- Put oneself in the customer’s shoes, design a product based on their needs
- Aim to make your partners, customers, and the ecosystem successful
Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its series that profiles the 50 influencers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 2016-2017 (Vol 2), a special print publication released in February 2016. The digital version of that publication can be downloaded from the link at the top right corner of the page thanks to the sponsorship of Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia’s convergence champion.
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THERE are many words one could use to describe Ivan Teh (pic), the founder of London-listed software company Fusionex International, but for those who have actually interacted with him, the most apt description would likely be ‘humble.’
Today, Teh is one of Malaysia’s most successful young entrepreneurs. Only turning 40 in April 2016, he is believed to have a net worth of over US$100 million.
The estimate is based on data from Bloomberg that revealed he has a 46% stake in Fusionex, which had a market capitalisation of over £165 million (or more than RM1 billion) in 2015.
[Editor Note: Fusionex delisted from AIM in July 2017.]
Among the factors that have kept Teh grounded at all times are the lessons he learnt when he was young, as well as when he first started building Fusionex, where he is founder and managing director.
One such key lesson was to always “put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and design a product based on their needs,” says Teh, also an inaugural Digerati50.
“Learn to make a great product and aim to make your partners, customers, and the ecosystem successful.
“Also, one needs to avoid thinking about how to make money from customers, because people can see the dollar signs on your face,” he adds.
Today, Fusionex’s solutions are used by many well-known companies wanting to improve their operations and to better understand their customers. These firms include Aeon Credit Service, Aeon Big, AIG, AirAsia, AirFrance, Alliance Bank, AmBank Group, American Airlines, DHL, Electronic Arts, FedEx, Genting Group, and more.
Interestingly, his first taste of the business world and, to a certain extent, entrepreneurship, came when he was just eight years old, and already excelling in school.
His father figured he needed a different kind of lesson, and had him selling bed-sheets in a textile store during school holidays, just so that he would be able to get some real-world experience.
“I came home that night with the first zero of my life ... I hadn’t managed to sell a single item to customers,” he recalls.
But he did not give up. He went back to the store the next day with a different game plan. He started to pay more attention to customers, recommending the right sheets based on the colour of the clothes they wore.
“That night, I managed to outsell the senior sales people,” says Teh.
It was also probably an example of how to use data to better engage with your customers, which is no surprise then why Fusionex specialises in big data analytics.
Over the next few years, Teh hopes that Fusionex would be able to grow its customer base and traction.
“We are not looking merely at double-digit growth, but at a 10-fold growth,” he declares.
As for the part where he says it’s also important to grow the ecosystem, Fusionex is working with Malaysia’s national ICT custodian the Malaysian Digital Economy Corp (MDeC) to boost the adoption of big data analytics.
In early 2015, his company as well as US-based Teradata Corp tied up with MDeC to set up a network of big data innovation Centres of Excellence (COEs), aiming to convince Malaysian companies on the benefits of big data solutions, which in turn, they all hope would result in higher adoption.
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