Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

Maintain High Standards To Solve The Greatest Taboo Health Problems

Peony Li


Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

Maintain High Standards To Solve The Greatest Taboo Health Problems

Peony Li



Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube
Peony Li Jude
Full transcript here

About Peony Li

The BAE HQ welcomes Peony Li, the founder and CEO of Jude, which is a platform helping people to live longer, happier and healthier starting with bladder care.

Peony was born in China and her parents were actually in a similar industry to what she does now but she never thought she'd follow in their footsteps.

She initially went into banking but after working weeks where she only slept 8 hours in an entire week, she knew she had to leave.

Peony's journey from there was winding and she picked up a variety of different experiences which make her a well-rounded entrepreneur today.

This includes being a startup advisor for The Baobab Network, the Head of Investments at the Founders Factory and the Head of Operations for Daye.

Jude are tackling taboo problems head-on because Peony knows too many people are suffering in silence.

They've grown significantly in a short space of time and have already raised £2m to further their mission.

So listen in to hear the story of what she's doing about it.

Peony Li


Show Notes

Headline partner message

From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/

Full video of episode

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube

Peony Li Full Transcript

Peony Li: [00:00:00] 2.3 billion people globally suffer from bladder issues, and that's about 33% of the global population. That's massive. And so our society has never advocated for this group of people before, but that's just gonna grow when you're running a business and when you're running a consumer business where you want every single customer to feel exactly the same standard of service and love,

Peony Li: that your business is giving. Those details are so important and they are the harshest judge. Always have high standards.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello and welcome to The BAE HQ where we inspire connecting guide, the next generation of British Asians. Hit the subscribe button if you watch this on YouTube and leave us a five star review if you're watching on Apple or Spotify. Today we have with us Peony Li, the Founder and CEO of Jude. They're a consumer platform dedicated to helping people live longer and healthier, starting with  Bladder Care.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today? 

Peony Li: Doing really well. Thank you for having me. 

Amardeep Parmar: So we've had a nice chat before we started recording and I like learnt so much about you and what you've been doing behind the scenes, but you obviously you're not from [00:01:00] Britain originally, right? You are born and raised in Hong Kong.

Peony Li: Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: So tell us about when you're growing up. Did you ever think that one day you'd be doing  what you're doing today?

Peony Li: Definitely not, and in fact, my parents have been in elderly care, family care and incontinence, and they were actually the first people that imported  nappies machine into China way before Pampers did.

Peony Li: And so I suppose like 30 something years ago in China, it was, it was like a wild west, wild east, let's call it. And I hated going to China. I hated. Just going up there using that, those kind of squat toilets. So I never thought I would be following my parents' footsteps, but I always have quite a rich, I guess like inner world.

Peony Li: I imagine quite a lot of things that could have existed but didn't exist and um, but they're usually passing thoughts. But I definitely wanna start a company and that is what I have been thinking for a long time. Timing is really important I think so I need to answer the question. Definitely not an incontinence business.

Peony Li: Definitely not, not a healthcare business. But I think I probably [00:02:00] go back full circle after years of doing different bits and different things. And like you said, 

Amardeep Parmar: you have done a lot of different things before starting Jude, right? And what was the first thing you did out of university? 

Peony Li: Yes. I followed a quite a traditional path, finished reading economic.

Peony Li: Except Cambridge. I went for M and A in oil and gas at Merrill Lynch. I think my choice of oil and gas is like, I thought that would be the nearest to seeing how an economy developed 'cause I love development economics at, at university, but it was just completely opposite of like what I actually was looking for.

Peony Li: But I think I, I learn a lot banking. I want to look at things that is before EBITDA, before revenue and, you know, you only got a chance to really work on debts and financing and, you know, text taxation stuff when I was in banking, so yeah, that is why I left. 

Amardeep Parmar: You  had this idea about starting, even what, you said you had a lot of imagination when you were younger.

Amardeep Parmar:  Going into oil and gas almost seems like the opposite of that, some in some ways. Right. At Merrill Lynch, what was the idea? Did you want to, was it just gaining experience or you thinking , you weren't ready yet to become an entrepreneur. How was your mindset then? 

Peony Li: Yeah,  I think I like got [00:03:00] lost in the trenches when I was at university 'cause everyone was talking about the best paying jobs and the best kind of starting career, which I still think it is because it definitely trains you to be a certain type of character when it comes to work ethics and commitment to excellence.

