The Truth Behind Every Successful Startup | Cheng Heng | EP 01

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Scaling a Profitable Business

Most businesses don’t even come close to becoming profitable. Today, some of the most valuable companies like Grab and AirBNB remain unprofitable and continue to burn through billions every year to sustain their operations. With the recent debacle over WeWork, it seems that the VC industry has taken notice and are starting to review their valuation methods.

In this episode, I speak to Cheng Heng, who runs a service-based company. Despite the difficulties of scaling a service-based business, Cheng Heng has managed to do so through his expertise in a very niche and upcoming market. He has also ventured into new revenue streams to grow the business beyond a service-based business model.

Who is Cheng Heng?

Cheng Heng is the Co-Founder of HelloHolo and Axension Studios. With his background in Business Information Technology, he leads both business and technical teams to ensure sustainable and scalable growth. His unique perspective on technology, experience in application development and certification as Scrum Master has enabled him to effectively manage clients and project contributors to fulfill challenging outcomes.

Since the founding of HelloHolo in 2016, Cheng Heng has grown the company to include multiple business areas of consultancy and content creation, serving the evolving needs of the Immersive Media market. The company has since been engaged by over 100 unique clients and partners, with immense year-on-year growth. He is currently leading an effort towards the expansion of HelloHolo into the ASEAN market.

Knowing Your Inner Drive

In the interview, I asked Cheng Heng whether he suffers from burnouts and how he deals with it. This is because he runs not just one, but two businesses alongside his full-time studies. Clearly, he has a lot on his plate and I was wondering how he manages to balance both.

While some may be expecting the standard answer of “ohh, I manage my time very well and I’m able to strike a perfect balance between school and work”, Cheng Heng reveals that that’s often not the case.

Cheng Heng reveals his daily schedule, which essentially revolves around work. As a result of those hectic periods, he suffers burnouts from time to time. His burnout renders him unwilling to do any work for the entire day, and he starts to question why he is doing this to himself.

However, he never fails to get back on track despite facing those periods of “self-doubt”. He always goes back to the reason why he started in the first place. He has a clear vision of what he hopes to achieve for himself and that is what keeps him grounded during difficult times.

A key takeaway from Cheng Heng’s experiences is the importance of understanding your inner drive. An important question to address before starting anything: why are you doing it in the first place?

Importance of a Team

When Cheng Heng first started out in the Mixed Reality space, the whole industry was very new and there was limited information. Very few experts were present in that particular field for them to even approach for help.

As a result, Cheng Heng and his co-founder had to figure things out along the way. However, Cheng Heng did mention that he was lucky enough to have a very capable co-founder who is “one of the best tech leads he ever knew”. They were also able to recruit many promising young talents to grow the business alongside them.

Due to their strong team fundamentals and business acumen, Cheng Heng and his co-founder were able to grow the business to where it is today. Even though the co-founder had to leave half-way to pursue his own aspirations, they were far-sighted enough to each have a shadow that picked up the ropes under them.

Thus, building up a strong team is definitely a key success factor in any business.

Starting is hard...but it gets easier!

Nothing comes easy, regardless of your starting point. To get to where you want to be, it will definitely take a lot of time and effort. When you first start out, it is natural to feel overwhelmed by the number of things you are unclear about in your particular industry, but everybody needs to start somewhere.

Over time, as you get used to the pace and rhythm, you will become more comfortable in your role and managing tasks. While that does not mean you can slack off, mastering your skill sets will allow you to have more control and confidence to execute.

Regardless, be prepared to slog your guts out for the first few years!

"An idea that you have is not really worth anything until you execute it"

Some questions I asked:

Why did you decide to move into the Mixed Reality space? (03:03)
How do you juggle between work and school? (06:35)
Does being young give you any advantages or disadvantages? (23:23)

In this episode, you will learn:

How to deal with burnouts (10:19)
When is a good time to expand your business (13:03)
Importance of a strong team (15:10)

Show notes:

Sign up for Mixed Reality Developer Course!
Check out HelloHolo
Check out Axension Studios

Connect with Cheng Heng on LinkedIn
Connect with Cheng Heng on Instagram


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