Last week show host of PitchDeck Asia, Graham Brown caught up with the CEO of Tigerhall, Nellie Wartoft to find out the story behind Tigerhall. Get to know her better, not as the CEO of Tigerhall, but as the ambitious entrepreneur who moved halfway across the world after finishing school, raised $1.8m in funding and started Asia’s hottest new app, Tigerhall.
Q. Where does the name, Tigerhall, come from?
Tiger is an Asian animal and it symbolises overcoming obstacles in life and achieving strength. And Hall is where you meet people informally to connect. So Tigerhall is a place in Asia, where you meet people informally to connect in order to overcome obstacles in your life and achieve strength.
Q. What do you know about Tigerhall now that you didn’t know when you started out?
I meet around 3 users a week for an in-depth conversion to understand them better so that we can build a better platform for them. I’d originally expected our users to be younger than they are. Our users are mostly in their 30s, we have a few users who are university students and fresh grads but there’s very few of them. What I realised with the students is that they mostly don’t know what they don’t know. They have this degree which they believe is a golden certificate, and they’re just trying to figure out their first job.
The moment you start thinking about things like managing stakeholders, how to balance fitness with work, or how do you manage upwards tends to be when you have 5 to 10 years of experience. It’s one thing that I miss-assumed.
Something else I realised is that people use Tigerhall as a back door to find things out. They feel like they can’t always ask their boss due to the concept of losing face. So instead they use Tigerhall. They could listen to their boss’s equivalent at a competitor business or someone of a similar level in their industry. Teaching them things they would like to learn from their boss but they don’t have to lose face.
Q. Are you quite a goal-driven person? How does that manifest in your day-to-day life?
I have a very structured way of approaching goals. My first goal when I was around 13 was to be able to move to Singapore. Then when I started working, my goal was to save up a certain amount of money to be able to invest in a business. My goal has always been to help people learn and to help them develop themselves and to make them successful.
The way that I structure my goals is that I have a yearly outlook. Every year I go on something I call a ‘Rest and Reflect’, where I reflect on the past year and plan my upcoming year. I break that down into different parts of my life. So I look at different areas and look at what I need to do. I try to break it down into weekly habits. For example, say I want to write a book. I don’t say, oh this year I want to write a book. Instead, I say, this year, every Sunday at 5 pm, I’m going to write 1 page. I schedule it in my calendar. Every week in my calendar, there are certain things that are related to achieving these goals. It’s never around the big, big goal. It’s always broken down.
My personal motto is motivation comes and goes, but discipline will get you through the lows. Always rely on discipline, don’t try to be motivated all the time because no one is motivated all the time. But you still need to do things that get you forward. That’s very much my personal philosophy.
Q. I’d like to know what you’re learning. For yourself, tell us what’s on your goal list.
My focus for 2019 is leadership. I’d like to be a really really really great leader for the team. Helping them to succeed and helping them grow. In different shapes and forms, my weekly habits are very much related to that.
Q. Have you read anything recently that’s inspired you?
One of the Power Reads that I really like, that happens to be on Tigerhall, is by Pascal Finette. He’s the Chairman of Singularity University for the entrepreneurship track and he shared with us about innovation. The way that he thought about innovation was very crisp and clear. It’s all about replacing what has been there before, not about taking what has been there before and doing it in a new, fashionable, technological way.
When it comes to innovation, this is something very insightful and something that I keep in mind when I think about how we can do things better at Tigerhall.