#007 - Minding our business

Why mental health should be a priority for founders

BFFs is a bi-weekly email for Asia’s female founders around resources on growing a business, cultivating friendships, and funding opportunities. Brought to you by Chief Best Friends, a podcast helping women succeed in work and business through meaningful friendships.

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It was World Mental Health day a couple of days ago and I know how founders are susceptible to mental health issues, what with all the stress and worry that comes with the territory.

While we can talk about business strategies and growth tactics all day, I think it’s the health of both our bodies and minds that make all the difference. If you look at companies with a great culture and sustainable growth, chances are the founders are well-rounded and decent human beings. They’re not perfect, but they have enough self-awareness to understand where they need help, and enough self-assurance (and hardly any ego) to ask for assistance.

I think that’s why I realise now that having a co-founder or a chief best friend ups your chances of success. Having someone who’s in the same boat, has the same goals, and someone you can be vulnerable with can make all of the challenges more bearable. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.

On that note, not everyone’s going to be lucky in life as to find a co-founder on the get-go. I recently met with a friend who was part of an incubator and who spent eight weeks looking for one but had to drop out because of that pre-requisite.

So instead of a chief best friend, I think accountability groups are your next best bet. If that’s your kind of jam or just mildly curious, click the button below to fill in an interest form.

— Niki

Interested in accountability groups?


  • There’s hiring and then there’s startup hiring. For founders looking to grow the business, growing the team is a natural step. However, what we know of hiring is totally different when you’re a startup. How do you negotiate equity? How do you attract top talent when you don’t have a long runway? Thankfully, I came across some tools such as Hiring Plan, which is a visual compensation tool for startups. Big props for them in building diversity into the product to keep an eye unequal pay and underrepresentation.

  • Drive sustainable growth by picking the right growth lane. During my time at startups, I saw growth as neatly packaged in the following pillars: paid, owned, and earned media. And I loved seeing First Round’s take on these as growth lanes and more as performance, content, and virality, respectively. They also mentioned a very important aspect: choose a lane to focus on and sticking with it. Most founders I speak to get bogged down and overwhelmed with the plethora of options. Success really isn’t about quantity but quality paired with consistency.


woman holding two round gold-colored coins
  • Helping a friend financially is totally doable, albeit a hairy situation. More than anything else, I think it’s our relationship to money that complicates things. That’s why starting a business with a friend can feel like a hairy topic because you’ll have to discuss finances at one point or another. Nowadays, with the pandemic and all, you’re bound to be approached by a friend who might need a bit of help financially. Here’s how can you navigate that without turning it into a mess.

  • Beware the one-sided friendship. You know, the more I speak to chief best friends, the more I realise that it’s possible if your friendships are solid. The moment you feel icky about starting a business with a friend or starting a friendship with a coworker is rooted in how we perceive a friendship. And perhaps it’s not your fault but the idea that we’ve had these kinds of one-sided friendships that tells us it’s not going to stand the stresses of growing a business.


  • Iterative Capital launches Office Hours. You get to speak to the amazing partners behind Iterative and their decades-worth startup experience. Office hours run through every Friday for the whole month of October. Chosen startups get 20 minutes each. Go apply today!

  • If you’re looking for funds, are accelerators a good option? It depends. I really love Elizabeth Yin and you should check out her thoughts on accelerators and who would be a good fit for them.

  • Mini issues for future funds? It’s a little sad in this section right now because I realised that most of the deadlines happen in-between these issues. I should totally send interim ones, like a mini version, just to make sure you’re getting all the available opportunities on time.

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Chief Best Friends Radar 📡

It’s not every day that I get to speak to female software engineers and so I’m so delighted to share this episode with Pory co-founders and chief best friends, Samantha Wong and Luannie Dang. They’re based in Australia and totally kicking up a storm in the no-code space with their hot new startup in the midst of this global pandemic we’re all living in. 🎧 Check out their episode!

Listen to Episode 5

✨Shine Board ✨

  • Look ma, I’m on Vogue. Not for fashion but to talk about being vulnerable and how to tend to my mental health. It's been a whirlwind few months of being laid off, impending deportation, and trying to keep my head above water. As a relatively private person, putting my story out makes me feel vulnerable. It’s not easy but from the DMs and messages I’ve been getting, it’s a sobering realisation that things hadn’t panned out for others. It totally breaks my heart. 💔


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