Million-dollar activewear label Kydra co-founder Jimmy Poh says companies shouldn't be like family - here's why

Ever wondered what CEOs and founders are like? Are they all work and no play? Do they have a nurturing or intimidating personality? In Employee No. 1, catch a glimpse of what it is like being a homegrown boss under 40. Take an inside look into their day, how they run their successful companies, and learn what it takes to be employee number one.


If you're one of those people who roll their eyes at bosses who wax lyrical about their company being "family", Kydra co-founder Jimmy Poh is right there with you.

The 31-year-old, who is also the brand's chief operating officer (COO), is refreshingly candid when we ask about life at the homegrown activewear label.

"We're not close-knit. We don't buy the whole 'family' thing," he tells us. "Everybody should have their own personal space."

Work-life balance isn't just a buzzword at Kydra, but something that Jimmy and co-founder Wong Ding Yao, also 31, try to put into practice.

For instance, there's no such thing as "too late" when it comes to requesting time off, and employees are given autonomy when it comes to deadlines and managing their own time.

"Our employees are more responsible than us," Jimmy adds with a laugh. "So they know what to do."

From 2 gym bros to a team of 11

He may be a pretty laid back boss, but Jimmy definitely pulls his weight. He tells us that his job includes everything from logistics to human resources and plans for future brick and mortar outlets (more on that later).

During crunch time, he even heads down to the company's warehouse to help pack orders.

[[nid:554612]]

Being hands-on isn't anything new for Jimmy and Ding Yao, who hatched the idea for the brand while they were attending university in the UK.

After the gym bros struggled to find functional workout shorts that had pockets deep enough for their phones and other essentials, they took matters into their own hands, creating their first product, the Flex Shorts.

Despite having zero design background, they picked up skills such as drawing tech packs from scratch, and went through countless rounds of sampling and fitting.

Today, after much trial and error, the brand has expanded to include full-fledged menswear and womenswear lines, as well as workout equipment.

Big dreams

Since it was launched in 2017, Kydra has grown to a team of 11, and the company even crossed the million-dollar revenue mark in 2020.

And if you've stepped into a local gym recently, you'll probably stumble upon at least a few gym goers repping the label.

[embed]https://www.instagram.com/p/CXuw7U7Oi3T/[/embed]

Jimmy also shares that the brand is looking at setting up its own retail store "sometime next year" in Singapore.

When the brand first launched, they were university students with limited capital, so they hopped on the e-commerce bandwagon, the fastest and cheapest way to reach the masses, he explains.

"In about five years, we hope to expand overseas. And in 10 years, we hope to actually have another headquarters somewhere else."

Jimmy's secret to success is simple — get used to failing and learning from it, he tells us, referring to the money spent during the process as "tuition fees".

"New problems come up, and we're all learning every single day.

"Every business is going to have a million and one setbacks. It's just how you take that setback and make it into a strength."

kimberlylim@asiaone.com