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Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), Malaysia Broadband Champion, has taken its high speed broadband service offering specifically tailored to businesses – UniFi for Business – up another notch with the availability of HyppTV for Business, as an add-on to the UniFi BIZ package. This new enhancement in fact has been a popular demand of TM’s UniFi for Business customers, and reflects the Company’s continuous efforts in delivering enhanced customer experience across all segments.
HyppTV for Business is specially designed for SMEs to enjoy high quality IPTV programmes at their business premises. The infotainment service offers news and entertainment channels delivered through UniFi high speed Internet broadband connection. HyppTV for Business provides only the very best in infotainment to its customers and they in turn enjoy the privilege of subscribing to the channels that best suit their business needs or for their customers viewing pleasure.
Businesses such as restaurants, cafes, hotels, spas and even hair salons would be the perfect fit for HyppTV for Business. Business owners not only can offer the benefits to their employees, they can also provide interesting infotainment experience to their customers and clients. For SMEs that have TV sets at waiting lounges, their customers will be entertained with programmes from HyppTV for Business while waiting for their turns to be served.
HyppTV for Business offers 62 Broadcast LIVE TV channels which consist of international and local TV channels along with 14 HD channels.
There are over 15 news channels such as Al Jazeera, Bloomberg TV and Channel News Asia, while Fashion TV HD, Syfy HD, Nick Jr and BBC Entertainment offers viewers with exclusive lifestyle and entertainment channels. For sport enthusiasts, there are channels such as FOX Football Channel and MUTV, just to quench their thirst for sporting actions.
HyppTV for Business also provides interactive applications by bringing Internet interactivity to the TV screen with Info Trafik, Waktu Solat, Malaysian History and also talks by renowned local and overseas speakers in TED.com, Ilham Bicara, Cinema Movie Trailers, The Making Of and Try Masak. Viewers can simply use their remote control buttons to navigate the interactive menu on their TV screen.
The channels listed are the most popular ones amongst business owners as they can keep themselves updated with current information and enjoy exciting entertainment in a single package. The best part is that business owners can watch their favourite channels at any time, even in bad weather. They do not need to worry about disruptions while watching TV.
HyppTV for Business is now available to both new and existing UniFi BIZ customers to further enhance their UniFi experience, with a minimum subscription fee of only RM90 per month. This monthly fee excludes the monthly charge for UniFi broadband services. However, there is no installation fee for subscribers of HyppTV for Business.
TM is currently offering two (2) special packages to SMEs:
1. Fox Package
The Fox package is inclusive of four (4) channels which are Fox Crime HD, Nat Geo Adventure HD, NatGeo Music and channel chM HD (previously known as tvN HD). This package costs RM120.
2. STAR Chinese Package
The STAR Chinese package is inclusive of three channels which are Channel [V] Taiwan, STAR Chinese channel and SCM Legend. This package costs RM105.
The minimum contract period for HyppTV for Business service is 12 months and this contract period does not follow the existing UniFi BIZ contract period. With the current promotion, TM is waiving the activation fee for HyppTV for Business for both its existing and new customers.
Customers who wish to subscribe to HyppTV for Business, can do so via the following channels:
1. TM UniFi Centre (TMUC) – Customers may call TM UniFi Centre at 1-300-88- 1222. Kindly mention your UniFi user ID and indicate which channel(s) you wish to subscribe to.
2. TMpoint – Customers may visit the nearest TMpoint to subscribe. Kindly mention your UniFi user ID and indicate which channel(s) you wish to subscribe to.
3. MyUniFi Portal – For extra convenience, customers may login to the UniFi Self Care portal (http://occ. UniFi.my) and follow the instructions in the website.
As part of its dynamic approach and commitment to provide the best products and services to SMEs, TM has also recently announced two (2) new UniFi BIZ packages which offer higher broadband speeds for its business customers. The packages are UniFi BIZ30 and BIZ50 with speeds of 30Mbps and 50Mbps respectively along with its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) which is specially tailored for UniFi for Business.
Each package comes with a host of complimentary products and services such as a free DECT phone, WiFi Business Getaway, TM WiFi ID, 10GB Web Hosting along with 2GB e-mail account, Infoblast account and Add-On Value Added Services (VAS) options that include, web storage capacities of up to 10GB, security and a fixed IP address. The new BIZ30 package is offered at RM599 per month, while BIZ50 is offered at RM899 a month.
hrough UniFi for Business, customers may enjoy balanced data uploads and downloads, uncapped and unlimited data usage together with the lowest call rates for businesses in Malaysia. Customers will enjoy a flat rate of 3 sen per minute for all calls to TM fixed lines nationwide and 12 sen per minute to all mobiles and other fixed line operators.
Currently, UniFi is available in 100 exchange areas covering more than 1.377 million premises which includes key economic and industrial zones such as the Klang Valley, Cyberjaya, Putrajaya, Kulim Hi-Tech Park and Iskandar Malaysia. In Penang, the deployment of UniFi covers Bayan Baru, Bukit Tengah and Seberang Jaya for both residential and industrial areas. UniFi has grown tremendously since its launch on March 2010 and now more than 517,000 customers nationwide.
Article by Malaysia SME
Dr Rajiv Bhanot, managing director of H20 Saver Sdn Bhd, speaks passionately about providing rural folks with that most precious commodity of all; clean drinking water.
PILLARS: HOW DID A MEDICAL DOCTOR END UP BECOMING A BUSINESSMAN?
Dr Rajiv Bhanot: I always did want to be a medical doctor and I worked hard to get there. I was one of the pioneers to study at the Moscow Medical Academy in Russia. Upon completion I returned to Malaysia and served the Government.
However I am someone who never did like a monotonous structured system and predictable days. This could have been the reason I brought in this amazing technology to the ASEAN region when it was at a very infant stage in the UK.
My philosophy in life is we only live once so let’s live it to the fullest. I don’t believe that we should ever doubt our capabilities and what we can achieve.
