Knowledge Exchange

Running Your Own Business Means Everything Is a Bit of a Challenge

Theren Moodley (Class of 2022)


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Starting a business isn’t a singular event, but a journey with many challenges, changes, planning, and practice. We met with Theren Moodley, Class of HKU MBA 2022, whose innovative idea has helped solve problems found in the fashion industry in particular. Make the Dot was founded back in 2021 along with 3 co-founders based in the UK and Hong Kong. They aim to simplify the fashion creation process, ensuring creative ideas succeed.


HKU MBA: First of all, congratulations on your graduation. How was your general experience in studying part-time for two years?

Theren Moodley: Thank you so much! It’s been a journey! For me, the most difficult thing to first get used to was juggling essentially a full-time and part-time job – with the part-time job of course being the MBA. Once you’ve got used to that workflow, it’s easy to get into the flow of things and keep the momentum going.

I loved the discussions and brainstorming in class, as well as learning about topics I’d never covered before in detail, but that are nevertheless super important in business, such as Venture Capital, Accounting, and Corporate Finance. Working with classmates from different parts of the world with different objectives was also a great learning experience.


HKU MBA: I understand you have had consistent career tracks in the fashion industry. What was your main hook to start the start-up journey?

Theren Moodley: A lot of big conversations, over a few cold beers. Nah, I’m (half) joking.

The fashion industry is one of the most archaic in the world and I had spent my career building technology to help make it be more efficient – from supply chain visibility and analytics to product development and collaboration. So, after building and selling these products, and more importantly, discovering a problem in a white space part of the industry, my Co-founders and I thought, ‘why not try and make a business out of this?’ That being said, it was really my Co-founder, Emilie, who sparked the idea for the business, and without whom, I don’t think we’d have ever taken the jump.


HKU MBA: Can you explain a bit more about the solution that Make the Dot is offering? Who is your main client target and how does the revenue model work?

Theren Moodley: Currently, when a fashion designer wants to design a collection for a new season they use a variety of research and moodboarding tools to collect and organise their ideas and inspiration: Pinterest, Adobe Illustrator, PowerPoint, Google Drive, a physical cork board to name a few.

We’ve spoken to over 400 designers, and from this research we found that over 40% of their time is wasted on admin and organisation tasks because of using these multiple tools – none of which have been built specifically for fashion designers. Therefore, we wanted to build one digital workspace specifically for a fashion designer’s workflow, which would allow them to collect, organise and share their ideas quickly and easily from one place. We’ve also designed our product for the post-Covid hybrid working world, so collaboration is a huge part of the product and experience for designers and their teammates.

Target customer-wise, any designer who does visual research and moodboards can use our product. But for now, we’re building for fashion and pattern designers. Most of these people are freelancers and may also work in SMB brands. We’ve found that there are 52m of these designers globally.
Business model-wise, we’re a Product-Led SaaS company, similar to Zoom, Slack, or Figma, but for fashion. Being product lead means our product is our ultimate sales tool, and we’ll have a freemium subscription model once we launch publicly, with users able to upgrade to a paid prosumer or team subscription.


HKU MBA: Running your own business is a completely different game than just working for a company as an employee. What would be the biggest challenges that you’ve faced and what are some excitements?

Theren Moodley: Good question.

Bootstrapping and running your own business means everything is a bit of a challenge. You have to wear multiple hats and learn how to do everything from the strategy to the execution yourself, across multiple business functions. This means you learn a lot, but you always feel like there’s so much more to learn. The most exciting thing is watching something you’ve built from scratch grow everyday. Working at a start-up means there’s maximum accountability as well as output. When you work on something, you can almost immediately see its effect, which for me is greatly satisfying.


HKU MBA: Having a remote team across Hong Kong and England may not be ideal for some business functions. How does the team manage cross-border communications and do you have any tips for a remote environment?

Theren Moodley: The team talks to each other a lot. Be it on Slack, WhatsApp or Zoom calls. And we also have clear business growth goals and plans we’re all working towards, which means we all always know what other people are working on and what they’re building.

Having clear objectives and frequent conversations is the best way to ensure a remote business grows.


HKU MBA: What is the next phase of the business development plan at Making the Dot?

Theren Moodley: The biggest milestone for us in the next year is to come out of private beta and launch publicly, which we’re planning to do in Q1 2023.This will be a great chance for us to see what the demand is for the product without any gates or barriers in place for users. While that is going on, we’ll be looking to raise funds for the first time, closing the round by Q2 2023.We’ve not fundraised before, which will make this a new and challenging experience.

Any investors reading – you know where to find me!


HKU MBA: Can you please advice for those who are thinking about starting a company?

Theren Moodley: Its tough! Tougher than anyone will ever tell you! But it’s also one of the most rewarding things you can do in business. There are a few things that you can do to help you keep on track during those challenging times.

  1. Be clear on why you’re starting the business, and the problem you’re trying to solve
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail, iterate and try again
  3. What works for another company may not work for you, each business has its own path

And mostly importantly have fun, and enjoy the journey. Most people will only do one or two start-ups in their life so enjoy it, as it may not happen again.