Self Made is a series of entrepreneur stories from our members who share a common desire to innovate and turn challenges into opportunities.
Hi fellow members of Mandala Club, I am Jake Tan Jun Kiat, the founder of Ergotune and Everdesk brands in Singapore. After graduating from NTU Business, I founded the business with my two buddies in late 2017. In 2021, we did more than $20 million in sales and exited the business to UNA brands for an undisclosed sum of 8 figures.
How did ErgoTune/Everdesk start?
The business was started when we wanted to buy a standing desk. In 2017, a standing desk cost more than $2,000 and the purchase experience was horrible. You had to write to a furniture company and they would come back with a PDF quotation 3 days later. It was the ‘aha’ moment that we believed that we can do much better with our background in digital marketing and e-commerce.
We then started a website within a week and used Google Adwords to test out the market demand. Within a month, we garnered around $30,000 of pre-sales without having any inventory and that validated our business idea.
What was the motivation behind this?
The motivation was simple. I just graduated from NTU business and was offered a starting pay of $4,800 from a commodities MNC. It was a relatively comfortable pay but my entrepreneurial bug inside me said no. I was thinking to myself, “I don’t have any financial commitments now and if I don’t take the leap of faith to start a business now, when would be a good time?”
As the business grew, we started to dive deeper into our customers' needs. Developing products and brands that delight our customers became one of my biggest obsessions. We are in the business of creating an empowering workplace for everyone. Seeing how our early employees grew together with the business and current employees working in a thriving environment is satisfying.
What are the pros and cons of having your own business?
I wouldn’t see it as pros and cons but in the lens of risk vs rewards. The risks are uncertainties, financial instability, legal matters, a huge commitment of time and the list goes on.
But the rewards can be substantial. It comes in the form of financial and self-improvement. When you are having your own startup, you have to constantly push yourself to the limits. In that process, you will grow unknowingly. The skillset and experience are yours to keep for life.
Be clear on what you are getting into and commit to it.
What do you attribute your business's success to?
I attribute my business success to 3 elements, Market, People, and Timing. Everdesk and Ergotune found their product-market fit relatively fast. We have a bunch of committed and talented people to get us to where we are now. Huge thank you to them. Lastly, we are in a time where WFH becomes a norm, and hybrid work is here to stay.
Why did you choose to sell your business?
We grew the company from zero to one and we know that there is still huge potential for the company to grow. Our choices were limited back then. It was either we raise funds to accelerate the growth or we grow organically in a much slower manner.
Several VCs approached us and UNA brands came along. After speaking to them, we were blown away by the UNA’s management team. They understood our business and went all the way out to know us better. UNA has many teams of smart people who have experience and work with all sorts of different problems. By comparison, we might have one person working on that thing or that problem. Moreover, they are in a similar industry and have the answers to the challenges we are facing.
What has changed since you sold the business?
I am still in the business right now. UNA’s expertise helped us to streamline our business and workflows. But now, instead of worrying about operational problems, we can focus on the strategy and growth plan to bring Everdesk and Ergotune to a greater height.
What are you working on now?
I am focusing on building the growth machine for our brands. We did more than $20 million back in 2021 and have even more aggressive targets this year. During my free time, I am looking for like-minded individuals that I can connect with and potential ventures that interest me.
What are your plans for the future?
When the time comes when there isn’t much for me to contribute, I would step off from the business. At the same time, I am looking for opportunities to start or contribute to a venture where I can put my knowledge, experience, and skill set into good use. The satisfaction of working towards a common goal with a group of like-minded talented individuals is something that money can never buy.
If you think my experience can help or want to pick my brain for your business, feel free to connect with me through linkedin or firstname.lastname@example.org