Founder of online retailer and Smart50 star OzHut steps down, sells stake

Wai Hong Fong, co-founder of successful online retailer OzHut, has quit as managing director of the company and sold his stake to his former business partner.

Fong, who has blogged extensively for StartupSmart on the topic of search engine optimisation, has stepped away from the business in order to move to China and study Mandarin.

The entrepreneur has sold his 40% stake to his fellow co-founder, and uncle, Tiew King Ting, for an unspecified amount.

“Having worked at building the business over four-and-a-half years, we’ve had heaps of disagreements about many things,” Fong tells StartupSmart about his partnership with Ting.

“But in this case, the reasons were more personal and rather opportunistic. Looking back, it definitely was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.”

“It was a lot easier than I expected. While many people think of it as my ‘baby’, I always saw myself as merely a good steward of what had been given to me, rather undeservedly. And so learning to let go and walk away was a relatively pleasant experience.”

Fong and Ting launched the OzHut online store in 2008 as a home-based, two-man operation in Melbourne, starting with an initial $30,000 outlay.

This quickly grew to a business that now employs 17 full-time staff and $2.6 million revenue.

Initially specialising in optical products such as binoculars and telescopes, they quickly spied opportunities in other market segments, including motorbike gear, bubble wrap and breathalysers and now have 12 different online stores.

Fong says that he’ll continue in an advisory role for the business ahead of making his next foray into the business world.

“OzHut continues to power ahead with strong growth revenues,” he says. “Growth is at high double digit percentages again.”

“The business will definitely continue to grow. The strengths that this current management team brings will solidify the business further and I believe they will continue to go from strength to strength.”

“I’ve definitely got my eyes open for opportunities. As to whether I will start something anytime soon, I’d like to keep my options open at this stage.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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