20 Questions with Jimmy Poh, Co-founder of Activewear Brand Kydra – The Local Spotlight

Josiah Neo The Local Spotlight

Name: Jimmy Poh
Role: Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Kydra
Age: 30

Pockets. That was what inspired Jimmy Poh and Wong Dingyao to start the activewear label Kydra after Dingyao’s phone screen cracked when it dropped out of his shorts. Six years, a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, 1 million dollars in revenue, and a flagship store later, Kydra has cemented itself as one of the most successful local apparel brands.

Jimmy recently took the time to share with us the challenges behind entrepreneurship, his favourite pair of Kydra shorts, and why the brand doesn’t function as a family behind the scenes.

1. What are your hobbies?

I enjoy engaging in all sorts of activities but particularly, I love playing tennis and more recently, golf. Getting a good sweat out is a great way for me to unwind.

jimmy poh playing tennis
Image credit: @the.average.player

2. What is your favourite movie or TV show and why?

Currently, I am into Vikings on Netflix. Something about historical warfare and family and honor even during death gets me hooked.

3. Three words people use to describe you:

Honest, ambitious and chatty.

4. Three words you’d use to describe yourself:

Dreamer, reflective, empathetic. 

5. Who are some of your peers in the industry that inspires you?

I am inspired greatly by other local businesses such as Tocco Toscano, Anothersole, Scent By Six, An Acai Affair, and Commune. They are great friends of mine and are great leaders and mentors whom I truly respect, all having carved up amazing businesses from scratch. They are trailblazers in their industries and we bond over the pains and joys of entrepreneurship.

6. What was the most memorable moment of your career?

During our early days when our customers told us that our KYDRA apparel was life-changing and they wear it daily – that was something that has stuck with me ever since. It’s an awesome feeling to have people champion your brand for you and it motivates me to create better products and quality for them.

jimmy poh in front of a mirror
Image credit: MustShareNews

7. What does Kydra mean?

KYDRA comes from two words – “KAI” which comes from my Chinese name Zhi Kai, which also stands for “Victory”, and the Hydra, a mythical beast where if one head gets cut off, two more grow in its place. Growing stronger with every setback, leading towards victory.

8. How do you feel seeing people wear Kydra at the gym?

Honestly, it feels amazing to know that other people enjoy our products because we spend a lot of time and effort designing each small detail and picking the fabric. I usually will sneak in a “looking good” comment if I catch their eyes.

9. Which piece of apparel is your favourite?

The KYDRA 2-in-1 Flex Shorts is still my favourite. It was the first product we ever designed in university and I love it to this day. It remains as a staple within the KYDRA men’s apparel line and is well loved.

10. What sets Kydra’s apparel apart from other activewear labels?

KYDRA’s designs stem from a problem-first standpoint. We look to solve everyday inconveniences and improve the quality of life for the individual.

jimmy poh looking through kydra clothes
Image credit: MustShareNews

For example, our 2-in-1 shorts were born when my co-founder Ding cracked his phone after it dropped out of his pocket while doing a bench press due to the lack of a dedicated media compartment.

11. What were some challenges you faced during the early days of Kydra?

Simply trying to get others to give us a shot. Good materials and quality stitching cost us additional money, hence it was initially difficult to get someone to purchase a slightly higher-priced pair of sports shorts.

We usually start by conveying to customers that the well-thought utilities incorporated within the apparel will be life-changing and let them try a pair on. They are usually sold by the fit, comfort and adaptability of everyday wear, to the gym or fancy brunch,

12. What is something that has surprised you about starting your own business?

I was surprised by the incredible support we have had in our journey so far and am extremely thankful to everyone that has taken the time to engage with us through positive and negative feedback. The constructive feedback has allowed us to grow, adapt and do better as a company to continue producing high-quality products.

jimmy poh in front of a register
Image credit: MustShareNews

13. Was it challenging designing and selling activewear to a largely-female target market?

It was initially, but we were lucky enough to have female partners and friends that gave us incredible and helpful thoughts about the pain points they had with the current products in the market. That gave us the advantage to target these problems and produce activewear that looked good and felt great.

We continue to get insight and inspiration from our ever-growing female customer base to produce apparel that is classic and trendy.

14. How did you approach marketing for Kydra, and why did it work?

We went for the simplistic, comfortable, and functional designs. Most of our marketing at the beginning came from word of mouth because our products just “worked”. We slowly delved into digital marketing, which helped us spread our brand to a wider and international audience.

kydra instagram
Image credit:
@kydraofficial

15. Could you share a bit about the company culture at Kydra?

The culture at KYDRA is a nurturing one, where we expect our colleagues to be self-driven, curious and energetic. They are encouraged to voice differing opinions and are given autonomy to lead strategic projects and campaigns.

16. You once said that companies should not function as a family. Why is that, and how has it worked for Kydra?

We find that being a family adds a lot of unnecessary stress within the company itself. People tend to expect unconditional love and attention because they are family. In Kydra, everyone is here because they want to explore their limits and better themselves and have proven to value-add to the company.

By challenging each other to do better and subverting status quos, we have seen tremendous growth in each team member and they have produced better results.

17. What top three qualities do you look for when hiring? Any interview tips? 

Apart from the initial skill, we look deeply into personality and their fit with KYDRA. We are always on the lookout for characteristics such as being self-driven, inquisitive, and someone with high ambition.

jimmy poh
Image credit: MustShareNews

One tip is that I would encourage interviewees to have at least one of their various rounds of interviews be face-to-face. It allows both sides to get a good sense of each other and be more certain of their fit within the company.

18. What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

Starting a business is never easy, but how you pick yourself up from failures and setbacks will be the determining factor in your success.

19. Are there any upcoming developments you would like to draw our attention to?

Recently we just launched our first flagship store in Ngee Ann City, it took us more than 5 years to build our dreams of having a physical store and allowing more customers to try our collections and products in person. We aim to create a more personal shopping experience for our customers.

jimmy poh kydra
Image credit: MustShareNews

20. What do you hope to achieve at Kydra over the next year?

We hope to expand further into Southeast Asia and bring the Singaporean brand international.

Related links:

Jimmy Poh’s LinkedIn
Kydra website

This post is part of The Local Spotlight series. If you’d like to be featured, or have a nominee in mind, please drop us a note at [email protected].


Cover image credit: MustShareNews

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