Liew and Liew Ltd: Toby Liew
The young entrepreneur explains how he overcame design and manufacturing problems, and why an investor offers so much more than just funding
Name: Toby Liew
Company name: Liew and Liew Ltd
Date launched: 17/07/15
Tell us what your business does:
My business sells a smartphone lens accessory called magniband.
We get the products manufactured in China and shipped into our warehouse in the UK; from there we sell them on our website, amazon and eBay.
We are currently approaching large retailers as well as trendy local shops.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
A desire to successfully launch a simple and well designed product and introduce it to the mass market.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I pitched the idea to friends and family who have positive feedback. After this my dad and I took to the local high street with samples and questionnaires, asking passers what they thought of the product.
What were you doing before starting up?
I used to sell various things on eBay, including little piggy suction stands I had imported from China. I was, and still am, studying a school.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, it’s been a passion for a while. I love the idea of the freedom and hate the idea of being stuck in a single job with a capped salary, working for somebody else’s dream.
How did you raise the money?
A family friend, who owns a few successful businesses.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Its a little too early to tell at the moment, as we are still finding our feet. The plan is to run a distribution model where we hold stock and deliver to our customers on a short lead time.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The factory in China sent prototypes and the lenses weren’t very well secured so they’d fall out when stretched. I amended the design by adding a triangular cut-out in the silicone and increased the lens size.
What was your first big breakthrough?
This would definitely be finding the investor who not only supplied the capital, but the contacts and business infrastructure I needed. He invested in me and the product.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Though it’s a cliché, the best advice would be to not give up. You’ll inevitably come across many problems, but it’s how you overcome them that determines your desire and ambition.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I’d like to own a product line and perhaps venture into apps and property development. The idea of creating an ethical company, where the interests lie in the welfare of the environment rather than profit also interests me.