Joel Neoh, the Award Winning Entrepreneur & the GROUPON Head of Asia Pacific wrote a note on his reflected Lessons! “Top 24 Entrepreneurial Lessons that he has learned in 2014”!
#1: It’s not important where you come from, but where you’re going.
#2: Not who you are, but what you do that defines you.
#3: People will always say “you can’t”. You just smile and say “watch me”.
#4: People that Joel Neoh most enjoy working with: dream big + get shit done + know how to have fun.
#5: Instead of limiting our challenges, challenge our limits.
#6: The most dangerous poison against further success is the prolonged feeling of achievement. The antidote is to reflect and think, every night, what can be done better tomorrow.
#7: Simplified summary on investing. There are only 4 things that really count when making an investment: 1) A business you understand 2) Favorable long term economics 3) Able and trustworthy management 4) Sensible valuation That’s investment, everything else is speculation.
#8: Be a genius. Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one else can see.
#9: 10 habits of the most successful people in the world: Set goals, focus, value time, spend less, work hard, continue learning, group with like-minded, persistent, calculated risk, generosity.
#10: Success is achieved from striving for perfection. Happiness is achieved from embracing the imperfections.
#11: Do the hardest things first. Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
#12: When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.
#13: We may not achieve everything we dream, but we will not achieve anything unless we dream.
#14: No one looks back on their life and remember the nights they got plenty of sleep. #workhard #partyhard
#15: Success comes from having the heart to dream big and the fortitude to see it through.
#16: Two kinds of company cultures in this world: cultures where what you do matters, and cultures where all that matters is who you are. Accept only the former, the latter sucks.
#17: WHAT is right is always more important than WHO is right. Outcome not ego.
#18: It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to. Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Select only things to steal that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.
#19: Management is doing things right, while Leadership is doing the right things. Doing the right things is more important than doing things right.
#20: Ambition fires up the strong and threatens the weak. We need to be more ambitious.
#21: Two types of people at work: 1) Can do. 2) Can’t do. Unless your profession needs you to be (2), no reason why you shouldn’t be (1).
#22: Rule #1: Have the courage to dream, and the guts to do it. Rule #2: If all else fails go back to Rule #1.
#23: The most valuable commodity in the world is information; the most valuable tool in the world is communication; the most valuable mental trait in the world is positivity.
#24: Focus on your customers. Serve your employees. Learn from your competitors.
The general consensus amongst society is that being born disabled is an affliction often associated with unhappiness, failure, dependency on others and helplessness. These young entrepreneurs have proven otherwise, inspiring lives through adversities.
People often look at those with disabilities and think to themselves, what misery they must be in. But is that always true? Are those who are afflicted with physical disabilities really less capable than the rest of so-called “normal” society?
Measuring society’s attitude and opinion toward the disabled is no easy task as these opinions are based upon social norms, attitudes, as well as a complex mix of misconceptions and stereotypes.
A survey done by the UK government in 2009 shows that 38% of people who were surveyed see the disabled as less productive than non-disabled people while 35% of people felt that the disabled took more from the economy than they contributed.
Such opinions are largely derived from the belief that the disabled require extensive care and looking after. While there is some truth to this, disabled who need round the clock care are neither the exception nor the rule.
Fast Cars & Celebrated Automotive Trading Entrepreneur
Melvin Tong was one of the many 17 year old candidates about to take the SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) examinations when he started experiencing a sharp pain originating from the back of his knee.
“It started off with minor pain, like a sprain, and I guess you don’t really worry about it,” said Melvin, “By the time I actually went for my checkup in the hospital, I could already see a small lump the size of a peanut.”
It was later confirmed that Melvin had Fibrosarcoma.
Fibrosarcoma is a cancerous tumor that originates from connective tissue found at the ends of the bones of the arms or legs.
In the course of the next five weeks, 3 biopsies and several opinions from different oncologists later, the tumor grew to the size of a tennis ball and the decision to amputate was made.
By the time he was confronted with the decision, Melvin had grown weary of bouncing from doctor to doctor, the countless referrals and undergoing test after test. He willingly went under the knife in hopes that it would conclude the endless biopsies and regular visits to oncologists.
Melvin, 29 this year, has from then on devoted his life to his love of cars as well as his love of people, taking part in many philanthropic activities in his time including raising awareness for victims of child abuse. In 2010, he entered the Malaysian book of records as the first amputee to climb Mount Kinabalu.
He now owns Extreme Supercars, a thriving business importing, refurbishing, renting and selling luxury vehicles.
“My car business started back when I was 13 years old, shortly after I got my first computer, I made a website for the Need For Speed game,” said Melvin.
