“I was 17 going on 18. I had started my own talent management company, broke even but because it was tough, I had to let it go…”

It came about when I realised the degree in music I was studying for was not something I want. My passion was always music but the degree taught me how to be a performer and not the business side. 

I was more curious of that (the business side). I thought why not explore to see if there is a potential growth in this market. 

The music industry doesn’t have much support from both private and government sector, which led alot of local talents moving overseas to gain popularity before coming back. 

With this little experience, I wasn’t ready to go into it. It was a struggle, so I went back to university, did my degree in commerce; but before that I sat down with my dad. 

He has a unconventional parenting method of his own, something that I’d pass on to my own kid. He said: ‘you’re smart I know you’ll get it but let me count the cost in funding your degree and all that extra cost of accommodation and cost of living. 

You see this amount here – RM300,000 to RM500,000. What if I take that money, give it to you to start your own business and you don’t need to go to university?’

I was 19, failed my first business, lost my footing for the longest period of time. I knew I need to be in an environment to gain my footing again. My response to him was to get a higher education. 

My dad asked me why do I wanna study commerce and why do I wanna go to university, but I knew this is the right one for me. I need to share my experience with people my age. University was a good experience and a place for me to study. 

My main aim at that time was to work in an investment bank or go into management consulting. I was young, full of self-confidence and highly influenced by the people I stumbled into. 

I tried to pursue a career in consulting, worked six months of consulting in Australia and some work with a company in America. 

Then I attended a community event and my friend who worked in a local venture capital in Malaysia was introducing venture capital to the public. From that event, I met two ladies of whom one of them got me to work up consulting slides. 

This was where I started my exposure to the tech start up scene. I met a lot of entrepreneurs at this time. One thing led to another and three months before I graduated I got this random email from a person to be a launch manager for Yelp in Malaysia. 

I thought this was a good opportunity to come back to Malaysia, packed my things and moved back to KL. In my stunt to launch Yelp, I thought I could have my own team but I had to do everything my myself. 

My biggest challenge was learning to manage a huge number of people, including hiring and firing close to 300 people. It was an interesting experience, the pay was extremely good but I was tired, burnt out and had no weekends. 

Since I was back in Malaysia, I thought let me understand and get connected to the tech start up scene here. That was when I started working with Aizat at his then tech management company. In 12 months we networked with so many people, understood how the ecosystem is and the amount of innovation in place. 

I had also went back to my family business. I was figuring things out. I knew I was passionate with the tech space, digitalization and how innovation can help the economy. 

And that is how the idea for Dropee.com came about. 

We understood that FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) products move fast every single day. People keep thinking prices keep increasing but the fact is there are multiple layers and middlemen that are in the supply chain. 

These days with the internet you can know who is buying your products. 

There are many brand owners who doesn’t know this because the middlemen refuse to give the information to them. 

Today we are the one stop shop for inventories and have retailers from a small town pub all the way to four star hotels. What we sell is convenience and transparency in pricing. 

Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centrewas the someone from day one who can hook us up with the right investors or partners. They have been helpful in networking, connecting us to people within Malaysia, regionally and globally. 

I had grown up in a family of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship was sort of my second language. We believe in owning scalable and sustainable businesses. Scaling and we have that. 

We understand the trading industry quite well and I am confident we can make it into a profitable business”. 

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Lennise Ng is the Co-Founder of Dropee. She was recently awarded the ‘Founder of the Year’ Award at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards!

Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!

#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Christine Cheah
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

 

(This post was first published on October 25th 2018)

“When I was in high school, I was a naughty kid. I always find ways to get things done in the shortest period of time…”

“In my final year, and everyone sits for SPM, I made myself sick so that I can extend the papers to resit the exams.

After that happened, my dad kicked me out of my own house because he was so upset with me. I was not even 18 years old. So, I said, ‘ok, cool’ and I went to stay at my friend’s place.

It was only when I came back to the house, my mom opened the door for me and he told my mom not to. I realised he really meant it. I saw my sisters tearing up to help me, but my dad didn’t want to see me.

