The growth, strength, and resilience of Asian American women in the United States have been incredible. In its latest report on Asian American women, Nielsen has found that as much as 39% of Asian American women are entrepreneurs; Asian American women own more smartphones than any other woman of any race; and overall, Asian American buying power had grown 222% faster than that of the US.
To celebrate the achievements of Asian American women, and to provide an opportunity to learn from successful female businesswomen, the Asian Business Association, Los Angeles (“ABA LA”) held its annual Women Business Pioneers Symposium at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel on May 18, 2017. The panel discussion was moderated by Mariko S. Carpenter, Vice President, Strategic Community Alliances at Nielsen, and featured three successful and innovative female executives/entrepreneurs who have risen to the top in each of their industries: Cathy Beaupain, President of Dermstore; Hanna Lim, Co-Founder and President of Lollaland; and Shivani Siroya, Founder of Tala.
The symposium also saw the release of Nielsen’s report on the Asian American Women: Digitally Fluent with an Intercultural Mindset, its fifth on Asian American consumers. The report has found Asian American women to be a powerful consumer segment, one that is poised to continue to make significant economic and social gains in an increasingly multicultural US.
Integritas Resources is honored to be a sponsor for this meaningful and inspiring event. Other sponsors and donors include Zen Yoga Strap, Luna Bar, OPI, UCLA, Toyota, The Walt Disney Company, Bibigo, and more.
Here are the highlights from the panel discussion:
What is your advice for female business owners trying to raise capital/funding?
Shivani: Focus on your business – make sure you have the capacity and capability to do it, and believe in yourself. For me, because I had the prototype ready, and real data to support it, I didn’t have to pitch –investors came to me instead.
Hanna: My advice is to just go for it. I pitched Lollaland’s signature product, the Lollacup, on Shark Tank just three months after being in business. Receiving investment from both Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec gave the company a lot of publicity and opened a lot of doors for me.
Cathy: Even though Dermstore is a subsidiary of Target, we still have to seek funding, as we are still considered a small business. I have had to pitch to executives, who are always interested in return on investment, to get funding from Target. For me, raising capital is about leveraging market data and having the ability to do trial tests.
How do you assess if it is going to be a good business?
Shivani: It’s all digital. We put out ads on social platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, to see if anyone will download our app. If you receive a good response, put more investment into it.
Cathy: My advice is to look at the data, gain insights, and have a methodology. At Dermstore, we lean on our data to decide what brands to carry, because we want to make sure all our products are useful and have high efficacy. It is also about layering and understanding who your customers are.
What are some of your marketing strategies?
Hanna: Now it’s down to micro-influencers. It’s really just word of mouth at the end of the day. I also personally answer customer emails, because I want to know what the market really thinks.
Shivani: At Tala, about 51% of our customers come in through digital, and 49% through word of mouth. Our latest campaign is “Tala is bae,” and you don’t hear banks saying that. What differentiates us, and what we hear from our customers is that they see us as their friend, not a credit company. We are now the No. 3 app in Kenya, and have offices in Manila, Nairobi, and Mexico City.
How do you evaluate your competition, and how do you know you are staying in the right course?
Cathy: Understand your competitive landscape through product testing, competitive shopping, continuous evaluating, and identifying early brands.
Hanna: I still go to trade shows – about 15 a year – to interface with buyers and other brands, to get a feel of what’s hot and what’s not.
Shivani: Talk to your customers if you can; for example, we talk to customers who have uninstalled our app to understand what our company is not providing. Everyone at Tala does customer service calls – I found that this has really helped them think outside the box and be more empathetic with the people they are developing the product for.
What advice do you have for our audience?
Cathy: Always think about what’s next. Make sure you don’t squander any opportunities you have right now. Ask yourself: Is this really my best? Am I at my best potential?
Shivani: Be a fearless romantic. Also, be optimistic – know that you’re going to get no’s, but be willing to share your ideas. It’s about execution; if people see your passion, they will want to join you.
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