Every year that is gone is a year we are never going to get back which is why I did not want to wait for too long before staring this business.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES H20 SAVER SDN BHD DO?
We have transferred a British Nano technology in the field of water filtration into Malaysia. Basically this technology has the ability to convert the dirtiest of water into sterile drinking water within seconds and it comes in the form of a jerrycan.
This caught the attention of the Malaysian Rural and Regional Development Ministry under the auspicious of Datuk Seri Hj. Mohd Shafie Bin Haji Apdal who took on this technology and pushed for it to be executed in a proper way. The Ministry has always looked for ways and technology that can help elevate the quality of life of those living in the rural parts of the country.
Over the last year, this technology has reached out to many homes in extremely rural areas and provide clean drinking water to thousands of families.
We also do conduct workshops to educate rural folks on how to use the jerrycans and ensure that such a technology is utilised to the fullest.
WHAT IS SO REMARKABLE ABOUT THE JERRYCAN?
First and foremost, there is no electricity required. It is also mobile and uses a Nano filtration technology that filters down to 15 nano meters producing sterile drinking water in a matter of seconds.
Each jerrycan can filter 20,000 litres per can so a family of five can have enough clean drinking water every day for four years. The production cost is less than 10 cents per litre and it does not require electricity.
This technology in the form of a bottle is also being used by the British troops on ground.
WHAT IS THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE JERRYCAN?
We feel that the potential is endless; with such a technology our research and development team are already in the final stages of coming up with something more communal. We feel that these jerrycans are the solution to water poverty in the region and we are going to work relentlessly to see that happen.
The statistics on water poverty is quite staggering. 1.1 billion people globally do not have access to safe drinking water. Each year 1.6 million people die from drinking dirty water. Approximately 600,000 children die from diarrhoea globally just by drinking unclean water. There is a genuine and strong belief for our cause.
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED IN STARTING THE COMPANY?
My greatest challenge was me. When I was starting out, I set targets for myself both short and long term. Trying to reach all these targets was certainly a challenge.
HOW DID YOU GROW THE COMPANY?
With a good and strong team who are working with me on this. Without them I would not have been able to start this off.
Couple of months a year I go into rural areas within the region where there is an immense need and demand for clean drinking water. In Malaysia we are lucky because most of the country has adequate infrastructure for clean drinking water but our neighbouring countries are worse and I am looking for ways to penetrate this technology into other parts of the Asian region.
We have our research and development team working relentlessly in coming up with a made-in Malaysia product where we come up with something that can be used in a more communal manner.
We want to launch these communal based tanks exclusively in Malaysia before taking it to the rest of the world.
AT 29, YOU ARE STILL VERY YOUNG. IS IT ALL WORK FOR YOU OR DO HAVE TIME TO PURSUE YOUR HOBBIES?
I have several hobbies; I travel, I love playing golf and enjoy football as well.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF YOUR COMPANY?
I would like us to be able to stand tall and say that we have managed to eradicate water poverty in the region. As optimistic as it sounds we believe it is not impossible.
An unpolished stone is not necessarily worthless until given the right treatment and care. Behonce Beh watches as art comes to life in the hands of a woman who saw it all happen before her eyes.
The blistering heat on a moody morning filled with haze certainly dampens my mood, especially when my photographer and I were walking about Penang hoping for a reprieve from the punishing mid-year madness.
A white bungalow along Kelawei Road stood out amongst the others, and that signaled the end of our walk but the beginning of many bright and shiny things to come.
That bungalow was home to Amee Phillips, Penang’s own renowned jeweller whose coloured gemstone and designs have wowed fashion critics in the land of Uncle Sam.
There’s nothing not to like about her. She was jovial and bright with an infectious smile that cooled down any scorching temperature or temperament.
“When you think positive all the time, you create positive energy. You have no time to think about the bad things that could happen to you.
“They say bad luck happens in threes but to me, luck depends on the energy you attract.”
Our conversation in the morning grew from innocent introductions to hearty laughs as Phillips relaxed in her chair while sharing her side of the story on making it in the domestic jewellery business.
Her foray with shiny objects was indeed, by accident. While living in Germany in the 90s, Phillips sent her mother a pack of tumble stones after admiring her neighbour’s daughter’s haul from abroad.
“My mother loved what I sent her but I had no clue what these stones were. I could only admire jewellery at the jeweller’s storefront at that time.
Tumble stones, often perceived to be worthless and commonly used as home decorations, soon became a source of income for Phillips. Her mother demanded she send more of these stones home as friends enquired about purchasing it.
These stones were sold for 10 German Mark a piece and it made sense to Phillips to purchase them in bulk in order to cope with the growing demands back home.
“As tumble stones could not be made into jewellery, I explored cut stones that could be made into jewellery. I started with garnet, citrine and amethyst as they were the cheapest among precious stones.”
She returned to Malaysia in 1993, having a taste of the possibilities in the gem business. Armed with her gems and determination, she and her brother took on Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) where there were many jewellery shops and wholesalers trading stones.
Many turned her down as she was a nobody in the business, and were dubious of her stone’s authenticity.
“Then I came across a shop that offered to sell my stones on consignment.
“I did not have any customers then, so I sold half of my stones on consignment while I tried to wholesale the rest myself by walking about the area.”
She soon rose up the ranks of the Pitt Street jewellery business as she was one of the first woman gemstone wholesalers in town. Her wholesaling days gave her the opportunity to look at many different stones and trained her eye to pick up the best from a parcel.
With the best in hand, she made them into necklaces and bracelets and was literally, “selling them off my neck.”
Fate had its way in 1995 when she lost her bag of stones during a site visit to her soon-to-be office along Penang Road.
“One afternoon, I stopped by the office to have a look at how the renovation was shaping up when suddenly I got a call on my phone. It was too dark inside to take the call and soon after I left immediately as my client required something urgently.”
