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The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move
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The impact of Entrepreneurs at Scale Up Company in South East Asia, See how Pawoot and TARAD.com move

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See how entrepreneurs in South East Asia thinking and acting. Most of them work in Tech Industry including Mr.Pawoot Pom from TARAD.com The largest E-Commerce Service in Thailand. See how he's …

See how entrepreneurs in South East Asia thinking and acting. Most of them work in Tech Industry including Mr.Pawoot Pom from TARAD.com The largest E-Commerce Service in Thailand. See how he's thinking.!

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  • 1. THE IMPACT OF ENTREPRENEURS AT SCALEUP COMPANIES in Southeast Asia a report from: supported by:
  • 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia This report analyzes the impact of scaleup companies1 on Southeast Asia’s economies. The key findings of this report are as follows: • Youth unemployment is an important problem in Southeast Asia. In 2012, 13% of the region’s youth population was unemployed, which will likely grow to 14% by the end of 2017. • Scaleups create a disproportionate number of jobs Southeast Asia. A World Bank Survey conducted in 2009 in Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Timor Leste, and Vietnam found that only 14% of companies in these countries were scaleups but they created 77% of the net new jobs during the previous three year period. High-impact entrepreneurs not only create direct employment, but also generate high quality jobs and a culture of entrepreneurship. The case studies at the end of the report investigate this impact further. • Scaleup companies exist in countries across the region. The final section of this report profiles ten Southeast Asian entrepreneurs who have scaled or are in the process of scaling their companies. These entrepreneurs have had a significant impact on their countries, providing employment to workers and introducing new business ideas to their respective industries. The data in this report is drawn primarily from the most recent World Bank Enterprise Survey data from 2009 of 4242 companies from five Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia (1444), Laos (269), the Philippines (1326), Timor Leste (150), and Vietnam (1053). This report also uses data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations, and interviews with Southeast Asian entrepreneurs conducted by Endeavor Insight in the summer of 2013 were also used in this report. More information on the methodology underpinning this analysis can be found on page 38.
  • 3.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  3 This report was created by Ekachat Assavarujikul and Michael Goodwin in December 2013. Rhett Morris provided valuable input during the analysis of findings. For more information regarding this report, please contact Michael Goodwin at michael.goodwin@endeavor.org.
  • 4. 618 million total population 18% young population 13% or ~7.5 million unemployed Southeast Asia’s 2012 population 2007 15.50% 9 million% 14.00% 7.5 12.50% 15.00% 8.5 No. of people [RHS] % [LHS] 13.50% 7 12.00% 14.50% 8 13.00% 6.512.50% 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Southeast Asia’s Youth Unemployment Rate Figures from 2007-2013 are actual unemployment rates, figures from 2014-2017 are projected employment rates. 4  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia The economic crises of the last five years, notably 2008’s subprime mortgage crisis that gave way to 2010’s Euro crisis, have increased global unemployment. Over this same period, rates of joblessness for youth between 15-24 years increased to 12.6% in 2013, implying global youth unemployment of 73.8 million.2 Despite originating in the developed world, the effects of these crises were not confined to the United States and Europe. Plummeting global demand for goods and services has had global repercussions, especially in emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. In these markets, companies have cut back production in response to falling demand, leaving factories shuttered and millions without work. Southeast Asia, whose growth over the past decade was driven by export-oriented industries, has had to contend with the impact of these global trends, the impact of which has been particularly acute for people under the age of 24. Young people make up over 18% of Southeast Asia’s total population.3 In 2012, 13.1% of that youth population, or approximately 7.5 million people, were unemployed.4 This has led to rising NEET rates, the percentage of young people who are not in education, employment, or training. Lacking opportunities, young people are at risk for diminished future employment opportunities and earning potential. Unfortunately, the prospects for young people in Southeast Asia may not improve very soon. The International Labor Organization forecasts that the youth unemployment rates in Southeast Asia will increase to 14.2% by 2017.5 To head off the threat of high and persistent youth unemployment, countries will need to find new sources of jobs for their citizens. Youth unemployment remains one of the largest problems in Southeast Asia.
  • 5. Startup companies Non-scaleup companies Scaleup companies 0% 40%10% 50%20% 60% 80%30% 70% 90% Average Job Growth in Southeast Asia by Company Types (2009)   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  5 Scaleup companies are an important part of the solution to the problem of unemployment in Southeast Asia. Scaleup companies, defined in this report as companies that are more than three years old and have achieved an average of 20% or greater annual employment growth for the previous three years, create more jobs than other types of companies. The World Bank Enterprise Survey provides concrete evidence of this claim in Southeast Asia. In 2009, the World Bank, as part of its Enterprise Survey, interviewed 4242 companies in Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Vietnam. The results indicate that regionally, only 14% of firms are scaleup companies, however these companies contributed 77% of the net new jobs.6 The same analysis, run on each individual country, likewise shows that scaleup firms create a large number of new jobs.7 Other research studies that looked at the impact of scaleup companies convey similar results. For example, research conducted by the World Economic Forum, Stanford University, and Endeavor Insight demonstrated that the top 1% of companies from among 380,000 companies (ranked by the total level of revenue and job creation) across ten countries contributed 44% of total revenue and 40% of total jobs while the top 5% of companies contributed 72% of total revenue and 67% of total jobs.8 Similarly, a study conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and Endeavor Insight found that companies with high growth rates create more jobs than other types of companies. Even though these high-growth companies represented only 4% of the total companies surveyed, they created nearly 40% of the total jobs.9 The following section profiles ten Southeast Asian entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled-up or are currently in the process of scaling their companies. This section seeks to provide information on the strategies used by these entrepreneurs to successfully grow their companies. It also offers key lessons learned from their entrepreneurial journeys. These findings are based on Endeavor Insight interviews conducted in the summer of 2013. Scaleup companies are important sources of job creation in Southeast Asia. Examples of scaleup entrepreneurs can be found across the region.
  • 6. 6  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia 365eStore | Brunei Nicky Wong’s Bio Nicky Wong graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Victoria in Canada. He is a Bruneian-born serial entrepreneur who has started various businesses in Brunei including his current business, 365eStore, a leading Bruneian e-commerce platform. Prior to 365eStore, Nicky started Linknet Solutions, Wireless Mobile Content, and Infindo, a developer of mobile applications for various mobile platforms. In 2012, Enterprise Asia selected Nicky as The Most Promising Entrepreneur and he received Brunei’s ICT Award, an annual event organized to stimulate innovation and creativity in ICT industry. Business Icons, a book about the top ten most successful entrepreneurs in Brunei, also featured him, highlighting his innovation and business accomplishments. Company Overview Founded in 2007, 365eStore is Brunei’s first and largest e-commerce company. It has grown from being an online source of technology hardware to a diversified retail platform featuring toys, fashion, furniture, and DVDs. In addition to its dominant position at home, the company is currently serving customers across Southeast Asia and Europe. Since its inception, 365eStore has redefined the retail market in Brunei by providing consumers with cutting edge features and a new shopping experience. As a result, it has grown from one employee to more than 30 in just a few years. Why did you start 365eStore? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? It was by chance that 365eStore was started. I could not get a job after graduation, so I decided to become a freelancer. My first project as a freelancer was in web design. In 2001, web design and e-commerce were still nascent industries and unknown to most people in Brunei. After years of providing web design, mobile, and retail services to local SMEs and corporations, I saw the opportunity to become a pioneer in Brunei’s e-commerce industry. I took that chance and started 365eStore. It never stopped after that. After we launched, our customers responded very positively. The number of users has expanded significantly, and the company has grown ever since. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. In order to grow the company, we created both online and offline stores. Many consumers in Brunei were not comfortable using their credit cards to shop online and others still preferred to receive the products instantaneously. By building a physical presence, we were able to appeal to both sets of customers. Even today, five years after we launched the online shopping website, this strategy remains un-copied in Brunei. As the online market in Brunei grew, 365estore became the largest virtual shopping center in the country. We were able to provide customers with brands, styles, and models that traditional brick-and-mortar retail outlets could not afford to carry. This has allowed us to meet local consumers’ demand for products that they cannot get locally. Complementing the advantages of low prices and wide variety, our high quality customer service
  • 7.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  7 and a network of pick-up centers have driven customer loyalty. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? Human resource management, especially recruiting, was the biggest obstacle to our growth. We wanted to recruit the right people with the right talents in order to stay on top of our game and remain competitive. However, hiring and inviting foreign expertise to join any company in Brunei is a real challenge. Most business leaders and industry experts do not want to move to Brunei for work because of its limited market potential and growth. Without this obstacle, we would have grown much more quickly. What did you do to overcome these challenges? To entice talented people to our company, we improved our regional branding and provided attractive short and long-term incentives. We actively participated in international expos to prepare for regional expansion and expose ourselves to people from diverse business networks. Doing so gave us greater visibility, helped others better understand our company, and increased our potential to attract new jobseekers. We believe that working for a fast-paced tech company like ours is very attractive to young jobseekers interested in learning about the e-commerce industry. We also played around with creating the best corporate culture possible and with each hiring decision determined whether the candidates were the right fit and could grow with the company. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Brunei? E-commerce and online trading industries were essentially nonexistent in Brunei a few years ago. They were known only to Bruneians who came back to Brunei after living overseas. 365eStore has changed perceptions and initiated a growing trend in online shopping in Brunei. For example, is an increasing number of businesses conducting transactions over the Internet. We are proud to say that we have created a new business model here and that its impact has spanned across various industries in Brunei. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? Brunei is a very small country, and its e-commerce industry still has a lot of potential. That means there are still many opportunities for us. We plan to continue to launch the best and latest e-commerce technology in the country, to help improve the industry, and to drive Brunei’s economy forward. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important for Brunei and Southeast Asia? Brunei’s economic growth is very dependent on oil and gas, which represent 90% of our GDP. To diversify, we need a different fuel for growth, and I believe that SMEs and entrepreneurship are the fuel we need. I believe that entrepreneurship is a step toward a new era of our economy.
