Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to An Entrepreneurial Journey

Hello everyone :

Welcome to my little corner of the internet.

I started this blog to share my entrepreneurial journey with everyone my observations of the many trials, successes and tribulations along my entrepreneurial journey. I hope you enjoy reading my postings and please leave comments, criticise, challenge me or just drop a note to say hello. Looking forward to hearing from anyone, especially fellow entrepreneurs.

All of us have an entrepreneurial journey, whether you are working for someone, working on your own or even if you do not work. This entrepreneurial journey happens whenever you have any thoughts of "aha! I can do that or I want to do that "... the journey starts when you actually do something about that idea, dream and go at it with passion and gusto. Sometimes, the journey is short. At times, its journey of a lifetime. I guess I have always been fascinated and inspired by people who embraces the spirit of entreprenuerism in themselves and actually going out there to realise that idea or dream. I have been very blessed to have that opportunity very early on in my career and today after nearly 22 years, the entrepreneurial journey is still on...

So, come and explore and share with me your journey too.
Have a great and productive day!

God bless,
Stephen Chia

Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't They Ever Read their Emails

Recently I have been noticing the wave of Blackberry hitting the shores of Malaysia, with the local telco pushing the benefits of such devices. Invaribly, it has become somewhat of a status symbol to carry one to read and do quick replies to emails. However, I also noticed that these are the same "busy" business people who would not even reply their emails promptly. Recently I have been dealing with a number of people and as usual courtesy I would send them an email thanking them for meeting and reminder for next steps. And it has been couple of weeks, on 3 separate occasions, these blackberry totting folks has not replied.... so sometimes I really wonder if they are using those devices or merely as status symbols.

The other issue with Blackberrys that is plaguing users is the lack of "one charge" roaming for data connection within Asia. Unlike the US plans which allows for global one charge roaming, in Asia service providers have not offerred such roaming charge packages. Despite warnings by their service providers, those who are hooked to the convenience of checking the weather, stocks or even BB chat on their devices, arrive home from their trip overseas to horror of a high data roaming bill in the thousands. Some Asian countries are still charging per byte data rates for roaming customers. Those who have their corporate BB will probably never notice it while those who pay their own bills gets this shock and vow never to data roam with their BB, thereby defeating the purpose of the device able to be used for emailing while abroad.

Even with the iPhones, this could be problem especially for those who are addicted to the iPhone MAP application, which uses the 3G or GPRS data networks to identify users location. Even a simple Facebook update or Weather application update will cause the iPhone to connect with the data networks while roaming, unless the 3G and data/location services has been turn off when overseas. Alas, since the iPhone is so user friendly, most will never know to turn that feature off, unless they end up pay thousands for their overseas roaming charges.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Follow up to my previous post on effective presentations. Lately I have been using this neat little program called AIRMOUSE which runs on any iPhone 3G or 3GS. You can go to their website to download the Mac and PC companion application.

Once you installed, you can control your Mac or WindowsPC using your iPhone, using the WiFi built in to both the devices. Due to the range of the WiFi, which is typically 100 metre, you can literally control your PC or Mac powerpoint, mouse or even your iTunes/WindowsMedia Player from behind the room.
That is a pretty cool thing to do.

For more information: check it out at

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Considering a Career as a Full Time Conference Attendee

I think I am contemplating a career change as a Full Time Conference Attendee.

Today, I somehow gate crashed and ended up attending the Global CyberSecurity Summit (IMPACT) at the Shangri-La Hotel organised by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) after having mistakenly mixed up the dates of a talk by Google VP & "father of internet" Vinton Cerf at the same location.

Seems ironic that I was able to breach the physical security of the conference by attending the IMPACT event which was happening just across the hall in the hotel ballroom. Anyway, I spent the day learning a great deal about IMPACT and the world of cyber security. In true "Malaysia Boleh" spirit, Malaysia is once again taking the lead to create a global initiative to deal with cyber security and terrorism threat. At the conference were representatives from over 30 countries, telcomm ISP regulators and telco Ministers.

