PETALING JAYA: Entrepreneurs should go all out to seize the opportunity when they see it and worry about the returns later, according to Macrokiosk Bhd co-founder and CEO Kenny Goh.
“You need to put remuneration aside as an entrepreneur. I know that's easy to say since you might have to go hungry, but the payoff will come when you put in the work,” he said at a session on entrepreneurship during the “Making high-income nation a reality” national conference organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute and supported by the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, with The Star as a media partner.
At interviews with potential hires, he said, applicants were likely to come in with a “me-first'' mentality.
“You would think they'd ask me about the company, but they are more likely to ask about their pay first. When my brothers and I first started the business, things like cashflow were not top most on our minds. We tried to focus on creating something we thought society and businesses needed,” he said.
Macrokiosk, a home-grown company that was started over 10 years ago, provides mobile messaging connectivity and solutions to a customer base of more than two billion subscribers around the world.
It serves 18 industries, including banking and finance, aviation, advertising and marketing, insurance, telecommunications, tourism and travel, broadcasting, and entertainment, and counts over 500 mobile operators worldwide as clients of its proprietary eTracker global mobile messaging network.
The company, founded by Goh together with his brothers Henry and CS, currently operates in 14 countries including China, India, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Macau, Vietnam and Thailand, and recently added Dubai to the list, which it intends to use as a launchpad into the Middle East.
In 2006, Goh and Henry won the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneurs of the Year Award. More recently, Goh was crowned Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2011 by Enterprise Asia.
According to Goh, there are two types of entrepreneurs those born either from necessity or opportunity. Necessity entrepreneurs, he said, were forced into the position because they failed to find fulfilling jobs, but opportunity entrepreneurs had high aspirations, seeking business ventures they were passionate about.
It was opportunity entrepreneurs that Malaysia needed to make the leap into a high-income economy, he said.
“Furthermore, entrepreneurs cannot just sit and wait for things to happen they have to fully utilise their existing landscape
and resources to realise their ambitions. Yes, you need good government policies and good conditions or regulations, but as entrepreneurs we should make good use of what we have.
“I was 20 when we first started, and banks could not give me loans because they needed collateral. But we did not let that get in the way and continued to present our ideas to venture capital firms and angel investors. Eventually, we found good shareholders to help us grow the business,” he said.
He explained that in the early days, he and his brothers had only six pages in their business plan. “It's quite funny that we actually thought anyone would want to invest millions of ringgit on a six-page plan.”
He also praised Malaysia for having the right legislative and administrative framework to support new businesses. “We have a presence in multiple countries, and we can still say Malaysia is the best place for us.”
In Goh's view, and contrary to popular belief, becoming an entrepreneur was not akin to becoming your own boss. He listed the myriad burdens one had to bear as an entrepreneur: taking risks, delivering shareholder value and, among others, paying the salaries of employees.
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