She realised her bag of stones worth almost RM100,000 was missing when she arrived at her destination, baffled by the loss as she carries many bags with her during work. Sadly, when she backtracked her steps to her office, the bag and stones were nowhere to be seen.
“I searched everywhere and went to the police station, crying over my loss. A policeman, who was sympathetic towards me, introduced me to a lady bomoh.
The bomoh told me that my bag is safe behind iron bars and I would get it back after 14 days.”
As she returned to her office on a much later date, she spoke to her landlord on giving up her tenancy because of her bad luck.
“While I was speaking to him, all of a sudden, he asked me to wait for him as he disappeared to the back of his shop.
He returned much later with my bag of stones, claiming that his brother found it.”
Phillips now sees the incident as a blessing in disguise, as it motivated her to source for cheaper local wholesalers to work with as compared to importing from abroad.
Her wholesaling days came to a halt when the 1997 financial crisis forced her to look into the retail business as a means of survival. After unsuccessful ventures at different malls across Penang, she opened the doors to her own boutique in 2001 at Gurney Plaza. There, she rebranded herself and focused her energy on customized jewellery and coloured gemstones.
“I contracted my manufacturing to goldsmiths to make my designs but they could not meet my deadline and the end results were not up to my standards.”
Things took a turn for the better when she met a British goldsmith who helped her set up her own operations that introduced European techniques such as the usage of oxygen and gas to produce finer jewellery.
In 2006, Amee Phillips won the Malaysian Good Design Award for the ‘Vclip’, a clip designed to enable her clients to experiment mixing and matching different jewellery pieces to create different pendants for different occasions; from simple daywear to elegant evening wear.
In 2011, she burst into the Malaysian jewellery scene while working with Zang Toi for the George Town festival.
“Seven jewellers were invited to each produce a two-piece collection which represents a fusion of nyonya and modern elements. That project came at a time when I was juggling between my duties to produce the winning designs for the Malaysian International Jewellery Fair competition and producing the jewellery for the George Town festival.”
Her design, Ibu Anak-Anak, a Baba- Nyonya styled necklace set in 18k white gold with a large round jadeite centrepiece with five smaller round jadeite pieces, caught Toi’s eye.
That collaboration sparked off future collections from the duo as Phillips went on to debut her jewellery at New York for Zang Toi’s Spring Summer 2012 collection in September 2011.
Their upcoming collection for Spring Summer 2013, “Romance at French Riviera”, was unveiled at New York on September 9.
There is no stopping Phillips on what she wants to achieve in the future. Calmly discussing the future of the jewellery industry in Malaysia, she laments on the lack of new blood in the business.
“At the moment, it is difficult to find new goldsmiths. Not many young people want to explore this trade. One of my visions is to start my own designing school to teach the younger generation this skill that we are in need off.
“Our neighbours such as Thailand have a flourishing jewellery industry that is doing fairly well. We, on the other hand, are not. This industry needs a lot of new talent to build it up.”
On her side, she has no lack of capable talent as her eldest daughter helps out with the design team while her son is looking to build a market in China.
“I want to be a renowned jeweler around the world and to have our store in New York, London, Paris, Shanghai and Beijing.
Such forthcoming ambitions could signal the dawn of another home-grown international brand, and she shows no signs of stopping until she reaches her goal.
As we wrapped up our engaging banter, Phillips challenged the way I look at all things shiny and sparkly.
“Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but for me gemstone is my best friend. Diamonds will always be my supporting cast in my design and my main star is always the gemstone.”
When it comes to staying one step ahead of the competition, you have to think out-of-the box. Charlotte Robert finds out how.
Immaculately dressed in a striped blue shirt with matching cuff links and tie, Sunny Phang, was hard at work behind his desk when I arrived for my interview.
Dignified, self-confident and humble, Phang, managing director of Protect Print Sdn Bhd, was happy to show me around his 3-storey building as he chatted about what the past 20 years with the company has been like for him.
As we progressed deeper and deeper into the interview, it became remarkably clear that there was far more to this man than initially meets the eye.
On our rounds through the floors, Phang treated each and every one of his staff regardless of their position with equal amount of respect.
Every person whether he is a beggar on the street or the prime minister of a country deserves to be respected. They have equal rights as a human being and I for one respect that.
“I don’t believe in buying respect, I believe in earning it,” stresses Phang who believes in running a very transparent company.
Much of what Phang believes in today; his values and his principals are pretty much self-taught. The eldest in a family of five siblings, Phang’s father was a clerk in a sundry shop while his mother worked for Vitalis in sales. It was a challenging childhood to say the least.
Phang recalls moving around a great deal in his younger days within a five kilometre radius. “We never owned a house and for obvious reasons like defaulting in rental payments and events of May 13th 1969, we kept moving.
“However I do remember that with my five siblings and more than 50 cousins we played a lot and had great festive seasons but finances were always difficult.”
With many younger siblings growing up and needing funding and with him being the oldest, Phang very much wanted to help out with the financial situation. And so, right after he completed his Form Five, he joined the music industry. He knew from the time he was much younger that he loved music. Phang’s dream job saw him moving up from a sales job in a record company to becoming a marketing executive.
“When I got the chance to join the music industry, I thought it was my world. “I produced radio programmes, wrote scripts for my radio announcers and was in charge of artists and repertoire.
I did talent scouting and promoted artists and loved it like crazy. I would spend hours working.” Phang worked his dream job for five years and then his world came crashing down because the company lost the agency. However there was a silver lining in Sunny’s cloud because when he left for the outside world, he realised the outside world had a huge amount of potential.
Phang put his thinking cap on to figure out how to continue providing for his family. He had RM9,000 in savings and whatever he decided upon next had to be within that budget.
“I decided to open a coffee shop which ended up being a really good idea because it meant my family had an abundance of food and a roof above their heads all the time.
“This being a cash business also meant that I had surplus cash. It turned the whole family around for the better.
We had such good clientele because of the strategic location that we only had to open for breakfast and lunch.
