Samantha Dorcas Soh, 24, Co-founder of ShopBack
“My parents always taught me to aspire to greatness, and it was because of the hardships we faced many years ago that we adopted a hardworking mentality. Even when we were young, my dad made us sign an endowment plan for kids and we had to save $70 a month. So we had to make sure we worked in order to save up.
I didn’t know how much that would help until an unusual offer was made to me in 2014. Back then, I was a graphic designer, but two of ShopBack’s co-founders, Henry and Joel, talked to me about joining them on a new venture. ShopBack allows shoppers to get cash back whenever they make a travel booking or take a ride with its merchants. The concept was their brainchild, and after some thought I decided to join them in co-founding the company.
I knew that the early days would be tough, even financially, but I decided to do it when I saw the learning possibilities. I had zero knowledge of UI/UX then, but that also translated to new job advancements and prospects, which were interesting to me. Also, since I was young, I felt that it was the right time to learn new things.
Because I didn’t have any prior relevant experience, I had to be resourceful and pick up stuff from tutorials. I guess learning it on my own was the difficult part, and from there I just had to apply those skills to real-life cases.
Right before the official launch of the website, we realised it wasn’t the best and had to redo the entire design in a week. Bryan, who’s in charge of all things tech, had to recode it within a day!
Everything I’ve done for ShopBack was a first for me. It was my first time building a website, designing a mobile app and even creating a mascot, among many other things. There was definitely fear, but the important thing was how forgiving my team was when mistakes were made. The teamwork gave me the assurance that we’re all in this together, for the good and the bad.
Every time I design something and we roll it out, I feel like ‘I own this’, and that’s when I feel most like a girlboss! To me, to be successful before you’re 30, you’ve got to have perseverance. Hardship will always happen during different periods, but as long as you know what you want to achieve, perseverance will help you overcome your setbacks.
Establishing ShopBack has been my biggest achievement so far. I hope to have a design team of my own and be able to lead them in a good manner. We’re pretty positive about changing users’ shopping habits and hope to cater a better experience to users.”
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The CLEO Change Makers 2017 is presented by SK-II.