Liyen Tan is the Co-Founder of Hawkr (Iterative Summer 2021), a Malaysia-based food delivery marketplace for homemade food that is looking to reduce barriers to entry for anyone passionate about making a living through cooking and/or baking.
What has been the most surprising thing for you about being a founder?
Nearly everything. But if I had to list my top 3, it would be the following:
1. Before I started Hawkr, I sold nearly all my belongings just to start something. What surprised me was how little I actually needed to spend to launch something. Hawkr relied on Google Forms, Reddit, Google Sheets, Zapier, and Airtable for over a year. That drilled the ""Launch early, launch often"" mantra in my head, especially when I'm working on bigger tasks.
2. Later on, I learned how lonely it is to be a founder despite interacting with users and my teammates on a daily basis. It's even more lonely now as a solo founder but...
3. At the same time, I didn't realize I'd enjoy the rollercoaster ride (highs and extreme lows) as much. It's certainly an experience like no other.
What was the highlight of your Iterative experience?
Having a space to rant about anything and everything during office hours. Sorry, Hsu Ken. Also being able to connect with other founders during group office hours to debug problems. Many hands make light work amirite?
What is one thing that you would tell to your 10 year old self?
If you don't ask, you'll never get it. In other words, don't be afraid to hear the word "No."
What's the craziest thing that has happened to you in your job?
Acquiring home cooks or home bakers to join Hawkr wasn't easy in Malaysia where people are less trusting of smaller brands. Hawkr didn't even have a proper website yet. I spotted a lady selling kuih - Malaysian cakes/desserts. I pitched Hawkr but she was very skeptical. I then realized she still had quite a bit of kuih left so I bought her entire stock (I was also super hungry). I went home, listed the kuih on Google Forms and posted in various Facebook groups to sell them. So, I spent the entire day delivering the kuih to the customers who submitted the Google Forms and I knew it was also an opportunity to chat with customers. The next day, I went back to the kuih lady and showed her the sales. She signed up to join Hawkr right on the spot.
If you could be an animal, what would you be? Why?
A sloth. Because I just want to sleep. #founderproblems
What was your dream occupation growing up?
It went from princess, to unicorn, to Jessie from Pokemon, to dancer, to interior designer, to lawyer, but once I started college, it became "I have no clue." I hope my dreams of becoming a unicorn will come true, though. :)
If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
The ability to teleport. I would live in California because of the weather but teleport to Malaysia to eat.