It was then that Melvin knew that he would never be able to work for anyone other than himself and made the decision to go into the luxury car business. Melvin says that it had never occurred to him to look for a job.
It was only a few years after college when he was introduced into the car industry, beginning his business selling smaller cars such as the Volkswagen Polo for small commission, comparing himself to a low-pay salesperson.
His business began by brokering the sale of foreign cars to local people, Melvin says that he began the business with no capital, slowly working his way up, building his business into what it is today.
“My disability didn’t stop me from taking my SPM or going to college, everyone knew who I was, but somehow, none of them became really close to me.”
He spoke of the barrier that existed between him and everyone else and said that sometimes it is easier for people to simply alienate someone like him.
The World Health Organization estimated that 10% of any population is disabled in some way. Translating this into Malaysian context, the number would come to 2.7million disabled people currently living in Malaysia.
In 2009, according to the social welfare department, the total number of disabled in Malaysia was 258, 918 with an average annual increase of 20,000 a year. These are only the ones who are registered.
Of that number, those who are capable of work amount to over 200,000, discounting those with cerebral palsy and those listed in the survey as “others”. A staggering amount of manpower.
Unfortunately, governments have not been able to take full advantage this and the disabled, along with their families, are often persecuted or looked upon as a burden to society.
A prime example of the contribution from disabled people is Zharif Affendi.
National Youth Icon and Beacon of Hope for Youths
Zharif is the proud owner of the Zharif initiative, a Malaysian creative communications company that specializes in corporate social relations consultancy. The company branches out into many fields including public relations and even having his own independent record label.
He also works for MTEM (Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Malaysia), an NGO which facilitates and assists in the empowerment of the Malaysian economy.
Zharif was born without arms, and when asked what the exactly the ailment was that caused his birth without upper limbs, he nonchalantly replied that he didn’t know.
“There’s probably a name for it but I never looked it up, I never bothered to know what the reason was.”
Zharif had never required any form of special care, attending run of the mill government schools growing up.
In fact, when he was young, his mother registered him in a primary school that had rejected his application because the headmaster felt that they did not possess the facilities to accommodate a person of his condition.
The day before registration, 6 year old Zharif waited outside the headmaster’s office, asked to meet with him, and when he did, he asked the headmaster’s name, he spelled it, writing on his notebook with only his feet.
Today, he holds a law degree, bachelors of Arts degree and a bachelor of psychology degree. Even being an avid sportsman, listing his hobbies as skateboarding, football, ultra thrill running, scuba diving and taking part in swimathons.
These are only two prime examples of what a disabled person can contribute to Malaysian society. Melvin Tong, owner of one of the most renowned luxury car distributors in Malaysia, and Zharif Affendi, who works toward the growth of Malaysian economy in MTEM.
They are the model of what the disabled community in Malaysia has the potential to be. Sadly most are underestimated and aren’t given the opportunity to contribute.
But things have been changing recently with newly introduced government policies.
The government hopes that providing vocational and academic training to the disabled will sufficiently encourage them to find jobs. Congruent to this, the government has allocated 1% of all public sector jobs to those who are disabled.
And in 2008, the Department Of Social Welfare gives an incentive to the disabled who earn a monthly income of less than RM1200, as well as grants that do not exceed RM2, 700 to aid the disabled in the launching of their own businesses.
Alas, some of these policies are poorly implemented or not properly enforced by government authorities and are altogether ignored or unbeknownst by most.
In the year 2000, it was estimated that the disabled contribute USD1.68 billion to the Malaysian Gross Domestic Import (GDP), while studies conducted to estimate the total global annual loss of excluding the disabled from the economy to be somewhere between USD1.37 to USD1.94trillion.
According to these statistics, it is not the lack of ability that holds back the capabilities of the disabled, but a vicious cycle of poverty, charity and excessive amounts of sympathy that result in their continued reliance on society.
The equalization of opportunities for the disabled to be on par with those who aren’t is crucial to the Malaysian economy and the overall quality of life of persons with disabilities.
Those who are disabled are not necessarily impeded, but it is the inaction of irresponsible parties that truly deprives them from the achievement of their true potential.
Gen-Y College Students Speak Out on Inspiration
1. Melinna Loone
2. Nazreen Zainurin
3. Pang Yat Haw
4. Daniel Ibanez Lau
5. Justin Wong Zhe Xuan
6. Vigneshan Kumar
Thoughts from Student Interviewers: We are extremely grateful that we’re able to complete and execute this project on time and up to the standards of our lecturer and also our employer. The hardest part of this project is probably the video part, it was difficult to brainstorm any creative ideas to be put into our video as a documentary video is meant to be serious and if anything that goes against that vibe or would disrupt that atmosphere will need to be thrown out of the window.