At that time, I was in UiTM. I had to struggle for a little then, working at 7-11 at night and selling ‘nasi lemak’ to my university mates to keep myself afloat. At that point of time, I realised how important studies are. I didn’t study when I was in high school, I’d copy someone or come up with my own thing and do barely enough just to make sure i pass.

If I could turn back time, I would appreciate studying because subjects such as history, accounting and Bahasa Malaysia could have made me learn faster with lesser mistakes. In business, if people did a mistake, you need to learn and think better, and do stuff differently to avoid that kind of mistake. People usually don’t see a value in reading and all these education including myself. Only when I realised that everyone is ahead of me, did I understand its importance.

After my diploma in UiTM, I found out that it wasn’t an easy thing to do for my dad when he kicked me out of the house. I reconciled with my dad after I graduated and made it up when I got a scholarship and went to Adelaide.

I wanted to make a come back so I did my whole degree in 2 and a half years instead of the usual 4 years. As I was finishing my business and finance degree in Australia, I worked there for about a year. After more than a year, I found out there are a lot more opportunities in Malaysia, especially in the financial sector. There were also not many players in the tech industry, as compared to the states.

I came back and opened my own tech investment fund, raised close to RM 2 million in less than 3 months. Back then I was working with Ashran (current CEO of MaGIC), and he was impressed. I went and looked at companies in the States where we could replicate in Malaysia, seeing if investors wanted it or not. We helped build 11 companies in that a year.

During that time, I met my other co-founder for Dropee. I came out of the company and we startedDropee.com from scratch.

And in that one year and nine months, we serviced 1,200 retailers and over 700 brands in the Klang Valley”.

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Aizat Rahim is the Co-Founder and COO of Dropee. 

Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!

#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Christine Cheah
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

 

(This post was first published on October 26th 2018)

“We’re at the launch of the MagicalSouls book with the Youth and Sports Minister and Entrepreneurship Minister…”

“Compiling all the stories that Humans of Kuala Lumpur did with Malaysian Global Innovative and Creativity Center featuring inspiring Malaysian entrepreneurs! #HumansofMaGIC

We also wanted to thanks the CEO of MAGIC, and a close friend of mine, Ashran Ghazi, a happy birthday this very day! Thank you for this opportunity, and thank you to the MaGIC team as well! 

And most of all, big thanks to the team of storytellers and organizers for making this happen: Mushamir Mustafa, Amalina Davis, Yu Ping May, Samantha Siow, and Dao Hong in making this happen!

 

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

“My mother was a rubber tapper from Penang and she met my Singaporean father in Johor Bahru, but my father passed away when I was in primary school…”

“So, in my early teens; I learned what it means to be independent because my mother wasn’t healthy and she is sometimes ‘emotionally disturbed’. I took up odd jobs, from wearing mascots to a lot of promoter jobs, ensuring that the my younger brother and mother has food on the table.

I was an ‘extreme’ student when it comes to result. I scored highly in science subjects but I was bad in language and subjects like history. Memorizing was not my strength, and so is language. For instance, I have lived in Kuala Lumpur for the last ten years but I still can’t speak Cantonese well! In Johor Bahru, we speak Mandarin because we watch Singaporean television programmes. 

Because I got the best marks in Chemistry, I decided to study Chemistry for my degree. University Malaya was my first choice. I got in with 3As and 1B from my STPM, and you can guess the B I got was Pengajian Am (General Knowledge). Then I was lucky to continue with my phD because i received first class honours for my degree. 

Again during my phD studies, I was looking to earn extra pocket money, so I tutored A-level Chemistry students. It was during this time I learned that tutors have to pay a high commission to agencies to get students. 

I thought, why not connect teachers and students on a platform without going through a third party human? I watched one hour of YouTube video and created a wordpress site, serving as a website to link teachers and students without an agency. The demand grew, with a focus on education and different types of lesson. Then I hired freelance developers to kickstart the development of the platform you see today – AOne

MaGIC taught me how to be an entrepreneur after my studies. The MaGIC Accelerator Program was intense and well-rounded, helping me to set the right track in my business. Fast-forward today, we have about 3,000 lesson providers in the span of two years. 

