Benchmarking against the best

  • Izi Media taking on Astro is about measuring up against the market leader
  • CEO believes that experience is over-rated, Google the great leveller Benchmarking against the bestSURPRISINGLY, Ahmad Izmir (pic), chief executive officer of Izi Media Group Sdn Bhd which plans to roll out a for-men-only TV channel on the Internet next month with a simultaneous launch in five Asian countries, has no media experience. Nor does he think it is required.
There is Google after all. And there is, the US-based online TV channel that inspired his own
“I have not been involved in any media business before this, but in my opinion, these days experience and age are over-rated as I can easily match any experience needed in a particular industry by just 'googling' a particular subject or simply hiring professionals twice my age to get the so-called experience,” he says.
He points to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Hugh Hefner and Richard Branson who didn’t succeed because of their experience since they started pretty young too, he notes.
Izmir believes that these particular gentlemen succeeded because they had good people and partners around them.
He can also copy a model that has already worked somewhere else and is not coy about admitting that he is copying the idea of offering for free from a similar all-testosterone online station in the United States. The advertising-based business model too is adopted from
It may be more challenging to get that model to gain traction in Asia region but that is what entrepreneurs do. They take risks. Plus Izmir is doing it all with his own money, he asserts.
Little is known about him. He tells Digital News Asia that before setting up Izi Media he was involved in a number of businesses, apt for someone who studied entrepreneurship in university in Australia.
He started his own events management company, a marketing consultancy and a financial brokerage firm with his mother, a former diplomat. The financial brokerage is called Crewstone International where Izmir and his mother assist growth stage businesses in securing funds either from private equity firms or venture capitalists.
“My first business was a portal to connect entrepreneurs, investors and advisors and we made money via advertising. I sold the firm to a US investor and invested back into new businesses.” Benchmarking against the bestInterestingly, setting up was not his first choice in playing the content game. He actually wanted to be the enabler for content. “I also tried to start a media technology company but we changed strategy to focus on content as we quickly realized that content is and will always be king.”
As a content newbie he already aims to take on the king on the hill in the form of satellite TV provider Astro, which DNA opined was very bold or naive.
His reply to this? “Actually I think being bold has nothing to do with it. We are simply benchmarking ourselves with the best people in the business.”
He feels that in business and in life one cannot lower standards or be scared of the competition. “If I were to say, ‘Who am I to compete with the likes of Astro and Media Prima,’ I've already stabbed myself in the heart before even starting. If I'm going to get into this I'd rather lose to a powerhouse like them or a billion-dollar company rather than compete and win against a two-dollar company,” he says.
He says that Facebook didn’t start the business trying to beat myspace. “They tried to beat Google, and they did. AirAsia didn’t start the business to beat a small private charter airline. They set out to beat MAS and they did. Even Astro, when they started, I think a lot of people thought they were pretty 'bold' to start another broadcasting company but as we all know they beat government-backed Media Prima, RTM and ntv7, and killed other emerging competitors before they could even commercialize.”

He does not believe that success will boil down to how much money one has to invest to be able to get ahead in the market. He instead feels that when people see an entrepreneur providing good and competitive offerings, the customers will be there.
“When the concept and potential has been proven on a small scale, it’s just a matter of time before investors start showing interest in our business,” he believes.
As for now, he is focused on proving that the concept and idea will work. If it doesn't, he says he will just tweak the idea to make it work. But this is the fun part.
“If it works the first time around, then I will see you at the Maxman Mansion for our celebratory party,” he quips.
Now, that will be a party not to be missed.
Related Story:
Going beyond Astro: Only real men need to watch

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