Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Phantila Phataraprasit, Co-Founder of Sabai Design, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We're a home design company that's furnishing a better future. We re-engineer home products to be more sustainable and accessible — our first product, The Essential Sofa, is modular and repairable, so we can help prevent our furniture from ever going to landfill.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand but would frequently travel to northern Thailand for my mother's eco-lodge work. From quite a young age, this instilled in me an intense love and appreciation for the natural world. The tourism industry in Thailand is an enormous contributor to our economy, and I saw how the compounded effect of businesses that didn't take into consideration both the environment and the people involved in their operations impacted the country. Conversely, I saw how my mother, through great care and intentionality, was still able to create experiences that were fulfilling and exciting for visitors while taking into account those things. These experiences created a framework for how I think and problem-solve, whatever the industry.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To me — it's the team we've built here at Sabai. While the awards and accolades are nice to have, I'm most proud of our ability to grow and scale a team of individuals passionate about building a sustainable business. Building a business that can support their lives and their families through what we do is the greatest accomplishment of all!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Staying focused as a team. We're a small team at Sabai, but we have big goals and lots of ambitions (tons of new products on the way). Making sure we're all aligned and moving with laser precision has been one of the biggest challenges in scaling the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Nail down your unit economics early. If your unit economics work, then you can start thinking about growth and scale. In this funding environment and economy, businesses without solid foundations are going to face a much more difficult time.
- Focus on your customers — they'll be your biggest champions and advocates. Be customer obsessed and treat them as you would your loved ones. Investing in those relationships will yield amazing results.
- Be able to filter our negative feedback and no's. While being customer-obsessed, figuring out how to stand firm in your vision is so important. In the early days, we were obsessed with perfecting the product based on every single review -- higher back, firmer cushions, etc. While we certainly believe in making our products better, we also have to balance that we cannot be everything to everyone, and filtering feedback would be one of the most important steps in our design process!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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