Peony Li: But the reason why I chose to go into banking is perhaps the wrong one, because I was just really following what other people saying and try to be them. But in fact, when I finally. Went into banking, I was probably the most like the unhappiest self 'cause it felt like I have just watered down the flames and the fire and the hunger that I, I used to have, I suppose.

Amardeep Parmar: What did you learn from that banking experience that then did help you later on?

Peony Li: A massive one that is like, Bearing with things that you don't like doing? Yeah, I think in this era, this virtue is lost. We, we have to do things that we don't like to do, like on a daily basis. And if you're lucky, you get to do more things that you love.

Peony Li: But you know, living in this modern world that there are a few things that you just kind of have to learn how to be happy with, [00:04:00] have to learn. Finding ways that it's gonna either automate things that you don't like to do and deal with people that are unpleasant. And so I think I learn a lot there. On this, this is the biggest, soft, softer as, uh, side of, of, of the role.

Peony Li: Well, the other bits would be like, you know, the technical side, like using Excel without a mouse is something that like everyone was super proud of in banking, training up some financial acumen, being quite logical and I think. Detail oriented. It's just not very sexy to talk about. It's not very visionary when it comes to like details, but when you're running a business and when you're running a consumer business where you want every single customer to feel exactly the same standard of service and love that your business is giving, those details are so important and they are the harshest.

Peony Li: judge the labor that you're doing. So I think I, I really learned that from banking. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. It's  interesting 'cause obviously a lot of people always gloss over the difficult, the more boring you admin bits, right of being an entrepreneur. And I think that was the biggest shock to me when I started my own company or started working for myself is you think you can have so much more time once you leave your day job, but actually you have to do [00:05:00] all this

Amardeep Parmar: just crappy little jobs, right? And it's hard many people to adjust to that. And doing something like banking and having to sometimes deal with, like you said, those issues does help, but then also you can much more effective about them because of that bank experience too. But what was the trigger to leave banking?

Peony Li: Yeah. I, I, I remember working like a cup of consecutive weeks, uh, and I was sleeping eight hours a week. Not eight hours a day. It was like literally that kind of meme of like you fall into bed and you jump straight back again and then wear your suit and then you go to work, and I just felt that was just not very sustainable.

Peony Li: I think if I stay in banking for longer, like that hunger and fire is just gonna be completely gone. I left in about two years, which is um, I think at the time, like a lot earlier than what other bankers would do. The more that my colleagues are telling me that you will never get a job in finance again if you leave, are you crazy?

Peony Li: Why are you leaving? You have such a good job. You have such a good education, you're throwing your career away. I think the more that I hear this, the more that I know what I'm doing is right. Even I don't have a [00:06:00] backup job, I don't have a visibility, what I'm gonna do. 

Amardeep Parmar: When people  were saying, you've got such a good job, were they doing that in terms of your salary or what, what do they mean by you've got such a good job when you can say you're sleeping out hours a week?

Amardeep Parmar: Is that, doesn't sound like a great job then, right? 

Peony Li: I think that what they meant is salary. I think what they meant is kind of career progression, prestige. Yeah. I think these are the kind of things that people hold onto in their jobs, and for me, salary and status and all of that are I think an important element for everyone.

Peony Li: Sanity and financial ability to pay bills. But I. I, I think I'm always chasing for purpose. Like I, I don't see the purpose of just doing, I don't know, a hundred page deck and then just finding it in the trash next day, if you get what I mean. 

Amardeep Parmar: When you  left that job, right? 

Peony Li:  Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you said you didn't have a plan.

Peony Li:  Yeah

Amardeep Parmar:. What did you do? Did you, how did you try to figure out what to do next?

Peony Li: I knew a few things that I just have to pick up. Confidence is one. And then second is just making sure I have as much creativity as possible. So I gave myself a budget and like a time limit for how I explore what I [00:07:00] wanna do.

Peony Li: And I, I did go to like about 50, 60 job interviews and that was also very good learning, 'cause I learn about so many different industries. I learn about so many different people and different jobs and what really gives me energy and what didn't. And through those interviews and I give my all to all final interviews, I went into all the final interviews and, um, some job that I thought excited me when I went to the final job interview.

