How to hire people for your team and stay motivated, a chat with the founders of Gamurai

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“Why would people want to join you? You should be very clear about this. Set a very clear vision. Focus on what makes you different from other startups and the corporate world before you go and look for people to join your startup.” Sze Ming

Jin Yao and Sze Ming are the founders of Gamurai. They created an award-winning virtual platform called Veon which turns your physical face into a 3D avatar so that you can explore how you look with all kinds of hairstyles. Instead of flipping through the pages of magazines to see how celebrities look in their hairstyles, why not see yourself in those exact same hairstyles, just like a magic mirror.

Using Veon, hair stylists can provide a cool consulting mirror for their customers, and they can also use the software as an organizational tool to schedule appointments, accept payments, and track sales over time.

The two founders of Veon take us behind the glamorous scenes to tell us what it is like to run a startup. They explain their approach to attracting smart people to work in their team, and how to keep the fire of motivation burning while their product accelerates and hits the market.

BUILD A TEAM

“Why would people want to join you? You should be very clear about this. Set a very clear vision. Focus on what makes you different from other startups and the corporate world before you go and look for people to join your startup.

As a small startup, you can never be competitive with the market salary, so there must be something else that you need to give the interns, part-timers, and full-timers, like more exposure and hands-on learning experiences.

The student interns we hire are much younger than us, and they have a very different set of priorities. They think: “I want to have fun. I want exposure. I want to make friends. I want to see the world!” So you have to cater to their motivations.

For example, we participate in many events such as Techventure where the interns get involved with the photography and showcase the products. This way, they can see that their work and effort is on display to the public. I think this is a very strong motivator.

As a startup, we have no hierarchy. We are all in this together, trying to solve a problem together. Youngers don’t like the sense of having a hierarchy. We like the sense that everyone is the same. I think that’s one of the key things people experience in a startup culture.”

SOLVE A PROBLEM

“Most hair salons are still relying on pen and paper to manage their appointments. Even though a lot of salons look classy and fantastic on the front end, on the back end, it is actually very messy. If you ask them how much their sales is at that point, they will have no idea. The other issue is that existing software is typically complex and requires training, so one receptionist is assigned to learning it. But, what happens when that receptionist leaves? That’s why they resort to pen and paper.”

MAKE AN IMPACT

“We do not want to create something that sells once, and then nobody uses it anymore. So we keep asking ourselves: “Is this a novelty thing, or is this something useful in the long run?” This is how we build our startup. We want to create something that will impact people’s lives.”

BE SINCERE

“Focus on customer service, and focus on building a great product for people to use. Whenever we deliver a positive experience with Veon, one hairstylist will talk to another hairstylist, and one salon will talk to another salon. When they find the product helpful, the word spreads. That is how we got our first few customers. The hairstylist said: “Oh, let me recommend you to this salon.”

BE FLEXIBLE

“Jin Yao[the co-founder] studied computer engineering which is hardware-related, but now we are building cloud-computing software. You just have to learn along the way and be persistent. Each time you see a problem that you cannot solve… you simply learn to solve it.” Sze Ming’s philosophy: “Keep improving yourself, and keep breaking your limits.”

STAY MOTIVATED

“I like to read the biographies of people such as Steve Jobs and Bruce Lee where you learn about all the troubles and obstacles that they faced to reach where they got.

You realize that obstacles are a common thing — everybody faces them. The real question is about how to bring yourself to the next level, and how to get closer to your vision. This attitude guides us forward.”

Thanks guys for a wonderful interview! (http://www.gamuraitech.com/)

NUS Enterprise nurtures entrepreneurial talents with global mindsets, while advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at Asia’s leading university.

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