This year we launched a software aimed to ease the management of learning centres known as AOne School. We hope to reduce the paperwork and processes learning centres go through in keeping track of their students. 

If I could change something back in time, maybe, just a minor thought, I could have studied business instead of chemistry. However, this is after I knew I would be going into entrepreneurship, but I wouldn’t change anything major in my life because what has happened made me who I am today!”

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Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem-solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!
#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Christine Cheah

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

 

(This post was first published on September 21st 2018)

(2/2) “I’ve noticed that Malaysians lack respect to people like cleaners. Just because they are cleaners, you would treat them like ‘sampah’ (trash)…”

(2/2) “I have had cases where my cleaners were verbally abused, just because they missed a spot. They were called useless, trash, and all sorts of names.

I’ve had cleaners coming back to me crying because she got 1-star rating from the customer, from using our app Maideasy, where we match cleaning service providers with those looking to have their house professionally cleaned. The next day she terus demam (got sick) !

I’ve had customers calling me up and saying, ‘You tau tak i ni siapa? I ni Datin tau!’ (Do you know who I am? I’m a Datin!). Another customer said, ‘the cleaner and myself live in two different worlds, we just don’t have the same values.’ 

We shouldn’t say those things. Most of the time, the cleaners are just doing their best, and they want to earn an honest income. 

When we are training the cleaners in how to do housekeeping, we also try to teach them to look at life differently, to not let a dirty job define you. Don’t feel like you are less important than an office executive just because you are a cleaner. 

Our cleaners really need the money that they get from MaidEasy. Some of them have been with us from the beginning, so that’s three years. We can see how they use the money for rent, send their kids to school, and things like that. They share with us how this job have given them some stability in their life, it does make me happy. 

It makes me feel like I have made a difference in their life. More than just making money. Business is just business, but when I feel like I’ve done something to change someone’s life, and bring a positive impact to the community, it feels really good.

I joined the e@Stanford programme under theMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC), and we visited the United States and Silicon Valley. It was very eye-opening. Everything in America, especially in the Silicon Valley, is in the billions. They think big, everyone there wants to change the world. 

In Malaysia, it is happening too, but on a smaller scale. That doesn’t mean you are less capable than them, it just means you are solving problems closer to your vicinity. 

With age, I have come to the mindset that it does not matter how big or small is the things that you do. As long as you are happy doing what you do, and it pays the bills, anything more than that it is a bonus. It’s what’s true, to you”. 

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Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering with Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Amalina Davis
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

(This post was first published on August 20th 2018)

(1/2)“I come from an upper middle class family. My father is the Chairman of a manufacturing company and has factories in Malaysia, China, and all around the world…”

 

(1/2) “I grew up being surrounded by expensive things, so I don’t feel anything different or special about it.

Most people in the affluent society tend to live inside their bubble. They think that just because another person have a more expensive handbag, they are better than you.

For a while, those material things did matter to me. Then I went through the rough times in my business, and I couldn’t afford those things, so I became more practical about it. Yes, you can have your Dior handbag, but it hides who you are. 

Its like, you wear a Dior t-shirt plastered across you, but who are you? You’re like a walking advertisement, rather than yourself. It plasters your personality. I don’t want to be hiding behind those material things, I want people to see me for who I am. 

When I was at university in London, my parents didn’t really give me enough money, so I had to work. I worked in the cinema and started a small catering business to support myself. I was very skinny when I lived there, because I would eat dessert like pudding as lunch, to save money. I would also congregate with my ‘poor’ student friends, and we would buy a sandwich pack with two sandwiches and take one each. 

I met my husband when we were studying in London together. He went to Imperial, and I went to UCL. When I met him, I realized we think on the same wavelength – he’s very intellectual and I like to read and play with ideas. We felt that entrepreneurship was the only way we can experiment with what we think, and succeed. 

Our entrepreneurial adventures are our creative and intellectual pursuits in thinking outside the box and thought a salaried job will not give me the creative exploration that I want. 

We have been together for 18 years, and started our first business together 15 years ago.

We have had half a dozen businesses, some succeeded and some failed. 