Peony Li: When you get to see your boss, the potential bosses and the colleagues that you're gonna work with, you just suddenly feel like, I actually just don't think that's exciting anymore. And then I also went to Africa through a network of barber network and opportunity. Was to support female entrepreneurs or actually entrepreneurs in general in Africa, to help them with their business plan and help them to raise money for them to see through how they can build their business.

Peony Li: And so I was working with three women and they're all really awesome, wanting to facilitate the premium agricultural sector and that focus on macadamia nuts and cashew nuts, farming, uh, they're high value products. And so how do we automate some of the [00:08:00] processes, make it cashless, digitize it so farmers have less theft.

Peony Li: Yeah. And so everyone wins. And so that was a fantastic experience. I gained so much confidence because I went straight into Standard Charter Bank in uh, in Nairobi, and tried to raise 200,000 US dollars for the three women, and yeah, now seeing them building their business, being really successful makes me just so happy.

Peony Li: 

Amardeep Parmar: You  mentioned there about you wanted to build up your confidence as well, and going to Africa and obviously being completely out of your normal comfort zone. Was that part of the reason you went there to almost, in a way, intentionally get outta your comfort zone? 

Peony Li: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And test yourself. 

Peony Li: Yeah, I totally test myself and just restart the map for myself and wanting to see those comments of like, you're never gonna survive out there on your own, would never get a finance job ever again.

Peony Li: I think it's just stripping out status, prestige and titles and all the other things that people like put on you and just you and yourself and you know, of course with a network like Baba Network, just see what you can do. And I think from that experience, what I learned is like I can do a lot of different things on my own.

Peony Li: [00:09:00] If you're just willing to take that one step out of the comfort zone. And then when I went back to London, I started my own small business, which is my first business that I started. It was a motherhood community. I think at a time there was a strong calling about mothers needing to be real about postpartum issues, and it's not all rosy.

Peony Li: And so I started with like five, 6,000 mothers actually in a, in a, in a Facebook group. And we all just have chats about what is it like, and it got really viral at the end. Um, so I was very excited about being able to just kind of put things together with just an idea in my mind. 

Amardeep Parmar: So with the postpartum depression side of things, what made you pick that problem in particular?

Amardeep Parmar: 'cause obviously there's lots of different problems out there, but coming back from Nairobi, what was it that made it that issue, that one that you really cared about?

Peony Li:  It's a really good  question. I just saw that community to be a community that I wanna learn more from, and I saw how they're just not talking about it and just being alone, suffering in silence, and somehow just wanna take that responsibility up.

Peony Li: To open up a platform. But what I found that community couldn't quite scale is because I didn't have that [00:10:00] experience myself. I wasn't a mother and I'm still not a mother today. And so that is one of the sort of fit that I was lacking. And as I was going through it more and more and when I have a, actually a full-time role.

Peony Li: Once I've found like a role that I really love, the passion on building that community sort of died down a little bit because it wasn't day-to-day relevant to me. And I think that is one of the experience that I've learned. 

Amardeep Parmar: And so you, what was that full-time role that you then took on? 

Peony Li: Yeah, so I actually took a 50% pay cut to work at, found this factory.

Peony Li: It was the startup at the time when I walk into the office space, they were still just sticking on wall papers and sticking just like paving the floors and I just felt that buzz and that energy. So it was an accelerator incubator, building and investing in companies. I was a, a Venture Associate as I went in and I got to see like thousands and thousands of companies and very quickly got promoted to head of investments at, at founders.

Peony Li: I was one of the youngest managers there and just got. Super lucky with being able to make a lot of [00:11:00] decisions and work with like C M O of L'Oreal, C f O of Viva. Yeah, it was incredible experience. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you said you got super lucky there, but obviously it's not just luck, you're obviously very good at what you did.

Amardeep Parmar: What was it that you felt like you really thrived in, in that environment? What was it that you felt you did really well?

Peony Li: Yeah, it's a really good question. I, I was thinking about it the other day 'cause I still felt like I'm really lucky, but I think when people think A to B is done, I often just go to like g h, whatever.

Peony Li: I thought you were gonna say 

Amardeep Parmar: P for Peony

Peony Li: there. I was thinking today I say Y but it's like a little bit too far. Um, so I just often go the like an extra mile I think. And I'm like often the last to leave the office, 'cause that was what I was used to in banking. But when I say last to leave the office, I was like, It was 6:00 PM if you get what I mean.