Phang ran the coffee shop for a couple of months before handing the reins over to his mother who took over the shop for the next 25 years. It meant a lot to Phang that his mother finally had the financial freedom that she didn’t before. The gutsy lady had taken to sewing clothes and baking cakes after leaving her job at Vitalis to supplement the household income.
Phang went on to join an advertising company, then a commercial printing company and finally a security printing company.
“When I hit 40, I became very tired of the commercial business. Customers were very demanding with impossible dates of delivery so I decided to take a break from it.
“At that time, in 1993, a friend told me that someone was looking for a manager to run a security printing company and suggested I apply for the job. But I decided to offer to buy the owner out instead because I was done working for others. There was no goal or self satisfaction in it anymore for me after having done it for so many years. So I bought over Protect Print which was about 10-years old at that time.”
When Phang bought the company, it was operating from a shop lot with about 20 staff. The annual turnover was RM1million but the losses were about RM1 million as well. Phang immediately saw the potential to turn it around but he knew it was going to be one tough ride ahead.
The greatest difficulty that Phang faced upon taking over the company was that every bank in town had already appointed a security printer and as long as nothing went wrong the banks would not change their printers.
With no portfolio and credentials it was very hard for Phang to secure new clients and it dawned on him why Protect Print was bleeding in the past 10 years.
So how did Phang make his company competitive to his competitors?
“We must know who our competitors are and what their advantages and disadvantages are. From that point, we have to do something to be better than them,” reasons the friendly MD. Phang soon realised that most of his competitors were providing conventional stuff. To transform his company, he needed the right attitude and culture.
“We ensured we practised a vision and mission statement and that we are certified by ISO standards. That was not all, we embraced technology. I acquired a digital printing machine rather than using a conventional one.
“After I did that, I wrote an online ordering system/link to the banks. So instead of giving physical orders, the banks just had to feed the information through the wires and we printed based on a demand basis.”
With all this in place, Phang approached the banks and explained his new system to them carefully making sure to spell out how much they would save by using his company’s services.
“Everyone behind the desk wants to be a hero in his organisation and they want to see if they can be a profit centre. So by introducing this new ordering system to them they could see immediately how much they could save.
“Our system, called the Protect Priority Online eliminated the need for staff manning certain departments, there was no need for inventory, audit and storage. We print cheques the very day we get the orders and it is couried to the banks by noon the next day. We managed to break into the banks because we gave them value added services. Since then we have evolved and updated our system even further.”
For Protect Print to stand out among the other security printers, Phang wanted to have his own ISO standard which was only available in the European Union countries. In 2003, Protect Print became the first Asian security printer recognised world-wide by the European Standard CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) Certificate for Security Management, awarded by INTERGRAF (The International Confederation for Printing & Allied Industries).
This gave the banks another level of confidence that Protect Print was bePrioring audited by an international body and was of international standards in their management systems.
“With efficient systems like this we can save companies millions. It was a no brainer for companies to try and see if our system would make a difference to their company.”
In 1997, two banks embraced Protect Print’s system which to Phang was a positive start. Since then the company has grown steadily many fold from 20 staff to 108. Protect Print has powerful soft and hardware solutions to help circumvent any harm to documents delivering complete workflows to create and finish any security document, equipped with high-tech security features to guard against any compromise to document security.
Today almost all the banks in Malaysia, about 95% of them, are being serviced by Protect Print.
With his wife, son and daughter working side by side with him, Phang aims to continue to learn from people and observe the market trend especially now that the West is in deep financial crisis.
“We look to America to see how they have repaired themselves and we want to continue to transform the company. Right now, that is why we have different subsidiaries doing different things.”
There is Runway Sdn Bhd which is a marketing solutions specialist doing life style printing or products. Phang’s daughter is in charge of social media in Runway. Priority Smart Solution is a MSC status company which does strictly IT related services and products. Phang’s son is one of the programmers in this department. The other subsidiary called Acre Span is a property management company.
“Every business has to have continued improvements. You can’t sit on your laurels expecting things to last because your competitor will catch up with you.
You have to look at how to be efficient and reduce cost so your end price to your customer is more competitive and makes economic sense. You also have to acquire new technology.
“Apart from the banks our other customers are the educational sector and the retail chain.
“What we want to do is to evolve and embrace new ideas and we are open to suggestions. When we think it is favourable and has a positive impact for the company we will go ahead and implement that,” concludes the man who believes in leading by example.
People talk but not everything they say makes sense. Deric Lim, founder of Diva Production shares life lessons with Behonce Beh on staying true to one’s goal.
PILLARS: THE GENERAL PUBLIC TEND TO OPINE THAT THE FASHION AND BEAUTY INDUSTRY IS SKIN DEEP AND SHALLOW. ANY THOUGHTS ON THAT?
Noel Chelliah: Working in an IT company was stressful which really the nature of the jDeric Lim: There is no doubt that the industry relies heavily on how you look. You have to always give your best first impression. How do you sell your service if you do not look good?
People might comment that the industry we are in is artificial, but it is definitely a professional vocation to me.
If you are dealing with fashion, you have to look good. If you are dealing with beauty, you have to look even better!
TELL US WHAT GOT YOUR FOOT INTO THIS BUSINESS
I always felt something was amiss with fashion as it does not complete an entire look. So I dabbled into make up towards the end of my career with the brand as I can complete 90% of a total look with a few strokes of a brush.
In 2007 I joined competitions organized by international cosmetic brands and was lucky to have the support of friends in the industry. Towards the third quarter of 2007, the thought of starting my own make up academy played in my mind. While I do not have much experience with make up, I bit the bullet and started small.
I still remember we started with a small space of less than 500 square feet in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
HOW DID THINGS PROGRESS FROM THERE?
I busied myself by doing make up for many magazine photoshoots as my focus was still as a make up artist. The number of students started growing as I tried to make a name for myself in the industry.