So it got me thinking... maybe there is a career in being a Full Time Conference Attendee.
Each day, especially in Kuala Lumpur... there are numerous conferences and seminars being held in the 4 and 5 star hotels. They range from corporate events, exhibitions, government seminars and meetings on almost every topic. Most are usually free events and they will let you into the event if you produce a business card.

Here are the benefits of attending such events :

1. Firstly, they usually have great learning... even product demos. Within any industry, spending 2-3 days in such seminars you would get to learn a lot about the company or industry or topic covered in a short period of time
2. They are usually very informative and the presenters are best in their field or industry
3. The attendees are usually executives, experts and therefore great networking opportunities
4. They serve great coffee breaks and snacks. Those that provide lunches are usually buffet spread with good service.
5. There is usually free WiFi, (if not, you can "complain" to the registration desk) therefore you can still surf the net, update your Facebook or blog if the sessions get boring.
6. Some events even have free gifts and goodies bag or reward for filling up their evaluation forms.
7. Best of all, some events like IMPACT are fully sponsored by companies or government agencies and some of the best minds are present in the conference to share their knowledge.

If you were to attend 2-3 of such seminars a week, one can really become any expert in almost any field or industry. Of course, getting through the registration desk would be your first hurdle. But most event managers attendee lists are never accurate anyway, and chances are high they will let you in if you produce a valid business card. Of course, dressing the part as the industry norm (eg shirt and tie, or jacket) would surely get you in.

So next time, instead of taking time off from work for vacation or wasting the day away, why not attend some free conference happening in town to learn. Okay, it won't be much of a career... but it will make a great learning hobby!! So at your next conference or seminar, you see one guy in the corner of the conference hall absorb with his laptop, chances are that's me... gate crashing another free conference or seminar. Happy learning!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


As with other cities around the world, Kuala Lumpur has joined the leagues of cities with blanket cover WiFi hotspots with their Wireless@KL project. The Kuala Lumpur cityhall (or DBKL) has contracted ISP PacketOne to roll out the service in stages. Rather than build a WiFi mesh network, PacketOne which is also one of the WiMAX 2.3GHz spectrum licensees has used their spectrum to provide WiMAX as the backbone network for the Wireless@KL wireless network. This is a rather good approach has the stronger secure WiMAX network would provide a robust network to interconnect all the WiFi hotspots.

In contrast, the Wireless@SG Singapore wireless network has been given to multiple ISPs contractors therefore each of the providers have to seek their own backhaul or build their own wireless backhaul network to support their own WiFi hotspots.

This will be a boon to road warriors who previously have to hang out in Starbucks for their internet connectivity fix. With the Wireless@KL project, we may be able to connect in more unlikely places such as parks, government buildings, etc.  Perhaps, now Starbucks might have to reduce the price of their coffee to attract WiFi hungry users back to their stores... only time will tell. It will be interesting to see how the other hotspot providers such as TM, Time, Maxis and the independent ISPs such as Airzed and eB react to this new Wireless@KL initiative.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Good to be back Blogging!

I have taken a long break since my last blog entry last year. It has been an exciting and interesting year. I have since sold all my interests in one of my companies and finally got some time to catch up with the many many things that I have neglected while in the heat of my own entrepreneurial journey.

With God's grace, I have had the opportunity to enjoy my break from work and get back to blogging. It is also appropriate time for me to read the book, Half Time by Bob Buford. 

My wife picked up the book for me and she has been has been buying a whole bunch of the Half Time book at greatly reduced prices from Book for Life, in Bangsar Baru Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where apparently some organisation has greatly subsidized the price of the book to RM10 (USD3) each  for all to read.

The book is about Bob Buford, an entrepreneur who built a very successful family business into one of the largest TV and radio station business in the US. At the peak of his business, he sufferred a personal loss of his college going son, and it was that dramatic period that he paused to reflect upon his life. The book highlights the need for everyone to take "half time", to pause and take stock of our working life. His message is simply for everyone to spend half time to figure out what they would like to do, in their second half and to make a difference. Today, he is a speaker and a Christain ministry motivation speaker sharing the same message. The is also half time organisations dedicated to making a difference in half time activities. 