Currently, we are the co-founders of Maideasy, an app that provides cleaning services to households. We only employ local cleaners, and most of our cleaners are from the B40 (Bottom 40{eb97150a49149dc6c9e8165e90f1c9129bb6172e02a598b4264a1fc329d7d5bc} income level) group. 

Working with the B40 has really opened my eyes. It made me realize that a lot of them don’t even have things that we easily take for granted, like a roof over their heads, stable parents, food you can eat anytime you want and education. With all of those things, you feel very confident to face the world. But a lot of the B40 don’t have these privileges. 

One of our cleaners is a single mother with two kids. She didn’t have money to pay for rent and the landlord is about to kick her out from her room. We loaned her RM300 and a smartphone, so she can get started with cleaning. 

But when she started cleaning, she didn’t have anybody to take care of the kids. We found out that she leaves her 3 year old and 5 year old kids inside the room, alone, when she goes to work. Eventually, she moved back with her parents in Seremban. The parents will look after the kids while she goes and cleans. Luckily MaidEasy was operating in Seremban, so she now manages that area. 

I read a book called ‘Scarcity’ written by two MIT professors that talked about how poor people think. That book explained that each brain has limited space. With most people in the B40, they have to make a lot of decisions. Who’s going to take care of my child, am I going to have work tomorrow, where will my next meal be from? So when they have too many things in their mind, they can’t find solutions for the simplest things.

For example, the cleaners would say, ‘oh my phone doesn’t have battery la.’ Then we say, buy a power bank. ‘Oh my motorcycle is broken’. Then we say, go la to the garage. They cannot make those kind of decisions, even the smallest ones they’d have trouble with. 

We went to PPR (Projek Perumahan Rakyat, low-cost flats) to ask people there if they want to be a MaidEasy cleaner. You’d be surprised by the things they cannot do. I’ve met one cleaner that didn’t know how to go beyond 5km radius of where she lives. And the second cleaner – someone who doesn’t know how to use a smartphone. The third cleaner didn’t know how to use Waze or GPS.

Complex decisions are too much for them, so you make it easy for them. MaidEasy helps simplify their decision making process.”
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Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Amalina Davis
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

(This post was first published on August 19th 2018)

“I was a prefect in a very gangster school for 6 years. There was a lot of gang fights, students doing things they are not supposed to do, bringing things they are not supposed to bring, smoking, ponteng (skipping classes) – and most fights were done outside of school…”

“Once, I remember going back home, I found my car splashed all over with red paint. I knew who did it, because I caught him ponteng class. I wasn’t afraid because I know them and knew how to navigate. You need to know not to go head-to-head with them, but you still need to get them into order. That is the challenge.

You just have to be sincere, humble, be friends with them. You don’t want to be punched in the head when you walk out of school right, so you just explain to them what might happen to them. Don’t be stuck up and langsi. I found out early in life that there there are many, many ways to solve a problem (with difficult people), not just one way. 

The whole experience made me a more rounded person in how you deal with tough people when you are a prefect. Now at my age I see that you have to deal with a lot of difficult people. 

When you want to deal with people you need to know first how to motivate them. I used to be a high demanding, aggressive, hot tempered boss. So people worked under a lost of stress under me, which eventually burns you. 

And it burns you when people come to you and resign – not because they are bad but because I am just too tough. I have toned down and learn. 

So until now I learn that people don’t owe you anything. You are as a manager. People leave not because of the job, they leave because of the manager, right? So you just have to learn how to be a good manager. 

So make sure that whatever position that you are in, especially with my small company, with my people I try to teach them beyond what they are doing on their job, try to bring them up to a higher level, spend some time with them – teach them. 

And dealing with the tough performer – I always believe in meritocracy. Know that your performance is dynamic, it always changes. You can be a top 20 performer today, and you can be at the bottom 10 the next day. So you need to keep your performance up. There are always people who are better than you, so you need to always be savvy. 

If you want to climb the corporate ladder, always aim to be the Top 20, so try not to be in the Bottom 10 – you will know when you are there. You need to tell them what to improve. You as an individual and as an employee you need to know what is your goal. I would advise people to follow their passion. I only work with my passion. 