I am the kind of person who sets yearly goals to accomplish. By 2009, we had grown substantially and moved to our current location. Who would have thought our 500 square feet startup would graduate into a 5,000 square feet premise that is 10 times bigger and at a pioneer location along Jalan Bukit Bintang?
Needless to say, to maintain the business at that point wasn’t easy as rental wasn’t cheap.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY AS AN ENTREPRENEUR COMPARED TO A MAKE UP ARTIST?
Being able to use more brain power to juggle between daily task and keeping the company afloat!
My mother always says, you have to use your brain or else you will get nyanyuk (demented)!
ASIDE FROM BEING JUST A MAKE UP ACADEMY, WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN DOING TO STAY AHEAD OF YOUR GAME?
Since 2011, I have created another department where I have started to manage talents and artists.
My business partner, Jinnie Choo now handles the academy while I explore new areas of the business. Currently, I manage seven artists such as Karena Teo, Tracy Cheong, Annabelle Kong and Lynn Lim; each with their own spark and finesse.
DO YOU MISS BEING A TUTOR?
I do actually. I try to take time to talk to my students and it is actually a bad thing for me to not know each of my students personally at the rate we are growing.
Often I would find myself asking my colleagues who these people are walking around shopping malls in our uniform.
It is really a blessing for the business as I have a strong team of eight trainers who can share their experience with my students.
TELL US ABOUT THE BEST ADVICE YOU RECEIVED THAT HELPED YOU THROUGH THE DAYS
I was taught by my mother to be positive.
If you are positive, positive aura will be with you.
When I first started, people close to me would pour cold water on my dreams but my mother was my best friend who trusted me all the way.
It came to a point that I had to be frank with my mother. I told her to give me two years to make it and those two years I would not have much time to spend with her. Hence, she had to take good care of herself.
Nowadays, you’ll see her sitting at my place whenever she comes over to visit and everyone in the office calls her “The Empress”!
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
I travel a lot at least once a month to balance out my hectic schedule. I get inspired whenever I travel.
Food has always been an inspiration to me as well because it is colourful with many different textures. And who doesn’t love food anyway?
WHAT’S NEXT ON YOUR LIST OF THINGS TO DO?
We’ll be opening our second branch in Setapak very soon.
This has always been part of our plan and I told Jinnie way back that we will have our second baby in our fifth year! No matter how or what, we must achieve it.
PILLARS: YOU HAD A FLOURISHING CAREER FOR EIGHT YEARS IN THE IT INDUSTRY AND THEN YOU DECIDE TO GIVE IT ALL UP AND OPEN A ONE-MAN COMPANY. WHY?
Noel Chelliah: Working in an IT company was stressful which really the nature of the job is. At the same time my interest in fitness was growing. Sometimes things got so hectic in my IT job that I missed my workouts repeatedly and often lacked sleep. So I quit! But not before I did a course that qualified me as a certified personal trainer.
WHAT THEN LED TO YOU OPENING DAILY MUSCLE ATHLETIC CONSULTING?
Before I left my IT job, I had already started blogging and being the first person with a personal fitness blog DailyMuscle.Com, I had a good following. When I left MyBiz Solutions I had a few clients who had already requested to start one-on-one personal training with me which is precisely what I wanted to do.
WHAT WERE THE EARLY YEARS LIKE OF GOING SOLO?
Financially I made enough but barely. I could survive because I was living at home with my parents and only needed to pay for my car and a few bills. I figured I did not really have that much to lose because no matter what I still had a roof over my head and food on my plate. Moreover I knew I could always return to my previous company if things did not work out.
However, by word of mouth, the clients started pouring in to the point where I was making more than what my IT job used to pay.
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST REWARD FOR YOU THEN?
I dropped my weight from 100 kilos to 70something kilos. I enjoyed my job tremendously because it did not seem like work. When you are doing something you like, it is not work anymore.
I wake up and get dressed and anyone would think I am going for a workout but I am actually going to work.
Although the hours were again long like in my IT job, I could still squeeze in my work outs so I was very happy. I was not as stressed because I like training and so it was a very easy job for me. Plus, when I started it was a one-man show and I did not have any marketing to worry about as I used to collect money up front.
SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS ALL A LOT OF FUN BUT AT SOME POINT YOU MUST HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT GROWING THE COMPANY?
My challenge was: “How do I increase my income?” You see, my hours were maxed already with seven clients a day and travelling time included. So in terms of income, this was the maximum I could earn. This was the wall which got me wondering how I could increase my income.
I didn’t strategise on what to do but I did take notice of boot camps and decided to start my own. I didn’t want to use the military aspect as my approach has always been gentler. I also didn’t want to copycat another programme. I wanted to offer lifestyle coaching. Other than a certified personal trainer.
I am also a lifestyle and weight management certified coach, both under the American Council on Exercise.
As I myself was once overweight and worked long hours in an office, I understood the challenges others who wanted to exercise but couldn’t’ find the time faced. This led me to start the Body Transformation Camp where I could address these issues.
WHAT IS THE BODY TRANSFORMATION CAMP ALL ABOUT?
It’s a workout programme which is always held outdoors. As well as doing the workout, as a nutritional counsellor, I created effective strategies and healthy eating guides for the participants which are emailed to them on a weekly basis.
Before we launched this camp, I hired one trainer, had a dry run with friends, received feedback, got a sponsor and blogged about it a lot. This way when the camp launched a couple of weeks later we had 25 participants. It was amazing to see them.
From then the numbers have grown. Now there is one running every day in Subang, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bangsar.
HOW HAS THE COMPANY GROWN SINCE THEN?
Since I already had the structured programme going on, other opportunities started coming in. I started giving wellness talks for companies and did work out programmes for their employees.
DailyMuscle started as a blog and has grown into a company. We conduct the Body Transformation Camp programme, one-on-one personal training programmes, corporate lifestyle and fitness programmes, team building for corporate clients and fundraisers for charitable causes. I also give talks on BFM mainly on healthy living and how I successfully market my business to others using internet marketing strategies.
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO IN BUSINESS?
