STARTING a company and having it listed on Bursa Malaysia’s Mesdaq is quite an achievement for many local entrepreneurs.
However, Viztel Solutions Bhd chief executive officer Lau Kin Wai has accomplished a feat that not many entrepreneurs are able to lay claim to - having his company publicly listed when he was only 28 years old.
Viztel, a local telecommunications software and voice technology specialist with regional presence, was listed in July this year.
However, Lau’s journey in setting up his company was not smooth.
“It was very difficult in the early days. As a new company involved in information and communications technology (ICT) that many people are not familiar with, we faced lots of difficulties getting Viztel started,” he told StarBiz in an interview in Petaling Jaya.
Lau returned to Malaysia after completing his studies and working for a short while in Britain.
He holds a first class honours in Bachelor of Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Manchester.
He received a full scholarship from Yayasan Tenaga Nasional for his undergraduate studies.
Before setting up Viztel, Lau was working with a leading system integrator in Malaysia and responsible for starting an e-commerce consulting division for the company’s banking and financial sector clients.
He has also worked for a local computer telephony integration firm, where he helped develop a call conferencing system for a local telecommunications company.
“After working as an IT consultant in Malaysia, I decided that I wanted to pursue a more exciting career path.
“I got together with my peers - Pang Hao Chen and Chong Kam Hoe - who shared the same interest and we started Viztel,” he said.
Lau said their move to start an IT company surprised many people.
“To a certain extent, our friends and families wondered whether we knew what we were doing as many of our peers were more contented with working for large multinational companies or telecommunication companies.
“With little savings and monies that we borrowed from families, the co-founders invested RM300,000 to get Viztel started.
“But we later managed to attract private investors who were fascinated by the potential in our technologies,” he said.
Lau is responsible for managing Viztel group of companies in business, technology and corporate affairs.
He has to date successfully raised more than RM8mil of private funding for the group, before taking it for listing.
Since Viztel started operations in 1999, Lau said everyone in the company had to work hard and make personal sacrifices.
“I had to spend the first few Christmas and New Year eves working while the rest of the world are out there celebrating the events,” he said.
However, the environment was fun and Viztel people were “learning” to enjoy the challenges.
“We always believe in Doing What You Love, and Loving What You Do,” Lau said.
He said getting the right people was also another challenge faced during the start-up stage of Viztel.
“Since we could not find engineers who were well-versed in the telecommunications field locally, we ended up training most of our own telecoms engineers.
“I like working with young graduates and giving them a chance to strive for exposure in the telecoms industry,” he said.
Lau said Viztel with its young engineers were “good” at churning out new and innovative methods of communications.
“Our unlimited flow of new ideas is important to the company. We want to maintain a culture and environment that encourage creative thinking,” he said.
Lau, whose hometown is Taiping, Perak, likes to spend his free time reading non-IT related books and watching movies. He also loves to travel.
“One of my most memorable experience several years ago was travelling alone in France and Spain for a month.
“It was tough trying to get around using the English language only, but it was fun,” he said.
Lau said he was fortunate to have received Chinese education when he was in secondary school.
“Being able to read and write Chinese is an advantage in many parts of the world,” he said.
Lau was also involved with the Malaysian Mensa Society and was the vice-chairman for the Taiping Regional Group from 1993 to 1994.
He is an active member of the Imperial College Alumni Association of Malaysia and currently serves as its honorary auditor.
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