Projecting revenues of US$6m for 2012
Expanding to Singapore
IT turns out that Chan Kee Siak (pic) and I grew up in the same district in the island of Penang. As a kid I used to cycle up to the neighbourhood of low-cost flats he used to live in. Today, I am the upstart entrepreneur and Chan the seasoned veteran, even though at 31 years of age, he is a pup compared to my 46.
Those who are familiar with Chan’s story will know that he quit school after the side business he started in 1999, hosting websites, showed strong legs. His MSC status company, Exabytes Network Sdn Bhd, recorded around RM15 million (US$4.8 million) revenue for 2011, a 30% jump over 2010.
More impressively, profits at RM2.1 million (US$670,000) were up 80% over 2010.
“It is because we expanded our client base from 45,000 to 55,000 customers,” he says.
That is a lot of people depending on Chan to keep their websites up and running. He is targeting RM18 million to RM19 million (approximately US$6 million) revenue for 2012.
Besides scale, the higher profit numbers have also been driven by greater efficiency as Chan eyes a listing in 2014. He only has 65 staff, many of them engineers. Having higher-value product offerings which grow the bottom-line are also part of the strategy to attract the interest of investors, he says.
It is partly because of this, but also because computing trends are driving its adoption, that in December, 2011, Exabytes introduced its cloud hosting service. This service offering has allowed Exabytes to move beyond its traditional base of small and medium companies.
There is also another reason. “Let’s face it, hosting is becoming a commodity business,” he says.
With an eye to a listing in 2014, Chan has no choice but to chase higher-value customers and cloud is the way to go. “We needed time to get the product ready and to train a new team to sell the service and to service those customers,” he says.
Come June, Exabytes is launching an updated version of its cloud service with new and improved features and two other locations for customers to choose from -- Cyberjaya or the United States. Its cloud services are currently hosted out from Kuala Lumpur.
Chan also sees e-commerce as another revenue stream for Exabytes with the company playing host to a rising number of merchants who want e-commerce support and better website services as their virtual storefronts become more important than their brick-and-mortar ones.
That was the motivation behind launching last June’s www.easy.my, a virtual mall for its small e-commerce and blog shop customers.
From where he sits at Exabytes, Chan has a unique view of e-commerce trends and what he sees heartens him.
“It used to be dominated by some large players such as AirAsia but in the past two years, customers have gotten savvier while the platforms we have to support e-commerce are more sophisticated,” he says.
As a result, he finds more people willing to launch e-commerce sites and this motivates more consumers to try the new sites too. However a negative trend that he sees is the lack of quality -- online merchants who offer bad service and think they can get away with it. “Merchants have to realise that in the online space, they have to deliver good services.”
Delivering good services will become more important in the next few months when Chan opens up easy.my to Singaporean merchants to sell to Malaysians and allows Singaporeans to buy from easy.my.
“That is the next step for us, to ensure the logistics past is well taken care of so that goods can easily travel across the two countries,” he says.
For Chan, the expansion to Singapore is just another step in the continued growth of Exabytes as he eyes a 2014 listing.