I’ve been in love my entire life, constantly immersed and impaled by it. Success is the same way– I have been successful my whole life. I’m successful because I’m deeply elated to have the life I do. I’m successful because I’m creating value. I don’t even think that “feeling successful” or feeling like you made it is even a good thing – it makes you complacent and slow.
– Stephany Zoo, Bundshop Cofounder
I’m truly excited when I come across founders whose excitement about life, their place in it, and their startup comes across so purely. Stephany Zoo, cofounder of Bundshop, is out of the gate and hitting her stride with Bundshop, an online market place that celebrates Chinese design. Her excitement and intensity is through the roof and it shows with the breadth of products available through Bundshop.
Current products include those designed by 50 emerging independent industrial, fashion, and product designers and with the organization and backing these designers have in Bundshop, I imagine they and this startup will go very far.
We had a chance to speak to cofounder Stephany Zoo recently and here’s what she shared with KillerStartups:
What’s your company about?
My previous boss always said, “your first business you learn, the second you earn and the third you give back.” This is my first company, so it’s about learning. There many are all skills that need to be learned, but can never be taught– only to be acquired through long nights at the office, hard falls and relentless determination. 62% of Americans are more likely to purchase products from Chinese companies today than 5 years ago. 80% of Millennials and 92% of upper income level consumers stated that the quality of products manufactured in China has remained consistent or improved.
Now that China is being taken seriously on the global stage in media and business alike, it is the right time for Chinese design to take the Western incumbents by storm.
Bundshop is the first to enter this market space, it offers a “curation” and a “access” solution. Our competitive advantage is in careful cultivation of long-term relationships with 50 emerging independent industrial, fashion and product designers. Our customers are hipsters. They’re taste-makers who don’t want to buy a product, they want a story.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website?
We love our designers. It’s not just a business transaction. We are so proud of our designers and our love for their creations drives our nonstop energy and creativity as we come up with the best ways to showcase, market, and distribute their products internationally.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
We’re based in Shanghai, and can see the Bund skyline of Huangpu River from our balcony. The Bund is this beautiful fusion of old and new, skyscrapers built on thousands of years of history and culture. It’s the perfect representation of the new generation of Chinese design.
What was your first computer?
A Compaq. It was my dad’s old desktop. It didn’t have internet on it but I wanted it because I was a writing the next great American novel that turned out to be a fairytale.
What time do you usually start work each day?
We work erratic hours. We get up at 5am to work after yoga class, but other times we just come back from the club at 5am and keep working. We work in taxi cabs, on the toilet and yell out business ideas in the shower. We work 18 hours a day and even dream about this.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
Kathmandu, Nepal for an intensive fast and meditation. And I also did a jungle trek on elephant back (that was pretty cool.) My plane got in very late at night and I wasn’t able to get to my monastery so I slept in a Hindu temple the first night I was there. I woke with a flower in my hair, and I just knew I had a karmic connection to the place.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Tell my cofounder that I love her and how excited I am to be building a business concept with her.
When do your best ideas come to you?
Listening to loud trance music, drinking single malt scotch and sitting on enormous teddy bears we buy off of TaoBao. Also, over food – but we’re always eating, ha.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
We started with 4 rockstars and now we’re 5 fulltimers and 4 interns!
What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
I was having my palm read and found out my lifeline is very light. So I have a premonition I’m going to die early. Therefore, there is no future, just the present. So everything is now, and it’s all about the learning experience on this beautiful journey and gift we call life.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
No struggles, just challenges. Invigorating challenges. Too many to describe. The first challenge was finding a strong collection of Chinese designers. We started with basic stats and intuition about the wave of brands emerging from China, and did a deep dive to find as many designers as possible.
How do you handle frustration?
We don’t get frustrated, to be entirely honest. Every day we wake up feeling so lucky to be working with each other. Our team is a family. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we are so proud of our designers.
What’s your office environment like?
Spontaneous dance parties! We have a fuzzy rug, and 5-foot teddy bear and blanket we named Kloud. We invite mentors and supporters over for high tea, and they sit with Bundi the bear, and talk business. There is a constant slew of creatives, consultants, entrepreneurs, and friends who use our space with us. We do yoga and meditate and have picnics with Nutella and Iberico ham.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
In five years, we will be the industry leader in representing world-class Chinese brands because we believed in “Designed in China” when everyone else was stuck on “Made in China.”
Who or what inspires you?
You are power. You eat cosmos and shit possibility.
How’d you fund this venture?
Angel Investors who are truly angelic
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
You only need to do two things. Work your ass off. Network your ass off.
There’s an old Chinese proverb: No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich. Just work diligently, efficiently and with conviction. And make friends. The first step of starting a business is making friends. Just be a nice person and people will want to do nice things for you. Always.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I also help run a nonprofit called the Women’s Foundation of Nepal in Kathmandu, so I would donate 400k to them. For the rest of the 100k I would travel throughout India, Brazil, Bolivia, Russia, and Southeast Asia with my cofounder.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
This is like asking whether or not I’ll ever find love. In response, I would say when I have I ever NOT been in love? I’ve been in love my entire life, constantly immersed and impaled by it. Success is the same way– I have been successful my whole life. I’m successful because I’m deeply elated to have the life I do. I’m successful because I’m creating value. I don’t even think that “feeling successful” or feeling like you made it is even a good thing – it makes you complacent and slow.
We asked one of designers if he had ever made anything he thought was timeless and he answered, “If I have, then why would I keep creating?” If I thought I was “successful” in the sense of the word you asking, why would I ever keep building?
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
North Korea… well, because I’m not allowed to.
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
250k Angel Funding 40 carefully selected designers.
How can our readers get in touch with you?