Photos: J.Judisun Photography
“Magic is a type of craft that requires interaction with people and lots of practise to perfect your tricks. What keeps me so interested in magic is the creative process; from creating something out of an idea to constantly tweaking the concept to make it better.”
Explaining the correlation between his magic gigs and startup career as a co-founder of honestbee, a homegrown online grocery concierge and delivery service company, Jonathan Low shares, over a lunch meeting, about his interest and fascination with magic from a very young age.
It was only during his teen years that he started to take a more serious approach towards learning the art of magic. By his University days, he had started a small company with a friend and fellow professional magician, and was performing magic semi-professionally at corporate events.
Little did the hobbyist magician realise that he would one day be applying the same creative process and approach from his magic gigs to his e-grocer business, which Jonathan co-founded with two other partners.
Since co-founding honestbee in July 2015, the startup journey for the young graduate in his mid-twenties, who was armed only with an electrical engineering degree and knew absolutely zilch about business acumen, has been a rather steep but fulfilling learning curve.
For one, being the youngest in a team of older and experienced co-founders and colleagues was a hurdle Jonathan had to learn to overcome. Recalling the early days when he had to play catch-up in order to learn and understand the intricacies of running a business, Jonathan was candid about “being discounted” due to his lack of experience despite wearing the co-founder’s hat.
“As an inexperienced fresh grad, you tend to get discounted especially when you’re from a pure engineering background. So, I had to try my best to earn their respect.”
But the 29-year-old has learned to take it in his stride, in part because of the tough love dispensed by his co-founders, Joel Sng and Isaac Tay, which he is greatly appreciative of until today.
“The underlying message from them is always for me to challenge myself and go beyond my capabilities to overcome the struggle.”
He also attributes his resilience and entrepreneurism to his other hobby – gaming. “My love for computer games has taught me to try, try and try again when I lose. It’s an addictive behaviour you know…that’s what gaming does to you.” (Laughs)
For the self-proclaimed eternal optimist, the glass is always half full. Today, the young entrepreneur is no longer bothered by his age and experience, and rightly so. Now into its second year of business, honestbee has since expanded across the region including Malaysia, Hong Kong and Philippines, and is geared for further expansion.
Reiterating the fact that honestbee was a timely but incidental startup opportunity that presented itself, Jonathan’s advice to fresh graduates who are looking to venture into startups is: Don’t rush.
“I consider myself very fortunate. I can’t say it’s all purely hard work that brought me [the success of honestbee] because I always believe it takes the right time and the right opportunity to meet the right people for things to happen.”
According to him, the three key elements to consider before plunging headfirst into a startup would be to assemble a good team; learn a new skill set; and network.
“It’s important to take your time to learn a new skill – one that would be highly relevant to you when you’re ready for to start a business… meet more people to seek out mentorship and opportunities.” He added, “[honestbee] wouldn’t be where it is today if not for good co-founders.”
A life philosophy adapted from his businessman father, whom Jonathan regards as his role model growing up, has been a pivotal motto that has kept him focused and motivated throughout his entrepreneurial journey.
“The harder you strive, the more chances you have to be lucky”