As sales increased, Hor moved the business into an office and hired designers. She soon discovered her Achilles’ heel – managing people.
“Andrew [Khaw] and I are both creators, not managers, “she says. “No matter how much benefits and additional allowances we gave the designers, it never seemed to be enough!”
She realised she needed help. Even though she was serving a global market, the environment in Penang where LogoDesignCreation.com had started out didn’t provide it with the network it could tap into to grow the business.
The turning point came when Hor attended a briefing on the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP), which is spearheaded by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, an agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance, and conceptualised and implemented by Proficeo Consultants. [Full disclosure: See footnote below].
Gizwiz Studio applied and was accepted into the pioneer batch in 2011, under the Go4Growth Programme, which was designed to help successful companies scale up their businesses.
“We informed the coaches that our biggest challenge in scaling up was talent acquisition and management, and the advice we received was that the designers must be able to see how they perform in the eyes of the customer,” says Hor.
“We began implementing strategies discussed during coaching and changed our recruitment processes to target designers with the calibre and personality that would match online services and customer expectations,” she adds.
To manage the remuneration expectations of designers they hired, Hor says that they reworked their platform to incorporate a system that captures customer feedback on work output, which would then be used to rate the designers’ performance.
“This advice helped me eliminate disputes over increments and bonuses, “she says with a grin.
During the CGP, LogoDesignCreation.com also changed its pricing strategy. “Our initial approach was low pricing and volume orders. We achieved our initial goal, but this was not scalable.
“In order to gain higher ROI (return on investment) from each designer, we increased the fee for our standard package from US$39 to US$89. This was still affordable for the international market but now, with fewer orders, we needed fewer designers to provide services and therefore we could hire more experienced talent.
“The initial take-up from the market was slow – when we first revised our pricing, we didn’t get a single order for a couple of weeks, but slowly, the orders started coming in again, and now we are seeing the returns to our business,” says Hor with relief.
The entrepreneurial journey is never easy and the ones that succeed are like Hor and Khaw who have been resilient and nimble with regards to changes in the market. They realised early on that the crucial factor was to go global from the start, and that in order to sustain their growth, they had to be part of the ecosystem even though they are an Internet-based business.
“Networking and exposure is where you gain the experiences that will help you improve,” says Hor.
“Participation in the CGP also gave us a lot of exposure to the local startup scene and international startup organisations and events. We attended as many events and networking sessions as we could, invested time in building relationships within the ecosystem,” she adds.
The pay-off? LogoDesignCreation.com has become the ‘go to’ design team for StartupMalaysia.org, Angels Den Asia, Foundersasia.com and with the CGP Alumni, which in turn provides them with exposure to their target market – startups!
More recently, Hor and Khaw were invited as mentors for the Global Startup Youth (GSY) programme, a satellite event organised by StartupMalaysia.org as part of the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Kuala Lumpur from Oct 11-12.
While it was recovering from GES, Gizwiz Studio was also declared the winner in the Art & Design category of the ‘Creative Pioneer Awards 2013’ organised by NewMan magazine. Nine years after launching its online service at the global marketplace, the team from Malaysia has finally received local recognition.
This article was originally published on http://www.foundersasia.com/, a platform for tech entrepreneurs, and is reprinted here with its kind permission. Proficeo coaches high-potential tech companies to scale and expand into regional or global players. The writer, Renuka Sena, is CEO and cofounder of Proficeo and FoundersAsia.com.
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