Who is she?
Ai Ching Goh started her professional career with a degree in Experimental Psychology and a media position at P&G. She quickly discovered her entrepreneurial spirit and transitioned to a startup mindset. Ai Ching co-founded a web app, which turned into Piktochart, a visual storytelling tool that enables people who cannot design to communicate.
As a startup that operates from Penang, but serves over 15 million users globally, Ai Ching has needed to take an unconventional approach to growth. She goes against the grain of what the startup world teaches passionate entrepreneurs in areas including talent management, culture ”pruning” and bootstrapping.
About Company culture and work environment-culture Pruning
To understand what the culture is like, I would have to go back 8 years in history. I came from a corporate environment which was very high growth but at the same time, I did not feel that I was getting much guidance. I knew that I wasn’t doing a good job, but I didn’t know how to get better. This feeling of being “lost” and that my work was work, without meaning, was very demotivating.
My aspiration for Piktochart was to be a place where people would be able to work together, find mission and purpose aligned to their personal lives, and a place where we wouldn’t have to be dragging our feet to work. Apart from a product that was motivating many that they were making an impact in people’s lives, the people who are in Piktochart are also very important. Our values HOPEFUL came to be as a result of this culture: Humble, Open up, Passionate, Excellent, Fun-loving, User-focused, Love.
The reason why “pruning” came into the picture is this. A tree that is left unkempt for a period of time simply stops growing.
Challenges that she faced?
A lot of people often ask me if the hardest part of building Piktochart was in its initial stages. I would say it’s the opposite, I find growing Piktochart a lot more challenging than starting it. Achieving a 100% growth in the initial years was no problem but became a problem in the later years.
The unexpected challenges for me – despite how much I care about culture, people are an unpredictable bunch, and there’s still a lot for me to learn in terms of leadership and management.
The other hard parts are that I’ve always been a person that takes a leap of faith, does rapid experimentation to see what works and this method does not scale after some time – I have come to realize that I am very poor at strategy. We have a very talented team and everyone’s looking to us (Leadership team) to make the right decisions!
How did you come up with the idea of Piktochart and get involved with visual and communication design?
The idea came when I was reading more about digital marketing and saw that content marketing was going to be a lot more popular compared to push marketing, or what was traditionally known as advertising.
Apart from blogs, white papers, and PDFs that people could download, I felt that more people were going to try to make their communication more visual. We started out with infographics for content marketers and the idea continued to grow to where it is today where it’s not just about infographics, but every level of visual communication including flyers, presentations, social media, etc.
Advantages and/or disadvantages of being a female entrepreneur? And what advice do you have for other aspiring female entrepreneurs in ASEAN?
Advantages: Women are quite relational and nurturing, these skills work to our advantage because “People” is a very important asset in growing a company. In my opinion, women also have a good intuition of what works or not, and they are less likely to invest in a failing idea.
Disadvantages: I somehow felt that women are less of risk-takers and think a lot less “big” when it comes to ambitions and goals.
Of course, the above are stereotypes, and I am drawing them out of what I consider to be my strengths and weaknesses.
For the aspiring female entrepreneurs in ASEAN, know what you want (clearly define why you’re an entrepreneur) and go for it!