It was an inspiring experience to listen to both such amazingly positive stories. Before this, we’ve always had this sympathetic or pitiful feeling towards physically disabled community but after this project, we’ve realized that they are even more positive about life than some of us are. Their determination and spirit to thrive in life has indeed made us reflect on ourselves.
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Credit Note: INTI College Subang students from the School of Mass Communication undertook a project by Founder Method to interview successful yet challenged individuals in Malaysia, who have had a lasting impact in society through their business and work. This was a collective effort done by the students, coupled with industry mentors from INTI College Subang and from Founder Method in the implementation of this project.
One of the lean ways to start a company is to sell your products or services before you build them. I know some of you might be thinking, “Are you NUT?! How can I sell something that doesn’t exist?” Well, that’s exactly what I suggest you to do. Selling your products or services before building them brings many advantages.
Let me give you a case study. I run a financial education program for youth called Young Money Master. We train young adults to be financially smart though a creative marketplace simulation. If I were to follow the common startup process when I first conceived the idea, I would do a market research to see whether there is a need for financial education for youth. Let’s say the research result indicates a demand for my idea, I’d invest money and resources to design and build my program. Two months later, I finally get the program ready to sell. After a few months of selling, I might get a few sales but could still be losing money due to other operating costs. Perhaps the poor result could be owing to selling to the wrong market, or wrong value propositions that fail to appeal to the intended market. After identifying the root of the problem, I decide to pivot on my existing business model. I might change the target market, the value propositions, sales materials, the website, program materials, or the marketing channels. And it costs a great amount of money, again.
All of this unnecessary loss and wastage could have been avoided if we had validated the business assumptions before we committed time, money, and resources to design and build it. Certainly, we could validate our business assumptions by selling the products or services before building them. Back to the case study, what I really did was as soon as my co-founder and I agreed on the concept and objectives of the program, we started to sell. At this juncture, no solid program modules and materials were produced yet. We went to talk to the prospects to understand their needs and eventually sell them. We tested the price point, value propositions, and the effectiveness of each marketing channel. We measured the result and learnt from our feedback. We made numerous changes on our sales material and program after gathering enough intelligence. Only two weeks before the workshop then we began to produce the program material. As a result, we saved a great deal of time, money, and effort. The program turned out to be a huge success too!
The strategy above works especially in service businesses. If your business requires a physical transaction of goods at the time of purchase, you may invest a little money to produce a minimum viable product (MVP). MVP is the version of products that comes with essential features only. It serves to enable you validate your business assumptions. Your goal is to sell the MVP to your potential clients and gauge their reaction. You will then learn a tremendous amount of information about your market and product. To learn how to create a MVP in details, I’d recommend you to read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.
In brief, there are three primary benefits of selling before building:
Firstly, it helps you design better services and products. You get to know who will buy it, and who will not. You will learn what is working, and what is not. You get to know your clients’ preference in terms of design, marketing, how the products should be sold, etc. More importantly, you get to learn whether there is really a market for your idea or it is just an idea that gets you excited. It is common for people to get fired up by their own idea and start to design and build the products before validating whether there is ACTUALLY a market for it.
Some of you might ask, “Why do I need to pre-sell if I could just do a market research to ask people whether they will be interested to buy my product and service? If I find it enough interest, then I would just create it and sell it.”
This is a common misconception. Your respondents will most likely tell you they are interested in the products or services, but it is not until they commit their money and resources to make the purchasing decision. There is a real difference between asking people if they would buy and actually buying. I have personally done market research twice, but the inputs I obtained were not as valuable and precise as when I went out to the market and sold it. Thus, selling before building will give you so much invaluable information and understanding about the real consumer behaviour.
Secondly, it helps reduce the risk, pressure and wastage. You will not have much financial commitment initially to build your products and services. You will only incur the least expense until you actually sell your products. It will always be much less expensive to change the final design before it is even designed. It helps you save money. You will not so tensed because you didn’t commit so much investment in your startup. You reduce wastage by saving time, effort, and resources to run your startup in a lean manner.
Thirdly, it brings in positive cash flow from day 1. You let your customers fund your working capital. In other words, you can bootstrap on your startup with limited capital. Truth to be told, my partner and I started Young Money Master with ZERO capital because we had sold before we built it.
To sum up, by selling before you build it, you will learn a tremendous amount about how to market your products or services, what the final design should be, who will buy it, and whether you can actually be successful selling it.
