Oh Chu Xian, 27, is the founder of Magorium, an engineering company that reconstructs plastic waste into road construction materials. She has a passion for sustainable construction and reducing plastic waste pollution in the environment. With Magorium’s technology, she hopes to aid in environmental conservation by increasing recycling. She shared some of the lessons she has learned from starting a business.
The importance of being understood
No matter how amazing or revolutionary a technology is, it holds no worth if no one can understand it. I learnt this the hard way after an hour presenting to an audience who then said, “I’m sorry, but what is your technology about again?”
Take the time to find the best way to explain your idea, such that anyone can understand what you do – even a child.
Get comfortable with uncomfortable situations
Being an entrepreneur, I learnt fast to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations. On the job, I experienced my first public presentation, fundraising, start-up competition and overseas solo business trip ever.
As much as I wanted to sometimes, I couldn’t shy away from any of them. I had to figure things out on the go. Getting uncomfortable is part of the growth.
Oh Chu Xian, founder of Magorium
PHOTO CREDIT: OH CHU XIAN
Do something you are passionate about
Having to work on a start-up for six to seven days a week makes it all too easy to lose motivation. You have to have passion for your cause.
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my late grandfather and father to enter the construction sector. Coupled with my passion for nature and sustainability, Magorium marries the industries and causes that I love. This sustains my momentum to work.
Be extremely familiar with your cause
I presented my idea to many people over my entrepreneurship journey. Some of them were experts in the field, others not so much. Regardless, I had to research my cause tirelessly and be ready to accurately rattle off information to questioning audiences.
I learnt people expect me to know everything about everything.
Solving every problem yourself is inefficient. I sought advice from mentors who had accomplished similar goals I wanted to too.
My support system has been extremely valuable. I often use their advice to create a solution that best fits the nuances of the problem I face.
Be conscious of time and use it well
Entrepreneurship will take up the most substantial portion of your waking hours. I have come to be extremely conscious of how time is spent. I try to be as productive as possible in the stretches that I work. I want to have time to rest too.
Learn to handle rejection
Hearing ‘no’ isn’t easy. It’s no easier hearing it on a weekly basis.
I learnt a valuable lesson: rejection was not the end of my start-up journey, nor the world. I tried to understand why I was rejected, and reviewed my performance to improve myself to fight for future offers.
Create a support system for yourself
When I started out, I found it difficult to explain my problems or experiences such that they were relatable or understandable to others. The next best thing was creating a support system for myself.
Fortunately for me, I have four wonderful siblings, the most supportive parents and two quirky cats. Even if they could not understand the experience entirely, I have never felt alone because they have been around to provide a listening ear and a shoulder to lean upon.
Fully understand the costs of entrepreneurship
With entrepreneurship, it is an all-in, no-holds-barred kind of relationship. This means inevitable sacrifices, such as the security of a stable job or the enjoyment of a social life. It is essential to fully understand the costs of entrepreneurship before making the conscious choice to embark on it.
I wouldn’t say it is for everyone, but for those who find themselves with this passion, it is definitely a fulfilling path.
Trust in the fulfilment of it all
After experiencing the immense ups and unbelievable downs of building a start-up from scratch, I can still say that it is one rollercoaster ride that I have never regretted.
To see my brainchild come to life invokes the same emotions as what I would imagine a parent would feel on their children’s graduation day. At the end of the day, it isn’t about the money or the fame, but joy is derived from seeing my purpose fulfilled.