Always think for yourself. The day you start to follow is the day you start living someone else’s dream instead of your own.
She has played competitive sports, she has been an investment banker, and she is now an entrepreneur. She is Marigold Duncan, Founder and CEO of Bakipa, a mobile shopping app for babies, kids, and maternity products.
Bakipa was inspired by Marigold’s experience as a mother. Used to great grocery, fashion, taxi, and social apps, Marigold was frustrated to find there was not an easy way to shop for baby products. She had a huge shopping list but had to spend hours jumping between different websites in search of the items she needed.
She says her life story is a mixture of sports, investment banking, travel, and entrepreneurship. Participating in competitive sports in her teens has taught her some valuable lessons, she says, adding, “always dream big, and be prepared to work hard to achieve it.”
Everyone she trained and competed with had big dreams and made sacrifices to work towards them. “When others were out partying we would head home early because we had training at 5 am.
When others were travelling for the summer holidays, we would take jobs so we could pay for coaching or race entry. These felt like such tough decisions when I was a teenager,” she recalls and realizes now that it was a great lesson in prioritizing and committing to one’s goals.
She says the skills she learned during her sports playing days has been so valuable for her in entrepreneurship, where she has to tackle challenges on a daily basis and the endless demands on her time. Knowing how to make tough decisions has helped her stay positive and resilient and to truly enjoy the ups and downs of a startup life.
The New Savvy: Tell us more about yourself. How has your past shaped you to be who you are now?
Marigold: My story so far is a mixture of sports, investment banking, travel, and entrepreneurship. Playing competitive sports (rowing and triathlon) in my teens taught me some important lessons — always dream big and be prepared to work hard to achieve it.
Everyone I trained and competed with had big dreams and made sacrifices to work towards them. When others were out partying, we would head home early because we had training at 5 am. When others were travelling for the summer holidays, we would take jobs so we could pay for coaching or race entry. These felt like such tough decisions when I was a teenager, but I realize now it was a great lesson in prioritizing and committing to one’s goals.
The focus is essential if you are to perform at your absolute best throughout a race. We learned to be mentally strong by breaking down our challenges into smaller pieces.
For example the 10km run – the last leg of a triathlon after you have completed a 1.5km swim and a 40km bike ride and your legs feel like jelly – we would break it down into 5 or 6 stages in our minds and have one key goal for each.
This made the overwhelming feel achievable and helped us keep going when others gave up.
These skills have been so valuable for me in entrepreneurship, where you tackle challenges on a daily basis, and there are endless demands on your time. Knowing how to break these challenges down and make tough decisions has helped me stay positive and resilient, and to truly enjoy the ups and downs of startup life.
The New Savvy: Tell us more about your business.
Marigold: Bakipa is a mobile shopping app for babies, kids, and maternity products. We partner with the world’s best sellers and curate for quality, so parents now only need one shopping app on their mobile device to find the best products for their children.
Bakipa was inspired by my experience as a mother. Used to great grocery, fashion, taxi, and social apps, I was frustrated to find there was not an easy way to shop for baby products. I had a huge shopping list but had to spend hours jumping between different websites in search of the items I needed.
So we got to work, and in January 2015 launched the first version of Bakipa. It has grown quickly since then, reaching over 20,000 downloads and now offers both retail and pre-loved shopping options. It’s an exciting time for the business, with our product range growing at a rate of 400% month-on-month.
The New Savvy: How is Bakipa different from other apps out there?
Marigold: Bakipa is the first app dedicated to children’s products in Singapore. Our goal is to reduce the time and stress involved in shopping for babies and kids products.
Why Bakipa is different:
Mobile first – we make it easier for parents to shop on the go
Huge range – our marketplace model means we can offer a wider product range including big brands, independent brands, and organic products
Preloved – parents can buy & sell used items through our Preloved marketplace
Curated – we control quality and authenticity by checking every retail seller and product that is available in our app, so parents only get the best for their kids
The New Savvy: Could you describe one of your typical workdays?
Marigold: As a founder I have to wear many hats, doing everything from product management to sales, customer service, marketing, fundraising, banking, and admin. A typical day would involve a little bit of everything!
