Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kanika Mehta, Founder of Empathy Research Labs, located in Singapore.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I run a boutique consulting firm where we partner with product businesses, large and small, to launch and scale consumer products in Southeast Asian markets by leveraging human-centered design.
We work with:

  • Early-stage startups to help them get started with their iterative customer discovery to crystallize the product-market fit and their unique value proposition.
  • Small-to-mid businesses to help them maximize user engagement and conversion by identifying opportunities with their current solutions and evaluating new ideas.
  • Large organizations to help them deep-dive research into specific topics/ user segments/ markets to identify opportunities for the business.

Tell us about yourself

I am a seasoned User experience Researcher with experience working at Google in the United States, where I led research for multiple Google Hardware and Google Workspace products. I am currently based in Singapore, where I worked for Grab for a few years, leading consumer research for Southeast Asian markets.

The need for flexibility to work on my own terms and finding a better work-life balance got me to start my own business. The great thing about consulting is that you're always working on a diverse range of topics, so there is never a dull time. It also gives me the autonomy to pick and choose projects that resonate with me the most.

I'm deeply passionate about understanding how diverse cultures and contexts influence the way people use different products. Knowing that I can help companies make better product decisions by bringing in insights about their users is what keeps me going each day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think for a service business, their biggest accomplishment is getting their first client, which gets the business off the ground. It usually gets easier from that point. So yes, for me, getting my first paying client is still my most special accomplishment.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I think the hardest thing is to keep yourself motivated, especially during downtimes or when things aren't going as planned. The key is to keep going and keep being consistent.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Networking is key. Figure out which types of networking you enjoy and do it consistently to keep building your network.
  2. Get comfortable with the ups and downs - running your own business comes with its ups and downs. There are months where there is more work and months where there is less work. Make the most of your quiet months by taking care of administrative tasks and business development.
  3. Being a business owner can be lonely sometimes - the best way to beat this is by engaging in communities. There are great communities out there where you can share your problems, questions, and wins with other business owners.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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