  • 8. 8  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Lyly Food Industry | Cambodia Keo Mom’s Bio Keo Mom is a founder and a director of Lyly Food Industry, a Cambodian packaged food processing enterprise that also provides employment opportunities to people living below the poverty line. Before founding Lyly, Keo worked at a small food production outside of her home and sold rice crackers at local markets on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. A female entrepreneur and a mother of three children, she is also a Vice President of the Phnom Pehn Small & Medium Industry Association (PSMIA). In the course of her career, she has received entrepreneurship awards and has spoken about her experience growing her businesses at a number of events. Company Overview Keo incorporated Lyly Food Industry in 2002 with the goal of providing employment to underprivileged Cambodians. Lyly went on to become a leading producer of Cambodian snack foods. Because of its use of Cleaner Production (CP), a policy intended to minimize waste and emissions while maximizing production, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) selected Lyly Foods in 2006 as a role model company. Under Keo’s Lyly Food has expanded rapidly and now employs over 230 people. Why did you start Lyly Food? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? Cambodia imports a lot of food from foreign countries, which usually charge high prices for their products. I do not think we need to import food from other countries. Cambodia already has all the raw materials and natural resources to produce almost all the food we import. This inspired me to start Lyly Food, which has a sustainable business model. We purchase corn and rice from local farmers. We process these raw materials into high quality finished goods and sell them in Cambodia. I hope to help Cambodia reduce unnecessary and expensive imports. At the same time, I started this company to provide employment opportunities to rural people. We employ many people who are poor, unqualified, or illiterate. They would find it extremely difficult to get a job elsewhere, but we are willing to take them. We hope to generate income for underprivileged people and reduce poverty. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success? The company was established in 2002, and we started to look at expansion in 2005. I realized one important element to be a successful food manufacturer is to have hygienic production and products because this gave confidence to the consumers about our food. I therefore wanted to implement international best practices. We received support from two NGOs, APO and UNIDO, which helped us implement 5S & Kaizen and Cleaner Production, respectively. We have since become a model company and started to receive more recognition from customers for this.
  • 9.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  9 What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? I faced four main challenges when trying to scale my company. First, I did not have the skills or experience to do so. I wanted to grow the company but I did not know how to do so. At that time, managing Lyly Food was a difficult task; growing it was even more difficult. Second, I did not have the financial resources to grow the company. Growing the company required us to increase production but we did not have enough cash to make the investment. Third, I did not possess the expertise to run the production. We wanted to be more efficient and cost effective, but we did not know best practices in the industry.. Lastly, we faced intense competition from imported products. What did you do to overcome these challenges? I always learn new strategies. One of the problems I faced as an entrepreneur was that I did not have the skills or experience. The solution to that was to learn from those who knew. For instance, I sought support from APO and UNIDO, which helped us implement renowned business practices. I also asked for advice from other entrepreneurs who had more experience than me. Another thing that I found very useful was to immediately solve problems. I never leave any problem behind. We are a production company, so we must try to eliminate waste and be as lean as possible. Another benefit of solving problems immediately is that as I learned to solve each problem, I became more proficient and versatile as a leader. With regards to our investment, I tried very hard to find the financial resource to fuel our growth. Luckily, we secured a loan from a bank. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Cambodia? We created many positive effects for the community. In the early days, we only had 20 employees. As we grew larger, we needed more people. Now, we have more than 200 employees. We provide jobs to people who would find it difficult to have a job elsewhere and therefore have played a role in reducing poverty in Cambodia. Also, because of our sustainable model, our impact goes beyond direct employment. We procure raw materials, such as corn and rice, from more than 100 local farmers, thereby creating income for these families. As a model company that operates based on international business practices, we created a knowledge spillover to other companies. I attended various business associations and seminars, where I voluntarily share my experience to other entrepreneurs in Cambodia. I wish to help these entrepreneurs achieve great things. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? I want to protect Lyly Food from international competition. In 2015, Cambodia will enter the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will transform Southeast Asia into a fully integrated single market. As such, I expect there to be more competition from neighboring countries. I already added two new products and new production lines to protect our market share. At the same time, the AEC gives us the opportunity to expand. It gives us room to export our snack food to other countries in the region. Exporting our products is also part of our expansion plan. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Cambodia and Southeast Asia? It is important to eliminate poverty and income inequality. Entrepreneurship is the main driver of an economy. Entrepreneurs provide employment and generate income for the people.
  • 10. 10  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia MyTeksi | Malaysia Anthony Tan & Hooi Ling Tan Anthony Tan and Hooi Ling Tan, both graduates of Harvard Business School (HBS), founded MyTeksi in 2011. The idea of transforming the Malaysian taxi industry and starting MyTeksi came to Anthony and Hooi Ling when the two co-founders sat next to each other in a class at HBS that touched on building sustainable businesses in developing countries. Before officially starting MyTeksi, the two tested their idea in the school’s annual business plan competition in which they were awarded second place Company Overview Malaysia’s taxis have become notorious among tourists and residents alike for their high prices, dubious safety, and low availability. MyTeksi is a Malaysian company that aims to revolutionize the taxi industry and change this reputation by leveraging mobile and GPS technology. Through MyTeksi, travelers and taxi drivers now have a standardized online platform for taxi bookings via mobile devices, thereby eliminating many of the problems within the taxi industry. By June 2013, the company had recruited several thousand taxi drivers to its network, covering several cities in Malaysia. The company has since expanded to other cities in Southeast Asia and increased its workforce significantly. Why did you start MyTeksi? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? (Hooi Ling Tan) I was at Harvard Business School with my co-founder, Anthony Tan. We had both decided to take a class called Business at the Base of the Pyramid, which was essentially a class on creating sustainable businesses in developing countries. We had individually decided to take this class as we were both passionate about driving social change via sustainable business in Malaysia. A l passion we soon realized we shared, and a passion which ultimately resulted in us starting MyTeksi. In Malaysia, I mainly used taxis to travel for work. Unfortunately, taxis in Malaysia were known for being neither reliable nor safe, especially for women. My parents were always very worried whenever I took a taxi, and constantly ‘monitored’ my rides to ensure I was safe. I wanted to help fix this because I knew the impact it would have on the daily lives of normal Malaysians. Anthony, on the other hand, was from Tan Chong Motors Holdings and has strong linkages with the transportation industry, so he was naturally passionate about this topic as well. We wanted to do something that was going to help change the country, have tremendous social impact, and was business-wise sustainable. We used the business plan competition at Harvard as a forcing mechanism to help us think about the business in detail. It was also a very good way to get feedback and mentorship from some very experienced entrepreneurs and investors in the States. We fortunately did well in the competition. Also, thanks to the validation we received, we felt more comfortable starting MyTeksi together.
  • 11.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  11 What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. (Anthony Tan) The Lean Startup methodology was an integral part of our growth strategy. Following this methodology, we were very hypothesis driven and did a lot of research and testing. We built the first version of our product, or the minimum viable product (MVP), and asked for feedback from customers. This allowed us to learn a great deal about the customers very quickly and with the least effort/investment. Based on the customer feedback, we then improved our product, tested it again, and modified it again. We iterated continuously in order to make sure that our product provided the greatest value to customers. We were also extremely careful with the burn rate. We tried our best to preserve our capital and use it only when needed. Once we gained traction, we reinvested our profits to fuel the company’s growth. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? (Hooi Ling Tan) For MyTeksi, getting support and buy-in from the entire transportation ecosystem was critical for us. There are many different parts of the ecosystem that needed to collaborate together at one time for MyTeksi to work. Unfortunately, this rarely happened. Working with our taxi partners, the government, and our various hardware and network providers was never easy to do at once. Getting the Malaysian population to adopt the technology was also a huge challenge, especially taxi drivers who were not so tech savvy. The whole concept of smart phones and a new computerized system was not easy for them, so getting them to adopt the technology and training them to think differently was very difficult. Last but definitely not least, finding the right talent was also one of our biggest challenges. What did you do to overcome these challenges? (Hooi Ling Tan) The most important thing was to have good talent. We made it a point to ensure we had the right people onboard. We were fortunate to be able to recruit passionate and talented individuals. Also, because my co-founder and I were able to leverage our previous employment and education experience, we were fortunate enough to have the credibility to get good partners. Still, we were a very young team, so we needed to work extra hard to prove our abilities. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Malaysia? Anthony: “MyTeksi has literally transformed the taxi industry in Malaysia, which is notorious for bad taxis. Drivers, unwilling to use the meter, charge crazy flat fares to travelers. There were also safety issues, such as robberies and kidnappings. The whole idea of MyTeksi was about building trust and credibility in the industry again. We provide a platform that allows travelers to share the location of their ride with loved ones. At the end of every ride, we have a customer review system that allows travelers to ‘like’ and write a comment about the drivers, who are then rewarded accordingly. Drivers with the most ‘likes’ receive a lot of traction. Drivers with the least ‘likes’ are first forced to undergo training and if they still can’t improve, we have no choice but to force them to leave the system. Also, through an online booking system, travelers can book taxis quickly, safely, conveniently, and on demand. We helped the taxi industry match demand and supply more efficiently. Prior to MyTeksi, hard-working drivers used to work 18 hours and take home RM 100 (US$32). Now, the same drivers work only 12 hours and take home RM 300 (US$100). The distance that taxis have traveled on our platform is now nearly 12 round trips to the moon. In the end, everybody wins. Hooi Ling: It was really nice to hear folks say great things about MyTeksi and how it’s changed their views on the taxi industry. It was especially rewarding when I heard this from friends who were not aware of my involvement with MyTeksi and thus were not biased in their views. This was when I knew we’d done something really good.
