Zelia Leong, Co-founder – Anywhr
After realising that joy of travel has replaced with urgency and monotonous trips, Zelia Leong seeded of the idea Anywhr along with Felix Tan to bridge this gap. Anywhr is a online travel booking service that plans surprise trips. The only thing the travellers need to do is pick up a budget, a desired date and a preferred holiday style. The team takes care of the rest.
“We take care of your flights & accommodation. What you see, where you go, what you do & eat is completely up to you and your wanderlust spirit” says the team.
Zelia has couchsurfed solo across South East Asia, India and a dozen European Countries. Born and based in Singapore, Zelia graduated from the University of Manchester and also holds a Master of Science from National University of Singapore. She was awarded a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Manchester. She also worked as an executive at a Rocket Internet venture (Vaniday) before starting Anywhr. Today, Zelia thrives to take Anywhr to new dimensions.
Here are some insights about Ms. Zelia and her unique venture shared with team ABT.
What led you to Entrepreneurship?
I found a gap that the existing travel industry has not solved, and decided to take ownership of it. The decision to embark on entrepreneurship was also because I found a good co-founder, as I would not have been able to do it alone.
Who is your inspiration and Why?
Mr Marshall Bruce Mathers III. He built a great career despite his life and family circumstances, overcame society’s stigma in that industry, and embraced change instead of remaining stagnant in his success. Till today he is still striving to be the best of himself and give the best to his family. He is somebody I respect and would love to meet in person.
Tell us about the journey of Anywhr and how did it all start?
Anywhr was founded with the desire to bring authentic travel to more people. It began with a simple homemade website when we were still experimenting with the concept, and we have since experienced exponential growth with overwhelming positive responses from travellers.
We now have a great team that works on the design, product and traveller experience to ensure trips are planned impeccably with the travellers’ journey in mind. Our travellers give us a lot of encouragement and they are our greatest source of inspiration. I can say that our team is fuelled by the joy and satisfaction when our travellers enjoy their trip and tell us that they would not have gone to those specific destinations or had those special experiences without going on an Anywhr trip.
What has been your biggest challenge as a Woman Entrepreneur?
With all that’s being said about gender differences and inequality in entrepreneurship and the general working environment, I believe that your mindset is also key in determining the challenges you face. If you are striking it out in fear and self-assuming gender bias, then that fear will always reside in you. I am also fortunate to be living in times where female entrepreneurs are on the rise, and great communities by fellow women, like LadyBoss Asia, allow us to support one another. If you let your gender hinder your development, then you are the greatest obstacle to yourself.
What is that one milestone in your life that makes you happy and proud?
It is that I am still alive and breathing with all my limbs intact, leading a decent life and not chained up in a prison somewhere. With my knack for getting into misadventure during my travels, I’d say that’s a great feat for me!
Tell us about your leadership style.
At Anywhr, we value teamwork and collaboration, as well as have an open form of communication. We all work together as equals, and discussions are open and everyone’s opinion or ideas are heard. As we are still a small team in an early stage company, building the right company culture is especially imperative to set the foundation right from the beginning.
If you were to do one thing differently what would that be?
We’re constantly improving, learning, and trying to do things different everyday!
What would you like to achieve in the next coming years?
To be a better version of myself, greater as a team and as a company for our travellers. That is what we are working towards every moment.