Passionate and unafraid to challenge the status quo, she believes questioning the norm is the way to achieve growth. With a wide branding experience and lots of integrated marketing campaigns, Cassandra Riene considers herself a “hybrid between a brand consultant, entrepreneur and strategist”. She left her advertising career – where she worked with companies like BMW Asia, Soo Kee Group, Ferrero Rocher, AXN, Nescafe, Institute of Advertising Singapore and more – and found her own startup. Cassandra is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs in Singapore and making ideas happen.
- How you came up with the business idea for BITSY Company?
I really wanted to start a cafe then, but the opportunity cost seemed too high and risky. Everyone else who aspires to be an entrepreneur seems to have the same problem.
On a random weekend, when my husband and I walked near a restaurant that would only operates at night, I thought that it was such a waste of space because it was underutilized (since rent is crazily expensive in Singapore). That, plus the fact that I really liked the idea of runnig my own cafe.
My husband suggested to check with the restaurant owner and see if they are open to sub-letting the space, during their non-operating hours, to test out my cafe’s menu. The thought triggered another idea: ‘What if anyone could rent an underutilized space to test their idea? What if businesses could test a product before committing to a space? What if space owners could reduce overheads by maximizing underutilized spaces?’
It was then when I realised that if we could solve the problem of manpower, plus the long term and expensive rent, we could really help a lot of people to turn their dreams into reality. I left advertising with a lot of fear but I also found the courage through purpose. BITSY was then born. At BITSY, we help entrepreneurs to find short-term spaces that matches their business needs.
- Tell us the first 3 things that you’ve done to put in on wheels.
I booked a domain name, set up a landing page, made my namecard and get out to speak to people before building the technology.
- Name one situation that made you want to quit.
On some days when I think about it, it feels like it's so much easier to receive instructions than to be the one to be giving it, all the time.
- Name one situation that made you want to go forward.
When my employees are as passionate as I am, it is really encouraging and it reinforces my belief that we are here trying to make an impact.
- What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on asian market nowadays?
Talent. Being able to hire a team-- with the right mindset, skill sets and aptitude, is the biggest challenge.
- Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?
I think I am pretty open to any business that could make a significant impact on the community. In fact, we are in the midst of investing in something outside of BITSY.
- If you could change something about Singapore’s Entrepreneurs Community to improve it in any way what would that be?
I think the community is pretty small and the founders, eventually, get to know each other and they are willing to help each other. Perhaps more regular monthly meetups, hosted by entrepreneurs, rather than organisers who are trying to "milk profits".
- What made you change the advertising environment with the entrepreneurial one?
The desire to be able to make deeper impact through the work I do. In advertising, you could be an amazing marketer—sell more luxury cars, chocolates, phones and so on, but you are not actually making any direct impact on someone’s lift or the community itself. Nobody is actually benefiting from buying more material things.
MEET CASSANDRA RIENE, THE WOMAN
- Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.
I try to unplug from work after dinner and set one weekend when I don’t check my emails. On contrary, I became more productive since I have time to step back and strategize, instead of constantly be running in the wheels like a hamster.
- Name one bad habit you can’t quit.
Being a control freak. Though I think I am making a progress on letting go.
- If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?
A writer. It is my dream to retire into the mountains and just write.
- Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?
I have quite a number so it is difficult to pick one. The most recent book I’ve enjoyed is “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance.
It is not the "business-tips-kind-of book" but it gives you insights on how great leadership, vision and execution can push boundaries. I find it very encouraging and motivating. If such an unattainable vision can be reached, we can fulfill ours too.
- Name the most important value of BITSY Brand.
Our philosophy is to bring value to our customers before asking for any.
- Name the most important value a leader should have.
Steadfastness – employees need to feel they can trust you in difficult times and that you have the ability to lead them through.
- If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song, what song would you choose?
This is an unexpected question! Probably ‘I will survive’ by Gloria Gaynor.
- Tell us the best experience you had while working to build BITSY.
Finding confidence purely as an individual and not only through my work achievements. Furthermore, getting to meet other very impressive individuals has also been one of the highlights while building BITSY.
- If you would give our readers one advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?
It’s not about ideas, it's about making ideas happen.
- What is your biggest expectation on Brand Minds ASIA event?
Meeting other entrepreneurs and world changers, who are passionate about making an impact on the community and society.