  • 12. 12  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia What are the types of support you wish you had that could help you grow your business more smoothly? (Hooi Ling Tan) First, we would like to have mentorship. We would love to learn more from successful entrepreneurs who have started companies in developing countries. Second, we would like help in finding good talent, especially technical talent. Lastly, funding. To grow the company, we are always looking for accessible and credible capital. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? (Anthony Tan) Imagine one app. On demand transportation. At the convenience of the travelers’ fingertips, regardless of which ASEAN countries they are in. That is what we are trying to accomplish. What are the key lessons about entrepreneurship and successful growth strategies you’ve taken from your company experience? (Hooi Ling Tan) You are more often wrong than right, so the most important thing is to be humble enough to admit you made a mistake, and learn from them as quickly as possible. Also, life is generally not easy, but it becomes a worthwhile challenge when you are fighting for something that matters to you. What would be your recommendations to those who might want to become an entrepreneur? (Hooi Ling Tan) Be ready to fail. Be ready to work hard. Be ready to reach out for help. Most importantly, find a very good team of people you trust and people who share the same values as you. It is so much easier to fight through all the challenges when you have a team of people who are willing to do it together with you. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important for Malaysia and Southeast Asia? Hooi Ling: Entrepreneurship is how our bright and young generations can help create something truly valuable from scratch. This is important because the younger population will always be the main driver for innovation and future growth in a country. Without entrepreneurship, there would be stagnation. Anthony: For high-potential talent it’s no longer about how big your annual bonus is. They want to be remembered for how they changed society. Every day, we try harder to create a platform to allow the world’s top talent to make a difference in a society they care about.
  • 13.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  13
  • 14. 14  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Kartuku | Indonesia Niki Luhur’s Bio Born in Jakarta, Niki Luhur moved to the US to attend boarding school and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University in 2005. Niki discovered his passion for technology early on, attending the BASE summer program at Haas Business School, where he won a case competition for Cisco. After university, Niki worked as a financial analyst at a boutique investment bank. In May 2006, Niki’s father asked him to return to Indonesia to help run Kartuku, a struggling payment hardware company in which his father was an angel investor. Keenly interested in his father’s company, Niki decided to seize the opportunity and try his hand at righting the ship. Company Overview Kartuku, founded in 2001, is Indonesia’s first end-to-end Payment Services Provider (PSP) and Third Party Processor (TPP) for electronic payments. Kartuku builds and operates payment systems that process electronic transactions securely, efficiently, and reliably. It currently serves ten out of 11 major Indonesian banks and leading enterprise retailers in hypermarket, convenience store, department store, and F&B chains. Under Niki’s leadership, the company has grown more than 1000%, from 30 employees to 350 employees, and has become Indonesia’s leading payment processor. Why did you join Kartuku? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? I have always been passionate about technology. In 2006, my father asked me to help run Kartuku, where my father was an angel investor. At that time the company was struggling badly, but I believed there were still many untapped market opportunities. Indonesia’s payment networks were largely inefficient, with poor network reliability and data security vulnerabilities – hence, a lot of opportunities for improvement. In addition, the regulatory environment was supportive of a trend towards a cashless society. I realized that if I could transform the company from a hardware supplier into a cloud based payment processing services, I could drive the evolution of the payment industry, which eventually will drive financial inclusion throughout Indonesia. I decided to take the opportunity and the challenge. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. The first focal point was positive cash flows. This gave the company some room to breathe. Then, in order to grow the company, the next milestone was to set a clear vision that would create a paradigm shift in the industry. I realized that we needed to do more than sell hardware in order to remain relevant and competitive. We needed to provide a unique value proposition that would give us a first mover advantage. I decided to transform the company into Indonesia’s first unified payment platform. The first step was building important relationships and strong credibility with Indonesian banks. We succeeded in helping BNI, a major state-owned bank, grow their Electronic Data Capture (EDC) network by providing a merchant sales force and nationwide technical support. We organically grew our services beyond terminal management, and grew vertically to manage the entire payment ecosystem.
  • 15.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  15 After acquiring major banks in Indonesia as customers/partners, we decided to invest millions to build a secure data center and new IT operations division to be able to provide secure mission critical infrastructure-as-a- service. Our unified payment platform allowed multiple banks to share a single EDC terminal. We successfully implemented a unified payment retail solution, which improved the payment transaction speed by 80% and increased service availability above 99%, while saving costs for all parties. Raising capital, gaining trust, and building our infrastructure and services was a very challenging and time-consuming process, but it helped raise the barriers to entry. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? One of the key challenges I faced in growing this company was human resource management. We started with only 30 employees in 2006. As the company grew, we needed more talent to sustain the quality of our growth. Currently, we have more than 350 employees, and managing such a large talent pool is challenging. As the company is expanding very quickly, I need to ensure we recruit the right talent, and that my team remains motivated and engaged. What did you do to overcome these challenges? We have implemented a strict interview process, and I was heavily involved in picking each of my team members. While we searched for the right skill sets and experience, we focused on making sure the people we recruited had the right personalities, characters, and attitudes. A startup is a tough environment to be in, and we found it was critical for employees to have the right character to be able to thrive. In addition, we focused heavily on open and transparent communication, as we believe good communication is the foundation for solid teamwork and maintaining the right expectations. Being honest with your colleagues is often easier said than done. We shared our vision with the team, to make sure they understood how their job made an impact in the grand scheme of things. Staying connected with the company’s vision is important to keeping people engaged. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Indonesia? As a result of our growth, we increased the company size from 30 employees to 350 employees, a significant increase since I first joined the company in 2006. We also managed to form a partnership with Northstar which injected the capital we required to evolve into providing our value-added services. This additional funding will undoubtedly allow us to build a world class management team. Through our unified payment platform, we have improved the security, efficiency, and reliability of the Indonesian payment ecosystem. Our shared infrastructure cut bank and merchant operating expenditures, while increasing their data security standards and system availability. We not only have improved check out speeds dramatically for merchants, we have also streamlined their back office processes by automating reconciliation and providing real-time reporting. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? Our vision for Kartuku’s five-to-ten year roadmap is to provide branchless banking solutions which leverage existing shared infrastructure at merchant and agent networks to become bank tellers. We have already started to launch a few lighthouse projects leveraging our biometric technology, where we are able to virtualize the branch and utilize integrated fingerprint readers to securely identify an individual in the field. We aim to revolutionize the traditional brick and mortar banking system to be able to provide a more cost-effective way to provide financial services to the last mile. Through these kinds of innovations in banking infrastructure, we hope to accelerate financial inclusion. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Indonesia and Southeast Asia? Entrepreneurs are one of the major driving forces to accelerate the development of emerging markets by creating new businesses and generating employment. Certain entrepreneurs can create paradigm shifts that evolve industries, and have a dramatic impact on socioeconomic development and quality of life.
