What I Learned from Timothy Tiah - Founder of Nuffnang

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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Last Sunday when I entered VIP room at JWEF, I was introduced to this guy with his mini version boy on his lap, and his pretty wife with white top and red skirt. We had chit chat and he told me he’d be in Jakarta this Tuesday, and I told him that we’d have 57th #Startuplokal Monthly Meetup on Tuesday night. 

To be really honest, only a very few did I know about him until he shared his amazing story on JWEF stage a few minutes later, and get inspired that I took note and now share this with you all. 

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Timothy Tiah founded Nuffnang with Cheo Ming Shen at 2006 when he was 22 years old, with 150k RM startup capital, partly borrowed from his father. He simply founded it because there’s nobody built it before, while the demand was actually there. The site was launched in February 2007.

Sales ≠ cashflow

On earlier years, although Nuffnang sales highrocketed, the cashflow was poor. At one point he only has 5k left in bank, while there were invoices need to be paid out urgently. He came to Honda and said that if they don’t pay them, Nuffnang would be dead.

Don’t take investment easily 

2 years after Nuffnang was founded, he got 20mio RM offer from investor. He was amazed and already imagined of getting 10mio RM for himself, buying a Ferrari and spent the rest of it in Zouk and do no savings. He went home excitedly to tell his dad, and his dad answer was: NO. He said, “What I’m afraid of is that you get too much money when you’re young, that you don’t reach your potentials.” And guess what? Now Nuffnang, under its parent company Netccentric, has gone public (IPO) and worth 200mio RM. 

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Love your parents 

Timothy is a family guy. He’s so close to his parents that he never fails to call them every single day. It wasn’t like that before he’s 18. In fact, he kinda blamed them because he was born imperfect, with one eyelid too weak to open. But a moment when he was deeply heartbroken with a girl he’s been dating for 2 years, was a turning point of his life. Because at that time, it was his parents who gave him strength to get up. 

“It’s funny how a hatred can be the resolution over other hatred”, he described the paradox.

Fight for your love

Timothy proposed Audrey in 2011 with internet memes and the video went viral. But before they get married, Audrey told him shocking fact that if he decide to marry her, he probably won’t be able to have kids due to a certain illness that she has. It devastated him because he loves kids, he would even have 20 kids if possible. 

But he decided to go on, for one beautiful reason: 

“I love my wife so much that I’m afraid if I dont marry her, she got married to someone else who doesnt love her as much as I do.”

And surprise surprise, in just 6 months after they got married, Audrey got pregnant, and 31 weeks later she delivered a famous baby boy Fighter

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He wrapped the keynote with 3 quotes (I probably not quoting it precisely, but that’s the point more or less):

“First quote is from myself: it’s not important what happened to you; what’s important is your reaction towards it.” 

“Second quote I got from my dad: always be nice to people, because life is a cycle.” 

“Third quote is from my late grandfather. Just before he passed away he sat down in my living room asking me business and things. What he said was, ‘you know what? it’s glad to see you well, but one thing you gotta remember that when things go well, make sure when you make money you don’t forget to keep it. Because you may not always generate money in life.”

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