The Zeal of A True Entrepreneur


Published on

Tengku Farith Rithauddeen is presently spearheading the overall operational and management of SKALI Group. For more information on Tengku Farith and SKALI, please visit and

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

The Zeal of A True Entrepreneur

  1. 1. The Zeal of A True Entrepreneur
  2. 2. Tengku Farith realized his passion for entreneurship, when hesuccessfully won a project for Road Builder, a construction company thathe worked for. He had a first taste of what is like to build something fromscratch, while doing Business Development for Road Builder.At that time, they were bidding for Kuantan Ports project, which wassupposed to be privatized together with Kemaman Port. The governmenthad shortlisted Road Builder and DRB-Hicom as two main contendersfor the project. Instead of risking it all, they proposed to EconomicPlanning Unit (EPU) that the privatization be split into two. They agreedand DRB got Kemaman while Road Builder got Kuantan. It was a goodcompromise, he learnt that in pitching for business, it’s wrong to adoptan all-or-nothing attitude. Sometimes there’s enough to go around soeverybody can get a piece of the pie.
  3. 3. When he recalls of the projects that SKALI failed to win, he always reminds himself of Sun Tzu’s advice in theArt of War: “Pick the battles and terrains where you are strongest and where your competitors arethe weakest”.This mantra helped Tengku Farith and his team in bidding big projects like Employees Provident Fund (EPF)website. SKALI was awarded the contract to build a website for EPF, which was worth RM3 million. In spiteof SKALI being a small local start-up, it had an advantage of being experienced portal building company,which helped to win the project. EPF called several times seeking clarifications on various aspects of theproposal before awarding the project. However, building the website proved to be a bigger challenge thanwinning the project. Not only the system requirements was challenging but also finance to kick start theproject, was far more difficult. Tengku Farith and team were disheartened when they realize they have a bigproject in hand but getting a loan was not possible, however they trudged on because the EPF portal was tooimportant project to let go.After various attempts to seek for financing, SKALI managed to get the required financial assistance fromMalaysian Debt Ventures (MDV). Upon completion of the EPF website, SKALI gained more confidence to bidfor other big government projects.
  4. 4. Tengku Farith Rithauddeen, the Group CEO of SKALI struggled with a long journey ofchallenges before reaching the position he is today.Though being a son of former government minister, Tengku Farith and his siblings werenot pampered with an easy life. They were brought up with discipline like any otherchildren and achieve success through the hard way.
  5. 5. Was sent to Ottawa, Canada at the age of 13 to continue his studies in high school andlater in college. He finally graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor’s degree inEconomics in 1992.He recalls that entrepreneurship being taught to him at very young age by his parents,when he was asked to manage the collection of rental of the family properties in Canadaand pay out the utilities, taxes and necessary dues. His mother used to train him and hissiblings on financial management, by asking them to produce financial statements of theirexpenditure.
  6. 6. Tengku Farith’s career began with Commerce International MerchantBankers (CIMB) in the corporate finance division. He was a key teammember in the Corporate Finance and Capital Market divisions. He hasin-depth knowledge about corporate restructuring, corporate financingand financial re-engineering.Throughout his career at CIMB, Tengku Farith established relationships with various investmentbankers, analysts, researchers, venture capitalists and private investors, and was involved incorporate advisory services for Penang Port, agencies under the Ministry of Rural Development andKPJ Healthcare Bhd.
  7. 7. He then moved on to Road Builder (M) Holdings Bhd and was responsible for its business development in propertyand infrastructure projects. At Road Builder, he was instrumental in securing numerous privatization projectsrelating to property and infrastructure.During his tenure at Road builder, Tengku Farith led a team to turn around a local manufacturing company involvedin the building materials industry. In his four-year stint as CEO of this company, he earned valuable experience inmanaging the day-to-day and hands-on operations of two factories employing 160 employees. While he was attached to Road Builder, Tengku Farith formed ACIF Resources, a consultancy firm with Azmi and Aimi (his ex-colleagues from CIMB). Later, the three of them team up with Maznida Mokhtar, Mohd Reza Shafiee, Mohd Hisham Mohd Isa and Harjono Zainal Abidin, to do the Alta Vista’s search engine project.
