Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Bachelor of Psychology (now known as Bachelor of Psychological Science) graduate, Manfred Lee, co-founded NOX Express even before he graduated and right after his 4th year thesis submission, Manfred went in full time with his co-founders to build NOX.
"I chose to start a business mainly because I see my young age as an advantage. I felt as I was young, the liabilities and risks are lower than it would be when I am older and with more commitments. Furthermore, I wanted to try to build something that I can call mine. When the opportunity came along and I saw the potential in the idea, I jumped on and never regretted my decision," said Lee.
What do you do?
I'm a Co-founder of NOX Express, an alcohol e-commerce platform that allows consumers to explore a wide range of alcohol brands from around the world at affordable prices and delivered right to you.
What are you up to right now?
Apart from managing the day to day business, we are working on some partnership deals with a couple of events. Also, we are looking at several countries to expand our business overseas.
NOX Express office
What is your current role like?
I am in-charge of the company's operations, from ordering and managing of stocks to making sure that each order reaches our consumers on time. My job is to make sure that things are smooth and our customers are happy and satisfied.
What was the overall experience of starting out on your own like?
To be honest, the overall experience in starting out is really tough and stressful but it is extremely fruitful. Through this, I've learnt and grown a lot as a person. Building from the ground up requires a lot sacrifices and soon I realised that my life is my business.
During difficult times, it does require a lot of perseverance and self-motivation to remain calm and fight through. Yet, it is very fruitful when I see our customer base increase and seeing our merchandise in public. It's a feeling that is very hard to describe and I'm always very amused when someone whom I have just met, tells me that they have heard about us from someone else. Pretty incredible!
If you could highlight one memorable encounter/experience, what would it be?
One of the most memorable times for me is how we started out. Before moving to the current office, the 5 of us used to work in a tiny back office of a video rental store while manning the video store at the same time. While one of us will man the shop front, the rest of us will work at the back office which was also used as a storage space.
There was this table which was just enough for four of us to share and one of us had to sit on boxes filled with receipt rolls because there were limited chairs. We even had to tap into the internet from the cafe next door! It was very memorable because of the environment of the small cosy office and amount of time spent together as we worked and discussed till late every day.
Group photo of the people behind NOX Express. (Manfred Lee, on right)
What would be some of the lessons learned or challenges faced?
Well, I've learnt to be more calm and composed with better critical thinking. There are always problems when running a business. While some problems are not so critical, some are very critical. Being calm and composed will help in finding a solution with a clearer mind. With better critical thinking, it helped me to think beyond and find better ways to do things.
How has studying at JCU help you?
JCU has taught me how and where to find credible articles and statistics. This is essential because you need accurate statistics to determine the viability of your business and these information are often instrumental to business decisions.
So what's next for you?
The next step for me will be focusing on stabilising the business in Singapore before assisting my other co-founders in the new countries.
Any career advice?
If your aspiration is to be an entrepreneur or is inspired to be one and have a great idea, don't be afraid to try. Give yourself a chance and use some time to build and grow the business especially when you are young. It is not the easiest ride but it will definitely be an awesome experience and a hell of ride.
Focus on the long term gains than short term gains. Be clear with your goals in the life and what you want to achieve because that will drive you as a person and be ready to endure the hardship that comes along.