Some say sibling partnerships are stronger than any other because siblings have known each other their whole lives. Others advise avoiding them for fear business conflicts would find their way to the dining table.
Bryan and Maryann Se To certainly believes in the former. The siblings are the co-founders of Calibrate, a digital wellness platform for users to find and book wellness practitioners to optimise their wellbeing or look for pain-relief solutions. Practitioners include chiropractors, physiotherapists, sports massage therapists, traditional Chinese medicine and more.
Bryan was a former Analyst at Accenture while Maryann is a final-year marketing undergraduate at SMU. The duo decided to work full-time on Calibrate after it was awarded the SG Founders Grant by Enterprise Singapore earlier this year.
The company is also an alumnus of SMU’s Business Innovations Generator (BIG) incubation programme and was a finalist at UNICORN – Asia’s largest entrepreneurship and tech student conference.
Tun Yong: What was the problem you had identified that led to the creation of Calibrate?
Bryan: At 24 years old, my chiropractor told me I had the body of a 40-year-old. It never occurred to me that I would be dealing with back issues in my mid-20s.
I have been experiencing constant back pain ever since I stepped into the workforce one year ago, which led me to seek chiropractic treatment.
Our friends and family were constantly complaining about similar issues. When we started digging deeper, there was a common theme that surfaced – work. However, the bigger problem that we identified was users were unaware of any suitable wellness practitioner to seek treatment from.
We understand it may be difficult for users to choose the most suitable type of practitioner due to a lack of information across the wellness industry.
Thus, we are working to create a pain assessment form to route users to the most suitable practitioner based on their body pains. Through this, we hope users can seek treatment without wasting time, money and effort by being recommended to the most suitable type of practitioner.
Tun Yong: What spurred you to partner with your sibling on this entrepreneurial journey?
Bryan: Maryann is one of the most driven people I’ve met. Despite being younger than me, I’d like to think she’s more mature than me. Despite having different perspectives, we respect each other’s viewpoints.
Besides, once Maryann is committed to a goal, she never gives up. She is hardworking and pushes her limits to deliver the best results. Maryann is also coachable and a learner at heart, she takes feedback seriously and strives to be a better version of herself every day.
Finally, her most important trait as my co-founder – Trust. Who better to trust than family?
Maryann: Bryan approached me with this idea and I could resonate with it because of the problems I have been constantly hearing from the people around me.
Besides the idea, I felt that having a good team would be vital to a startup’s success. Bryan has tech expertise through his experiences from Accenture whereas I am currently majoring in Marketing at SMU.
Besides that, I have seen the way Bryan led his team through his leadership positions in his school. His leadership style often inspires others, and he has a way of motivating his team members which encourages them to unleash their potential.
Bryan is also driven and disciplined. These days he wakes up at 5 am to do readings (product management, UIUX etc) before our day starts at Calibrate. He would quickly absorb learnings of these readings and apply them to Calibrate.
Bryan is also a risk-taker and is not afraid to fail. To him, failure helps him to learn from his past experiences to continuously improve. Of course, he also understands the difference between taking calculated risks and being rash.
Tun Yong: What are some advantages of working with your sibling?
Bryan: Maryann and I have very different skill sets. I major in Computer Science, whereas she majors in Marketing. We manage different aspects of the company and lead our own team to reach our end goal – Digitalising the Wellness Industry.
Maryann also provides different perspectives for Calibrate and challenges my decisions that would impact the business critically. She offers feedback with a lot of respect and our personalities work very well.
I enjoy the open and positive environment for us to learn from each other. We also have similar leadership styles and even extended our Open-Door Policy to our team members.
Maryann: One plus point is that we are able to quickly discuss with one another since we are living in the same apartment. Sometimes, we would discuss over dinner! It helps with our ideation process because we are able to quickly bounce ideas off each other to continuously improve.
Another major advantage is my trust in Bryan. Our values in life are similarly aligned. Besides, Bryan is humble and is receptive to new ideas and feedback whenever we have different perspectives.
Most importantly, he is comfortable with conflicts. At times where we do have conflicts, he voices out his opinions respectfully and tactfully. Our personalities complement each other because he has always been an optimist while I am a pessimist. He is able to offer uplifting perspectives that change my views on certain things.
It is interesting that we see things differently even though we are discussing the same issue. I guess this is what makes our work dynamics fun and exciting.
Interested in learning about Calibrate and the work they do? Check them out here.
Stay tuned for the second part of the interview series, as the sibling duo shares how they overcame their challenges to launch Calibrate and dish out advice for aspiring student entrepreneurs.
This interview is part of our “Founders X EDGE” series where we seek to hear the insights of youth entrepreneurs to demystify the scene and empower youths to turn their ideas into reality. Do reach out to us if you are interested in being featured alongside other great young minds!
Tun Yong Yap
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