I encourage every entrepreneur to pick up this inspiring book.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Forget flowers and fruits, give me free WiFi !!

What's the deal with hotels charging for wireless internet access?? Its downright highway robbery, as evidenced in the pile of prepaid cards I took a photo of.

I attended a conference (a telecomm conference some more mind you) in Bangkok recently and had to endure 4 days of no decent internet access. I stayed at Fraser Suites which is a lovely place, but scored terrible on internet access. While they had good wireless coverage even in the rooms, access to the wireless is NOT free and also access is only tied to each laptop - meaning, if you have 3 people staying at their 2 bedroom service apartments with say 3 laptops, you have to pay three times for wireless access at USD10/= per day. Then at the Hilton Millenium where my conference was held, not only they did not provide any wireless they insisted that I purchase a prepaid card of USD10/= per hour access. All in all, my partner and I spend a total of over USD80/= (or RM270/=) worth of internet access for the 4 days. That's obscene blackmail.

What annoys me is that, the conference organisers and the hotel people don't even have a clue that access wireless on your laptop is totally different from checking your occasional email in the free internet access PCs set up in the lobby. I need the access during the conference not only to catch up with emails, but need it for messaging with my office and also to research what the conference speakers are speaking on, especially when the speaker get boring. And you can’t very well spend the whole conference being in the lobby using the free wired internet access provided. For a conference (especially an IT related one) that charges USD595/=, they should have just given everyone a free password for wireless internet access.

It's even worse when you are staying off site like what I did. Not only you have to pay for wireless internet access at your hotel room, they also make you pay for the wireless in the conference hotel. To make matters worse, even the wireless that I paid for at Fraser Suites is dismal in speed and performance. With all the sophisticated network management hardware and software that they have, its cumbersome and annoying to use. While I understand I need to pay small fee for internet access, but this is getting ridiculous, considering that the room rate is around USD100 - USD150 for a typical 5-star hotel.
In fact, forget the fresh flowers or basket of fruits in the room, just give me FREE WiFi. In fact, I think most hotels probably spend a lot more on flowers in their lobby than they do on providing decent wireless internet in their public areas. After all, it's really nothing except sticking a WiFi router to the flat rate DSL line which probably cost the hotel USD20 a month.

Here's my prediction:
Just as the advent of mobile phones which killed the hotel phone revenues, after hearing horror stories in the 70s and 80s that hotels were charging up to 10 times for making local calls on their land line. I believe one of these days those hotels who charge exorbitant prices for internet access will one day see those revenues disappear, when 3G, 4G or WiMAX roaming becomes more prevasive.

So bottom line is , next time my criteria for choosing a hotel anywhere on business or holiday would be if they can provide affordable and reasonable broadband wireless internet or better yet, Free WiFi !!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hunting for Pleasure

I had the opportunity to meet recently with Mr. Ricky Koo, the founder of Take a Break Events. Our organisation, Technopreuers Association in Malaysia (TeAM) had engaged Take A Break to organised our first TeAM ICT Treasure Hunt fund raising event. Essentially his company’s expertise is to organise treasure hunts, an event rather unique to Malaysia. Usually used as a fun and social event, teams of 2 - 4 are given maps, clues and puzzlies and questions to solve while travelling along a designated route either in car, public transport or on foot. Team that scores the highest points by solving and answering the questions will be declared winners. TAB Events role is to create the route and the challenges for the participants as the event's “clerk of course”.

Speaking with Ricky I am beginning to realise he is truly an entrepreneur living the dream. Starting off as a weekend hobby, today Ricky and his team are considered one of the premier company in the art of treasure hunting event organising. Last year his company had organised over 100+ hunts nationwide and even some overseas in China, HongKong and Taiwan. If you are a regular hunter, you will probably know his Hunters World website at

“ Getting paid for doing something I enjoy and at same time able to enjoy driving around the country with my wife “ Ricky explained... “plus I get to travel and enjoy all the favourite foods along the way” as I spent time with him doing the reccee for our TeAM ICT Hunt route in CyberJaya. After nearly 28 years being in the advertising and printing business, in 2000 he gave it all up much to the shock of his wife, Roselyn. “ It took us a while to get used to giving up our then successful advertising business, but today we are enjoying it. “ Ricky further explained, “for first two years of TAB, it was a struggle as we tried to do too much and everything perfectly. But over the years, we manage to find a good balance of fun and revenue. “ Many people has asked Ricky to build the business bigger, but he is happy to keep it small.

So Ricky, Congrats for being a true entrepreneur and living your dream.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Magnificent Shiny Disc Hero

One of the most funny advertisements recently is the saga of the "Magnificent Shiny Disc Hero" , a character created by the Malaysia Astro satellite TV to promote their new On Demand video pay-per-view channel.

It reminds me of the entrepreneurial nature of why VCD or DVD sellers in Malaysia are so popular and successful. A couple of years back I had the opportunity to run a mega shopping centre and what kept the mall alive during the economic crisis were the DVD sellers. They are friendly and not demanding bunch as they would rent any space you give them and best of all, they pay cash for their rentals and on time.
Here are some other reasons :
Meeting the Market Demand - the always have the latest and best movies available. And most of the time, they rarely run out of stock of popular DVD titles. And no matter how many customers they have in the store, they can always find the right DVD using their magic 4 digit coding system.
Wide and Deep Product Line - they carry wide range of products, some even have the whole popular TV series season in a nice package. And if that's not enough, they have ample supply of accessories such as MP3 music, DVD jacket sleeves or folders.
Time to Market - most often, they will have the latest movies, at time even those currently showing currently in the cinemas. Those wanting to catch up with the latest TV series, can easily obtain the full latest season.
Close to Market / Consumers - most DVD vendors understand the concept of location location location. Find a popular "pasar malam" (night market) and the DVD sellers are there. They are in shopping malls, your favorite Starbucks or mamak stores, in your neighborhood retail area. Some DVD sellers in areas such as SS2 or SubangJaya even open till late hours to cater to the midnight supper crowd. I bet some will even deliver to your house if you are a regular enough customer. Similarly, in Beijing one can sip their latte in the favorite coffee joint while being served by the ever willing DVD peddlers, who would patiently wait for you to make your choice selections and then promptly deliver your DVDs to your table without fuss.
Prompt and Quick Service - normally manned by 2 or 3 young guys, they can whip out the shiny disc of your chosen titles in less time it takes for you to pull ringgit out of your wallet. Except for when they need to get the discs from nearby (due to the authorities crackdown) they can normally deliver 10 titles to you in less than 5 minutes. Most are run by energetic young people and ready to offer their opinion and reviews of movies
Product Knowledge - some DVD sellers even provide latest Blockbuster reviews of latest movies or recommends movies depending on what the customer enjoys watching. There are times, customers who are just browsing can ask them for recommendations and reviews.
Excellent Customer Service - DVD sellers are always a friendly lot, and if you are not happy with the discs, they will swap it for you. They will never chase you out at closing time... often patiently waiting for you to make your selections without hassling you.
Simple Effective Marketing Programmes - some have implemented frequent customer card (ala Starbucks style). If you gather 10 stamps, you are entitled to one free DVD. Their simple little card has kept customers loyal, and there is never a problem if you forgot your loyalty card as they gladly give you another. No fancy advertising, just go where people are hovering over tables in night market, chances are you will find the DVD peddlers.
Standing Behind their product - Any blurred or cam job movies, they will take it back. Some even take back movies you don't like and didn't think its up to your taste.
Piracy and politics aside, on a scale of 1 - 10, I give them a full 10 and think DVD sellers excel really well in their entrepreneurial ability and their market and customer focus. Now, if only half of the Malaysian retailers or government departments follow the principles and the spirit of entrepreneurialism of the DVD sellers... the world would be a better place for us customers, I should think....

Friday, August 31, 2007

Proud to be Malaysian

It was worth being there and spending 3 hours in the warm morning Malaysian sun to witness the celebrations of the 50th National Day at Dataran Merdeka.
As everyone young and old, present sang with the Jalur Gemilang waving in the air, the message held by this young Malaysian tells it all.