Entrepreneur Andrew Poh balanced his university life and his business—HiBlendr—while studying for the bar professional training course (BPTC) in Manchester, United Kingdom. HiBlendr creates portable, stylish blenders for users to create smoothies with ease. The company’s vision is to build a healthy community that spreads positivity, and to encourage people to be the best version of themselves by creating products that aid them in achieving a healthy life.
KrASIA (Kr): Before you started with HiBlender, you had past dropshipping experience. How did your dropshipping business lead you to create your own startup?
Andrew Poh (AP): I had a sneaker business before I got into dropshipping. That was where I got some money to invest in starting a new business, and I learned more about earning money online. It was on YouTube that I discovered dropshipping, and decided to just go for it. After that, it was mostly trial and error. I lost a few thousand dollars during the process. The results weren’t desirable. Later, I launched my second business, through which I found a winning product—a drill head for screwdrivers. It is quite a niche, but things started to go well. I started scaling out to include more products, but this led to the store being barely profitable towards the end. I eventually sold it, but it was a journey that led me to understand dropshipping.
Kr: What kept you motivated to continue with your businesses?
AP: E-commerce is very interesting to me. The idea that you can actually make sales without any physical interactions was something I wanted to capitalize on. It was just that I was engaging with it pre-COVID-19, when it wasn’t as popular.
Kr: How was it building a business whilst pursuing a law degree?
AP: I was quite productive back then, and had a set schedule from morning to night. I would start the day by learning about digital marketing on YouTube, before messaging customers and suppliers during the day. My classes were mostly at night. The idea was generated and finalized in the UK, but I only executed the operation in Malaysia. I had to return to Malaysia mid-way my degree because of the pandemic lockdown, but my classes also shifted entirely to remote learning.
The thought of dropping out never occurred to me. Law was something I’ve always pursued as a career option, and my business was just offering me an alternative. It’s not about dropping out, but rather about balancing both.
Kr: What was the inspiration behind designing a blender?
AP: When I was in the UK, I realized that most people were too busy to take care of what they were eating, which comes at the cost of personal health. I decided to buy a blender, but there weren’t any portable blenders I could find. Since I couldn’t find a blender that suited my style, I decided to design a nice portable blender that looked like a water bottle, instead of a mini-kitchen blender. People ranging from 21 and 40 years of age are the target audience. It’s geared towards the busy individual.
Kr: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are part of Gen Z, like yourself?
AP: Prioritize progression over perfection. Start first, and you’ll be able to weed out and solve problems on the way. A lot of youngsters are always stuck in the planning stage, trying to make their product perfect. Start small, and carefully scale up as you overcome obstacles. In fact, when you start small with small capital, you tend to make more careful decisions because you have to use your funds wisely. Once you can see that you have a solid demand, then you should scale faster and more aggressively.
Kr: What is something about entrepreneurship that many don’t know?
AP: Not having enough time for yourself. I had to juggle studying for my bar exam with building a startup company. I don’t have time for Netflix or video games. You need to sacrifice your time. It’s a potential downside, but it can be very rewarding as well. I don’t regret any of it.
Kr: What’s planned for your future product lines?
AP: We’re still in the R&D stage, but we’re definitely planning to expand to different areas within the category of health and fitness products. We’re looking to produce a yoga mat, and open a subscription-based plan for frozen fruits. There’s also going to be a donation initiative to charity, as our brand mission is to make a healthy lifestyle easier for everyone. When our customers buy a blender from us, they’re not just changing their own lifestyle, but also the life of a child from an underprivileged background.