Episode 41
February 16, 2021

For Better or Purse

with Coral Chung, Founder and CEO of Senreve

About this episode

Named a top 50 brand in DTC by The Lead two years in a row, Senreve was founded by Coral Chung and is a global direct-to-consumer luxury handbag brand for the modern woman. In this episode, Coral shares with us her journey from moving to the US from China at five years old, to working in investment banking and consulting, to having a spiritual experience that ignited her idea to launch Senreve. We talk about her global vision for the business, how she thinks about setting expectations, and how she's grown as a leader.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • Why Coral moved from China at the age of five and what her childhood was like in a beautiful bicultural home in the US
  • Why she felt called in a different direction after a summer internship in investment banking 
  • How she met her husband and also started working with Bain and was based in the Hong Kong office where she worked on projects throughout Asia
  • How the culmination of her time at Stanford getting an MBA, learning about different luxury brands around the world, and her time at Medallia software company, led to a profound understanding that it was time to start her own company
  • Why being a young mom and feeling the pull between work and motherhood really brought the urgency to move forward with her idea for Senreve
  • What it was like to start Senreve, what her philosophy was regarding funding in the beginning, and how that changed after tremendous success as a company
  • How Coral and her team have managed to quickly expand beyond the US so much so that 50 percent of their business is actually outside of the US
  • How she was very intentional throughout 2020 especially to grow as a leader and learn how to support her team through the ups and downs of everything that was going on from the pandemic, to social issues, to political issues, to family issues
  • What business advice she has for wantrepreneurs and future founders with ideas they are passionate about

To Find Out More:



"I would say that kind of throughout my life and throughout my career, I've never had a shortage of ideas. So my brain was always thinking, ‘Is this something I could pursue?’”

“They kind of taught me to really invest in my education, invest my career, and that's what's most important. And all of a sudden, I was this young mom and my priorities were totally changed. So it was like a huge identity crisis.”

“One of the things that I would say is probably most surprising about the Senreve journey is that the business plan that I wrote back in the day, kind of off the cuff on that plane ride, is pretty much still the vision for the company. And we haven't deviated from that.”

“There're so many responsibilities, demands, and facets to a woman's life. But products and brands haven't really kept up with that.”

“I think my philosophy at a high-level about fundraising was that I wanted to raise capital that was appropriate for the stage that we were at, not ahead or behind that.”

“Late 2019 I took on institutional capital and that was really because I felt like the company was at a juncture where it really needed to scale and professionalize and again meet the demand that was in the market.”

“Don't take it personally. And it's actually objectively true. Because oftentimes the rejection has nothing to do with you, the idea, your traction, the company, the data, or the team that you built. It really has certain things to do with them, like where they are in their fund cycle or their partnership dynamics or where they are in their own career as an investor.”

“It's like once you take that investment, I mean, you are really in it together, and it's so hard to unwind.”

“So to me, it was really important that our investors understood and embraced my vision and really embraced some of the strategic risks that we were taking.”

“We have a really sustainable manufacturing model where we focus on zero waste and we never overproduce. And so having two and a half months of gap in terms of production was really incredibly challenging for our business. So that was something that we had to overcome.”

“Obviously, 2020 in the US also had a lot of social and political issues that really affected people. And so that was something that I was very intentional about in terms of allowing the team to support each other.”

“It's an obsession and you really have to be that passionate about it. And you really have to wake up every day feeling as energetic as you were the prior day, even if things are not going well or things are totally sideways.”

“It's the type of thing where once you do it actually in a way becomes a lot easier. So it's really that first step to me that's the most intimidating.”

Read the transcript

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