The UB Post interviewed CEO of Dropblok Company, cofounder of Tomyo EdTech Company and founder of Yakmere Brand B.Enkhjargal to find out a bit more about her fascination with entrepreneurship and her business experiences. After graduating from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree, she worked for four years at McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting companies.
You started your first business by making clothes out of yak wool and selling them online. What led you to take that first step and set up your own business?
At that time, I was 24 years old, had already graduated from university and had worked for three years in a consulting company. I was surprised at first when I saw cashmere clothes costing 2,000 EUR per piece in an expensive Italian store. Even in Germany, cashmere clothes were sold for 500 or 600 EUR back then. However, Mongolian cashmere products are sold cheaper than them. I was wondering why we are making the same quality products and pricing them lower. I thought, why can’t we, Mongolians, make it a global brand with cashmere and I was sure that we make it a success too.
You were young when you started your business. Were you scared? What was it like starting a business for the first time?
I started doing this business as a hobby because I felt injustice at that time. I started my first business while working in the USA. In the morning, I used to quickly finish my main work and then focus on my small business. At first, I didn’t have any money, so after I built my brand, I first observed on the website how people came to take an interest in my products. I had nothing to lose and even though my pocket was empty, I bravely started this business. After receiving orders from people, I manufactured the products and delivered them myself. In fact, I liked running my business more than working at the consulting company. I learned a lot while doing business. For instance, I learned about crowdfunding. There is no way you’ll know everything when you start your own business. Once you start something, you can find your way along the journey. At first, I had a full-time job, so I was not afraid. I was very encouraged when I received orders from customers. Then I quit my job and went to Mongolia to further expand this business.
This business must have been a great inspiration for you to start your next businesses, right?
Yes. In fact, it was incredible for me to work in a big global company with a high salary. It was nice to travel around the world and rest in big hotels while working. I knew my job well, so I had no problem doing it. But I didn’t directly feel how my efforts affected people, while it was great to get feedback from people after selling the clothes I made. It’s exhilarating to feel the results of what you’ve done. Then, when I came to Mongolia to run my business, V.Bayarsaikhan found me and proposed to jointly create a startup (Tomyo) to introduce new technological solutions in the field of education and produce internationally competitive “products”. He told me, “You should contribute to the education sector and feel the real results.” That’s how we came to start a business together in this industry. It’s pleasant to hear from the kids what they’ve learned through our app. The most important thing is to make an impact on the lives of end-users with what I have done. The bigger a company becomes, the further away it gets from end-users. I enjoy being close to my customers and getting feedback from them directly.
You’ve been contributing to the development of the Mongolian education sector. In general, what do you see as the primary problems that need to be fixed in this sector?
The number of people with basic education in Mongolia is high. Most children graduate from secondary school. The level of education of Mongolian children is generally similar to that of the USA. But I think the main problem is university or higher education. Mongolians believe that everyone must have a higher education. But if you have the skills, you can work in any field. For example, when our company first started, an 11th grade boy worked as an intern designer. After working for the last three years, he became our senior-level employee. Many young people are graduating with a diploma, but they can’t actually do their job when hired. Unless it is a specialized profession, it seems that you need to work and gain experience before getting a higher education and further study and specialize in a field. Even 11th and 12th graders can do internships in the field they are interested in.
Our company focuses on basic education and it is important to develop children into “good” people. For high school students, we organize foreign exchange programs, projects and internships. Our newly-established Tomyo School of Ulaanbaatar is project-based. Children develop their own projects.
If any, what challenges of doing business in Mongolia have you experienced during your overall career?
In the USA, we registered our Dropblok Company online a year ago from Mongolia and have been operating it since. You can register your company online in the USA. Although we are in another country, we have access to all opportunities in this country. The American market accepts strong and capable people. Some government services, for example, the tax office, contacts us in advance and tells us what materials need to be sent and what we need to. However, in Mongolia, there is a need to visit the state registrar and meet government officials in person to get things done. There are no incentives for new entrepreneurs in our country. From this point of view, it is more friendly to do business in the USA. On the other hand, I tried doing business in Germany and it was very difficult. I even hired a professional organization to prepare the materials and send them to the relevant organizations. Compared to that, doing business in Mongolia is not bad.
Your technology company received a high rating from the large US community, right? Can you elaborate on this?
We made the Tomyo education mobile application. It was first launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, we made applications for many training centers as the activities of all educational sectors were stopped due to strict lockdowns. Therefore, many organizations requested us to make applications. Based on the layout of our application, we released five or six applications by changing the colors. But our three engineers used to spend three to four months developing one application. There was a lot of demand for such applications in Mongolia and we thought that there would be even more demand abroad. We realized that we need to easily make a mobile application in a very short period of time. It only takes two days to make a website. That’s why we came up with the idea a year ago and saw that the Mongolian market would “end” after making an app for only 20 companies. Therefore, we registered our company in the USA and started doing business in the big market. In July last year, we introduced our startup to accelerator programs and investors and participated in one of them. And we finished our new “product” just at the end of August and launched it on Product Hunt website. Now, we have more than 1,800 customers.
You said it used to take three to four months to make one mobile application. How long does it take for Dropblok to create one?
You can make your own application using the Dropblok application in five minutes. It takes seven days to release the finished app in the App Store or Play Store as there are several steps. But this delay is not related to our activities.
After graduating from a university in the USA, you worked there for four years. What was the most important thing you learned during this time?
During my time living and working in the USA, I learned to open myself up to others and be able to speak my mind. Most Mongolians are chronic introverted people – they can’t say what they want and they don’t express themselves fully. I used to be like that. After graduating, I applied to many places to work. Most of them didn’t reply or sent a rejection email. Then I opened up and told my friends about my problems. My friends gave me advice and helped me a lot. In general, Mongolians are very critical of open people. When you share your ideas, some people reject or criticize them straightaway.
You ride a bike a lot. When and why did you start riding motorcycles?
When I was in high school, I was very studious. After living abroad for nine years, I came to live in Mongolia. Amid the pandemic, cars were banned but people were still riding bicycles. But I could not ride a bicycle at that time, so I learned to ride it. Then I changed my bicycle to an electric bicycle. I also took a motorcycle course to learn to ride a moped. Then I became interested in riding motorcycles. When I ride a bike, I don’t think about anything but mountains, water and rough roads, so it relieves a lot of stress.
What else do you like to do in your spare time?
I love meeting people and exchanging ideas. I get many good ideas from other people. But when I’m at home, I’m very quiet and don’t do much. That’s how I relax and recharge myself.
What are your life principles?
I became very brave when I started doing business. I love a quote by Henry Ford that goes, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” In general, I always aim to finish my work with courage.