The New Savvy: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Marigold: As a startup we have to be creative with the way we operate, trying new things in hope of finding better efficiencies than our competitors and peers. This means we don’t always have certainty that our strategies will work, there is no guide or historical data we can follow; we just have to test out our ideas and either succeed or fail.
That uncertainty can be challenging at times; often you just wish someone would give you a guaranteed path to success. But we have to keep reminding ourselves that if we don’t innovate, we don’t differentiate, and if we don’t differentiate we don’t add value to our customers or the world. That keeps us going!
The New Savvy: Share two advice for female entrepreneurs.
Marigold: 1. Always be brave. 2. Always think big
The New Savvy: What is the one advice that has impacted you the most?
Marigold: It wasn’t personal advice, but a quote: “You must do the very thing you cannot do”, Eleanor Roosevelt. I saved this quote to the home screen of my phone and simply seeing it every time I used my phone helped me push on in the early stages of Bakipa when I had so much to learn and didn’t always believe I could do it.
The New Savvy: If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
Marigold: If I could re-live my university days, I would have done more internships to see a wider range of industries and job roles. Internships were not common in Australia when I was at university, but now we have fantastic interns working with us at Bakipa, and I see how much they are learning on top of their studies, I think that is a very smart and valuable experience for these students.
The New Savvy: Which three adjectives describe your strengths?
Marigold: Focused, passionate, empathetic.
The New Savvy: What are your financial habits?
Marigold: Now that I’m a startup entrepreneur, I don’t quite have as much free cash flow as I did during my banking days! But when working in banking I was very careful to save and invest. I prioritized paying off my student loans as quickly as possible, then invested 100% of my first-ever bonus into buying a property so I couldn’t spend it! My husband and I then made sure to invest each year in a range of things from equities to startups.
The New Savvy: What financial planning have you done for the future?
Marigold: Making long-term investments in assets such as property, equities, and startups. It’s good to have a certain percentage of less liquid investments so you can’t be tempted to withdraw the funds if times get a bit tough, somehow you find a way to get through, and you retain those investments for the future.
The New Savvy: What do you think we can do to improve financial awareness today?
Marigold: Content sites like The New Savvy are a great start! As a mother, I think it’s extremely important to educate our children about money and savings from a young age. It makes a huge difference if a young person understands how to budget and save in their 20’s, rather than learning the hard way if they don’t have savings later in life.
The New Savvy: When did you start planning your finances? And how?
Marigold: I have been financially independent since I was 18, so I had to learn to plan my finances pretty quickly! I worked throughout the university to pay for my sports, rent, and expenses, then paid off my student loan within 3 years of finishing my studies. I don’t know how I started; I just had to achieve all the things I aimed for.
The New Savvy: What will you like to learn more about financially?
Marigold: I would like to learn more about taxation for foreign income, this would be helpful from both a personal and business perspective.
The New Savvy: How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
Marigold: Modern women in Singapore have so many great opportunities, I believe it is important to realize this and make the most of our freedom of choice. Be bold, speak up, and do the things you want to do in life.
The New Savvy: What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
Marigold: It is hard to generalize, as everyone is so different. But I think everyone, men, and women, should learn to be comfortable with themselves and their individual strengths.
The New Savvy: What is the biggest challenge facing women today?
Marigold: I think women have an enormous amount of opportunities today, but one key problem is the limited number of female role models in leadership. It can be harder for a woman to find mentors, supporters, and inspiration if she doesn’t relate to her leaders, or she doesn’t feel they understand her personal circumstances (e.g. men don’t have to navigate pregnancy and maternity leave as they progress with their career).
For this to change we need strong women today to be trailblazers and set an example of leadership for the next generation of women.
The New Savvy: Who are your heroes?
Marigold: My mother! She is the most energetic, confident, and strong woman I know.
The New Savvy: What are you most afraid of?
Marigold: Scary movies, I have nightmares!
The New Savvy: Where Do You Go on a Night Out?
Marigold: Tech events… always learning!
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