If you want to do something in business just do it. The worst thing that could happen is people will either laugh at you or your venture will fail. I have this thick-skin and so- what attitude. I don’t sit and analyse all the risk involved when I decide to do something, I just do it. I am Mr Spontaneous. A risk taker. But I have been fortunate to the extent that nothing bad has happened. My simple philosophy is: “If I help people get what they want, I won’t have to worry about anything in my life.”
WHAT ARE SOME MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU ARE ESPECIALLY PROUD OF?
Raising over RM24,000 for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia through an initiative called ‘Pushups-for-Cancer’. That was a very spontaneous decision which worked out to be quite an achievement.
Starting the Body Transformation Camp. We have had more than 500-600 paying participants over the last two years.
Nestle hiring me as a consultant for a wellness project they are conducting for the government. That again is a good feeling.
Keep calm and run. Running away never solves anything but running towards an unfathomable goal may take you places you’ve only ever dreamt of in a lifetime.
Elyza Yong has been running her entire life, all for the right reasons. This Penangite entrepreneur was a former long distance runner for the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) during her secondary school days.
“The tough athletic training those days gave me a strong fighting spirit in facing challenges as a woman entrepreneur. I am perseverant and always stay focussed in what I do. Thus, I expect my team members to be as committed in the tasks assigned to them and not to give up easily when times are tough.”
Seated leisurely on a comfortable black couch, it is easy to understand how Yong made it while enjoying the fruits of her labour. Our conversation was casual to say the least, without a hint of pretentious PR spin.
As a hearty laugh echoed across the room, the founder and executive director of Elyza’s Home (M) Sdn Bhd knows that beauty is not enough to win any marathon.
“As a woman, you cannot depend on beauty alone as it fades. I have learnt it is important to be wise behind a pretty face.”
That by no way means Yong is an aunty for her age. Her slim cut figure is the source of envy for many younger women.
Her hip sense of style can be attributed to her days as a fashion designer in the 80s.
“I got married to my husband, who was in the textile business in 1990.
Malaysia faced a housing boom during the early 90s. Switching to the furnishing fabric business came naturally to us.”
Hence in 1994, they took over a textile printing company and started printing their own range of furnishing fabrics and established her name – Elyza’s.
“The way I dress myself is the same way I dress windows. By adding pelmets or valance onto windows, it gives old curtains a new look…like putting on hats to accessorise our looks.
“It is not practical to change your curtains often, but styling and accessories can help. It all depends on your own creativity, not budget,” she elaborates.
With limited capital, Yong and her husband took on roles in designing, selling, marketing and even delivery of goods to dealers across Malaysia at the beginning.
“During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, our sales fell by 30%. That was the toughest time we ever had. Thank God, sales recovered steadily after 1999 as many customers were looking for locally produced fabrics to replace imported fabrics due to the depreciation of the ringgit against the US dollar from RM2.50 to RM3.80.”
Despite the lack of formal education, her steely determination enabled her to overcome various challenges in developing the business into what it is today – Malaysia’s premier supplier of furnishing fabrics and specialist of window dressings with over 350 independent dealers nationwide and exporting to eight countries including Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Japan. Bottom line, Yong is very vocal about her needs and wants; and that includes the way she runs her business.
“A company like this should not rely on its creativity or designs alone, but on financial stability and sustainability. Cash flow management is essential.”
While long distance runners run alone in a race, working closely with the coach and trainers are essential if one wants to win. Same principles apply as Yong; a firm believer in team work is blessed to have a vigorous and loyal team of workers who stand by the company in facing all sorts of challenges together.
“I tell my team what I want to achieve and I let them decide what they need to do. I will provide them the support and resources to do so.
“However, when it comes to principles and core values, I can be very firm and rigid.”
As our conversation continues, one thing became clear; she cares deeply of public perception. Gorgeous drapery aside, there is nothing more important to the customer than exceptional service.
“Having been in the business for 18 years, we understand the problems faced by homemakers in home decoration.
Most of them find choosing the right window dressing for their home a daunting and tedious task. They are afraid to make mistakes as they know it will be a costly one.”
One of the best ways to avoid such mistakes, remarked Yong, is to have a look or an idea of the makeover result before making any purchase.
“We provide a service called Eassy- Décor Preview Service (EDPS), a computerised system which enables consumers to preview the makeover results of their home before buying. As the first company in Malaysia to offer this service free, it will be a Standard Operating Procedure for all the upcoming Elyza franchise stores.
“The cost of getting programmers to get the program up is not cheap but that cannot compare to the level of service we are providing our customers.”
That isn’t the end of her business woes. As the interior design and fabric business in Malaysia continues to reach a saturation point, many players offering similar products are rife in the market. “Our latest approach is to convert some potential dealers into franchise stores called “Elyza’s House of Window Dressings.”
Their first franchise concept store, opened last month at Alam Damai. The two other franchise concept stores in Bangi and Ampang are expected to open for business by the end of the year. Prior to franchising her business model, Yong will often receive feedback from customers of low quality products bought from her dealers.
“When retailing through a dealer network, our dealers would sell a mix of brands, and not just our products. The issue would arise among the dealers who carry our signboard.
“We had customers coming back to us complaining about poor quality fabric of other brands bought from our dealers. It is easy for them to assume that all products sold from a store with the Elyza signage are ours.”
Such confusion among customers prompts Yong and her team to look at alternative measures to protect the brand.
Franchising will form a significant part in our company’s future expansion program. We are planning to have at least one large franchise store in all states by 2017.
“I strive hard to bring innovation to my designs while being conservative in managing my business.”
In life, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. As such, Vincent Khoo does not waste time dwelling on the what-ifs and prefers to just get on with the job.
Vincent Khoo’s mother passed away when he was just 13-years old. The eldest of four children, Khoo found himself at crossroads at that tender age. Should he continue schooling and try leading as normal a life as possible without a mother or should he drop out of school and start working? The decision for Khoo at that time was surprisingly an easy one to make. He dropped out of school.
