No defeat, no surrender

  • Global giants dominate this high-end fintech space
  • Dream was to put Malaysia, and his company, on the map
No defeat, no surrender

 
IF the key to success is perseverance, then it can be said that TriAset Sdn Bhd founder William Lim (pic above) – who surely embodies that trait – is also proof of the saying.
 
“I did not give up because I had – and I continue to have – a strong conviction that my team and I can achieve our vision. It is a matter of getting through the hard times, and never giving up,” says William.
 
TriAset is the company behind the versatile and powerful client-server application software called Compass, which can automate treasury and investment activities by processing huge amounts of data, giving them access to the relevant information they need at any time and from any location.
 
This also gives clients – namely financial institutions and large non-financial corporates – the flexibility to focus on their core business issues.
 
Lofty goals
 
“I want to put TriAset on the world map as the best treasury and investment management solution company ... I want this to happen not just for myself, but because I want to make Malaysia proud,” says William.
 
Though this sounds like a lofty goal, William has no doubt that it will come to pass.
 
“Treasury, investment and risk solutions are dominated by the developed nations like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
 
“I believe Malaysia has the talent to produce the same type of application that can rival those produced overseas. It is just a matter of time before we get the recognition we deserve in this field,” he says.
 
Catch-22
 
William started his company back in 1999. It was first known as Xen Business Solutions and it was not an easy start.
 
“We developed Compass and we did not have any clients,” he recalls. “We were in a Catch-22 situation where clients would not want to commit to our product if it has not been used and tested by other clients, and Compass could not be used and tested if no clients adopted it!
 
“There were many rejections, not so much for the application, but rather clients asking, ‘Is this new company able to deliver what it promises? How long will this company last?’
 
“We convinced our first client to adopt our system but it took us nine whole months,” he adds.
 
Its first client was Sunway Group, one of the top property developers in Malaysia, which remains a TriAset customer to this day.
 
Against the big boys
 
The biggest challenge for William and TriAset remains competing against global giants, most of them from the highly-developed world, which is made more complicated by the fact that TriAset’s prospective clients are financial institutions or large conglomerates that tend to go for big, global names.
 
In other words, the treasury and investment application market space is dominated by the ‘big boys’ which have been playing the game for a long time.
 
“It is very challenging to convince and to try to change a prospective client’s mindset that a boutique Malaysian company can provide the exact same solution offered by the big boys,” says William.
 
But it has managed to chip away. To date, TriAset’s solutions are used by clients in Brunei, Indonesia, Qatar, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, and of course, Malaysia. In all these markets, it had to compete head-on against world-renowned brands.
 
The company is also set to expand into new regions in the next two years.
 
“In the next two years, we are looking towards penetrating other parts of Asia, like China, India, Japan, and Hong Kong, as well as the Middle East,” says William.
 
TriAset is in fact developing a new fintech (financial technology) solution which provides a marketplace for banks and companies to trade online, aimed primarily at these new markets.
 
Boyhood dream
 
William admits that he thought of shutting down the business at the early stage. Fortunately, his innate determination would not allow him to admit defeat. “I had wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was 13. I was not about to give up on my dream!”
 
However, the lack of sales initially was giving him a great deal of stress and he felt he was not spending as much time as he should in developing and marketing the application. Instead of giving up, he decided to look at this inability to sell as a learning curve.
 
After each rejection from a prospective client, William and his team would go back to the drawing board to find ways to improve the application and TriAset’s perceived credibility to deliver, stand out from competitors, and make a name in the industry.
 
William says the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP) also helped keep his boyhood dream alive.
 
“The CGP helped me see that the entrepreneur in me could be developed further. It made me want to work harder to achieve my dream of having my application ‘harmonise humans and technology in financial markets’,” he says.
 
Top in Asia Pacific
 
William says that he recognised the power of his own abilities when TriAset (then still called Xen Business Solutions) was featured in Deloitte’s Tech Fast 500 Asia Pacific in 2005. It was ranked 14th out of 500 companies and came out on top in both the software and country category.
 
Deloitte was not the only big name that recognised TriAset. The company also won a merit award in the financial applications category for the regional Apicta Awards in 2007. Its solutions were also ranked ‘best in class’ under MSC Malaysia Certified Solutions, and Compass itself was awarded the Common Criteria Certification.
 
“You get the sense of true success when a boutique software company from Malaysia can be among the best in Asia Pacific and in its home country. After seven years of hard work, dedication and perseverance, the company finally achieved the recognition it deserved,” William says.
 
Discover TriAset at www.triaset.com.

The above is an excerpt from the book Startups to Scaleups published in October 2015 by Cradle Fund and Proficeo Consultants, the programme manager for Cradle’s Coach and Grow Programme. DNA will be featuring every entrepreneurial story from the book in a special commercial arrangement.
 

 
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