From Hobby to Business

We’ve met many interesting people online throughout our years of business. Maybe it’s because we have a website and a blog (and of course our offline and online strategies too) and we’re ‘visible’ in that way.

Whatever it is, we’re always glad to learn more about other people online especially successful ones who run online businesses.

Two days ago, we had dinner with Yeo (he wants to remain mysterious like Deep Throat of the X-Files fame so we won’t blow his enigmatic cover) and our dinner stretched on for over 4 hours as we chatted about anything and everything – from his love of audio to his love for Roomba. And his Monica and Charlize, Sophia and Maggie. Plus the love letters his fans write to express their love for Monica, Charlize, Sophia and Maggie.

Actually, Yeo is a very successful online retailer and he has been selling his drivers, electrolytic capacitors, audio DIY kits, USB convertors, amplifiers and semiconductor parts since 1998. He makes a good living from his DIY Paradise e-store, selling sexily named products after hot actresses like Charlize Theron, Maggie Cheung, Monica Belluci and Sophia Loren.

He said he wanted to name one product Aishwaraya Rai but her name was a bit tough to pronounce! Oh and he was a bit miffed that she went and married that Bachchan. Yeo has fantastic wit and oodles of humour, no doubt picked up from his years of watching The Simpsons.

But what resonated strongly was how he began. As a fan of good audio but with limited resources (audio equipment are expensive, even a plain connector can go up to hundreds of ringgit), Yeo thought he might as well build his own!

Armed with his understanding of how stuff works, he managed to build his products (which you can see on his e-store) the way music and audio buffs do – by testing and listening and getting wowwed by the sound quality. Lest you think he’s just tinkering with audio equipment, there’s more – one of his products recently won a Blue Moon award. He’s pleased as punch and he was grinning from ear to ear as he told us how his sales for June absolutely skyrocketed!

Yeo is the perfect example of turning a hobby into a (successful) business. Of course his beginnings were less than glamorous – he had to sacrifice lots of stuff to be what he is today. But success, like we tell many people are a result of consistent effort over time. Particularly if one sells online.

Yeo’s story is also a good example of the long tail of marketing – he targets a very tight and specific niche – audio-mad people who love spending hours doing it themselves, or tweaking their sound systems over and over. That’s why he has a forum catered to these folks, he has a blog to announce his latest innovation (Yeo creates his own products, mind you), he has an e-commerce store to sell his products and he has made audio equipment sexy! I mean, would you buy a Sophia or a Monica or would you buy a DAC? Of course you’d buy a Monica! Savvy marketing!

And smart as he is, Yeo even has a page dedicated to customers’ rave reviews of his products – wittily named Love Letters or if you want to write one, go to Write a Love Letter.

Besides parts and equipment, Yeo has now distilled his knowledge of setting up an online business by writing an ebook. His 80-page ebook is based on his experience, from setting up his own e-commerce store to plentiful tips and ideas on what you should do if you want to start a successful online business.

What’s more, his website is full of free information for audio junkies even if you’re not buying his products. That’s key to attracting traffic. Free, useful information that satisfies those who come to your website. And of course, there’s plenty of humour on every page too. Selling audio, says Yeo, doesn’t have to be boring or staid. His concept is that audio must be sexy and what better way than to marry sexiness and wit in one website? We couldn’t agree more.

We had a great time learning from Yeo – and he even tempted us with an invite to his house to listen to our favourites, Stacey Kent and Laura Fygi, on his award-winning audio equipment! Hmm, a trip to Yeo’s is in order!

Yeo’s website is at Warning: It’s for serious audio junkies only. Not for the faint of heart!

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