I don’t do my job because its my job, I do it because its my passion. We spend a lot of hours in a job. Many people do a job because they want to sustain their lifestyle. I don’t believe in that. I will perform if I really like it. If I am put in a position in a company that I really hated, I know I am going to be bad at it. 

Sometimes when there are job offers which pays comfortably – they are high paying for a reason, but I know that I myself and am past that. 

With Millennials, and working with young graduates, I noticed that they lack focus and just don’t know the reason WHY they are working. They take on any jobs. Sometimes I ask them a simple question, what is your goal? 

And many millenials say ‘I want to be rich’. I said: who doesn’t want to be rich? That’s not a goal. That is never a goal. You think about it. I don’t think you want to be rich, or do you want to be financially free? That’s a goal, and there’s plenty of ways to be financially free – and you will be rich when you do things that you are good at. 

Treat people with respect, and just be sincere. People can see. 

For me, I have found out what my passion is – from my time working in China with a marketing research company, I found out about Gigagigs. 

GigaGigs, is an app that instantly connects you with micro tasks that are simple, fun and easy-to-do, and pays you upon completion of these tasks.

We have had 80,000 downloads and 15,000 users and collectively they have earned rewards close to RM 300,000 since we started 1.5 years ago. 

And all the while I have been in corporate and was never exposed to the startup ecosystem – and that’s how Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre has helped us out. They made me see their big network of entrepreneurs and you can see all the innovations and ideas of other people, and that opened my eyes of what Malaysians can do and how I could apply it my industry to solve problems.

My vision and aim now is to expand out to South East Asia. 

I’ve been in the corporate life for 20 years – its been a comfortable life, so why did I want to get out that into the startup life? 

I could have a comfortable or an uncomfortable life. Asking myself that question made me realize that this is something that needs to be done for the greater good, I love the app so much that I am willing to take a bet to make this work. And true enough it has grown by leaps and bounds.”

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Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

 

(This post was first published on August 18th 2018)

“I am working to reduce the fashion crime rate (in Malaysia). An advice to Malaysians about fashion is to stop dressing like someone else…”

“Because Malaysians like to dress like someone else. This example may be a bit offensive but a lot of women like to dress like Vivy Yusof or any other celebrity.

They like to dress like someone. But the thing is, the people they want to dress like doesn’t share the same physique, skin tone, height, etc. Unless you have a physique like a celebrity, you can dress like them but most of us don’t look like a celebrity. That is a fact we need to realise. 

And instead of looking like a celebrity, dress according to what is best to your physique or personality. For me is not about the expensive things but the variety.

My passion is not in Fashion per se. My passion is in creativity. I think Malaysians don’t have the same level of creativity like Indonesians. 

When I say Indonesians, I don’t mean all Indonesians but maybe the creative side. That’s why I believe in terms of the film industry, Indonesians are way ahead of us. Not in cinema but the films. I think Malaysians are not creative. Not everyone. 

There are creative people but we like to copy. I think the issue with Malaysians is that one – we like to copy. Two – we like to do the trendy things. The problem with copying and doing the trendy things doesn’t mean that it fits you. 

The link or the linkage that we are trying to create with Ombré is the link between your clothes and you. Ombré is a fashion stylist software. The software aims to give clothing or fashion suggestion to our users – to tell them what to wear based on their physique. 

That’s why our tagline is: Dress Like Yourself. For us, clothes are the extensions of ourselves. So when it is the extension of ourselves, you can’t just wear something based on some other people. 

For example, if I don’t look like David Beckham, I shouldn’t wear like David Beckham even though David Beckham is my style icon. What I do is, I follow his style but I change the colour. 

For one thing our skin tone is different. David Beckham has a cool skin tone whereas I have a warm skin tone. Our bodies are also different. 

The point is there should be a linkage between the wearer and the clothes. I think Malaysians don’t care about this. That’s why if there is a trend, for example, the varsity jacket trend. I get the trend but you shouldn’t wear that outdoors in the afternoon because you’re in Malaysia. 

So always remember that there is linkage between ourselves and our clothes. I think Malaysians need to remember that. But if it is hard for them, just use Ombré. 

