Some of Hong Kong’s most exciting and ground-breaking start-ups are run by female entrepreneurs. We break into their busy day, asking for advice that will inspire you to make it on your own. Today, we speak to Kimmy Lai, founder of Adore.
Young entrepreneurs are on the rise as the new generation looks for more career fulfilment and seeks to make an impact on society – on their own terms. It’s an opportunity to carve out your own niche, and while there’ll always be a level of risk you’ll need to shoulder on your own, nothing beats the joy of finding start-up success and doing something you love.
But what does it mean to be a successful entrepreneur? We ask the city’s strongest Female businesswomen about their scalable start-ups and social enterprises.
Kimmy Lai ran an international trading company before Covid, but when the pandemic hit she made a pivot to help combat the virus. In the past two years, her company Adore has sourced factories for vaccine production internationally, while locally investing in mobile testing units that aid government Covid testing in hard-toreach areas, and running the door-to-door vaccination programme alongside the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.
Kimmy Lai, founder of Adore
Tell us about your business. What do you do?
Internationally, I source Covid related items (e.g. ventilator) for different governments (like Brazil, Australia etc), and source factories for vaccine production. While locally I run community testing centres, after creating mobile testing units that allow the government to track cases effectively. We also run mobile vaccination stations to go anywhere the government assigns them to be. We created the first Run Door to Door vaccination program together with The Hong Kong Council of Social Service.
What is a normal work day like?
It kept changing in the last two years, as I’m starting new projects almost every month. I wake up early in the morning and sleep super-late. I’m always meeting my front-line staff to get to know them and listen to their advice.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start up?
Create values, then money will chase after you.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now?
If there was no Covid, I will be vaccinated. When it is all over, I wish I can take a super long break. After two years of Covid, I understand that I cannot plan anything, I can just go with the flow. So why keep on thinking “what if” or “tomorrow”let’s just live in “today”.
As a child, what did you aspire to be?
Nothing related to healthcare! A fashionable lawyer, the Legally Blonde kind.
What has been your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
I have no medical background, so this is the biggest hurdle, yet on the other hand it’s also the best part, as it allows me to think out of the box and keep a humble heart so I can seek advice and listen to the medical experts. This way, we can add new creative ideas to achieve what they think is best – inventing the mobile testing vehicle was one of the best examples. Medical experts don’t know how to do a medical vehicle with a negative pressure system, and vehicle engineers don’t know that the medical people need that.
I was also able to bring in architects to complete the whole project. So basically I listen to everyone, find out solutions, invite experts to join hands so we can solve problems together
Why is Hong Kong an important market for you?
It’s my home! It’s where my heart belong.
If you were to invest in another start up/ field, which would it be?
It’d be health related, specifically in elderly and ageing-related industries.
How hands-on are you?
Super hands on, my friends are often shocked to see me on TV at the most infected locations to set up compulsory testing sites. I have to be there just to let my team know that I’m there for them, the past two years have been extremely difficult for the health workers.
How do you define success? Do you consider yourself successful?
Success isn’t about self-success, it’s about creating value for the society or industry you’re in. Every day when you wake up, you know there are many meaningful things waiting for you to achieve, and every night before you sleep, you know you’ve successfully placed a smile on other people’s faces. For me, that’s success.
What’s next for your company?
During the 5th Wave of Covid, we lost too many elderly, it’s obvious that Hong Kong needs to improve its elderly care system. I would like to seek ways to improve the quality of our precious elderly’s lives.