Founder Focus: Karen Chung of Kossie
An online lifestyle platform designed to support aspirational UK-based women as they strive to achieve their personal and professional goals, Kossie is built on a foundation of trust, openness and friendship.
Founded in 2018 by CEO Karen Chung, Kossie now boasts a cross-continental team spanning Hong Kong, London, and New York, and is only set to get bigger and better.
We caught up with Karen about all things Kossie, and she shared her first-hand experience of building a brand, searching for investment, and dealing with burnout.
What was your eureka moment?
Kossie took off when I had the idea to launch our first interview series – ‘Incredible Two’, which was based on my personal experience of being an Asian woman in her thirties. I had just been offered a finance job in Hong Kong, but the company wouldn’t provide the high-paying salary I felt I deserved because of the interviewer’s worry that I would be one of the ‘leftover women’ – which is a negative way to describe Asian women in their 30s who haven’t yet married.
I had this incredible idea of launching an ‘Incredible Two’ series that looked at how power couples have achieved great success while working together or independently, and have still managed to maintain a close relationship. I aimed to use this series to empower women to go after what they really want in life, instead of what culture tells us we should be doing by a certain age.
What is your elevator pitch?
Kossie is an online platform that features interviews with successful women, tips and guides advised by certified coaches, and real-life stories from survivors of mental illness across the world. We’re here to guide millennials to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a business on their own?
Don’t make any excuses and just do it. You have to prepare yourself that people are going to judge and criticise your decision – and while some criticisms are great for helping you shape your business idea, you have to be aware that some are less constructive, and can stop you from growing. Know their intentions and don’t let other people’s opinions limit your success.
Starting my own business is the scariest thing I have ever done, but I would choose this path over and over again regardless of whether Kossie is going to be truly successful or not, because I don’t want to live with any regrets when I grow old. So, just do it!
Do you have a mentor or are you one?
I am very grateful that I am surrounded by a bunch of young entrepreneurs and successful business people; they are very open about their journeys, and always share their lessons – from failures, to managing their teams, and launching marketing campaigns.
What’s your plan B?
There’s always a back-up plan for strategic direction or business growth. But when it comes to Kossie, I don’t think there’s a back-up plan and I want to focus on growing it.
What is the most worthwhile investment (time, energy, money) that you have made?
Time, time and time! For me, time is the only currency money cannot buy. You can have a 15-minute interval run, pick a low-carb meal or drink a double espresso to boost your energy. You can also invest money into projects that may turn out to be a bad investment, but you will end up with a great lesson by learning from your own mistakes.
In contrast, when you lose an hour of time by doing something unproductive, you’ve lost an hour. What I have learned is how to invest my time wisely throughout my career.
What one failure are you glad you experienced?
I am thankful that my previous investor, who is a pretty close friend of mine, drew out of the investment deal with last-minute notice. When I look back to that experience, I was still lacking experience on running a legitimate business – I didn’t have a clue how to do a financial forecast properly at that time. Now, I push myself even harder and learn as much as possible so Kossie is able to reach new milestones each year.
What is coming up for Kossie?
We are currently working on a secret project all about female pleasure, and closing the orgasm gap in the bedroom. My team and I are very excited about it!
What book would you recommend that everyone reads and why?
I read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown when I had a full-blown burnout last year, and it taught me to allow myself to have vulnerable moments in life, and embrace that we are all human.
Similarly, Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler really drove home the importance of self-compassion, and was equally crucial in helping me bounce back from several setbacks.
How do you find balance in your daily life?
I sell ‘work/life balance’ for a living, but ironically, I don’t necessarily have that kind of balance in my own life.
However, I try to find balance by having a journaling session in the early morning, a quick gym session before work, and a 10-minute meditation to wind down at the end of the day. I have also made a promise to myself to spend at least a few hours a week with my family and close friends – my most trusted support system.