Week in Review: Going boldly where no entrepreneur has gone before

  • Brick & Mortar execs will always struggle to perform in startups because of culture
  • DNA partners with iTrain to launch Raise Your Digital Quotient workshops


AS a journalist you are always looking for a story that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom. Looking to hear from some entrepreneur doing something radical, bold or just having the guts to go against the tide. My recent chat with Kaneswaran Avili, the founder and CEO of Global Rooms Ltd which runs the Nida Rooms hotel system in Southeast Asia was one such refreshing occasion.

I mean, how many founders to you know who cut their entire senior management team and cut headcount by 75%  after they raised funding! And Kaneswaran raised US$5.6 million (RM23.7 million), that’s no small change. But he felt drastic change was needed if he was going to be able to hit his growth targets at the pace he wanted to, with the innovation required.

What’s interesting was that when asked to put his finger on why the highly skilled team he had assembled was not able to deliver the growth he expected, Kaneswaran put it down to culture. His management team were all executives who cut their teeth in Brick & Mortar businesses. They struggled to perform at the same high levels in the chaotic world of startups where leaders have to roll up their sleeves and lead by example and get things done fast.

In his late 40’s, Kaneswaran himself was a seasoned Brick & Mortar executive who started out as employee No.8 at Air Asia in 2001 before rising to become a shareholder in Tune Hotels by 2008. Clearly he has the management experience and leadership nous to make such a tough call and to now handle the weight of all decisions resting on his shoulders.

I am sure that many founders will be calling Kaneswaran to find out more about his decision and the subsequent impact but you can read more about it here first, including why he strongly advices startups to build their own tech teams rather than outsource their tech needs if they want to be winners.

And on that note of being winners, especially in the emerging Digital Economy we are moving into, I am super pleased to announce that Digital News Asia Sdn Bhd (DNA) has partnered with iTrain Sdn Bhd to offer executives from Brick & Mortar companies, a digital workshop called What’s Next: Raise Your Digital Quotient” workshop to help them better understand digital and to go digital. The idea is to get companies to move from talking about digital to acting on digital.

iTrain was co-founded by Bikesh Lakhmichand, a DNA Digerati50, and Eric Ku and has grown into a regional training company specializing in digital based training.

Our use of What’s Next for the digital workshop to help executives get a better handle of the dynamic environment around them is logical as DNA’s annual conference is all about how large Brick & Mortar companies are dealing with the disruption to their business caused by digital. You can check out details of our exciting Nov 9 conference here, by the way.

And I am excited to share that on the first day of the two-day workshop, we will have the Chief Digital Officer of Celcom Axiata, Dave Morrow, come in and share Celcom’s experience as it adapts its business to the Digital Era. And this will be a feature of all What’s Next: Raise Your Digital Quotient” workshops. We aim to make the workshops as real as possible by having Brick & Mortar companies that are already on their digital adaptation journeys, to come in and share their experiences and to hopefully inspire and encourage workshop participants.

Both DNA and iTrain believe there has been enough talk about digital by Brick & Mortar companies. It’s time for action. But will that action be meaningful or will it be a token effort.  “The question companies need to ask themselves is whether they are playing to win or playing NOT to lose,” says Bikesh.

If your company aspires to be a winner in the Digital Economy, sign up here for the workshop.

And with that sales pitch, I hope the weekend has been restful thus far, enjoy your Sunday and have a productive week ahead.

Editor’s Picks:

The evolution every entrepreneur must undergo

Five Malaysian startups seek to enter Indonesian market via ExpandIn programme

MDEC to spearhead bigger push for big data adoption in Malaysia

GoPro aims to impress with new Hero6 Black and Fusion

For the sake of speed, innovation, this founder cut his entire management team

RAMCI’s JagaMyID helps keep credit scores, online identities safe

Indonesia’s digital retail banking penetration set to hit 60% by 2020: Solidiance

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