The Coach & Grow Programme (CGP) is a market driven coaching programme intended to bring together key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to support and fortify technology entrepreneurs in growing their businesses to greater heights. In CGP corner, we will be featuring a few companies to see how they have progressed after the programme.
FLEXIROAM SDN BHD
International roaming service provider, Flexiroam, participated in CGP with hopes of taking their business to the global stage. It has been doing well and even received the award for Master Class in Global Roaming Services at the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award. Flexiroam CEO, Jefrey Ong, tells us about that proud moment and lessons learned from the CGP.
Regional win: Jeffrey Ong (sixth from left) and the Flexiroam team at the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award.
1. Congratulations on your win. Perhaps you can tell us about the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award (AOBA)? What is the selection process like?
The ASEAN Business Award is presented to the ASEAN business entity with outstanding performance in the ASEAN region and for having made significant progress in establishing and reinforcing their position in the international business arena. The selection process begins with a nomination, followed by a selection by the ASEAN Retail Chain and Franchise Federation (ARFF) panel and finally awarding the selected candidates.
2. Flexiroam has won this Award for two consecutive years. What was the award winning product/service in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The award itself was granted to the organisation overall. In Flexiroam’s case it was our roaming services which includes all our roaming products. The award received was for Master class- Global Roaming category.
3. What would you say winning an award like this means for a young company like yours?
The AOBA provides Flexiroam with regional brand recognition and networking opportunities among ARFF leaders and members. Past winners of the award include brands like AirAsia, Astro and Toyota. This prestigious award gives us instant international recognition, credibility and the ability to expand our business overseas with confidence.
4. What would you say has been the most valuable advice you received during the Coach & Grow Programme (CGP)?
The CGP helped us obtain greater clarity to our business goals. The most valuable advice received was that we should not raise capital when desperate for money. We kept our focus on B.A.U (Business As Usual), which includes expanding to new markets and on building revenue and this has given us greater leverage and valuation to negotiate any proposed capital injection.
5. What do you enjoy the most about the Coach and Grow Programme?
Guidance and support – CGP has given Flexiroam the ability to interact with coaches who have been successful entrepreneurs who could give us practical advice in our expansion plans. We enjoyed our coaching sessions as it gave us the opportunity to “spar” with our coaches. CGP also provided us access to value added training, events and seminars to improve entrepreneurship acumen in areas where we lacked knowledge.
6. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs now which you wish you knew when you first started out in your journey?
Get the right mentor, business partner and team members. Do not spend too much time on the philosophy of entrepreneurship. Do not be distracted by others who don’t really understand your business. Stay focused on what you believe and work towards improving the business 1% every day.
TECHCARE INNOVATION SDN BHD
TechCare Innovation has visions using technology to help with the rehabilitation of stroke patients. The team, which took part in the CGP to help the company bring its product to market, had recently participated in the MaGIC-PitchIN Challenge where its stroke rehabilitation solution, CR2, received the most pledges from the voting public. Its founder Khor Kang Xiang tells us the story.
Rehab help: Khor Kang Xiang (centre) and TechCare Innovation’s co-founders, Yeong Che Fai (left) and Patrick Chin (right). Their vision is to help stroke patients with their rehabilitation exercise.
1. How did you hear about the MaGIC PitchIN Challange? What is it about?
We saw MaGIC PitchIN Challenge on Cradle’s Facebook page which we follow. The challenge is for participating teams to raise funds from the public in 45 days via a crowdfunding platform. The team who raises the highest amount wins the competition.
2. Why did you decide to participate in the MaGIC PitchIN Challenge?
One of the main reasons we joined was because of the VVIP judges –Nazrin Hassan (Cradle Sdn Bhd CEO), Albern Murty (DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd COO) and Faris Yahaya (Cyberview Sdn Bhd MD). At that time, we wanted credible individuals from the business community to evaluate our business model and this MaGIC PitchIN Challenge gave us the opportunity to expose our product to some of the respected people in the start-up community.
Looking back, we actually got more than we asked for. We managed to meet more VVIPs such as Prime Minister, YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Secretary General of Treasury, Ybhg Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Datuk Badlisham Ghazali who was the CEO of the Multimedia Development Corp then and many more. More importantly, they tried our products and gave very promising feedback. We also received attention from both media and public.
However, the core reason that we participated was to use the PitchIN platform to raise enough funds to build one robot for NASAM (National Stroke Association of Malaysia) as this was a way for us to get market validation and also raise the awareness about crowdfunding and stroke risks in Malaysia.
3. Now that you’ve won, what are your future plans?
In addition to the amount raised from crowdfunding, RM27,599, as the winner, we received a cash prize of RM25,000 AND 6 months in a Virtual Incubation Programme. All these will definitely help to speed up our commercialisation progress.
