Interview with Nyree Chung, the founder of Peek Concepts
Peek Concepts is an online store which stocks monitoring, measuring and safety products. Best known for bringing PEEKair to market – the only PM2.5 air quality monitor uniquely calibrated for Hong Kong pollution. In addition, Peek Concepts is the official distributor for ETI cooking thermometers and catering equipment – endorsed by top fsfs and America’s Test Kitchen.
Tell us about Peek Concepts and what inspired you to start it?
As a mother, the health of my two young children is of paramount importance. I was concerned to see so many of our friends’ children developing breathing difficulties like asthma, rhinitis, a perpetual cough or struggling with allergies. I wanted to know how hazardous the air pollution was, exactly where I lived, so I could make immediate decisions based on real-time information within my home. My husband also wondered whether the air purifiers that we have spent tens of thousands of dollars on, really did anything. I naively thought that the solution would be as easy as picking a PM2.5 air quality monitor off the shelf. However, the more I scoured the market, testing multiple different units – not a single one was accurate!! Our solution was to develop PEEKair our best selling PM2.5 air quality monitor.
Off the back of this success, we soon found there were many complimentary products, previously unavailable or hard to find in Hong Kong, which fit within our focus of monitoring, measuring and safety equipment. Friends always asked where I got my cooking thermometers from whilst enjoying their perfectly cooked meat at one of our infamous dinner parties. As a result, we met with the owner of ETI and found that we had the same family business philosophy. We are now the Hong Kong official distributor for ETI – recognised as the world leading manufacturer of cooking thermometers and timers. The best seller has been the SuperFast Thermapen 4 instant read cooking thermometer which is handmade in England by dedicated craftsmen. We sell online to households, restaurants, culinary schools, kitchenware stores and chefs looking for the absolute best in cooking equipment. In addition, we are actively expanding our number of resellers so that customers can touch and feel the product quality in a physical store.
Do you design and manufacture all your products yourself?
Some and products such as PEEKair, we put a lot of time into product design, specification and calibration, with a manufacturer and team of engineers. Other products, we resell including our Angelcare baby monitors, Braun ear thermometers, Zazu Kids sleep training clocks and Bridela fire blankets. ETI cooking thermometers we distribute B2B and B2C.
How have you advertised your products and business?
We tend to have a very loyal and contented customer base who, off their own accord, often write in social media that they recommend our products. Word of mouth has been a phenomenal benefit for us from the very start. I haven’t gotten into Pinterest but we see leads coming in from that source using Google Analytics. We also encourage customers to share or like our blog posts and products. Customer reviews are undoubtedly a huge benefit to any start-up as it denotes trust straight off the bat.
HK Moms on Facebook was a great kickstart to our first ever campaign in raising awareness of PEEKair. It was a big hit with a large number of people wanting to pre-order within hours of my post. Following on from this, we’ve advertised through other Facebook groups on a weekly basis across our product range.
Understanding Google SEO has helped ensure we’re at the top of the page when people perform Google searches. Plus a limited budget is set for Google Adwords.
One of the first blog posts I wrote was on “Understanding Hong Kong’s Air Pollution” which drove an eyebrow-raisingly large volume of traffic but a questionable number of click-throughs to the actual product page. Converting blog traffic to sales is still something we’re trying to crack. I continue to write blogs on a frequent basis across a number of topics which all tie into our expanding product range. This has continued to increase our readership.
Email marketing, fliers and circulars always drive a significant increase in sales. To keep costs to a minimum, we do all the design work in-house. We use MailChimp to send special offers and advanced access to blog posts to our mailing list.
I’ve been invited to give interviews in Expatparent and Liv magazines as part of their healthy living theme. This was useful to further increase brand awareness and educate readers about PEEKair. We have also had product features in Ahoy (RHKYC) magazine.
We run an affiliate programme with related companies whereby we offer reciprocal discounts to our readers and customers so that we can tap into each other’s contacts list. This takes the form of inserting fliers with customer’s sales, discount codes sent to our mailing lists, blogging articles and links on each other’s websites. It’s also been interesting to work with other startups and hear how they’ve been tackling pretty much the same issues that we have.