While Khoo’s father was a lorry driver, it was not finances or the lack of it that prompted him to make such a harsh decision. It was simply the fact that Khoo was not interested in studying. Looking back today, it is a decision that he bitterly regrets as he is convinced that if he had stayed on in school he could have written a greater success story.
So at 13, this Johorian found himself waking up at dawn each day and pulling in 12 to 14 hour work days. Not really what one would call a normal childhood but Khoo has his own practical way of looking at life.
“I never felt that childhood was meant to be enjoyed so it is not something I missed. I worked with my uncle helping him out in his aluminium business in Singapore. We concentrated on designing and manufacturing aluminium fittings to windows and doors of houses. From then till now, I have remained in the same line of business,” states the managing director of Sunteck Aluminium & Trading Sdn Bhd.
While his grandmother helped to take care of his younger siblings, Khoo worked himself to the bone learning every single thing he could about the aluminium business. The more he learnt the more his confidence grew. The more his confidence grew, the more he knew he wanted to open up his own business. When Khoo was 21, he was kept busy working on subcontracted work for the next three years. At that time, business was very good and wages were high for skilled workers. From the money that he saved, Khoo found a partner and set up a small factory, still operating from Singapore.
“It was a very simple set up then. I was still doing the same things that I did with my uncle, buying raw material from suppliers, cutting it to specifications and fitting it to doors and windows. Designs were also very simple then either in bronze or silver and limited to only one or two designs.
“Soon however I started to feel that my business was very limited in Singapore. I decided to give my business to my partner and set up Sunteck in Puchong, Malaysia in 1997,” recalls Khoo.
Khoo began by renting a small factory and almost immediately he was beset with problems. For starters, having lived so many years in Singapore, he found himself very unfamiliar with Kuala Lumpur. He knew very few people and very few people knew him resulting in no business.
By observing his more successful competitors he asked himself what it was that they were doing which he was not. His observations led him to open a 200 square-ft showroom in Handi-Mart, Subang Jaya. What Khoo did next proved to be the turning point in his business.
At a time when most aluminium designs were mainly squares or circles, Khoo made a very special aluminium design in the shape of a diamond which was more durable as it needed thicker raw material. Only two people made such designs in Kuala Lumpur then and Khoo was one of them. Clearly cutting such a shape proved that only very skilful people could do it which was the reason Khoo quickly patented it and displayed this design for window grills in his showroom.
With the designs in place, Khoo now needed people to see his work and the easiest way to make that happen was to advertise in the papers. The advertising brought the customers to the showroom where the diamond design proved very popular and made Khoo famous in Subang. From there the business grew.
“I still remember my first customer was someone who lived in Shah Alam. They were renovating their house and wanted me to provide the grills for the windows. I did not even know where Shah Alam was and they needed to escort me to their home. That was literally how I started.”
Two years on from that first customer, Khoo still operated with only two staff. In the third year, there were seven workers but problems still plagued him. “There was a contractor who absconded on us and did not pay us.
“That was disastrous because the cash flow then was almost nil and I needed to pay my suppliers for the raw material and finish the project we were working on. I pumped in my own money to keep us from drowning and thankfully other business projects came in which kept us afloat. Somehow we managed to survive the bad times.”
Speaking matter-of-factly, Khoo recalls how incredibly hard he worked in the first few years. He would put in a full days’ work at the factory, often cutting the raw material into shape himself because by him doing it he knew there would be no time or material wasted. This gained Khoo profit.
After the long hours in the factory, he would go to the showroom to take care of business there. At this point in his life, Khoo was married with two children but because he knew he could not spend time with his family and build his business at the same time, he asked them to remain in Singapore. It was only when the business was more stable that his family joined him.
“I made up my mind when I first started the company in 1997 that no matter what happened, the business had to succeed or I would never be able to get my family over here.”
Three years after opening the business, Khoo discovered that his product choices were very limited. To overcome this, he diversified into shower screens and other products. Refusing to compromise on his policy that the quality of his products had to be very strong, he sourced for the shower screens from Singapore because they were of better quality though of a higher price.
Khoo also travelled to other countries such as China, Germany and Italy in search of quality products, material and designs. He started participating in and attending exhibitions such as Architect and Hometech in 2003 not just to display his own products but also to study other products out there in the market and expand his horizons and exposure. His unwavering principles and the high quality of his products further strengthened his business.
As the business grew, the size of the showroom tripled in size. However as the business grew, the landlord for the factory Khoo was renting kept raising the rent as well. The entrepreneur moved his factory several times to avoid paying higher rentals but eventually he realised that the constant moving was not good for business. The best solution he reasoned was to buy his own factory which is precisely what Khoo did. In 2003, Khoo was the proud owner of his first factory in Puchong.
Meanwhile, as the business grew, Khoo’s younger brother joined him. A major problem Khoo faced constantly in growing his business was getting skilled workers. As skilled workers were scarce, he found himself constantly training workers who once were trained would leave. Because of this, Khoo truly appreciates his staff who have stayed with him for many years. Having his brother on board meant there was always someone around he could trust as well. The team went on to win the 7th Asia Pacific International Honesty Enterprise - Kris Award in 2008 making the days of not being recognised seem like a distant memory.
Today, Khoo’s customers are not just high-end home owners but also developers of condominium projects. In the past few years, Sunteck has come up with even more interesting designs. Aluminium is no longer considered boring as now it comes with powder coating and wood surface designs that look like wood panelling.
As for Khoo, he sees a long future in aluminium products which he believes can still be improved upon because customers today like using modern designs. He aims to get his hands on the latest machines from overseas and provide even more diverse products.
“I also plan to supply raw material to contractors and developers and other new products which are not easily accessible to those who need raw material.”
It sure does look like this man’s imagination knows no limits. Aluminium will never be just aluminium to him.
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE AN OBEDIENT DAUGHTER?