Peony Li: I think I adopted sort of, I'm entrepreneur in my own area that I wanna do and I just wanna do it well, and I wanna make sure I see through to what this looks like. And I think when I say I'm super lucky, it's because Fairness Factory has even, it was like a 60 comp, [00:12:00] 60 people company. It was still evolving and changing the structure and, and so I just got, I just got an opportunity to be able to showcase what I can do, especially I didn't have

Peony Li: skills and investments, actually startup investments. And so I was trusted to head up a team and I was trusted to make a lot of investments, negotiate a lot of legal terms myself. So that was like a big jump. And yeah, it was wonderful. But I think I'm kind of part lucky, part, part work. I I, I do believe in, I do believe in timing and luck and all of these factors are locked of the..

Amardeep Parmar: Founder's factory.

Amardeep Parmar: Well, obviously you're now working at Jude, but you did some go in between, right? Because you were trying to work out what is it gonna do. So it's interesting 'cause you got, even as we've gone through this journey, right? You've done so many things that are, they're connected in some way, but they're also quite different to each other.

Amardeep Parmar: So after Founders Factory, what was your thinking then and what did you decide? 

Peony Li: Yeah, I was like, I'm ready to start a business now. I have like more experience in my belt and I've met so many founders. Surely I can start a business. And yeah, I started an idea, again, it's actually in the motherhood space, but it's a slightly different product that I was trying to [00:13:00] do, I think a moment for me that I actually didn't wanna do investments anymore.

Peony Li: I didn't wanna sit on the other side of the table, like when I was an investor. I just enjoy being bathed in the sun ray of founders who are obsessed with the things that they were doing, and I just so wanna be on the other side, if you get what I mean. And so I think I artificially sort of forced an idea to wanting to own something and jump on something that perhaps wasn't the best fit for myself.

Peony Li: And so now with the benefit of hindsight, to be able to kind of say that it was really great because, you know, when I say timing and luck, like those things are like critical components of a successful business. And I think the timing just wasn't right. I wasn't in the, in the right mindset or right

Peony Li: level of maturity. And so having tried to pitch that business a few times to investors trying to sort of put a founding team together met with quite a lot of challenges. But I think the challenges that I met and the challenges that I meet today, the very different kinds of responses [00:14:00] internally from from me.

Peony Li: One is like it is an opportunity right now. It's an opportunity. Everything is an opportunity. I think at a time. It's like, It's difficult. Every day is difficult and I think your body or your mind tells you, you know, what's the right direction and guides you. And after that, I believe that I need to just work in another company after investment, after being an investor.

Peony Li: You need to do a bit of rehab, if you get what I mean. So I, I went to work in a early stage company, pre-launch. They invented a pain relieving tampon, a dress, endometriosis, and it was just fantastic. Fantastic idea. Slightly nuts again, but I helped setting up their supply chain, their manufacturing base, helped build their team up.

Peony Li: Just do a lot of different scrappy things really, and saw it through to launch. Yeah, so that was just a really cool experience, seeing a founder at work close up mistakes and lessons that I've learned. From her and the rest of the team. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's interesting to see like how much, how vast experiences before you even started Jude.

Amardeep Parmar: And it's also that you've got it at all different points. But with the investment side and then [00:15:00] working at the startup as well, how much that affected the way that you've framed Jude itself. Because when you are obviously thinking of the idea and like you've got the family background there, did it, even when you were kind of coming up with the idea, you could obviously see in your head straight away like, oh, this is how invested would see it, or this is how I would look at this on the other side of the table.

Amardeep Parmar: And did that help you in that journey as well? What? What gave you that idea? Like this is the right one after. Maybe making a mistake beforehand. 

Peony Li: Sure. So I can tell you what I learned at every stage. So I think at Founders Factory it was like a military training of buzzwords, investors like to hear what kind of business model works, what kind of deck works.

Peony Li: I think I understood what would strike a chord, but I also understood like if I need to put 200% of my energy into a business, what would that look like? And then at a day, what I learned is have you combined like a beautiful brand? With efficacious product, which is science back, applying that to a very underserved group of people, and the effect that you can, it's like one plus one plus one equals like 10, you know?