Free listings are a no-brainer for any start-up. We’ve found that for our target audience, Hongkongmoms.com.hk, Fleximums.com and of course – Jumpstart magazine have been great for increasing company visibility to a wider market.
We placed an advert for PEEKair and ETI thermometers on minibuses. We felt that this would increase the credibility of Peek Concepts because people sometimes have a fear of submitting their credit card details online. This was cheaper (albeit with some haggling) and simpler to arrange than I expected. In hindsight, it was difficult to determine the exact increase in visitors off the back of this campaign because of the direct marketing and three magazine articles which came out at the same time. Still, it was interesting for friends and family to see my face driven around on the side of buses, if nothing else!! Plus a secret tip – often if you don’t agree to extend your contract, your advertisement remains on the bus anyway. I assume it’s cheaper for MediaSavvy to leave adverts on until the next person buys the space, rather than pay to remove them. Keep an eye out for a beautiful blonde on a minibus and it may well be me!! :)
Who are your customers?
Mainly B2C through the Peek Concepts website. We’ve had numerous schools who have bought PEEKair and our non-contact head thermometers. We have chefs, restaurants, physical kitchenware stores and catering schools who have been focused on our unique cooking thermometer range. We’ve had office managers buy safety equipment from us because they are required to have first aid kits by law.
What were some of your biggest challenges in launching Peek Concepts?
Rather than have big challenges, it’s been more like a frequent need to jump hurdles – not seen until you are almost upon them but quickly overcome if you put your mind to it. I had never run a business before so initial challenges involved finding the answers to questions like “how do I register a business?”, “who is the best company secretary?” “is Shopify the right platform for me?” “how do I design a website and maximise the power of SEO?” and “how do I correctly file import duties?” .
What do you love the most about your business?
The ultimate success for me has been reinforced with every single customer review we receive. Everyone says that they love how PEEKair has been ready to use straight from the box, simple to understand and is something they now rely on. PEEKair becomes part of people’s daily life. Customers have even reported that their children actively get involved in monitoring their air quality “mummy, the air in my bedroom is ‘moderate’ shall I turn the air purifier back on?” I love knowing that something that initially started off as a quest for my own family’s health improvement has so quickly become embraced by such a large number of Hong Kong families. Helping others can bring no bigger comfort. As more people learn that ETI cooking thermometers are now in stock in Hong Kong, I absolutely adore the feedback we receive from professional chefs and amateur cooks. They say they are now able to consistently serve customers or family with wonderfully tasty meals cooked to perfection. I am most happy when our customers are happy.
What do you think of Hong Kong's Startup Scene?
Being a part of the Hong Kong Startup Scene is inspiring. Nowhere else can rival the passion and energy of its people. It’s amazing how everyone I meet is bursting with ideas, enthusiasm and a desire to “just try it”. However, when I look across my peer group, many people have truly fabulous ideas for single products but it’s a real challenge to sustain a business on just one product. At Peek Concepts, we’ve built an ecommerce platform where we can very quickly add new products and categories. We encourage anyone who has a product idea (new or simply not available in Hong Kong) to come to us and utilise our platform to earn a profit share with no need to pay anything upfront.
What’s next for Peek Concepts?
- Expanding the product range.
- Increasing the number of resellers and affiliates looking to share marketing outreach.
- Encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas from individuals to join us as a platform, so people can sell their products quickly.
- Fully automate and outsource the logistics so that we concentrate more on what matters most – the customer and what they want.
What are the 3 things you want consumers to remember about Peek Concepts?
- Peek Concepts is an online store focusing on monitoring, measuring and safety products.
- PEEKair – originators of Hong Kong’s best PM2.5 air quality monitor available now for $998HKD including FREE delivery.
- Official distributors of ETI catering products. These are the Rolls Royce of cooking thermometers and timers endorsed by top celebrity chefs including Alton Brown, Rick Stein and awarded the highest critique by America’s Test Kitchen. Get in touch if you wish to purchase for your own home, your restaurant or want to join our growing list of resellers.
Interview by Ludivine Lombard Taverne