  • 16. 16  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Information Matrix | Myanmar Thaung Su Nyein’s Bio Thaung Su Nyein is the founder and Managing Director of Information Matrix. He studied Computer Science in New York before dropping out in 1999 to follow his dream of transforming the technology industry in his home country. A serial entrepreneur, Thaung has transformed Information Matrix from a small web development studio into one of the largest technology companies in Myanmar, providing web-based business services to corporations and government institutions, as well as a leading publisher of several print publications. Serving as a Vice President of the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association, he is also very active in promoting entrepreneurship in Myanmar. He also serves in various roles in other civil society organizations, including the computer-related associations and the Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries (UMFCCI). Company Overview Information Matrix is an IT and media company in Myanmar. It originally started as two separate web design and multimedia CD-ROM development companies, which merged in 2000 to take advantage of their synergies. The first of these two was established in 1997, while the second was established in 2000. Information Matrix’s IT business provides web-based IT solutions to business and government enterprises in Yangon, Myanmar. It creates modern business applications that help improve business efficiency and keep local companies in Myanmar on equal footing with international organizations. Its media business publishes popular weekly and monthly magazines, such as 7Day News, Internet Journal, Myanmar People Magazine, and 7Day Sports. Started with only US$5,000 in capital and six employees, Information Matrix has grown significantly and now employs over 400 employees. Why did you start Information Matrix? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? I have always dreamed of becoming a pioneer in my home country. While studying in the US in 1999, I read an article that compared the city of Yangon to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The article chose Yangon over the Vietnamese city for a place to do business due to positive business prospects and the inception of email and Internet in Myanmar. I was excited to learn that the Internet was finally arriving. I thought the market was going to boom and therefore became very optimistic about opening a business in my home country. In 1999, I decided to drop out of school and fly back to Myanmar to pursue this opportunity. I wanted to start the next Yahoo or Amazon. However, as you probably know by now, it turned out that the article that I read was wrong because Vietnam actually grew more quickly than Myanmar. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. At the inception, we were very small. I started the company with US$5,000 and six employees. From year two onwards, we kept working very hard and got into IT and media businesses. Fortunately, both markets were
  • 17.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  17 growing at that time, with the media side growing more quickly. Around that time, Myanmar faced various crises. In 1997, we were hit hard by the Asian Financial crisis. Shortly after, western countries placed sanctions on Myanmar. Then, in 2003, we had our own domestic financial banking crisis, in which five financial institutions were shut down. This triple effect over the five-year period really crippled our economy. But we were very fortunate because the sectors that we chose to be in – IT and media – were at least slowly growing. When I saw this small window of opportunity, I decided to double the workforce every year to take advantage of it. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? When I came back to Myanmar, I set out to become the first software development house and Internet-based service provider in Myanmar. I wanted to be the new Yahoo or Amazon. However, it was never easy to run a business in Myanmar - the business climate had never been welcoming and politics in Myanmar were never pleasant. The problem was exacerbated when Western countries placed sanctions on us. Also, there was not a lot of liberalization in Myanmar as everything was planned and centralized by the government. Naturally, the information and technology sector was heavily scrutinized and censored, especially the Internet. At that time, there were only 11 registered entities that were allowed to use to the Internet in the whole country. Still, the Internet was something that I really wanted to do and the reason why I came back to Myanmar. Plus, I was only 23 at the time and did not have other plans, so I went about doing it anyway. I started capturing clients for my software development service. One day, however, the authorities called me in to tell me I could not continue my cyber business and demanded that I shut down operations. The reason they gave was the government did not think it was the right time for Myanmar to get on the Internet yet. I was devastated because I already spent the whole $5,000 (plus additional funds that I borrowed from family) on buying computers and building the company. What did you do to overcome these challenges? I then decided to start a publication and enter the media business, which is something I was also very passionate about. The officials told me the Internet would become very essential for the future for Myanmar, but this was not the right time yet. They suggested that I start a publication, writing about technology and what it could do for the economy. I first planned to name my publication ‘The Internet Journal,’ but the authorities rejected it because the word ‘Internet’ was banned in Myanmar. In the end, I named our publication ‘Myanmar Electronic Journal’ instead. Our publication business was largely successful. We expanded into many titles, capturing the highest circulation in Myanmar. Looking back, this obstacle was a key milestone of the company. It led me to take the second road and forced me to do something different, which proved to be very successful. One thing I learned from this experience is that, whenever you run into a roadblock, you don’t have to always run through or climb over the roadblock. There is always a second route to reach your destination. In my case, my goal was always the same – to be the most innovative company in Myanmar. But I had to take a different route to get there. Yet, the success in our media business did not come without costs. In 2002, our weekly journal, 7Day News Journal, had the highest circulation in the country. It became our flagship product. In Myanmar, when a journal becomes very successful, any article could become controversial and have high impact, whether positive or negative. Once, we investigated a story on a major crime scene, involving five murders. The authorities thought we went too far and thought we reported too much detail about the crime. They then suspended us for a week. In 2010, when the government released Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, we rushed to cover the story. We put a big picture of her on our front page, but the Censorship Board thought the picture was too big, so they suspended us for two weeks. After that, I decided that the company must remain strong. We never said to ourselves, ‘we are going to scale back what we are reporting’ or ‘let’s step back a little bit.’ Instead, we say, ‘we will still do what we want to do, but we need to be more careful.’ In the end, we even came back stronger. The public, who were furious about
  • 18. 18  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia censorship, supported us. Our readership grew significantly after the suspensions. What impact do you think you created as a result of your company’s growth? In terms of direct employment, we now employ more than 400 staff in our company. That’s a huge increase from when we first started the company. We are also proud of the fact that we created a knowledge-based company in a country that is largely agricultural and is moving toward manufacturing. We are proud to be the driving force of the transition towards a future as a service economy. Myanmar is transitioning toward a democratic, peaceful, and stable country. Hence, the businesses that we have taken up – IT and media – are the two most important sectors for Myanmar. IT is the key enabler of efficiency. We can use IT for education, government systems, or health care services. Media is extremely important to a country that is opening up. It is the key enabler for transparency and accountability. We are currently reporting on how the government is performing and what the ministers are doing, so that the public has information about the country. We believe our company has played a very important role – not just for own employees and affiliated business partners, but also for Myanmar. We are proud to be part of the force behind Myanmar’s transition. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? We are an IT and media company. We see that these two businesses will be even more important in the future, so we are going to continue to focus on that. In the media business, we have recently started publishing a daily newspaper after receiving a license from the government, the first new license in the last 40 years. This is the new market that we are entering into. We also hope to expand into the television and broadcasting business, if the law allows it. Currently, the law does not allow cross-ownership in media. In the IT business, we are still very ambitious to expand our customer base and provide web-based solution systems to the government and other enterprises. We want to be the driving force for Myanmar’s economy. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Myanmar and Southeast Asia? Entrepreneurship is important in every country. Without entrepreneurship, we wouldn’t have Skype or Google. To promote innovation, entrepreneurship has to be encouraged. Also, entrepreneurship has to be supported and nurtured because it is not easy to develop. The government and other institution must work together to help entrepreneurs get over the obstacles. These entrepreneurs are the main force that drive the economy forward and make everybody happy.
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  • 20. 20  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Ock Pop Tok | Laos Veomanee Douangdala’s Bio Veomanee Douangdala came from a family that is well known for textiles. She learned to weave when she was eight years old and became very skillful at weaving and dyeing textiles using natural materials. In 1999, Veomanee met Joanna Smith, an English photographer who was very enthusiastic about Laotion textiles and culture. Together in 2000, they established Ock Pop Tok, with the vision of preserving the Laotian textile industry and providing employment to local artisans in Laos. Veomanee believes in fair business practices and their ethical trade policy became the basis for their success. Company Overview Ock Pop Tok, which means East meets West, is a textile manufacturer and retailer founded in 2000 by local weaver Veomanee Douangdala and an English photographer, Joanna Smith. Headquartered in Luang Prabang, the company’s vision is to empower women through developing traditional skills and promoting the beauty of Laotian textiles worldwide. Under the leadership of Veomanee and Joanna, the company has expanded beyond textiles. In 2005, the company opened Living Crafts Center, which is a weaving and dyeing studio, craft school, and exhibition space. It also initiated the Village Weaver Project, in which Ock Pop Tok’s artisans empower and provide sustainable employment to over 800 local women and 200-300 families. In 2006, the company also opened Fibre2Fabric, a non-profit gallery that showcases textiles as a dedication to documenting, exhibiting, and upholding the social role and tradition of textiles in Laos. Why did you start Ock Pop Tok? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? I grew up in a textile family. I started helping my family’s weaving business in the early 1990s. My mother was a local weaver in the northern part of Laos. Ever since I was young, she has taught me many weaving and dyeing skills and has instilled in me the appreciation of Laotian identity, culture, and textile. Later in 1999, I met Joanna Smith, who is an English photographer. I taught her how to weave and she became very passionate about Laotian textiles and weaving techniques. Together, we thought that other foreigners, like Joanna, would also be interested in learning to weave and in buying handmade Laotian textiles. In addition, Luang Prabang had been recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, so we felt there would be a lot of opportunities because a lot of travelers would be drawn to the city. We believed this was a great time for us to promote the beauty of Laotian textile across the globe, and most importantly to provide women in our community with the opportunity to have sustainable employment. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. We always tried to give our customers a unique experience, not just a product. We believe it is more valuable to tourists when they visit our shops and leave with the appreciation of textiles and the understanding of the story behind it. As such, we strategized about how to put weaving in a social context. Hence, in 2005, we established Living Crafts Center, where people can learn more about our Laotian weaving and culture. We offer a unique opportunity to experience the world of Lao weavers through classes where
  • 21.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  21 customers can get a hands-on experience and gain insight into the culture of weaving. Also, people can meet the artisans and see with their own eyes a number of techniques and weaving styles being practiced. In 2006, we strengthened our impact by founding Fibre2Fabric, a non-profit gallery that showcases handcrafted textiles to document, exhibit, and uphold the social role and tradition of textiles in Laos. Feedback from customers has been very good, and we put all our revenues back into the company. In 2000, we had only 40 textile products; now, we have over 700 products available to our customers. We are proud to say that in over ten years, Ock Pop Tok has grown from a one-room weaving studio to an internationally- recognized tourist destination, gallery, and weaving collaborative for over 800 artisans in Laos. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? Human resource was my biggest challenge. Obviously, it was very hard for an artist to run a business, so I needed to find people who could help me run Ock Pop Tok. However, finding people who have good management expertise in Laos was extremely difficult. Even if we do, we might not be able to afford them. What did you do to overcome these challenges? To attract quality people to our team, we provide various rewards and incentives. We have a profit sharing scheme where our dedicated weavers can reap the outcome of their hard work. We also understand that many of our employees put a lot of emphasis on career development. As a result, we provide various training programs that help improve their skills. For instance, we usually take them to different places in Laos and other countries as well, such as Thailand and the US, to learn about textiles and weaving techniques of different cultures. We also give young people the opportunity to work in a city center where they can serve foreign customers and practice speaking English. We help our employees with their financials, providing in-house loans without interest. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Laos? We follow fair-trade business principles, meaning that we don’t do business just for ourselves. We all work very hard, and we share the benefits with everyone in our network. We have this collective value in which we believe that everyone should prosper together. Our weavers are well paid, and they have holidays, health care, access to financial assistance, training facilities, etc. Our employees are happy and proud to work with us. The number one goal of our business model is not to make profit but to help generate sustainable income for local people in Laos. With the Village Weaver Project, we promote ecotourism in local communities and empower local artisans by transferring our handicraft expertise and skills. We have been organizing training programs for women in villages and other remote areas of the country so that they can stand on their own two feet and improve their standard of living. Likewise, Fibre2Fabric allows local artisans from different ethnic groups to showcase and market their products to people from all over the world. We are happy to say that our initiatives have helped people in the community. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? First, we want to strengthen our dominant market position. Our competitive advantage is the experience that the customers have when they visit our company. Hence, we plan to expand and improve the Living Crafts Center so that tourists will have an even better experience when they visit us. We also plan to open a new, larger museum for textile as well – we already have one but it is still very small. Second, we want to maintain a strong team. We want to move our company forward, so it is essential that we keep our important people who know a lot about our company and the industry. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Laos and Southeast Asia? In addition to economic growth and employment creation, entrepreneurship is important because it can create a network of knowledge in the economy, allowing businesses to share and learn business practices from one another. Learning from each other is beneficial and more efficient than conducting your business on your own.
