Updated: Apr 6, 2018
For our Startup! Series, Vorbly had the privilege of interviewing three successful entrepreneurs who will share their startup journey. With experiences in various industries such as 3D printing, interior design and F&B, these entrepreneurs share practical lessons and the real challenges of building a brand and marketing their products and services.
In this chapter, we will follow the story of Keith Mok, CEO and Founder of HIFA Design Studio as he shares his experiences with us.
HIFA Design Studio
HIFA Design Studio is a Singapore based interior design business that strives to help customers create space that is truly theirs. Their designs have a strong emphasis on aesthetics, functionality and everyday practically.
Keith Mok, CEO & Founder Of HIFA Design Studio
Keith Mok is the CEO & Founder of HIFA Design Studio. He graduated from the National University of Singapore before joining Singapore Airlines as a Station Manager. After several overseas tours in Shanghai and the Maldives, Keith founded HIFA Design Studio with zero experience in the interior design industry but armed with a rich hospitality background and a great sense of design.
An Interview With Keith Mok
In the interview, Keith gives us insights into the lessons learnt and challenges faced when launching the HIFA brand and how he turned HIFA Design Studio into a multi-million dollar business in under a year.
Would you be able to describe your brand in 3 words?
Keith: Honest, Reliable and Friendly
In a few sentences, what do you offer and to whom?
Keith: HIFA Design Studio offers a comprehensive range of both residential and commercial interior design and renovation services.
What was your inspiration for starting HIFA Design Studio?
Keith: Home renovation in Singapore is still rife with irresponsible contractors and a high number of consumer complaints. It all started when I renovated my home and it was just an awful experience. I felt that renovation should be a fun and fuss free process as you watch your dream home take shape. HIFA Design Studio was started to do just that by providing clear and transparent interior design services to the market.
How has your professional experience in Singapore Airlines helped you establish the HIFA Design brand? Do you think aspiring entrepreneurs should have some professional experience before starting a business?
Keith: Obviously there was much to learn from Singapore Airlines being such a recognizable global brand. Nevertheless, for starting a business, the most important ingredient is the ability to recognize an opportunity and the courage to exploit that opportunity.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Keith: I would say that being an entrepreneur is best suited to my personality. Everyone has their own set of priorities in their life and I wanted to be in direct control of my own career.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when launching HIFA Design Studio?
Keith: As you can imagine, there are hundreds of interior design companies offering more or less the same services and claiming to have the highest quality. The biggest challenge would be to stand out from the crowd. And hiring quality designers was also a challenge.
How are you using social media to build brand awareness and drive website traffic?
Keith: I don't think any new start-up can escape from Social Media these days but the key is to play to the strengths of each social media platform. We use more image or graphics rich social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to showcase our works as well as Facebook for videos and customer reviews.
How do you use direct marketing channels to reach your target audience?
Keith: Our best direct marketing channel is through word of mouth. We try to grow our customer base organically by constantly engaging with them even after the project is completed. We have strong partnerships with housing agents in Singapore who provide a steady supply of leads and customers.
How do you measure the success of your business?
Keith: Customer satisfaction is a high priority. After every completed project we conduct a survey to see if we have done a good job and constantly improve our services.
What's next for HIFA Design Studio?
Keith: Overseas expansion is on the cards and we are looking at developing markets where the interior design market is less structured.
What advice would you give to young, aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself?
Keith: Be brave and take the plunge!
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Startup! Series Articles:
Chapter 1: Keith Mok, CEO & Founder of HIFA Design Studio