Starting an Internet Business in Southeast Asia
I have been working for a medical device manufacturer for 13 years in Malaysia before I call a quit and started a company called OVLO Holdings, Sdn. Bhd., and since I did not focus too much on my business due to other personal commitments, I was lagging behind my intended plan. Now I wish that I have put more efforts and passion into my new venture.
I must admit that starting any business is not icing on a cake. No matter what the scale and model of business. However, starting an online business requires more knowledge and effort as fine-tuning to capture consumers’ need and demand is on-going process. Today’s consumer behaviors are much differ from 10 or even 5 years ago as current technologies are moving at a rapid pace and consumers are adopting to it. Thus, from business stand point meeting and providing the need of technology innovation is not only time consuming but financial burden for a small company like OVLO.
Another obstacle to run an online business from Southeast Asia is lack of support from current innovations, Apps, and platforms. Of course, lack of infrastructure also hinders overall operations sometimes. I personally feel that many multinational high-tech firms which provide innovative products and services often neglect businesses in this part of the world. For instance, I wanted to install Stripe as a payment system for one of my online businesses, but unfortunately it only support certain number of countries. Another excellent idea into garbage bin, at least for me.
So, what is the point of having innovating products and impeccable services, if the majority can not utilize them? Seriously, are all the innovations available today only for certain market segments?
More often than not I was so frustrated that I could not deliver what my consumers want, I thought about moving my whole operation to Korea or the U.S. Why not? After all, Korea has the fastest internet connection in the world, and the U.S is the mecca of innovation and produces high-tech firms more than a chicken lays eggs.
I am not sure which direction my business will take me in 10 or 20 years from now, but in order to just stay competitive, I realize I need to invest more than simply putting extra hours and passion into my business. Whether that be acquiring new services or monetary requirement. To compete with tens of thousands of businesses out there equipped with best high-tech gears, I must have as twice as much hardwares and softwares in my arsenal.
And to win one more customer, I need to offer the better products, more reliable services, and highly competitive prices than my competitors from Japan, Singapore, Spain, Canada or the Sweden. It is not an easy task and a constant uphill battle for my business to grow. If my business was based in other developed country, I might have an easier time running my business.
Until full global integrations of technologies and innovations are available to everyone, in every part of the world, I can only watch and envy what other businesses are installing behind their firewalls.