I think the philosophy behind starting Ombré is that: we believe that fashion, before this, is seen as exclusive. If you’re rich or if you have a certain physique, then you can be fashionable. We want to tell people that fashion is not exclusive. Anyone can be fashionable regardless of your body shape and regardless of your income. 

But I think what the problem that the majority of people have before this is that how can they be fashionable without hiring fashion stylists which cost around RM500 or USD500 per day. Unless they are very well knowledgeable in fashion, it is hard for them to be fashionable. But we aim to solve that. 

Our software is not catered to the fashionable – it’s catered to the fashion conscious or fashionably clueless crowd, which is the majority. 

We needed to do a scalable business and we decided with several ideas. But we see that fashion is the way to go because no one is doing that.

We are the world’s first fashion styling software that is patented. Our future plans is to expand to other countries. Right now, about 20{eb97150a49149dc6c9e8165e90f1c9129bb6172e02a598b4264a1fc329d7d5bc} of our users are Americans even though we don’t market to America.

We are of course thankful of Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) because of the programme. We went to Silicon Valley. It was only for 3 weeks, and I learned more in those 3 weeks than learning 6 months in Malaysia. So we took that opportunity to continue fundraising and finally found investors.

I think the number 1 advice took dearly after we came back from Malaysia was when we met a CEO of a start-up named Kenny Hock. 

He taught me that: don’t tell me the problem, don’t give me an excuse. Find a way to get what it is that you need and want. 
When visiting Facebook’s HQ, I noticed that there wasn’t any Facebook branding at all except for the light logo at the front. 

Previously, this was Sun Microsystems’ HQ and their branding was still there in Facebook’s current HQ! We asked the tour guide why is Sun Microsystems’ still here and they said, “Mark (Zuckerberg) wanted to remind us that Sun Microsystems’ used to be an icon in Silicon Valley – but they died. So don’t be complacent because you can die.”

This was a ‘wow’ moment for me because it is the opposite here (in Malaysia). The culture is deep branding and putting the logo everywhere. I’m not saying that it is wrong, I’m saying that this is the other part of how people decorate their office.

The other one is there is a lot of word “hack” in Facebook issue. Even their address is 1 Hackaway I think? Why hack? They said, “our culture is hacking. 

Although the word “hack” has a bad connotation like computer hacking. It doesn’t mean that. 

“Hack” is more like you want something but you can’t do it in conventional means so you need to hack it out.” “the best definition of an entrepreneur is those who can create something out of something he doesn’t have” 

And since I was in Standard 2 I had this urge of doing something and I love my work when it is appreciated. 
For example in Standard 2, I used to draw Digimon on a piece of paper and photocopied it and sold it for RM0.20. 

It wasn’t the matter of getting RM0.20. It was a matter of validation. 

It was the matter that people were willing to pay RM0.20 for your work. It means that people are appreciative of your work. Again, it’s not that I want to be rich at the time. 

It’s more of doing something that people want. I think I really like to create something that people don’t know that they want it. So I think that is my life philosophy.

My one thing is disrupting. When I say disrupting is not necessarily disruption – it is disrupting people, disrupting things. That is my one thing. Meaning if someone is doing something, when I come in, I want to do something different. I would disrupt that process. 

Even when I am old, I would still want to disrupt things. That is my one thing. And Ombré, is my one thing. 

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

________________________________________________

Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!#HumansofMaGIC

(This post was first published on August 12th 2018)

“I always had a dream to go overseas, but my dad told me that he had no funds to send me…”

“I felt like it was not fair that my friends who were genuinely richer were able to go overseas. The other friends got scholarships. I got 8 A1s and 1 C5 (for Bahasa Malaysia), but I just couldn’t get a scholarship. So I took action on my own hands.

I went to government embassies and looked for all the addresses of universities around the world. I wrote to universities like Harvard and Princeton, and said, ‘Please give me a scholarship. I am very good, I play football and represented my school for a lot of competitions. You will be very stupid if you don’t give me a scholarship.’ I said it in a nice way la (laughs).