  • 22. 22  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Island Rose | Philippines Dustin Andaya’s Bio Dustin Andaya graduated with an MBA from the Bath School of Management in the United Kingdom, and is an award-winning entrepreneur and a founder of Island Rose, the Philippines’s first and largest online flower retailer. As a result of his leadership and entrepreneurial acumen, Dustin has received the Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship and was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneurship of the Year finalist. Dustin is also very active in promoting entrepreneurship in the Philippines, serving as a director of the Philippines Internet Commerce Society and giving speeches at e-commerce and entrepreneurship events. Company Overview Island Rose, co-founded by Dustin Andaya in 2000, is a subsidiary of Philippines Cut Flower Corporation, a company that pioneered the cut flower industry in the Philippines. Island Rose revolutionized the flower farming industry in the Philippines and Southeast Asia by offering flowers by phone and the Internet. Through Island Rose, customers can order high quality flowers freshly harvested from vendors around the country. Island Rose’s business model has now become a standard for e-commerce businesses in the Philippines. The company represented the Philippines in the International Trade Center (ITC) for its use of information technology, and has been used as a case study by universities worldwide. Why did you start Island Rose? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? During my travels outside of the Philippines, I found that there were a lot of Filipino workers overseas – about ten percent of our population lived overseas. This was largely due to the recession in the Philippines some time ago. I noticed that it cost a lot of money for Filipinos who lived overseas to send gifts or flowers back to their home country, mainly because they had to go through middlemen. Sometimes, they had to spend three times more than what they would have spent if they bought flowers in the Philippines. This became my inspiration and the initial philosophy of Island Rose – giving people access to local suppliers of flowers at low costs. We provided an online storefront that gave people access to the flower marketplace through the Internet. The online store lets consumers order from us directly, without having to go through the traditional wholesale or retail channels. I always thought that e-commerce was the way to the future. In the beginning, nobody believed it was possible. Even people in my family were not so convinced. To convince others, I decided to do a test run. In December 2000, I put a catalog of flowers in an online publication owned by my enthusiastic friend. To my surprise, I immediately received an order on the first day. Moreover, the customer was Japanese, not a Filipino. When that order came in, I knew immediately that there was an opportunity and that this had a future. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. In February 2001, we had around 30 orders per day. I was very happy with it given that we were still in our first few months of operations. In the first year and a half, I did everything by myself. As the business continued, I was very optimistic that it would grow bigger and bigger, so I started expanding the business to make sure that
  • 23.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  23 it could handle the high rate of growth. I immediately established a customer service team, who were more computer savvy than me, and went on to improve the website, the packaging, and the system behind it. The important thing was to be ready for growth. From then on, we increased our sales exponentially. Right now, 80-85% of our sales are online. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? We faced various obstacles during our growth period. The main obstacle was low Internet penetration among the Filipino population. At that time, the ratio of computers to people in our company was about one to seven. Getting them on email was a huge challenge in itself. Access to credit cards was another problem. There were less than two million credit cards issued in the Philippines at that time, and we were targeting overseas Filipinos, who needed to have credit cards to use our service. In addition, access to an online payment gateway was another obstacle at that time. Filipinos did not have and had not heard of online payment at all. Logistics was another huge challenge - we have 7,100 islands in the Philippines. In the beginning, convincing an old-fashioned courier service to transport flowers for us was very challenging because they did not believe there would a big parcel delivery of flowers at first. In fact, at that time, I was not able to convince any couriers, except one who happened to be my friend. What did you do to overcome these challenges? To overcome the Internet and credit card penetration obstacles, we first targeted a niche market. We decided to direct our marketing efforts to those who had access to the Internet and credit cards. Even though there were only about two million credit card users, two million was more than enough to make a small business like ours profitable. We used online marketing to target these customers, mostly though search engines, social media, and online publications that targeted audiences who had Internet and credit cards. To cope with the online payment gateway issue, we opened a subsidiary office in the US to accommodate online overseas payment. For logistics, we noticed that we received one or two orders a day from many remote provinces. These orders were usually from provinces that did not have access to flower or gift shops, so one or two orders from each of these provinces combined with higher volumes from the main cities would come to a very sizeable amount. Hence, we were able to convince one of the couriers that it was a worthwhile to work with us. At the same time, we adjusted our packaging into a standard size and weight so that our courier would not have a difficult time delivering our orders. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on the Philippines? We always work to make our employees happy. We are always working on ways to give our employees a better quality of life. Due to our e-commerce business model and the amount of traction we receive from the customers, our employees have become knowledgeable of the outside world. They learned a lot from the company because we are exposed to many Filipinos and different parts of the world and different ways of doing business. When it comes to impact outside the company, Island Rose is one of the first online e-commerce businesses in the Philippines. And we are still consistently growing. I believe many companies are inspired by our online activities, and our business model has become an industry standard for online businesses in the Philippines. Island Rose has also come out in many university publications and in shows that were aired to inspire entrepreneurs. A search of our company or myself on the Internet will show we consistently share many interesting business practices with the world. Even though this impact is very hard to quantify, we are very proud that we are creating positive impact on other people outside the company. Last and most important, if there was one real impact we have on people, it is that we have enabled people to keep their relationships alive through our products and services. This concept is my inspiration and it is what this company is all about. During the early days of Island Rose, we realized that we were not only selling flowers and gifts but we were becoming a bridge between people and their loved ones. This is when we came up with our slogan ‘Keeping Relationships Alive.’ The slogan completely changed our company and the
  • 24. 24  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia way we think about products and services. We started expanding our product line and we changed the way we treat our customers to align ourselves with our slogan. This realization of our role in society was, in my belief, the start of our growth to the next level. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? Moving forward, I see us growing the company and diversifying our product line here in the Philippines. Right now, we have added gifts and chocolate to our product line.. We aim to be a household name within our country, not just for Filipinos living overseas. As the data suggests, our local business is growing more quickly than our overseas business; now our local sales contributeover 40% of total sales. We also have the dream of growing to become a regional e-commerce firm that would span the Southeast Asia region. We do believe that this part of the world needs more e-commerce services, and we believe the resourcefulness and the resiliency of the company that we have established here in the Philippines would survive the test. We are looking closely at this, and it would require funding and improvements in our management. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to the Philippines and Southeast Asia? In the Philippines or Southeast Asia, there aren’t many large companies. The economies are mostly driven by small and medium sized businesses. Hence, entrepreneurs are extremely important because they build businesses and help move countries forward. Equally important is the ability for entrepreneurs to expand a little bit beyond a tiny business to create an even bigger impact.
