Tak­ing a suc­cess­ful plunge into the dig­i­tal pool

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - HTIN LYN AUNG htin­lyn­[email protected]­times.com

MORE and more young en­trepreneurs have be­gun to start their own busi­nesses in Myan­mar have achieved suc­cess.

Among them is U Ye Myat Min, founder of nexlabs, a dig­i­tal con­sul­ta­tion firm that pro­vides brand­ing, mar­ket­ing, and tech ad­vice to di­verse mix of clients in sec­tors rang­ing from re­tail, fi­nance and for con­sumer prod­ucts.

U Ye Myat Min re­called that when he was a 12, he was very pas­sion­ate about com­puter games and he dreamt of cre­at­ing com­puter games of his own.

“I was in­ter­ested in com­puter pro­gram­ming when I was 12. I wanted to cre­ate a game be­cause I spent most of time play­ing games back then. This mor­phed into a de­sire to in­vent prod­ucts ei­ther for my­self or for oth­ers. Then I got an idea to make some­thing by com­bin­ing the two in 2012,” said U Ye Myat Min, 27.

His “in­ven­tion” be­came known as nexlabs.

The com­pany, just a lit­tle over six years old, is al­ready one of the lead­ing tech­nol­ogy-based con­sul­tancy com­pa­nies in the lo­cal mar­ket, and has achieved a re­mark­able de­gree of suc­cess. It re­cently won sec­ond prize in mar­ket­ing, ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia web­site Cam­paign Asia’s awards held last De­cem­ber in Sin­ga­pore. The event was held to recog­nise the best ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies of the year in the re­gion and nexlabs was nom­i­nated based on its op­er­a­tions, and the mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and ap­pli­ca­tions it pro­duced for its clients.

“I am pleased that I got the prize. I had to com­pete against agen­cies from three na­tions - Laos, Myan­mar and Cam­bo­dia. There are many other coun­tries in South­east Asia and I am not con­tent yet as I can­not com­pete with those coun­tries,” U Ye Myat Min said.

At the age of 16, he passed ma­tric­u­la­tion in Myan­mar and at­tended the Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Univer­sity in Sin­ga­pore, and then Sin­ga­pore Man­age­ment Univer­sity (SMU).

He worked as a free­lancer at an ad­ver­tise­ment firm dur­ing his spare time in Sin­ga­pore, he said.

“When dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies be­came a trend around 2009-2010, brands rep­re­sented by that Sin­ga­porean ad­ver­tis­ing firm needed a lot of work on things such as so­cial net­work pages, mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions and web­sites. Back then, my main task be­came ad­vis­ing clients how to fo­cus on mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions, what strate­gies to use, the rea­sons for those strate­gies, and the re­quire­ments to de­velop a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion. Based on that ex­pe­ri­ence, by the time I fin­ished univer­sity, I be­came in­ter­ested in es­tab­lish­ing my own busi­ness in the same field,” he said.

Hav­ing read about how many young en­trepreneurs in more de­vel­oped coun­tries like Sin­ga­pore raised funds, es­tab­lished com­pa­nies and be­came suc­cess­ful in news­pa­pers, he was en­cour­aged to es­tab­lish his own busi­ness, he said.

Al­though he at­tempted to start in 2012, he did not have enough cap­i­tal, so he had to meet with peo­ple in­ter­ested in Myan­mar to raise cap­i­tal, he said.

“For­tu­nately, I met a per­son who shared my opin­ions about the po­ten­tial in Myan­mar, so we started the busi­ness in 2013.

“But we faced some dif­fi­cul­ties in the first two years as we were only pro­fi­cient in tech­ni­cal as­pects and knew lit­tle about ac­count­ing, sta­tis­tics, and hu­man re­sources,” he said.

“As the other founders were just tech­ni­cians like me, we had many prob­lems. The first two years passed with­out us know­ing what to do about our weak­nesses and the com­pany saw lit­tle growth. Thank­fully, af­ter the ini­tial two years of strug­gling, we learned to find our feet. This took an­other year, but luck­ily we had good men­tors and guides,” he said of the com­pany’s early days.

To sur­vive the chal­lenges, how­ever, he had to hire out­side con­sul­tants and del­e­gate the tasks to op­er­a­tions ex­perts, he said.

“Ev­ery busi­ness goes through bad times. It is im­por­tant to learn from these fail­ures. As for me, the main lessons I learnt came in the ar­eas of man­age­ment and hu­man re­sources. Some­times, when we man­age peo­ple, we mis­tak­enly look at in­di­vid­u­als and we don’t un­der­stand or­gan­i­sa­tion­al­be­haviour. This is a ma­jor chal­lenge and I am still learn­ing from it,” he said.

Many small busi­nesses in Myan­mar face dif­fi­cul­ties in ac­cess­ing fund­ing and tal­ented em­ploy­ees, he said.

“There’s no avoid­ing the need for money or peo­ple. The suc­cess of a com­pany de­pends very much on the talent of em­ploy­ees. There are many can­di­dates in the mar­ket but not all are ex­tremely tal­ented. As many com­pa­nies com­pete to hire the tal­ented, smaller or­gan­i­sa­tions strug­gle to hire good peo­ple,” he said.

“Even if you can find tal­ented grad­u­ates, many move to big­ger com­pa­nies af­ter a while,” he said.

Al­though dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing is grow­ing in Myan­mar, it will take time be­fore they reach their full po­ten­tial, the young techno­preneur said.

Tech­nol­ogy is still a vast and grow­ing field in Myan­mar as more peo­ple learn to rely on it. Face­book is his big­gest ri­val as more use Face­book than ap­pli­ca­tions on phones, he said, and this means his com­pany has to work hard to change minds about re­ly­ing on tech­nol­ogy and dig­i­tal chan­nels for ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing, he added.

He feels that, while more and more busi­nesses see the need to rely more on tech­nol­ogy, many of their em­ploy­ees are not ready for the change.

“More em­ploy­ers need to of­fer train­ing and ed­u­cat­ing for their em­ploy­ees to be able to adapt to the dig­i­tal econ­omy,” he said, ad­ding that tech­nolo­gies such as smart TVS, smart homes, online shop­ping and dig­i­tal ser­vices will only con­tinue to spread in the fu­ture.

He ad­vised youths who are try­ing to start a busi­ness ex­tend their so­cial net­work and not to lose sight of changes in govern­ment poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions and in the fields they are in­ter­ested in.

“If you re­ally want to start a busi­ness, you need to throw your­self into it,’’ he said em­phat­i­cally.

“My friends, like many other youths, take too much time think­ing. Mar­ket con­di­tions are chang­ing fast, so to­mor­row the sit­u­a­tion will not be the same. So, you need to just start, or the good time will pass while you are think­ing,” he said.

He says his goal is to make nexlabs one of the big­gest providers of dig­i­tal so­lu­tions in Myan­mar.

“There are a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to be used by busi­nesses seek­ing to build re­la­tion­ships with con­sumers. I would like to pro­vide dig­i­tal so­lu­tions in the ar­eas such as mar­ket­ing, hu­man re­sources, ac­count­ing, and process man­age­ment. I wish to re­place con­ven­tional busi­ness op­er­a­tions with dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies,’’ he said of the fu­ture goals of nexlabs.

There’s no avoid­ing the need for money or peo­ple. The suc­cess of a com­pany de­pends very much on the talent of em­ploy­ees.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.