MY LOVE FOR podcasts started almost a decade ago, when I bought my iPod from a duty-free shop at Changi Airport. Coming from an entrepreneurial background, my preference tended towards those that are about business and marketing; American ones like I Love Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Inside Strategic Coach, Masters of Scale, The Tim Ferriss Show, Glambition Radio and Online Marketing Made Easy are my favourites.
But it never occurred to me to start a series of my own until I was selected for a two-week women’s leadership programme by the Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange Between East and West, or East-West Center for short. I was the only Malaysian among the 16 scholarship participants; the rest of my Asia-Pacific peers were from India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Samoa, Fiji, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Planning a Podcast Series
Before flying the 11,257km to Hawaii, I had to put together a project presentation for my peers and for the Hawaiian mentors to give me feedback and guidance on. I considered a podcast for its scalability – it could reach millions of listeners and enjoy “an immortality” of its own.
This also fitted perfectly with my desire to share stories of women in business and how they worked to start and sustain their enterprise. I was growing a little weary of Western-centric podcasts. Where are the Asian (women) voices? I was curious to know more about the women entrepreneurs around me and those I’ve yet to meet. I wanted to hear and record their stories of triumph and more importantly, to make inspiring examples of their grit, resilience and courage.
I had initially planned on profiling business-savvy Malaysian women, but feedback from my peers and the East-West Center programme manager Liz suggested the focus was simply too delimiting. I had to think and dream bigger; I decided to refine my podcast project to feature a wide spectrum of Asian women entrepreneurs instead.
Getting Womenpreneur Asia Started
On returning to Malaysia, procrastination slowly settled in as I got swept up in the daily work grind. I had a tentative framework in mind however. I knew I wanted my podcast to be seasonal and already had a list of guests in mind – this is where having a large network of women friends in business helped. But I was floored by the technical aspects, e.g. not knowing how to edit the audio clips, where to host the episodes and how to get them published in the most professional way possible.
Then the MCO happened. Locked indoors, it was the perfect time to start contacting these womenpreneurs. I had wanted the best-sounding microphone, but the stores were closed. So, with my Apple earbuds, I started recording the episodes with my guests. Needless to say the audio quality was less than ideal. In one episode, a dog could be heard eating off his stainless steel bowl and in another, a guest’s mother was busy hammering away! I had to also work around ambient noises like the Friday prayers from a nearby mosque and echoes.
Some of my notable guests from Season One included Penangite Ooi Lay Pheng, CEO of Berjayapak in Sungai Bakap. The company makes and supplies wood pallets and wood packaging solutions like crates and boxes for MNCs in the Northern region. Unbeknownst to many, Ooi is also a professional baker but decided to put aside her dream of owning a café in order to take over the family business.
Indonesian lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Zhafira Loebis is the CEO of Jakarta-based Babyloania. When pregnant with her first child in 2014, Zhafira and her husband Arlo Erdaka Temenggung prepared a list of baby equipment to buy only to realise with dismay how expensive everything was. Together, the couple decided to start Babyloania, a baby equipment rental business.
During the lockdown last year, Zhafira turned what was potentially a reduction in business to even greater visibility. Babyloania gave Indonesians a chance to say thank you to medical frontliners by renting and sending items to the frontline personnel. Today, Zhafira is one of the most recognised entrepreneurs in Indonesia and has been featured on CNN and CNBC Indonesia.
Malaysian Nina Othman is the founder of Grow The Goose, a social enterprise to teach children the value of saving while also nurturing their entrepreneurial skills. The idea came about when her sons asked if Nina could buy them roller skates. In response, Nina had challenged her boys to put on their thinking caps to earn the money instead.
She launched her first Grow The Goose financial literacy workshop in 2015 for children of friends in KL. Now, at her base in Sabah, Nina is helping farmers through her programmes to market their local agricultural produce. Nina also works with banks like Hong Leong Islamic Bank to conduct workshops for children of clients under the bank’s Junior Savings Account Campaign; and with Maybank Investment Bank through its empowerment and enrichment sessions for the Orang Asli children in Banting, Selangor.
Ooi Lay Pheng, CEO of Berjayapak.
Indonesian lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Zhafira Loebis is the CEO of Jakarta-based Babyloania.
Nina Othman is the founder of Grow The Goose.
After each recording, I would reflect and write a succinct introduction and an ending – these were to be recorded separately and spliced with the main recording to make a complete episode, and my team member would select a suitable background music piece to be added in.
When it came back in my Dropbox, I’d listen to the episode again and pen the show notes. Show notes are articles to introduce the guest, as well as relevant social media and website links. These would be uploaded to the website I had developed specially for the podcast, while the episodes – 13 altogether for Season One – are uploaded to a podcast hosting site. Later, I decided to embed the podcast player into the website.
Womenpreneur Asia may still be very new, but I can already see the ripple effects of creating something that I truly believe in. For Season Two, I am inviting more women from Singapore, India and Vietnam – I featured two Indonesians and one Filipina in Season One – to share their entrepreneurial stories; their highs and lows and most importantly, the key lessons learned.
If you had asked me 10 years ago when I bought my iPod at Changi, if I had ever believed I would start a podcast, I’d call you crazy. And now look what the coronavirus pandemic pushed me to do!
Episodes of Season One are now available on WomenpreneurAsia.com or on any podcast app such as Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, etc.
Krista Goon is the co-owner of Redbox Studio with 23 years of experience in copywriting and marketing, and the co-author of Web Wisdom, a book about websites and marketing. She also co-founded WomenBizSENSE, a women entrepreneur association in Penang.