Peony Li: That is the effect that [00:16:00] you can give to the society and the group of people that you're serving, and so, there's still one more step. Actually, before I started Jude, which is I started a a side business at the start of the pandemic, distributing about 6 million pieces of protective equipment. I think that's probably the biggest learning curve for me.

Peony Li: 'Cause that was a business where I started generating profits. It was self-funded. I was on my own from sourcing the products, remote site visits, doing regular regulations, logistics, which is incredibly difficult. I was calling up the C of D H L to be like, release my products from your warehouse, 'cause that is national emergency and it actually worked and I'm linking message everyone.

Peony Li: A network of truck drivers so that they can send the products out to different parts of the UK for me, uh, got really familiar with like freight and logistics, like some quite basic parts of like what needs to be done, like lots of admin again. But that was fantastic, like, uh, that that business generated over half a million pounds of revenue just within like three, four months.

Peony Li: I was selling most of them. [00:17:00] At cost recuperating my, not my time costs. Uh, I think two lessons there, like one is that you can literally do anything you want at any time in your life, as long as that is something that people needed and you can secure quality products, you know, that's it. It's actually as simple as that.

Peony Li: Second lesson was like, I got a chance to work with people owning care homes, people running distribution centers, and they're not in our generation, like they're people in their fifties and sixties and they were just so confident and they were so good with people and they're so knowledgeable. And what I look up to them the most is that spirit of I know who I am and I don't care about pleasing everyone anymore in my life.

Peony Li: That really made me look forward to aging. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah..

Peony Li: and it's a such a concept that is like to contrast what our society taught us about aging. It's usually anti-aging. This uses cream fear of aging. That, and I just think that concept just needs, needs a bit of a refresh. I think this is probably the first generation that we see people in the [00:18:00] fifties and sixties and there are like moms and dads.

Peony Li: Actually, we will never consider them as elderly. We just see them as older people running around trying to like live their lives and do things and like find it hard to retire. You know, like those are the people that we're looking at. And so our society has navigated for this group of people before, but that's just gonna grow.

Peony Li: So our perception of aging as we experience ourselves. You know, at the same speed, similar terms to everybody. How do we frame that? How do you start looking after our bodies so we maintain independence for longer? So that's kind of really what really sparked the idea of Jude. 

Amardeep Parmar: Like tell us why Jude is so important as well, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because as you said, it's such an underserved market, but it's a problem that affects so many people. So like the people who don't understand, we've never heard about what Jude do. Can you tell us in detail like what. Why is that? 

Peony Li: Yeah, sure, sure. So as what you've described in the beginning, it's a platform empowering people to live longer, happier, healthier.

Peony Li: We start with bladder care, so 2.3 billion people globally suffer from bladder issues, and that's about 33% of the [00:19:00] global population. It's massive, and I'm not just talking about leaking and incontinence, I'm actually also talking about overactive bladder. If after Covid, you've been around your toilet and you need to go to toilet, more often than before,

Peony Li: that's a starting symptom of when you're older, you just need to go to the toilet very, very often. Or waking up at night and going to the toilet more than like three, four times. A lot of our customers probably do that like seven, eight times a night and then prostate issues and nine prostate hyperplasia.

Peony Li: Um, that is a very common issue. So about 50% of men over the age of 50 have that. You can't enjoy your sex life. Uh, you always need to find a toilet, so you can't go on long, long car journeys or go and travel because of just this very, seem like trivial, seem like a hidden issue that you can't tell anybody.

Peony Li: So it, it is a massive issue. It is very, it's debilitating when it, when it comes to quality of life. So if you go to go to N H S and you go to a GP, they usually tell you it's just a part of aging except that, or, you know, it's just a natural part of being women after, like having [00:20:00] children. But it's not, it's not a normal part of aging.

Peony Li: It's not a normal part of being a woman. I think, you know, this concept of let's sweep it under the rock and just move on, keep calm and carry on, like not being British myself, I definitely have something to say about this concept like, and a lot of things in life we can do that, which is let it go. But when it comes to health, I think so important not to.

Peony Li: And so, it's not just quality of life, but also allowing this demographic of people express their true colors and express who they are. Because that's the only way that we get to learn from them. And we get to learn how the world used to work and how the world is working now. And I find that sort of link to be a bit broken, I think, within the generations.