In celebration of TEDxKL 2013, we have gotten the chance to research and do a scoop on the Extreme Entrepreneur himself, Peter Sage. One of the headline speakers for the annual TEDxKL this year, we will explore the origins of Peter Sage, an entrepreneur whose daring ventures had brought him to launch companies that harvest the energy potential of space, to becoming an advisor of a leading business school and ultimately inspiring thousands of entrepreneurs to live their potentials to succeed! Here are 3 things that you should know about the Extreme Entrepreneur himself. Continue reading 3 Things You Should Know about the Extreme Entrepreneur Peter Sage→
Malaysia holds a strong Malay population of 70% and that certainly contributes a large pool of malay entrepreneurs throughout the years even before she gained independence. With the destitute of entrepreneurial references or lessons, the Malay entrepreneurs very quickly studied and learnt trading from various global traders that landed on the shores of Malaya. The list below is non-bias and not in any particular order.
What’s he doing with $30 million? As Nick D’Aloisio says, “I can’t even buy a car because I don’t have a licence yet.” So he’s going to buy a new bag. Why? “Mine is broken; it’s old and the strap’s not working.”
Recently, Yahoo bought 17 year old Nick D’Aloisio’s iPhone app, Summly, for $30 million. When Yahoo was founded in 1994, Nick wasn’t even born yet.
3 STEPS ON HOW NICK D’ALOISIO GET TO $30 MILLION
Nick’s app has delivered over 90 million news summaries in the four short months since he launched it on his 17th birthday in November. But Nick isn’t even old enough to be a Director of his company, so his mum is the Director while he sits in as Company Secretary.
What has gotten Nick D’Aloisio to success so quickly in 15 months when so many of us are still struggling after 15 years? Here’s 3 steps his journey has in common with most super-success stories:
PROBLEM + PASSION = $300K SOLUTION
Nick’s Summly App was the solution to a real world problem that no one else was solving well. As Nick relates, “I was 15 years old and I was revising for some kind of history exam. The problem was I was trying to find information that was useful to me.”
Searching Google on his phone didn’t give him enough detail to know what was or wasn’t a useful link. So he put his own iPhone app together. The app quickly rose up the download ranks and Apple featured it in their store.
Then came a fateful email: “About a month later, the private fund of the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing cold emailed me and expressed an interest to invest, but they didn’t realize I was 15…It turned out that they actually liked my age because it demonstrated I was net-native, so I’d only grown up with the Internet. They flew to London about a month later and invested $300,000. That kick-started this whole journey.”
$300K FUNDING + EXPERTISE = $1.3M REPUTATION
Nick D’Aloisio used the money to bring in world experts to help relaunch the app. At 16 years old, he teamed up with the leaders in Natural Language Processing, Stanford Research Institute (Who create Apple’s SIRI – named after the company’s initials, SRI).
In between high school classes in London, Nick worked with SRI in the US by phone and text messages to build the new app. SRI’s solid reputation and Nick’s focus on approaching well known celebrities to help him attracted high profile investors Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher and Yoko Ono who invested $1.3 million. Nick made the most of his investors, with Stephen Fry starring in the launch video for Summly.
$1.3M REPUTATION + SINGLE-MINDED FOCUS = $30M STORY
With world class partners and world class investors, Nick D’Aloisio gave up full-time school at the end of 2011, with his parent’s blessing: ““I talked about it with them and my headmaster and we decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it would be silly not to run with it. Now, looking back, I can say it was a massive gamble. But it was a good gamble.”
From a standing start to $30 million, Nick has taken the age old 1-2-3 formula of solving a problem in a smart way, then using the resources he attracts to bring in the best talent, and leveraging that to attract the most influential partners.
What made him think he could just go and knock on the door of the best companies and most well known people in the world? As he says “I was naive. I didn’t know I couldn’t.”
Nick D’Aloisio is now reflecting on this week’s news: “Numbing is probably the best word to describe it. It’s a shock to be honest. The only thing I can take from this is that I’m genuinely kind of proud that I’ve been getting a lot of tweets where young people are commenting and saying, “This is really inspirational, I want to go and start my own thing.”
How many of these 3 steps in the 1-2-3 formula have you taken in your business? What can you do to upgrade your product, your talent or your partners?
Or maybe it’s time to be a kid again, be naive again, when you didn’t know you couldn’t. And start something entirely new.
Recently The Star featured a story about a very interesting company, a USB Drive company, based in Taiwan. That company name is Phison Electronics Corp and it is a public listed company in Taiwan that is valued at Rm 4.3 Billion. This company was started by Pua Khein Seng who hails from Selangor. This 35 year old graduate from National Chiao Tung University worked part time support himself while he was still a student.