At that time, my father was working in the government and he got an award for me doing well in SPM. I got RM100 per A1, so I got about RM800. I thought, must do something more productive with this money. So instead of buying stuff, I bought stamps to send the letters, and spent the rest of it to take my SATs and TOEFL exams. 

I did really well for my SATs – I got 800 for Maths and 640 for English. I got early entrance into Princeton and Georgetown Universities, with a small 25{eb97150a49149dc6c9e8165e90f1c9129bb6172e02a598b4264a1fc329d7d5bc} scholarship. 

Eventually, I got a full scholarship from Bridgeport University, covering tuition fees, food and lodging. I got the letter on December 22nd, and school started on January 4th. So I dropped Form 6, asked my father for a few thousand dollars, and flew off to the US. 

The scholarship was given by the university. They gave 10 scholarships to each country, all 160 countries, so it was like a mini United Nations (UN).

The Chinese gave the scholarship to the top 10 students from top Chinese universities including Peking university, so they were super smart kids. But some of the Africans nations were different – some were corrupt, giving the scholarships to the government officials’ kids.

I knew the Sudanese Finance Minister’s kid, and then 6 months later, he said that his father was killed in a coup d’etat. Another one of my classmates were Sharon and Fatima Mugabe, the Mugabe sisters from Zimbabwe. At that time, Robert Mugabe was still a freedom fighter. 

From a young age, me and my best friends always wanted to do crazy stuff and somehow managed to get away with it. 

For example, we didn’t have a padang to play football, so we looked around and found a padang. We cleared the land together, and we told our friends to go steal grass from their house. Don’t have a cangkul? We lent them a cangkul. We did all of that just so we can have grass on the padang to play football. 

In hindsight, I realised it has helped teach us little lessons in leadership. I had to influence 20 boys to steal grass from their own house. In a way, I was creating a followership. Part of being a leader is to create followers. You have to cast a vision for them, like ‘when we have this padang, we can play football anytime we like.’ 

I don’t know what I was doing at that time – I was just a kid trying to convince them just to get things done, because i just want a football field. But that starts to teach you, that you need to learn storytelling, you need to put things in perspective, you need to tell the story of the future in order to be a leader. Because when they see the future, they are more willing to put the effort. 

That’s called visioning. That’s part of our science of building leaders in Leaderonomics. 

Leaderonomics started when I was helping underprivileged kids in Sabah and Sarawak through giving leadership camps. It was quite interesting, because not only were these kids impacted as individuals, but the communities that they lived in also had significant impact. 

I wondered, why can’t we take this and make it a bigger version? If we take one person, and impact the community that they live in, their leadership will spread and create a great community of love. And that is how Leaderonomics was born. It is simply an initiative to help every single person become the leader that that they were meant to be.” 

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Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!#HumansofMaGIC

Photostory by Amalina Davis
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

 

(This post was first published on August 12th 2018)

“We are twins. I was bit late to this world by 5 minutes. We were born on same day, we studied in the same secondary school, same college, and had the same first job. But after that, our lives took very different paths…”

Vincent: We both worked in Singapore as a web programmer before, then because of some reason, I had to go back to Malaysia to support my family and work as a computer tutor in a secondary school with a RM1500 salary, teaching very basic computer skills to students who never had a computer before. I also discovered there were many problems in the gift giving industry. I joined some online marketing and SEO classes, and despite it being many more times expensive (RM 6,000) than my salary, I went ahead, and realized knowledge is power, and got back more than I what I invested. With that knowledge, I built a simple website to promote personalized gift ideas and surprisingly the response was good.

And then I resigned from my computer tutor job and started my own small gift shop nearby our College. Unfortunately the gift shop did not last longer than about 6 months – we had to close down because of the wrong location. This failure taught me the importance of location and having a proper business plan. 

Henry: For me, I worked abroad for 11 years in Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan. I started from being an IT consultant, to senior IT Consultant, into application support, into production support, then into being the Technical Architect where I managed more than 100 developers in building a multi-billion web based system. I was working in a tech company similar to MailChimp, and after that, in a gaming company. 

But I very nearly could not have had this because last time in secondary school my academic result was not very good and got rejected by 3 universities. Then I applied for college, and the main campus also rejected my application. The main campus later on sent me to their branch campus, far away from main campus and 10 times smaller than the main campus. 

