Sharing experiences, growing together

A niche: Wong will be talking about the differentiation factor for businesses to thrive.

A niche: Wong will be talking about the differentiation factor for businesses to thrive.

A welcomed platform for entrepreneurs to network and learn from each other

MOST business owners will concede that the entrepreneurial path is long and lonely. Few can fully understand the struggles of championing a product or service amidst opposition, scepticism and discouragement.

As part of its aim to encourage entrepreneurs and to boost SME contribution to the country’s GDP, Star Media Group will be organising a series of SOBA LABs to bring experienced professionals and entrepreneurs together to share experiences and learn from one another.

SOBA LAB, held in conjunction with The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2018, will provide entrepreneurs with networking opportunities, which opens up a myriad of business opportunities, and provide them with a platform to spur peer learning. It will feature speakers from specialised fields, and entrepreneurs and senior executives who have inspirational stories to tell.

The half-day workshops will give SMEs a boost as they aspire for bigger goals and to build stronger businesses.

The first LAB will kick off in Penang on July 18 at MSOGO Co.Workspace, Prangin Mall. This will be followed by workshops at MU Hotel in Ipoh (July 25), The Puteri Pacific Johor Baru in Johor (Aug 1) and Menara Star in Petaling Jaya (Aug 8).

The LABs will feature sharing sessions from successful entrepreneurs such as Chriszen Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Mandy Leong (Ipoh), The Holstein Milk Company Sdn Bhd managing director Loi Tuan Ee (Johor) and Vitality Boost Sdn Bhd managing director Dr Soraya Rahim Ismail (PJ). These are entrepreneurs who have succeeded in different industries against all odds.

LAB participants will be able to draw relevant lessons from their sessions and apply them in their own companies.

The workshops will also feature past SOBA winners who will be able to share on their journey in building, managing and growing an award-winning company. These speakers include Lexis Hotels & Resorts Sdn Bhd president Mandy Chew (Penang), Kalyx Consultants Sdn Bhd managing director Shirlyn Lim (Penang), Googolplex Properties Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Christopher Liang (Ipoh), Wong Kuen Kong, the chief executive officer of Seri Austin cum group director of UMLand Townships (Johor), Proguard Technologies Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and chief financial officer Datin Cindy Choh and chief operation officer Datuk Lee Ngai Mun (Johor), Sirius International (M) Sdn Bhd founder and chief executive officer Anne Tham (PJ) and Hernan Corporation Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Anna Teo (PJ).

Participants will be able to hear of their challenges, motivations and lessons learned in the different aspects of running a business such as branding, shaping a company culture and creating niches for a sustainable business.

Inspiring others: Leong (left) and Wong are among the speakers who will be sharing their stories at SOBA LAB.
Inspiring others: Leong (left) and Wong are among the speakers who will be sharing their stories at SOBA LAB. 

There will also be a panel discussion at each workshop centred around the use of technology to ease business operations and to help companies go digital. The panel discussions will include representatives from Digi, PKT Logistics and RHB Bank, all known for their digital initiatives.

Digi has successfully evolved into a digital-first telecommunications company and will share its experience in employing a mobile marketing strategy to reach a wider target audience while PKT will highlight its success in using social media to engage and retain its employees.

Meanwhile, RHB will be able to discuss how companies can do business the digital way as the economy moves towards a cashless one.

Participants will also be able to pick up pointers on obtaining financing and about going global from speakers from Credit Guarantee Corp (CGC) and Matrade.

Entry for SOBA LAB is free of charge but seats are limited. Interested participants are encouraged to register at to secure a seat on a first-come-first-served basis.

There will also be a SOBA Helpdesk at each location to cater to those interested to know more about SOBA awards.

This year, there will be a new award up for grabs – Best Use of Technology – to benchmark enterprises in the effective use and integration of technology into their business.

SOBA is open to all local enterprises that are not part of a multinational group or listed group incorporated in Malaysia with foreign equity not exceeding 50%. Those who wish to participate may obtain the Awards submission pack from The Star or download the forms from the SOBA website.

Deadline for entries is Oct 19.

SOBA 2018 is organised by Star Media Group with DiGi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Banking Group as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation as co-sponsor, Matrade as official trade promotion partner and New World Petaling Jaya Hotel as official venue.

It is endorsed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO with 988, SuriaFM and dimsum as official media partners.

For more information, call The Star Events Business Unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1432 (Jasmine) / 1857 (Pei Wen) or visit