Business plans that tick


  • Education
  • Sunday, 09 Feb 2003

BY JOANNE LIM

SONGBIRDS from Team Epsilon found that the best way to sing their hearts out without spending a fortune at karaoke lounges was to have a 24-hour karaoke satellite broadcasting channel – Kara Channel (short for Karaoke Channel). 

Budding entrepreneurs and housemates for three years, Edah Chong, 22, Eileen Tey Yee Lin, 21, and Soh Lin Che, 21, have created an alternative to home and karaoke lounges that allows those who love to sing access thousands of songs in various languages in the comfort of their own home.  

“I love singing and it's becoming a rather expensive hobby as the rental for a karaoke room can come up to RM200 per night,” says team leader Edah at a presentation skills workshop recently. 

Her team – one of five finalists shortlisted for the HSBC Young IT Entrepreneur Awards 2003 – will compete on March 6 for the Gold Award (first prize) of RM15,000 and a trip to Seattle, in the United States. 

Organised by HSBC Bank Malaysia, this challenging competition is running for the second consecutive year. It is open to full-time undergraduate degree or diploma students at public or private universities and colleges. 

Of a total 330 teams who sent in their business plans, 30 were shortlisted for the second round. However, one team dropped out while another was disqualified. Out of the remaining 28, five finalists were chosen. 

Entries were judged for innovation and creative thinking, commercial viability and potential, application of IT knowledge and skills. 

“Kara Channel works along the line of pay-per-view movies, except that in this case, it is a monthly payment of RM30 for karaoke songs,” adds Edah. 

These second year management degree students from Multimedia University (MMU) intend to expand their business plan to make it possible for subscribers to create their own album with a recording device and produce their own music videos using the Digital Motion Camera. 

“We want to sell the idea to Astro because they already have the necessary system so all that is needed is for them to upgrade their system and get royalty from music records,” Edah says. 

“Those who are too shy to sing at karaoke lounges or in front of their friends can also use this service to practise at home,” adds Eileen.  

Edah says that although the competition is very strong, they will try their best to outdo the rest with their marketing and presentation skills. 

What's up doc? 

Fourth year medical students Tan Thuan Ngee, 24, and Priyia Pusparajah, 24, took on the challenge of incorporating the use of IT in their profession.  

Their team Palmaris (a forearm muscle) came up with a plan to provide a well-integrated medical hardware and software package for Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) to be used by both medical professionals and healthcare institutions. 

“I have been using a PDA for a long time and upon entering the clinical years, I found it easier to carry a PDA around rather than a number of heavy books. It is really an indispensable tool,” says Thuan Ngee. 

 

Surprised that they made it to the final rounds, he is all geared up to win the competition.  

“We will practise and coordinate ourselves in the next few weeks and will give it our best,” he adds. 

 

Tried and tested 

Friends for the past five years, students Leong Choon Kong, 22, and Tan Cherng Thong, 23, from MMU, and Lee Li Yee, 24, from Universiti Putra Malaysia, have already started their own business - the Express Bus e-ticketing Management System. 

 

Using a simple model, customers are able to experience “click and mortar” commerce, which offers both traditional cash payments and online e-commerce. 

 

“We obtained RM100,000 funding to run our business and it has been successful over the past eight months in the market,” says Cherng Thong, adding that the business formula is a three-win situation where operators cut costs, eliminate fraud and enhance efficiency.  

“Customers enjoy the convenience of purchasing online while we ourselves earn some profit,” he says.  

An idea inspired by his own needs, Cherng Thong says the system made it easier for him to purchase express bus tickets to go back to his hometown in Johor. 

“I knocked on about 100 doors to obtain funding for this project and I finally managed to convince one to buy the idea. Now I'm all out to win this competition,” he adds. 

 

First class service 

For Team La Demande, it was stumbling upon a tennis player's name – Kafelnikov – in a newspaper that led friends Sin Khai Tzer, 21, and Ong Puay Seong, 21, to adopt the name for their project. 

These enthusiastic MMU students intend to earn big bucks by providing concierge services with a difference, catering only to high-income clients. 

“Clients are connected to concierge services anytime and anywhere. Rich people want to enjoy life and this service is ideal to suit their needs, especially those with tight work schedules,” says Khai Tzer, an electronics engineering student.  

The idea is to market it as a luxury service.  

“Our clients pay the actual price of the product without any extra charge or tips,” he says, explaining that profits would be derived from a monthly subscription fee. 

Joint for job-seekers 

To help students cope with the rising cost of living, especially in the Klang Valley, students from Team PTC - Tei Kwan Fei, 23, Gan Show Peng, 23, and Beh Kian Chung, 23 – came up with the idea of PartTime.com, a platform to assist undergraduates in securing part-time jobs on the Internet. 

“We need money everyday and I need a job where I can work in my room using my computer while studying at the same time,” says Kwan Fei who mooted the idea. 

Research by Show Peng reveals that most of the companies hire students for web hosting, database system designing and page designing. 

“We locate these companies and post their vacancies on our portal whereby students can apply for such positions on a part-time basis,” adds Kwan Fei, an engineering student at MMU. 

“Up to 80% of companies would rather pay students to do such jobs, which require only a few months to complete, than employ professionals and pay much more,” he says. 

All these enterprising students are now fine-tuning their business plans and polishing their presentation skills for the finals.  

For all their hard work, all five teams will receive prizes. The second place winner will receive the Silver Award of RM10,000, while the third placed team will earn RM5,000. Fourth and fifth place winners will both get RM3,000 for their efforts. 

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