Peony Li: Um, I respect my mom and my dad a lot. I respect my, you know, grandma a lot and I learn so much from them. So there's no reason why we can't do it in this country.

Amardeep Parmar: So what's the progress you've made so far and like where. Like, where are you aiming to get to?

Peony Li: Sure. So we launched in January last year. So just about a year and a bit.

Peony Li: Um, we served more than [00:21:00] 15,000 happy customers. We made about more than a million revenue just within a year. So I would say like we found product market fit really, really quickly just 'cause they've been waiting for decades for a solution. So, just a little bit about our products. We have a clinically proven supplement and in this industry you either hear of a diaper or a pad produced by only three companies in the world.

Peony Li: Tenor always depends. So a 2.3 billion people, global problem, only three monopolies. So you can see how lacking this issue is, but they only really focus on the reactive and the management side of things, which is like an unwanted symptom of an underlying issue with your pelvic floor and your bladder health.

Peony Li: What we look at is treatment. It's actually improving the organs of how it works, thickening your pelvic floor muscles, and so it is quite a new area in science as well as in women's health. Looking at how hormones work in your receptors in your bladder lining, as well as in your. Uh, pelvic floor lining.

Peony Li: So what we're [00:22:00] doing this year is running a clinical trial, double-blind, R c t, um, placebo, really advancing the science behind diet, nutrition, and this area of health. If you look at heart health, bone health, there's proven ingredients, nutrition that's gonna prevent, you know, heart problems. But in this area, anything above the knees, below the waist, it just seemed like it's an area that we never wanna.

Peony Li: Even look at, so that is the area that you really wanna focus on. Prostates. Anything that you don't wanna talk about, we're already working on it. We also wanna build Jude into a full stack medication. So from essentials and kind of supplementation. We also wanna push out prescription medication where, similar to I suppose like HIMS and HERS, you know, looking at a seemingly very cool issue around erectile dysfunction and building out a platform for millennials to care for our health.

Peony Li: Why? Isn't our 50, 60 year old deserve a cool platform like that. So that is kind of the area that I'm going into, [00:23:00] putting more science behind it, expanding to US and Europe as well. So quite a lot of plans in store. 

Amardeep Parmar: Like on the business side  of things as well. So obviously it started off just you, but you've since expanded, brought more people into the team.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And what have been some of the. Like how did you overcome so far and what have you learned from those as well? Yeah, I 

Peony Li: was like a one-woman team. So we raised our first round from in May, 2021. I've been a one-woman team from May to December, 2021, so for seven months. So burn was really low. I built out the products myself.

Peony Li: I designed a brand with a few agencies, um, and there was a lot of joy in working on my own, but then there was even more joy working with a team of people and, you know, along that journey, I feel like a lot of founders will tell you, you hire the right people, you hire the wrong people. And I think learning, for me, the biggest learning is just to have high standards, always have high standards with the, the people that you wanna work with, with the work that you're expecting out from an agency.

Peony Li: And this world is just not gonna give you more unless you ask for more.

Amardeep Parmar: [00:24:00] With, with the scaling. So you got. So 15,000 customers in the first year, right? And I guess the experience you had before that with the protective equipment also really helped you on that as well. But even in terms of designing the products when you're by yourself, How were you able to do that?

Amardeep Parmar: Like how did you, was that again, I guess, a good outlook for your creativity to work at how to do that, to improve people? What was that stage like, that ideation stage? 

Peony Li: Sure. So we put together a community of women in their fifties and sixties and with all bladder issues, co-creating, uh, products with, with us.

Peony Li: So it was just from real people like venting to us and being disgruntled about what they couldn't find in the market. Our business actually started from a pads and liners, business wholesale, pivoting into supplements, pivoting into direct to consumer. So there were multiple changes that like. I myself did in the business, and when I say there's joy working on my own, is because you can literally take in every single direction that you want.

Peony Li: That [00:25:00] answers the customer needs the most. And I think I combine my technical skills, which is like how machine works, how a product can be combined together, how supply chain works, bring that with a bunch of amazing women who cannot stop talking about what they actually want. And so there's magic just happens when you combine the two together.

Amardeep Parmar: So really enjoyed like conversation and learning about what Jude does. We're gonna have move to quick fire questions now. So the first one is, who are three British Asians that you'd love to shout out that you think are doing incredible work that people should be paying attention to? 

