believe success is less about what we already know, and more about adapting new skills and expanding our knowledge base. With that, you can use new information and skills to respond to whatever is happening around you.
10. Have you received any industry or recognition awards? Are there any other achievements that you are particularly proud of that you would like our readers to know about?
We raised our seed round of RM1,255,000 6 months ago. In the past 6 months, our total sales were at RM1,200,000, which is equivalent to our annual sales in FY2019/2020. Also, we are working with the Malaysian Government under the Belanjawan 2021 program with a total budget allocation of RM360,992 with the likes of Shopee, Lazada, Grab, and more!
11. Do you have a vision you want to share with our readers?
I believe Kravve shouldn’t be a company that belongs to me or anyone else, but rather, it should belong to the Malaysians. And I think more people should know about the variety of unique products made by our locals and realize that there are options to purchase their groceries online from locals which can be equally good as expensive imported products.
Through a turbulent journey from almost zero to hero, Yong Lin and the Kravve team have endured many ups and downs for the sake of a dream and passion of making an impact in the world with their very own hands. While the journey may be tough, all it takes is some perseverance, passion, and patience.
For more Crunch Spotlight articles, check out our previous article in collaboration with Hyred on what is a gig economy.
Kravve is a Proficeo alumnus and part of Proficeo’s #KitaMall initiative. Proficeo puts together all the best local products and services for you to discover in one place. Join us in supporting homegrown Malaysian brands at KitaMall today!