Episode 016: Peng Lee - Sircus

Photosharing apps are one of the most popular categories today, but that hasn't stopped Peng Lee, co-founder or Sircus, from building something that he believes will be a game-changer.  Sircus is definitely "not just another photo sharing app."

Peng doesn't call himself an entrepreneur.  He has created an app, and gained some users, but while still working full-time he is reluctant to take on that particular title.

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Peng has been working on Sircus after hours and on weekends with his co-founder Ricky for two years, while also holding down a full-time job at Telstra.  As every entrepreneur knows, starting a business is difficult, and doing so while working a full-time job requires a level of commitment unfamiliar to mere mortals.  For Peng, compartmentalising to keep the two separate is his biggest tip.

Peng spent much of his career working as a mechanical engineer, before he returned to university to complete his MBA.  He wasn't sure what he wanted to do after receiving his MBA, but had met a few people who worked in strategy roles and was drawn to the challenges of answering difficult questions and building structure around them.  Much of what Peng has learned lends itself to the skills required to be an entrepreneur; problem solving, designing solutions and executing on those ideas.

Peng started on the path towards entrepreneurship with a simple strategy; come up with ideas.  Each day he and his co-worker Ricky would discuss various ideas, bouncing them off one another, until one of them finally stuck a chord.

The idea for Sircus was originally much larger and more elaborate, but after having an MVP developed, outsourced to overseas developers, the feedback they received suggested that, while it was full featured, it was complicated to use.  Through their focus groups, they found that they had to spend time with users explaining how to use it.  For an app, any time a user has to have it explained to them, suggests it is going to be difficult to achieve viral growth.

The important lesson that Peng and Ricky learned from this initial failure was that once the users knew how to use it, they found it beneficial.  This was what Peng refers to as a "Signature moment".  They saw that there was enough potential in the concept, took that feedback and went on to design the second, scaled back iteration.

Peng is under no illusions as to the importance of having a co-founder.  He states that if it wasn't for Ricky, he may have thought about this idea for a while before moving on to the next idea.  He also feels that it helps to have two people working on the businesses, where they can lean on each other and motivate each other to keep going.

The two co-founders are also looking to bring on a third, and are seeking a full-stack developer to help get the app to where they want it to be.

Sircus was officially launched in January 2016, albeit as a soft launch.  They currently have around 100 users and adding around 1 user per day.  While this might not seem like much, it is definitely progress and Peng is clear about maintaining control over the growth at this early stage.  Their first priority is to build a really useful tool.

Peng's biggest lesson throughout his journey so far is to be flexible in the way that you are thinking, and to not hold on to ideas too stubbornly.  If you are "willing to let some stuff go and see different view points it improves the way that you think."

Download the app now and start sharing, creating events, and sharing with your friends.  You can follow Sircus on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Takeaways

Become an idea generator

Come up with lots of ideas until you find something that really resonates with you.  This may take some time, so be patient with the process.  Allocate time every day and write a list of 10 ideas for businesses that you could start, or 10 ways you could improve on an existing business.  Sooner or later you'll find the one idea that makes sense to you.

Look for signature moments

When building a startup, you will have lots of failures, but within those failures, look for signature moments that you can really learn from.  Your improvements will only come from the feedback you receive, even from the failures.

Be flexible in your thinking

Listen to other points of view and take them on board.  Don't be too stubborn with your idea, especially when other opinions can serve to improve on what you have developed so far.

Contact

You can connect with Peng on LinkedIn, so if you are interested in what he is doing with Sircus, especially if you are a full-stack developer, please get in touch!  You can also find out more about Sircus from their website.

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Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/hzgs56Ze49s