Yap Shin Siang: I would say so as my father (Yap Seong Fatt, founder of YYC Advisors) encouraged my brother (Yap Zhi Chau) and I at a young age to venture into the audit and accountancy line.
When I was young, he would share with us his experience of helping his clients with their accounting issues. He painted a nice picture of his accounting firm and the audit industry in general.
That created an interest in me and inspired me to be who I am today. We sort of followed through in a way.
WOULD YOU SAY YOU WERE FORCED INTO THE FAMILY BUSINESS?
No. I thought to myself; why not give it a try and I wasn’t forced into taking up audit as a career. I furthered my studies in Australia at the age of 16 and came back with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne. The starting pay as an auditor was promising as I spent two years working with a different firm before joining my father in 2000.
Along the way, I found my passion for the industry and registered myself as a member of CPA Australia and Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA).
WHAT WAS THAT TRANSITION PERIOD LIKE?
I took over operations of the company in 2010 as my father and his business partner felt it was time for them to take a back seat. At that point, I felt a sense of ownership of the business, knowing that I was no longer working for him but for myself.
It is never easy for anyone to pass on their business to the second generation as I see many of my clients going through similar phases.
It wasn’t easy for my father to let go, but somehow he trusted my brother and I in our capabilities to make a name for ourselves.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHANGES YOU’VE MADE SO FAR?
Initially, our focus was mainly in audit. It was our company’s forte for 30 years and my father has worked with many SME clients. I noticed that once a year, they would come to him for business advice for the year ahead. We found that offering this advice took up too much of our time. Hence, we kick started our advisory department with a more structured approach. That translated to our ‘outsourced CFO’ service to help our clients analyse and interpret financial data through monthly or quarterly discussions. With the CFO services, our clients were able to make informed operational decisions promptly and effectively, thus driving clients’ businesses to better profits.
My father had his reservations about our advisory services in the beginning, but when I delivered results, he gave us the green light to move forward.
HOW DID THE TEAM AT YYC RESPOND TO YOUR ROLE AS THE PERSON IN CHARGE?
We have a team of 70 people and there is a good balance of young and mature staff. I used to find the senior staff less cooperative but I got it wrong entirely. I realised the senior staff that has been working with my father gave us the experience we needed to grow while the younger recruits were more dynamic in their approach.
COULD YOU SHARE WITH US A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WITH YYC?
I can’t forget my first consulting client as we helped them win the Golden Bull and E50 award. That company was there in terms of numbers and was doing very well in their export business, but lacked the personnel to draft out the application.
They approached me for help in 2009, and were one of the top three winners of the E50 in 2010. My parents and I attended the award presentation, and we felt really proud of our client’s achievement that night.
For me, my job satisfaction comes from seeing my clients soaring high in their dealings.
HOW ARE THINGS AT HOME? IS WORK ALL YOU TALK ABOUT?
The synergy level at home is great. Yes, we do talk about work at home as we are all passionate about the subject. These days, my father would talk to me about my children as they take up most of his time aside from his gardening.
PILLARS: Is it true that people often mistake your company for an event organiser?
Yusno Yunos: Yes! Actually, we are software developers. Our product is Evenesis, an online web application, which serves as an event management system that helps organisers to plan and execute events seamlessly.
People often develop that assumption as the industry we serve is the events and exhibition industry.
IT and events management seem to be worlds apart. How did you intertwine these industries?
Well, I started Y Us in 2010 as it came at a point in my life when I was looking for a meaningful life, rather than having to work 9am to 6pm every day. I wanted to be part of something that I had full control of.
I decided to start my own business in software programming. I got the idea for the contents of the software from the problems I faced when planning my wedding in 2008. Yes, we did get married at the end of the day but wouldn’t it have been a lot easier if we could have automated the planning process via an IT solution?
Tell us more about your background and HOW you started
I come from a background where problem-solving was the norm in my daily life.
My career began in the US working as a web developer at Carnegie Mellon University, where I also graduated with a Master’s degree in Management Information Systems.
Upon graduation in 2003, I spent six years working for a GLC and also a consulting firm.
As the story goes, I left my job as I knew I could do much better on my own based on something I could develop.
You took a risk leaving a cushy job and roughing it out on your own. How did your family react?
It wasn’t an easy decision but since I resigned on August 31st 2009, it represented merdeka from work, and also venturing into a new career path! It took a year for my parents to accept my decision but the best support I got was from my wife.
I told her up-front that life will not be the same anymore. Prior to me quitting, we would dine at certain places but that had to change depending on the business. I had to cut certain expenditures and thank God my family as a whole supported me the entire time.
How is the business faring now?
What started as an event planning tool grew into an end-to-end management system covering many types of events at various scales.
In any event, you go through three phases; planning, execution and post event. Our system caters to anyone involved in any event management activity: individuals, corporate planners, government agencies, NGOs just to name a few.
The main challenge faced by any IT company is funding and we are bootstrapping ourselves for the next seven months.
Things have picked up since we’ve started. Nine out of ten companies we approach say yes!
I’ve heard that Evenesis picked up an award recently. That’s an achievement for such a young company!
We launched Evenesis in August last year, and in November, we were awarded the MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards 2011, as the best application and infrastructure tool, and have been nominated to the list of Asia’s Top 50 Apps.
The win came as a surprise as we participated in the competition with humility, hoping to gain experience from there. We were up against the big boys; local software developers that have been around for more than five years with many products and previous track record.
I guess you could say the head of the judging panel was convinced by our passion and belief in our product.
How does it feel to be a pioneer in this market?
It feels refreshing as day by day you see more events being organised. People are aware that it is a money making industry.
Did you ever imagine being part of the event management industry, directly or indirectly, in your case?
If I had not written the software, I would never have imagined being part of this chaotic industry! Once I got to know the industry, the interest built; somewhat to the saying of “tak kenal maka tak cinta.”
Any plans for the future?
Our immediate target is to achieve RM1 million in sales by year end. We are half way there and we are confident we’re on the right track!