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  • 26. 26  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia KAI Square | Singapore Neo Shi Yong’s Bio NEO SHI YONG graduated with a doctoral degree in Computer Science from National University of Singapore, and is CEO of KAI Square. He co-founded the company with Goh Hai Kiat, whom he met at National University of Singapore while doing his undergraduate studies. Due to the success of their company, Businessweek selected the two co-founders as Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneurs in 2009. In academia, Neo focused his research in areas such as video analytics, multimedia, and machine learning. He has also authored or co-authored over 20 papers on a wide range of research topics. Company Overview KAI Square, founded in 2006, is Singapore’s leading provider of innovative surveillance solutions. Using cloud technologies, KAI Square’s solutions help clients manage large amount of video and other data gathered from monitoring devices. The company’s state of the art innovations have received recognition from all over the world. The company and its founders have been listed in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific, and have won both the Red Herring Global 100 and Emerging Enterprise 2010 awards. Highly regarded as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the region, the company has expanded its workforce by 20 times and achieved 777% revenue growth within three years, and expanded into various industries, such as transportation, healthcare, education, security, logistics, banking, and retail. The company now has a regional presence in Beijing, Suzhou, and Taiwan, and is preparing to enter Australia and Thailand. Why did you start KAI Square? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? ‘Victor’ Goh Hai Kiat and I started the company in 2006 when we were doing our post-graduate studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). We initially provided mainly consultancy services in video data management and surveillance. As our business grew, we started to provide project management services to some of our clients. Through interactions and discussions with our clients and users, we noticed that there was a growing need for making use of surveillance data that was being recorded. We immediately saw a business opportunity in this area. Our inspiration at that point was to use our knowledge in video surveillance to improve security for users and hopefully to deter crimes. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. With the support from our clients and business partners, we started to scale up our company and focused on our business strategies and target market. As we met and discussed with more experts and users, we started to better understand and became more aware of the needs and wishes of the users in this field. We also realized there was tremendous potential and more technology to explore in the video surveillance market. Hence, we started to collaborate more with research institutes to improve our technologies and ensure that we were always on top of the game. We have also managed to recruit talented developers because innovation and human capital were the key drivers of our company. During that time, everyone worked hard towards the
  • 27.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  27 goal of building the KAI Square Unified Platform (KAI UP), which has now become an award winning intelligent monitoring platform, designed to consolidate and process the large amount of information gathered from surveillance devices. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? During the growth phase of the company, we needed the capital to increase our workforce and market our products to a wider audience. We have met many venture capitalists in the process, but we also realized that we wanted to have an investor that could help us and guide us to obtain a strong foothold in this dynamic business world. During the process, we faced many rejections and much criticism. Nevertheless, we resolved that we would not give up so easily because we had a lot of confidence in our development and in our team. What did you do to overcome these challenges? While we have high confidence in our technology and team, we did not just approach investors blindly. We consistently did a lot of homework and preparation by monitoring market demand and the needs of our clients. With great knowledge of the market and understanding of the customers, we were able to re-shape our products to meet users’ needs. Fortunately, we met some investors who believed in us and who were willing to work with us to bring the company to new heights. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Singapore? With our development and improvement of our solutions, our technology is no longer limited to only large corporations but now is more affordable to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as well. We have therefore transferred our expertise in multimedia and surveillance data processing to these organizations and helped improve their businesses. The video analytics market is a large one as the vast quantities of video create the need for analytical tasks to be realized in a faster and more efficient manner. There are endless possibilities that can be fulfilled with video analytics, with its ability to recognize, track, and count. I believe this can create a bigger and more competitive eco-system in the surveillance domain, resulting in higher cost savings and returns on investments for the end users. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? Our aim is to further develop and refine our product, the KAI Square Unified Platform. Within the next five years, we want to open up the platform for analytics developers, so that end users will be able to gain access to the full range of different forms of analytics based on a single platform. With the opening of the platform, we hope to make video analytics more mainstream and to enable more functionalities from video surveillance data. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Singapore and Southeast Asia? Entrepreneurs play a vital role in our society by keeping the economy vibrant and creating opportunities for other people. Especially in Singapore, SMEs are an important pillar of our economic engine and, hence, it is important to instill the mindset of entrepreneurship in the next generation.
  • 28. 28  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia VNG | Vietnam Le Hong Minh’s Bio LE HONG MINH graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business from Monash University in Australia and is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VNG. Minh started his entrepreneurial journey by co-founding an Internet gaming café while working as an investment banker in Vietnam. A gamer at heart, he took his passion for games to the next level in 2004, co-founding VNG, an online game operator that has grown successfully to become a leading Internet company in Vietnam. Minh is considered one of the youngest successful entrepreneurs in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Company Overview Headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, VNG was established in 2004 under the name VinaGame by five game enthusiasts. VNG was originally a licensed online game operator in Vietnam, launching many popular games including Swordsman Online, which became a blockbuster. Under Minh’s leadership, VNG has grown to become a leading Internet company, providing many online products such as music, movies, and social networking websites. Starting with only five people and no capital, the company now employs over 2,000 people with local offices Hanoi and Danang. Why did you start VNG? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? I am very passionate about games. I considered myself a member of the generation that grew up with video games, especially Nintendo games in the early 1990s. When I went to Australia to study finance in 1997, the Internet was booming and I started playing online games as well. After studying in Australia, I came back to Vietnam in 2001 and worked as an investment banker at Vina Capital. Even then, gaming was still a big part of my life. In 2002, my friends and I went to Korea for World Cyber Games Competition. The day after we came back from Korea was when I couldn’t resist my passion any longer, so four of my friends and I decided to open an Internet café where we could play games with other people and make some money. At that time, I was an investment banker by day and an owner of a game room by night. In 2004, Shanda Interactive, a Chinese online-gaming company, made an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in what was one of the largest IPOs at that time. This excited us and made us think more seriously about the gaming business. We thought gaming in Vietnam was a viable business because Vietnam had a relatively young population who picked up new trends and new technology very quickly. Also, Vietnam didn’t have a lot of options for entertainment, so people would spend much of their time playing games. Another strong indicator was that China and Vietnam were really similar, in terms of demographics, culture, and even the political system. I thought the success of China’s gaming industry was likely going to happen in Vietnam eventually. Hence, the five of us decided to bring our passion for games to the next level and start VNG. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success? When you play games, you natural instinct is to level up, learn new skills, and explore new areas. You don’t just sit back and say you are satisfied at this level. The analogy applies here at VNG. We enjoy exploration, growth,
  • 29.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  29 and new challenges. After we became successful with our first game, Swordsman Online, we said to ourselves ‘let’s level up and do a second game.’ Then, we said ‘let’s do a third game,’ and so on. Along the way, the gaming industry and the Internet landscape in Vietnam had been consistently changing. We started to see more opportunities beyond gaming, so we decided to offer more Internet products. In 2007, we launched our Internet portal, Zing Entertainment, offering news, music, and social networking,. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? One of the biggest challenges was when the government threatened to close down the company. The gaming industry was new and unregulated when we first established VNG. Three months after we successfully launched our first game, Swordsman Online, the government came and informed us that in order to run a gaming company, we needed a license called Internet Value Added, which was newly invented right at that time. They said one of the conditions of the license was to have a two-year track record of running the business. We hadn’t operated for two years yet, so we didn’t have that track record and the government threatened to shut us down. This really caught us off guard. The day before, we were still excited about the success with our first game. The next day, we were threatened with losing everything. Another important challenge is changing people’s perspective about gaming. In contrast to many other countries, gaming was still viewed by many Vietnamese people as a negative thing in society. I’ve been trying very hard to change this perspective since day one, but I still think it is extremely difficult. Lastly, building a real business was difficult. Learning to play games is one thing but running a business with a thousand people is another. I had to learn about operations, human resource management, and strategy. Obviously, I made some mistakes along the way. What did you do to overcome these challenges? When the government threatened to close our business, we solved the problem by entering into a partnership with a government company that had the license. This allowed us to continue operating. This solved the problem and the government later backed down. We have encountered many situations that are similar to this story. We overcome all the negative periods by constantly maneuvering, finding ways to fix the operations of the business so that we can survive. To change the public’s perspective about gaming, we tried to re-educate the public. The first thing we are trying to communicate is that gaming is just another form of entertainment. It can be an activity that can bring people together, especially people in the same family. Second, gaming also has other benefits. It is an engine of growth in the Internet and technology industries, which are the main drivers of businesses and the economy as a whole. I believe it is part of the journey that every entrepreneur has to face. The important thing is to enjoy doing it and think that it is a very good opportunity to grow both as a person and as a businessman. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Vietnam? I view the impact that we created on three levels. On the company level, we have grown from a five employee company into a large company by Vietnamese standards. Currently, we employ over 2,000 people. We built a company that was passionate about games and technology. We built a number of very good products, including games, social networks, and mobile applications. Also, we continue to instill passion in our employees, making a very strong positive culture in our company as a result. I could say proudly that we are one of the leading Internet companies in the Southeast Asia region. On the industry level, we are one of the earliest startup companies in Vietnam. We inspire and ignite a lot of people. Many people who used to work with us at VNG have left to found many interesting companies. Furthermore, our business models have been followed by many Vietnamese gaming and Internet startup
  • 30. 30  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia companies. We also try very hard to help these companies by educating entrepreneurs and leading various industry initiatives in Vietnam. On the national level, we have helped Vietnam grow the Internet industry. When we first started in 2004, there were only three million Internet users in Vietnam. Today there are more than 30 million Internet users in Vietnam. We also played a big part in pushing the technology boundary outward. Due to the growth of the gaming industry and the constant needs to upgrade the technology infrastructure, we have helped enhance Vietnamese’s hardware and software platforms. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? I look at my business from two perspectives – internally and externally. Internally, I hope that in the next ten years we will retain the values that have made us successful today. The company will grow older, but I want my company to still be young and passionate. I want my people to still love what we do and be dynamic and receptive to change, even though change is painful. Most importantly, I want the company to continue retaining and attracting the best people in Vietnam to come and work with us. Externally, I still see a lot of opportunities in the gaming industry. We drove the first wave of PC-based gaming, but the industry has expanded very quickly to include web-based and mobile gaming. In the next ten years, family-based games could become a phenomenon, as televisions in the home will become connected by the Internet. We also see a lot of opportunities outside of the gaming industry. Right now, we are the largest Internet portal in Vietnam, providing music, movies, and news. We just launched our own instant messaging application at the end of 2012. We believe there are tremendous opportunities in the technology industry. To capture these opportunities, we will continue to innovate and build exciting products for the market. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Vietnam and Southeast Asia? At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is about creating value. I do not think countries should rely on just the wealth that they created in the past. Entrepreneurship is therefore very important to Vietnam because we are still a relatively poor country and we need to constantly create value for ourselves. We need to have new companies that can drive the country forward. If Vietnam has ten more companies like us, Vietnam will experience significant economic growth. Also, a lot of positive values will be created in the society. I believe entrepreneurship should be number one on the agenda for policymakers in Vietnam and for policymakers in other countries as well.
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  • 32. 32  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia TARAD.com | Thailand Pawoot Pongvitayapanu’s Bio PAWOOT PONGVITAYAPANU is a serial entrepreneur in the e-commerce and online media industries. A graduate of Assumption University and Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, he co-founded TARAD.com in 2000. Pawoot is also President of Thai E-Commerce Association, a teacher, a guest speaker in various events, and a columnist at the Bangkok Biz newspaper. He also founded Zocial Inc., a company that helps businesses analyze online and social network data. Company Overview TARAD.com, the largest e-commerce website in Thailand, was incorporated in 2000. TARAD.com, which means ‘market’ in Thai, introduced an online marketplace platform that allowed small and medium sized local merchants to open their stores and sell products online. Currently, TARAD.com has over 250,000 local merchants selling products on its website, a tremendous increase from the original ten merchants it started with. Under Pawoot’s leadership, TARAD.com has grown the size of its workforce by twentyfold and became Thailand’s largest e-commerce marketplace. The company was later acquired by Rakuten, the number one e-commerce website in Japan. Why did you start TARAD.com? What was your inspiration at that time? Was there any event or circumstances that made you want to start this company? In 1999, we first started thaisecondhand.com, a site that allowed consumers to buy and sell secondhand products. The website was very popular and successful, but since it only focused on secondhand products, the market was very limited. Also, when we tried to expand the website and talked to other businesses, many of them did not really want to talk to us after knowing that we were selling secondhand goods. We therefore decided to look for an even bigger e-commerce platform and came up with an idea of creating an online market place, which eventually became TARAD.com. With TARAD.com, we basically shifted from a consumer to consumer model to a much larger online marketplace. At first, we doubted whether TARAD.com would be more successful than thaisecondhand.com, but we believed the two websites were an extension of one another and had many synergies. In fact, TARAD.com was able to attract customers on its launch day, many of whom were our customers at thaisecondhand.com. What did you do to achieve this high growth rate? Describe the strategy or business model that enabled your company to achieve this success. The strategy that I used was diversifying while staying connected to our core business. For instance, TARAD. com is an extension of thaisecondhand.com. Doing so allowed us to leverage our expertise and create synergies between the two websites. Our company tried many different things – launching an e-wallet, running e-commerce workshops—and we became more dynamic as a result. At the moment, we not only operate TARAD.com, but we also have three or four other businesses as well. All of these are an extension of one another. What challenges did you face when you were scaling up your company? The challenges I faced were different across the phases of the business. During the start-up phase or the first
  • 33.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  33 three years, the biggest challenge I faced was keeping my company alive. I was still very new at the time and did not have a lot of knowledge running the business, let alone knowledge in finance, accounting, or human resources. During this stage, I had to prove that my company could survive. After the business started to pick up and we were in the growth phase, I faced new challenges. At the beginning we only had four people running the business. After three years, we had 20 to 30 employees. My challenge became personnel management. I needed to attract good people while also retaining smart ones. Sometimes, people fought, and my job was to maintain harmony. In the next stage where we had around 50 to 70 employees, my challenge was to maintain long-term growth. I wanted my company to grow smoothly and organically. Now that the business landscape is more globalized, our challenge is to grow outside of Thailand. What did you do to overcome these challenges? During the start-up phase, when I did not possess a lot of experience, I did a process of trial and error. I tried many things until I arrived at the answer. Sometimes, if I could not figure out the solution by myself, I sought advice from people who knew more than me. I accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience by doing so. As an entrepreneur, you have to do it by yourself in order to succeed. During the growth phase, I started to know more about the business. I did a lot of planning together with my team and became more systematic as a result. The processes at the company became more standardized, making our life much easier. I also hired many talented people. This allowed me to do more strategic thinking as opposed to implementation. Our problems were solved more quickly because we were more systematic and had many intelligent people. As a result of your company’s growth, what impact have you had on Thailand? The biggest impact we have made is helping local merchants grow. With our infrastructure and technology, we give the engine of growth to local merchants who would not have a lot of opportunities for growth if they were left alone. TARAD.com lets local merchants, who operate far away from the market or do not possess capital, to reach new markets and sell their products all over the country. We create tremendous wealth for these merchants. Many of them did not have their own houses before they came to us. With our help, they could buy their own house and send their kids to school. Many of our successful merchants have ten million baht of revenue per year. With our platform, we help Thailand better match supply and demand. Before TARAD.com, demand was clustered geographically – mainly in major cities. Merchants who live far away can now sell their products at low cost. For instance, there was a local merchant who started off selling secondhand golf clubs. After opening a store in TARAD.com, his business expanded exponentially, and he started to think about entering the golf industry more seriously. Right now, he has become one of the largest golf club suppliers in Thailand. We have many cases like this. In the first week of TARAD.com, we had only ten merchants. Now we have over 250,00 merchants operating on our website. How do you see your company in the next five to ten years? What would you like to accomplish? I am looking to expand Zocial Inc, which is another Thai-based company I founded. Zocial Inc is a company that helps businesses analyze online and social network data. It currently has a strong base in Thailand, and I want to expand it to Indonesia. I want to strengthen the synergies and leverage the expertise of our group of companies, with Rakuten in Thailand as the core. Then, we plan to expand to the rest of Southeast Asia in the future. Southeast Asia gives us the best opportunity to grow. Why do you think entrepreneurship is important to Thailand and Southeast Asia? Entrepreneurship is extremely important. If you have a vision that is bigger than your company, i.e. a vision that is beyond making profits for your company, you will create positive externalities for the community. Your employees will work not just to finish the day but will work to do good for other people. At TARAD.com we believe in this value.
  • 34. 34  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Lessons Learned from Entrepreneurial Journeys Nicky Wong, 365eStore The most important thing is to have a vision and a dream. Then, keep pursuing it and never give up. Also, building a great team who also shares your vision is essential. You need to work in teams so that they can help you overcome your obstacles. Then, anything is possible after that. Keo Mom, Lyly Food Industry One thing I learned is to be hands-on. As an entrepreneur and a leader of my company, I need to be able to provide solutions to problems that appear. The way to do that is to tackle the problem yourself. That was how I accumulated knowledge and expertise. Another important thing that I take away is relationships. Sometimes when I ran into a dead end, I needed to ask for advice from someone. Luckily, I have my family, relatives, and know other people who have a lot of expertise in running businesses. Hooi Lin Tan & Anthony Tan, MyTeksi You are more often wrong that right, so the most important thing is to be humble enough to admit you made a mistake, and learn from them as quickly as possible. Also, life is generally not easy. But it becomes a worthwhile challenge when you are fighting for something that matters to you. Niki Luhur, Kartuku In the beginning, it all starts with pure passion and sweat. There is no substitute for hard work, and entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted. Passion is what makes the hardship feel light. There are a million ways to execute. It’s most important to balance being agile and flexible, while never losing sight of your vision. Be practical with your strategy, focus on wins that are within reach. Dream big and never give up on opportunities. Failure is inevitable, but persistence is what will drive growth. Paradigm shifts don’t happen overnight. Thaung Su Nyein, Information Matrix One key lesson I learned is to always have a second option or plan B and keep your mind open. If you run into a roadblock, just remember that where you want to go is not necessarily behind the roadblock. You don’t have to fight through that roadblock. You can find another way. You can turn left or right and can still be where you want to be. Just keep your final destination, your dream, and your goals in your mind. Focus on them and find your way around. Veomanee Douangdala, Ock Pop Top On the business side, I learn that keeping employees and customers happy is very important. These are the people that drive the company forward. Happy employees are motivated to work with you and help the company grow. Happy customers will keep buying your products. On the social side, it is important to have a goal beyond just making money. You need to give more than
  • 35.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  35 you take. You might not be able to change the whole world, but you can still help people and give them opportunities. If you have a goal that is beyond your company, the impact that you create will be tremendous or even unlimited. Last and most important, do what you love. Dustin Andaya, Island Rose The best thing I learned from my entrepreneurial journey is to ‘learn how to learn.’ When you study in school, you learn a lot of things from your professors, such as the latest trends in the market, new theories, latest buzzwords, etc. However, these things become old very quickly when you go outside of the classroom. What I took away from my journey is that when you know how to consistently learn, you learn how to survive. The tactics of surviving is always useful. Neo Shi Yong, kai Square While KAI Square has grown in leaps and bounds, we feel that there is still a ways to go before we would consider ourselves actually successful. There is still ample space for growth, and that belief has been one of the key factors motivating us to strive for more. However, we’ll be glad to share some of the key lessons that we’ve learned so far. While having dreams is important, it is most important to have perseverance. What we achieved today was through many struggles. Entrepreneurship is all about teamwork. No one can make it big without support from team members. Therefore, it is important to seek to understand the opinions of your team members, and to give them sufficient respect regardless of their position in the company. From there, you might find invaluable opinions that can be critical to success. Always keep the big picture in mind. While many people start companies with a single vision of what they want to achieve, it is important to remember other stakeholders’ perspectives and the ever-changing environment. Le Hong Minh, vng Growing this company, I also learned a lot about the importance of the people in the company. It is very easy for most companies to say that people are their number one priority but to actually do it is more difficult. Again, it is actions that matter the most. Finding the right people for your company is as important as helping them grow and making them happy. Sometimes, however, things might not be so beautiful and you must not be afraid to make hard decisions. Lastly, let me use another gaming analogy here. When you first start playing a game, you don’t really know what to do or where to go. But as you concentrate on playing the game, you start to become more proficient and move up to the next level. The next level is going to be more difficult. You might fail, but as you put more effort into the game you will soon be able to solve the problem. As you iterate the process, many of the things become your instinct. Running a company is similar. Many management skills have become my instincts. Therefore, another thing I learn is to actually start doing and trying different things. Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, Tarad.com First, do a lot of things and do it by yourself. When you try many things you start to see opportunities that you could never think of. Even though you have smart people around you, you have to be hands-on and implement things by yourself. Second, leverage technology. Technology lets you keep costs low and allows your company to grow more quickly.