4. What would you say has been the most valuable advice you received during the Coach & Grow Programme (CGP)?
“Do it for real” is the most valuable advice I received. We realised business is not about how well we know the theory, but most importantly, its execution in the in real world. We also received practical advice from our coaches – the most important of which was to stay focused in solving our customers’ pain or problem.
5. What do you enjoy most about the CGP?
What we liked the most about the CGP is the valuable face-to-face coaching sessions, where we are able to get direct guidance and advice for our business venture from a coach that was specially assigned to our company for 12 months.
CGP also gave us access to many other experienced coaches and enthusiastic entrepreneurs via activities conducted outside of the one-to-one coaching sessions. Through the CGP, we got to share our inspirations and learn from each other’s experience. Besides, we learned a lot on the financial and marketing side — getting the advice and learning lessons from the value-added sessions that were organised.
6. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs which you wished you knew when you first started out in your journey?
Your product should appeal to the market and not just to you!
NATURAL WELLNESS SDN BHD
Natural Wellness does what its name suggests – promoting health and well being the natural way. It joined the CGP to get tips on bringing their businesses to the global stage. By being true to itself and not compromising on quality, it received the Global Award For Excellence in Quality and Leadership at the World Quality Congress. Its CEO, Shahnas Oli Mohamed tells us her story.
Uncompromisable quality: Shahnas (left) receiving the global award for excellence at the World Quality Congress.
1. Tell us about the award you received at the World Quality Congress.
It’s the global award for excellence in quality and leadership. We were also invited to present a paper on our entrepreneurial experience. Personally our experience is no different from that of any other entrepreneur. The ride with Natural Wellness has been exhilarating. We have chosen to speak on Islamic quality standards and how we have implemented that into the various aspects of our business because I believe that this is something that needs to be introduced at a global level.
2. What would you say, winning an award like this means for a young company like yours? What leverage or advantage do you hope to obtain following this award?
When we started off, a lot of people thought we were weird just because we were unconventional in our ways. Most thought that we would not survive as we were too idealistic in our thinking and aggressive in our work. Today, I am most grateful that our unconventional approach is attracting positive attention and our ways are actually being looked upon as a success factor. Winning this award gives us the opportunity to actually tell the world about us, our unconventional ways and our so called ‘weird’ ways of doing business. We chose to return to basics, we chose obedience to our Creator and we are so grateful that it has paid off in more ways than we could imagine. We are happy to show and tell the world that we dared to be different and this got us to where we are.
3. What would you say has been the most valuable advice you received during the Coach & Grow Programme (CGP)?
As a company, we chose to send our team for the CGP and not our MD – again something unconventional. Why? Because we wanted to expose key members in our organisation to the real world. As the founder, I am happy that this decision has paid off, because my team now has the knowledge and confidence which has translated into an influx of new customers from markets we never imagined of going into. In this regard, I am of the opinion that the best piece of advice from the CGP was to develop the company on the basis of our originality and the virtues and values we stand for. Indeed this has meant taking the path less trodden but it has led us into uncharted territories not just for us, but also for the industry as a whole.
4. What do you enjoy most about the CGP?
The thing I like most about the CGP is how the coaches didn’t attempt to change companies into organisations with values the coaches believed in but rather mapped out directions on the basis of the traits, beliefs and values that were already ingrained in the system. As a result, we as an organisation could bravely expose members of senior management, empower them and let them take charge of their areas of responsibility to achieve organisational goals and targets.
5. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs now which you wished you knew when you first started out on your journey?
I knew that being an entrepreneur was going to be tough. But what I miscalculated is the fact that it is not only tough but it is all the more challenging and draining when you take the path less trodden. My advice to entrepreneurs is to simply keep pushing forward and don’t be afraid to venture into areas where others have failed. Self-drive and motivation are required in abundance. Be prepared to be in endless pursuit of your dreams. Most of all, don’t forget – patience, perseverance and prayer – for that’s the secret ingredient to everything.
6. What are your plans going forward?
Natural Wellness is currently undergoing a very steep growth phase with business expansions. We find ourselves in the thick of research and development while expanding into areas completely new to us. We are currently aggressively embarking on efforts towards building a new manufacturing facility to meet upcoming needs of product development and business expansion. Natural Wellness is also focusing very strongly on research efforts into areas that are leading edge with partners and collaborators and also in our research facility. We hope that the results of our research will provide us with products that are innovative and can drive the market into niche areas that are often below the radar of major market forces. We are extremely grateful that our efforts are being rewarded by the Almighty Creator and we pray that He considers our efforts worthy of His grace.