  8. 8. However, they could not run the business as successful as they expected due to lack of demand in online advertisingand failure to generate traffic as forecasted. The entire team was on a pressure to meet their agreement with AltaVistato pay US$360,000 traffic fees, regardless whether they manage to drive actual traffic or not.Tengku Farith decided to come on board full-time, leaving his steady job at Road Builder. This was exactly when SKALIwas on huge debts, unsettled loans and large amount of pending staff salaries. He felt that move was vital as all hisother business partners were on a battle to manage shareholders, creditors, unhappy employees, while runningbusiness operations as usual.
  9. 9. When the business model was no longer sustainable, Tengku Farith and hispartners decided to diversify to broaden their revenue base, and theysucceeded in doing that too. They built small data centre and with the boomingof dotcom at that point of time, they managed to take advantage of thedemand for hosting services.Upon coming on board as a full-time president in SKALI, Tengku Farith wasresponsible to handle creditors and funding issues. With a huge amount ofdebts, Tengku Farith and team began to strategize the settlement of pendingpayments through revenues from data centre business and Theywere also on serious search of potential investors to increase funding of thecompany. After a long and continuous search for investors, SKALI managed toget a few like Transpac, Time DotCom and Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB).By end of 1999, SKALI was on pretty good financial footing. The data centrebusiness was booming well, resulting 88% year-on-year revenue growth. Thisprogress won the confidence of the investors. The co-founders of SKALI wereleveraging on each other’s strengths and optimize all possible opportunitiesthat come their way.
  10. 10. During his journey of being an entrepreneur, Tengku Farith was exposed to associations like New Entrepreneur Forum(NEF) which aimed to promote the development of Bumiputera ICT entrepreneurs and Technopreneurs Associationof Malaysia (TeAM), an association formed by a group of Malaysia Technopreneurs and to assist in the developmentof the Digital Economy in Malaysia.As a result of his active involvement in NEF and TeAM, Tengku Farith was instrumental in the establishment of SKALINetpreneurs Acceleraion Program (SNAP). SNAP is an initiative for Asian Netpreneurs to leverage the pool of SKALIsexperience, expertise, resources and business networking. SNAP creates and adds further value for investors,Netpreneurs and communities in general by sharing an in-depth knowledge base and widening the reach of Internetopportunities.
  11. 11. Along the journey, SKALI also managed to record a good image with the government. SKALI was one ofthe early adopters of Open Source. The idea of using an inexpensive platform to build website, createand edit content turned out to be a smart choice. SKALI was able to make huge savings and not onlythat, SKALI was invited to give some inputs when government decided that Malaysia should evaluatethe readiness to adopt Open Source platforms. Having gone through a journey of challenges since its inception in 1996, SKALI stands tall today and their vision to grower bigger is clearly visible as they prepare for listing exercise next year. Today SKALI is one of the notable ICT players who provide innovative products and services like data centre services, first cloud provider and recognized web portal developer. Behind the success of SKALI, Tengku Farith is one of the great contributor.
  12. 12. Being an entrepreneur, Tengku Farith learnt value of money,importance of networking with community and proper management ofbusiness models. The essences of entrepreneurship to him simplymeans continuous effort of getting up after each fall and try better thenext round.Not only Tengku Farith has achieved his dreams of forming SKALI to beone of the leading ICT company in the region, he has also made thisnation proud through the e-government project called Managed PortalServices, which sees SKALI entrusted to improve and upgradeMalaysia’s government portals and websites.
  13. 13. “You got to be innovative with yourofferings – be different, identifyuniqueness of your product/services.Entrepreneurs should posses NEVER give upattitude in order to be successful.”
  14. 14. Tengku Farith Rithauddeen is presently spearheading the overall operational and managementof SKALI Group. For more information on Tengku Farith and SKALI, please visit www.skalilagi.netand