  • 36. 36  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia Recommendations to Younger Generation Nicky Wong, 365eStore If you have a dream, just go for it. Other people might say things that could discourage your idea, but if you think it will work, don’t give up. Another key is to take that first step. Actions are more important than your thoughts because it is actions that determine your future. Keo Mom, Lyly Food Industry Do what you love and follow your passion. If you are passionate about something, you can overcome your obstacles. This company is what I am passionate about, and it energizes me every day. At the same time, nothing is always easy. An entrepreneur will face challenges and must be ready for failure. But the most important characteristic is to pick yourself up once you fall. Hooi Lin Tan & Anthony Tan, MyTeksi Be ready to fail. Be ready to work hard. Be ready to reach out for help. Most importantly, find a very good team of people you trust and people who share the same values as you do. It is so much easier to fight through all the challenges when you have a team of people who are willing to do it together with you. Niki Luhur, Kartuku Identify your passion, and then find others with the same passion. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and build a management team with complementary skills. Build a true friendship with them, as trust is core to any partnership. Once you have put the right team together, identify industries that relate to your passion and think of what is the next paradigm shift. Set a clear vision, but most importantly identify a starting point that is realistic and viable. Find the low hanging fruit that your team is in a relatively unique position to capture. Manage your cash flows carefully, invest in your human resources, and never relent on your search for talent. Thaung Su Nyein, Information Matrix You need to specialize and have good knowledge about what it is that you want to do. Also, you need to do a lot of things by yourself initially. You have to be your own accountant, marketing executive, and general manager. You need to have experience in every role in your organization, so that when you hire someone, you will know the challenges that they will face and be able to give them guidance. Also, as you grow, your goals and your destination may change – that is perfectly normal. You must therefore keep yourself flexible and be ready to adapt. Even a 100 year-old company has to adapt to changes in the business environment. You cannot stay still. Every change has an opportunity and you must be ready to take advantage of it.
  • 37.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  37 Veomanee Douangdala, Ock Pop Top Do what you believe and what makes you happy because that’s what drives people forward. We can see that every successful person is successful on the things that they love. Another recommendation I would give is to learn from other entrepreneurs. They have been there before. They know what mad them fail and what made them successful. Learning from them will make your entrepreneurial journey easier. Dustin Andaya, Island Rose Find something that you love and never give up. That is really the key to successful entrepreneurship. I also would like to reiterate on being open to learning new things. The world is constantly changing, and it is changing more quickly every day. If you are more agile, if you are always on top of the game, then your chances of survival are much greater. Another very important thing I recommend is to always work hard. Many people talk about the role that luck plays in success. However, I believe that you must create your own luck. In reality, you can be lucky or unlucky, but if you work hard you can always increase your chances of luck. Neo Shi Yong, kai Square Always do your research. Market research can help you to determine whether your idea can meet market needs. Without sufficient information, there is also a tendency to commit costly mistakes that can otherwise be easily avoided. Try to get to know people from your industry, attend trade fairs and exhibitions, and talk to the people there. Also, don’t just pursue the current needs of the market, but also look to create what the market might need in the future. This will create more value for your solutions, and give you first mover advantage in the market. While it is good to think and plan in details, it is important to realize that things rarely go according to plan. Hence, it is always important to have preemptive measures and backup plans. Le Hong Minh, vng Do what you love. But I would like to take this statement to another level. People mostly think of love as a noun instead of a verb. My advice would be that if you really love something, you cannot just admire it - you have to really understand the passion of ‘love’ as a verb. That means you need to take actions – giving your all even when you are in a negative period or facing difficulties. The ability to sustain your business is all about your actions. Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, Tarad.com There are a lot of opportunities for the younger generation. There are so many organizations that are established for the purpose of promoting entrepreneurship. However, I recommend those who are aspiring to become entrepreneurs to not rely too much on theories. There are many textbooks out there that teach you how to become a successful entrepreneur, but the most important thing is to start doing by yourself and be hands-on. Another recommendation is to do what you love. If you do what you love, you will never feel tired. You can live with it if you have fun with it.
  • 38. 38  /  High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia The World Bank Enterprise Survey is a representative sample of firms in an economy’s private sector. The World Bank typically interviews 150 firms in small economies, 360 in medium-size ones, and 1200- 1800 in larger economies. The sample is constructed using a stratified random sample based on firm size, business sector, and geographic region within a country. According to the World Bank, “Enterprise Surveys tend to oversample large firms since larger firms tend to be engines of job creation.”10 The analysis contained in this report is based on the following three survey questions: • “In what year did this establishment begin operations in this country” • “At the end of fiscal year [insert last complete fiscal year], how many permanent, full-time employees did this establishment employ?” • “Three fiscal years ago, in the year [insert three complete fiscal years ago], how many permanent, full-time employees did this establishment employ?” Using firms’ responses to these questions, we construct an employment compound annual growth rate (CAGR). We summarize jobs figures using sampling weights. Therefore, findings should be considered valid at the economy-level. However, given the weighting towards larger firms and the small sample startup sample size, sections three and four should be considered valid at the sample-level only. 1. For the purposes of this report, a scaleup company is defined as a firm that is more than three years old with an average annual employment growth rate greater than or equal to 20% during the previous three years; a startup company is defined as a firm that is three years of age or less. 2. International Labor Organization. “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013.” http://www.ilo. org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/youth/2013/lang--en/index.htm (accessed January 12th, 2014). 3. United Nations Population Divisions, World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision. 4. International Labor Organization. “Youth employment getting even worse.” http://www.ilo.org/global/ about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_188797/lang--en/index.htm (accessed August 27th, 2013). 5. Ibid. 6. The World Bank, Enterprise Surveys (http://www.enterprisesurveys.org). 7. Ibid. Indonesia: 16% of firms create 52% of net new job growth; Laos: 3% of firms create 58% of net new job growth; Philippines: 5% of firms create 91% of net new job growth; Timor Leste: 7% of firms create 36% of net new job growth; Vietnam 11% of firms create 69% of net new job growth. 8. Foster, George, Antonio Davila, Martin Haemmig, et al. Global Entrepreneurship and Successful Growth Strategies of Early-Stage Companies. The World Economic Forum. http://www.weforum.org/ reports/global-entrepreneurship-and-successful-growth-strategies-early-stage-companies (accessed August 28th, 2013). 9. Morris, Rhett. 2011 High-impact Entrepreneurship Global Report. Endeavor. http://www. Methodology: Analysis of World Bank Enterprise Surveys Endnotes
  • 39.   High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia  /  39 Endeavor is leading the global high-impact entrepreneurship movement to catalyze long-term economic growth. Over the past ten years, Endeavor has selected, mentored, and accelerated the best high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. To date, Endeavor has screened more than 30,000 entrepreneurs and selected 800+ individuals leading 500+ high-impact companies. These entrepreneurs represent over 225,000 jobs and over $6 billion in revenues in 2012 and inspired future generations to innovate and become entrepreneurs too. Endeavor Insight, Endeavor’s research arm, studies high-impact entrepreneurs and their contribution to job creation and economic growth. Along with the Kauffman Foundation and the World Bank, Endeavor Insight is a founding member of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN). Its research educates policy makers and practitioners and helps them to accelerate entrepreneurs’ success and the development of entrepreneurship ecosystems around the world. Endeavor Endeavor Insight Omidyar Network Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $669 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, property rights, government transparency, consumer Internet and mobile. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com.
  • 40. Endeavor Insight February 2014 Copyright © Endeavor Global www.endeavor.org/insight /endeavorglobal @endeavor_global /endeavorglobal

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