Peony Li: I think the first one, the first two actually would be, um, the co-founders of Light Little Moons.

Peony Li: Yes. I, I was talking to you a little bit about that, but they were siblings, they were very similar, similar path of as me, Vivian, and Howard. Um, and, um, they basically built out a whole new category around just ice cream. A very, very crowded market, very saturated, but they really got customer love. I think they [00:26:00] instilled some sort of nostalgia in me when I was having that little delight.

Peony Li: And then they bootstrapped the business from zero to, I think about like 5 million pounds of revenue before they start taking on small angel checks. And uh, now they have sort of part exited that business for like more than a hundred million. It's really cool to see another side of the story of people that you can relate to.

Peony Li: Not raising huge and huge amounts of VC fundings in the beginning, not really following the conventional and traditional path of like how this circle, in fact, quite a small bubble. How businesses are built, being extremely scrappy and still building up factories, hiring lots of people. So I think that is, definitely gonna be an inspiration for me.

Peony Li: And especially they also have that background and know-how from their family business as well. So that, I think that's definitely one. It'll be like Nat Wei. He's the first Chinese Lord [00:27:00] in the UK. And he is one of the co-founders, co-founding member team, I think team member, uh, for Teach First. And he dedicated his like life and I suppose, like serving people and

Peony Li: the link between me and him is like, as I step out of university, they created this Asian community in London to be able to look at societal affairs. Um, and we meet every month, um, in the House of Lords and talk quite a lot about how do we set up projects to look at the gambling problems in Chinatown because a lot of restaurant owners,

Peony Li: every night take their cash and go gamble in the casinos near Chinatown. And that's how it's all come about actually. How do we instill more, I guess, entrepreneurial spirits within this demographic of people who are highly talented, have good degrees out of university, but took a very safe option to work in finance and consulting.

Peony Li: And I do think that [00:28:00] gives me a lot of influence, um, after university. 'cause that group of people is composed of so many different diversity of backgrounds. We have a musician, um, we have entrepreneurs, we have people in finance, banking. We also have people that are just kind of, a bit of a hustler and just do anything and everything, but are very, very good at public speaking.

Peony Li: And so that pulled me out of my, I guess like wild and bubble of economics and then banking. So I would say the fact that Nat Way set up something like that from his own experience and serving people and wanting to have it in the next few generations, I think that was pretty great. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah,  that sounds amazing.

Amardeep Parmar: So next question is, if people listening right now want to reach out to you for help or guidance, what should they reach out to you about? 

Peony Li: So I'm, I'm not a hugely extroverted person and I would never consider myself as a highly confident person, but I, I'm now shouting about out about bladders and incontinence with [00:29:00] literally no shame and no embarrassment at all, and I did it anyways.

Peony Li: Um, so I do believe confidence is a practice, is a habit, and so if anyone wants to step out of their comfort zone, I think I can be quite a good guide for that. I think starting businesses and being very mindful about just combining creativity and data, making decisions in the beginning without data and then using data to do it.

Peony Li: So I think those are my like strong suite  as well.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And then on the flip side, is anything that you need help with right now that Jude needs help with? 

Peony Li: Definitely when we talked about building teams and hiring, not being in this country myself and not being born in this country myself, like there's certain challenges around understanding

Peony Li: working culture and also understanding like what genuinely mo, motivates people at a workplace that get them above and beyond. I think it works for some members of the team, but it doesn't represent all members of the team. So I think in terms of hiring, I'm starting [00:30:00] to see a coach, but if anybody have any coach recommendations and just how to be a better leader in general like that, that's a really good.

Peony Li: That's, that would be a really good guide.

Amardeep Parmar: Enjoy this conversation so much, so great to have you on. Thanks. Have you got any final words to the audience?

Peony Li: if you want to start a business, think laterally, like around how you can do it. There's no one set approach. You know, you can start from, start from scratch, bootstrapping.

Peony Li: Um, you don't have to raise VC money. There's so many different ways that you can do it. So give it a go and think definitely three times about whether that is an idea that you can. Go above and beyond and really lose sleep about.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello? Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It makes a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes a world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here, to [00:31:00] inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians,

Amardeep Parmar: if you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

Coming soon...

Other episodes you may enjoy: