Over the past few years, the business world has changed by leaps and bounds and it is changing even faster. There are many startups and businesses that are leveraging tech to adapt to market changes. On top of that, innovation and creative concepts also sit in the front row to generate profits and ensure business scalability. But the big question is, with tech stocks affected badly by looming higher interest rates and many US tech companies laying off employers, how can Malaysian tech companies keep growing despite a down tech market?
Episode 27 of the Top In Tech Series: How Does Tech Survive Its Winter? sought to gain insights on the challenges in excelling in the tech space, finding opportunities in a down market and impacting the community through innovation. Hosted by Karamjit Singh, the guest panellists were Ben Teh, Chief Sales Officer, redONE Network Sdn Bhd, Khairul Anwar M. Zaki, Chief Executive Officer, Pandai and Mohammad Hazani Hj. Hassan, Chairman, Malaysian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (MVCA).
How does tech survive its winter?
Every business goes through four phases of a life cycle: startup, growth, maturity and renewal or decline. Understanding what phase you are in can make a huge difference in operations of your business.
Khairul explained that most businesses would opt to get additional funding to survive winter. However, since it is difficult to predict the current economy and the quantum in receiving deals is much lesser compared to previous quarters, the safer option is to manage your business spending, hiring, business runway and fundraising.
“For businesses that have weak value propositions, you will have a hard time convincing venture capital firms for funding because of the stringent process. Whether you're a start-up or an established business launching a new product or service. If you’re not clear about your value proposition at the outset, you risk developing something that may satisfy your needs, but not those of your intended customers,” said Hazani.
Achieving tech readiness
Hazani explained that there is a healthy influx of companies interested in joining the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) as the programme creates a smoother pathway for Malaysian technology to be commercialised.
Most come in when their technology is at level 6 of readiness (creating a prototype to be validated). They then refine their project in a safe environment and climb up to level 9 (ready to be commercialised).
Deliver value through monetisation
“With 23 years of entrepreneurial experience, I will say that most businesses will face all 4 seasons. When I first took over redONE, it was basically winter, the company was initially running with no breakthrough. I also notice that many tech professionals spend time in improvising the system, and programme but sadly ignore the monetisation aspect,” said Ben.
“To progress further, you have to be business minded, find out what is lacking in the market, and create good monetisation. No matter how the overall outlook of the market, if you can find an opportunity to deliver value, investors will have the interest to invest in it”
It is always sad to see a good talent leave a company. Ultimately, you want to have a healthy turnover rate that keeps fresh minds coming into the organisation and top talent staying in the organisation.
“Rewarding staff with various types of benefits, such as providing insurance, commissions, allowances for laptops, online subscriptions and so on would ensure talents don’t leave a company. Being a remote company, Pandai is truly blessed to have staff working remotely from all over the world such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and South Korea. Through this, we can get staff who value this flexibility,” Khairul explained.
“My advice for any startups and venture backed companies, is to have a value proposition. Have a good differentiation of the market, technology and your venture capital. There are businesses that thrive during the winter period too. Don’t worry if you are unable to succeed during the winter, try to survive it. It's all about the way you structure your business,” concluded Hazani.
“How we define winter is up to our mindset. Even if we face an economic downturn, there are still wide opportunities that can be taken to improve. The ones that perform well, would definitely rise above the winter and head into spring,” concluded Khairul.
“At the highest levels, the influence of a leader, good or bad, can resonate throughout an organisation. It can motivate teammates and provide them with a purpose and direction. Good leadership is the major factor that makes everything work together seamlessly during the winter,” concluded Ben.
Find out more about the discussion from the replay of Top In Tech Episode 27: How Does Tech Survive Its Winter? HERE.