I still remember trying to also ask for the politician of our area to help, because sometimes politicians have the power to write the letter to the school to accept my application. So I tried for the politician to write the letter but nothing helped.

I then had to accept the fact that I have to study 2 years there because of my bad academic results in secondary school. Even then, I tried very hard to gain acceptance into the main campus to have a better life. I tried, I failed – but I didn’t give up. 

And all of this happened because, as both of us were sportsman and representing the school, the district, and the state in table tennis, athletics and taekwondo, I was not in school much and even when I was, because we were so tired, we would sleep in class or not go to school at all. That is why my academic result was really bad.

I still remember, people were saying “‘Henry is only good in sports, but not good in thinking, his studies are so bad”

So the people looked down at me – and that drove us to want to prove to other people that we can make it. 

Just like how they underestimated us in sports too, table tennis,we wanted to prove to them wrong because someone said that, ‘you are not good player’, ‘you cannot represent school’. Those are negative words to put us down. Then we train very hard, we even play seven days a week together and ended up representing Selangor. 

So in this journey we learn that as sportsmanship we never give up and never look down. If someone is saying negative things about you, you need to be positive and treat it as a motivation that you want to do better than them.

Actually there is the saying, when one door closes, another door opens. 

So when I studied in the ‘kampung place’, (Karak) it’s a small city, there was no discos, no pubs, no entertainment, no night clubs. So I could focus on my studies. 

For 2 years I studied very hard and I became the top student, I scored straight A’s in all IT subjects. 

So if that time I had studied in KL maybe I could not have gotten the good result. Too many distractions, too many friends. 

After that I did the degree, and was also considered as one of the top students and for my internship, I was paid highest amongst my classmates. The rest of my career, is history. 

So I say, ‘bad results are not the end of the world, results are not everything, but your attitude is what will bring you a better life’. 

So fast forward to when I was working in Taiwan, Vincent came to Taiwan and asked me to come back to Malaysia and work together on a business he started, Printcious Gifts, as an e-commerce website, with our online design tool for people to easily create memorable gifts online at affordable prices. 

We needed a team and all 4 of us brothers joined together along with our mother to help grow it. 

After few months of consideration then I decided to come back, together then we build the business, Printcious. 

Because we were getting very good payment package in Taiwan.

So with these expertise we can build our Printcious business from scratch combining all of our skills. 

Printcious needed Vincent’s internet marketing and SEO/SEM skills, and my technical skills to customize the website so that it can have special features for customers to create memorable gifts online. 

The Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) that time was also looking for tech-based company to help develop, and with our e-commerce website, online design tool, and online marketing side, we definitely fit.

At that time, I remember the MaGIC Accelerator Program (MAP) had a syllabus of financial and marketing courses, products and business development side.

And I think among the 50+ startups, we had the highest attendance rates and attended all the classes – a far cry from our sportsman/secondary school days.

They also sponsored us to the Singapore Echelon and e@Stanford programmes at Silicon Valley where we visited Google, Facebook and met Venture capitalists. And through MaGIC, we got to know about other investment funds. 

Vincent: Anyways looking back, keep on learning and don’t give up. I failed but I kept on trying and learning – and then from a small shop at my old college, today we have 4 companies (Printcious,DIYPrintingSupply.com123Cheese Photo Booth) and a web development plus internet marketing company.

From 2 people now we have 50 staffs and have won several awards. 

As brothers, we still play table tennis and we both still do taekwondo. Henry has a Black Belt (3rd Dan) myself Black Belt (2nd Dan), and we still play or compete with each other. 

I think it is inside our blood, to never give up, to prove to others that we are better than them. Just don’t give up, just keep on doing the best.” 

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Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa and Amalina Davis

Do you have a story? Let us know here: https://forms.gle/ht4HsvbxgSgcKS5h8

Humans of Kuala Lumpur is partnering withMalaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre(MaGIC) in featuring inspiring and impact-driven entrepreneurs, problem solvers and startups in their mission to solve Malaysia’s problems!#HumansofMaGIC

(This post was first published on August 5th 2018)