You Talk I Talk with Serial Entrepreneur Kevin Wu

Interview by Kanyin Team

Serial entrepreneur Kevin Wu’s entrepreneurial journey has an interesting start. To sum it up, it all began with a piece of corn tortilla served with chapulines or in layman’s terms, a grasshopper taco.

From legal profession to entrepreneurship

Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2021 honoree and Ento’s founder, Kevin Wu is a trained corporate lawyer. In 2018, while Kevin was on a brief break travelling in North and South America, he came across a few interesting ideas and saw some interesting things that deviated him from the original plan of going back to the legal profession after the short break.

“When I was in Mexico City, I came across a taco stand and they were serving fried grasshoppers (and crickets) on top of their tacos. When I tried them, they tasted like prawns, and I thought there was really good potential (with them).”

Kevin soon discovered that insects was actually a new form of protein, that people will eventually need more healthy and sustainable food in the market. Just like that, with a spark of an idea, Kevin ventured into Ento, a business of cricket farming and processing it into food ingredients for human consumption.

Wait! Do you even have a market for such a bizarre food source? –> Get the full interview here!

Becoming a serial entrepreneur

As he began his entrepreneurial journey with Ento, Kevin met many people and being a person who enjoys challenge and extremely passionate to pick up new skills, learn new things and gain new experiences, Kevin would answer to the wonderful opportunities that knocked on his door.

First, he was invited to join a furniture retail business, which was an industry he knew nothing about. Then along the pandemic, he began to consider about going back to the legal profession, as he didn’t want to lose the skills that he has gained over the course of his education and professional training. At the time this interview was conducted, Kevin is juggling three businesses of different fields and expertise.

“Every venture requires a very different type of solution. For instance, Ento, one of the biggest challenges was market acceptance, how do we educate customers in a cheap and efficient manner. Or secondly, furniture. A lot of places sell the same kind of furniture, how do we differentiate our service compared to other retailers. Or likewise in the legal profession, perhaps not the education or the competition, but how do we work on files or help assist clients, in a creative and technical way. We have to really dig deep; every venture will have its own challenges. It’s a matter of putting different hats on to tackle these challenges.”

Not just three, but starting another new venture soon! –> Get the full interview here!

It’s a matter of putting different hats on to tackle these challenges.

Don’t let money and experience stop you

The reality is, we never lack of business ideas – there’s plenty of them – but we lack of the capital and experience to start one. Although capital is important, Kevin believes that it is a lot more achievable if you know where to look for.

“I do believe that a lot of businesses do require some form of capital to get the ball rolling. However, is not as much as a lot of people would think. I think part of being an entrepreneur is being smart with money and how you gather the initial funds. For example, to start any food business, you don’t need much money. As long as you have a kitchen at home, and some money to purchase the ingredients, you can start selling to your friends, family and start rolling the business in that way. That would probably cost you a few hundreds of ringgits to buy the ingredients. You can try that before thinking of opening a restaurant with table chairs and professional kitchen. There are creative ways to run a business with creative form of financing.”

There are creative ways to run a business with creative form of financing.

If you think lacking the experience would make your entrepreneurial dream difficult to achieve, Kevin’s advice is: experience doesn’t come overnight.

“It requires a lot of hard work, dedication and especially passion to learn, and not being afraid to fail on the journey. I made a lot of mistakes, and most of my experiences come from mistakes in the past.”

The key to gain experiences is to have an open mind, regardless of your job and position. “You don’t have to be an entrepreneur, self-employed or a boss to gain experiences. Being an employee at any company, you are still gaining experience. And the beauty of that is that you are learning with other people’s money. For example, you make a mistake at work, you are not the one who personally paying for it, unless it’s such a serious mistake, you lose your job, that’s as bad as it could get in most situations. Being employed, you can also gain a lot of experiences.”

Gathering a team and self-discipline are of utmost importance too. Why? — Get the full interview here!

No idea is too silly to discuss about

A lawyer turned entrepreneur, Kevin speaks the truth when he said that no one is going to handhold you throughout the entire entrepreneur journey, and it’s definitely not an easy journey in a way that it’s a lot easier to be employed and get a comfortable salary month to month.

“Being an entrepreneur, you have to be ready to accept some risks and make some sacrifices. It’s just a very tough journey. My advice is that if you are interested in this field and it appeals to you, the best thing to do is just get started. Put one foot forward. You may not consider start it, but thinking about it is the first step to starting a business. Perhaps you and your friends might have a great idea, you just need to maintain that kind of energy and motivation and build on that. Eventually, you can find a way to put that plan to action.”

A lot of ideas may seem silly to start, with the right motivation and team, you’ll eventually get somewhere.

Sometimes, we quickly dismiss our own ideas thinking the idea is silly and impossible. “I think not every idea is workable, but at least discussing it is a really good way to start and filter out those ideas. And just having that energy and motivation to even discuss and dream bigger. It’s a wonderful kind of blessing that people can gather together and discuss ideas.”

So, the key here is to DISCUSS. “A lot of ideas may seem silly to start, with the right motivation and team, you’ll eventually get somewhere.”

Entrepreneur needs to travel more and explore new things. Why? –> Get the full interview here!

The future is in Asia

Kevin lived in the United Kingdom for about 13 years and upon completed his postgraduate in London, he decided to come back to Malaysia.

“Because I believe Malaysia, and Asia, in general, has a lot of opportunity. The saying goes, the future is in Asia, in terms of the potential areas for growth, and what other people see as problems here in Asia, a lot of entrepreneurs can see that as opportunities.”

But that’s not the only reason why Kevin chose to come back to Malaysia.

“I certainly have friends that decided to stay in London or the United Kingdom in general in pursuit of professional opportunities. There’s no doubt that the lifestyle, workload, remuneration is attractive in those established markets. However, I do believe that there’s other trade-off. For example, you may be a professional lawyer working in London, but you’d be the only person in London, all your family is back in Malaysia. You’re restricted to come back to Malaysia once a year or once every two years. That’s a personal trade-off you have to make in pursuit of that. For me, it was a very personal decision, even though I have permanent residence in the UK, I can go back anytime, I made a very conscious decision to move back to Malaysia to be closer to my family, and also to find ways how I can improve or build upon our products and services in Malaysia.

“It’s a motivating factor for me to tackle some of our issues and turn them into solutions and hopefully solve the market’s or the community’s problems.”

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