An eventful journey for Evenesis
By Renuka Sena April 18, 2016
- From chaotic wedding planning to eventual listed company
- CGP helps adapt business model, market segments
WHEN Mohd Yusno Yunos (pic above), chief executive officer and cofounder of Y Us Sdn Bhd, was about to get married, he knew that it would be the beginning of a new life. What he didn’t anticipate was that it would also be the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey.
While planning their wedding, Yusno and his bride Noamifarah Rahimuddin did everything by themselves, as they didn’t use a wedding planner. It was very stressful and chaotic. But it was through their frustrations that the couple came up with the idea of providing a solution, system or software that could reduce the troubles and chaos in managing and running a wedding.
And so, out of this fairytale wedding, Evenesis was born – a wedding planning solution that quickly evolved into a complete system for all types of events-planning.
Lit up by the entrepreneurial spirit and inspired by the thought of developing a local product that could quickly scale up and go global, Yusno and his wife (and cofounder) wasted no time and registered Y US in 2010.
The name ‘Y US’ is taken from the first three letters of Yusno’s name, but it is pronounced as ‘why us’. This was deliberately done so the entrepreneurial couple could ask themselves every day, "Why us?" The philosophy triggers them to constantly think of how to differentiate themselves from others in every single thing they do.
At first, Y US started as a two-person show. The power couple worked on developing the event-planning product, which they called Evenesis as a combination of the words ‘event’ and ‘genesis’. Like many other startups, they were also bootstrapping with other part-time work, such as undertaking custom web application development projects, and with Yusno lecturing part-time at International Islamic University in 2010.
When Evenesis was completed and ready for customers in mid 2011, Yusno and Noamifarah hit a major roadblock. They were stuck when it came to selling and commercialisation. Unable to get the right traction, the business suffered for six months.
They were also in need of funds. Fortunately the CIP 500, a seed fund from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, arrived just in time. Obtaining the grant at the end of 2011 gave them the necessary funds to conduct sales and marketing ... but more importantly, it restored their confidence to go out and sell their product.
Awards and accolades
The couple is now reaping the benefits of their patience, perseverance and hard work because Y Us has been recognised by a string of prestigious awards. They won the MSC Malaysia Apicta Awards under the Best Application and Infrastructure Tool category in 2011, and again under the Best Tourism and Hospitality category in 2013.
Y Us has also won the Enterprise Development Achievement Award from national ICT custodian Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDeC) in 2011. They have been nominated as one of the Top 50 Apps in Asia and have been recognised as a Telekom Malaysia Elite Partner.
In 2012, Yusno and Noamifarah felt it was time to bring in someone who shared their vision and spirit, so Yusno made the decision to invite his friend, Mohd Farid Mohd Nor, whom he has known since his college years in Pennsylvania, the United States.
arid came on board as the vice president of sales and marketing, and with a marketing head and team which exemplified the founders’ entrepreneurial spirit, the trio were able to sell Evenesis with even more confidence and certainty.
Being among the top 30 Apps in Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, Evenesis is now recognised as a world-class event planning solution that changes the way event planners and organisers run their events, helping to simplify the overall process and reduce the stress of managing paperwork and manual processes.
Yusno is proud to have developed a tool that makes event planning so easy and fun that even a 10-year-old could use it to plan his own birthday party, by simply following a checklist. Professional planners can also use Evenesis’ comprehensive suite of tools that help reduce operational costs, predict attendance, integrate avenues that promote events, increase sales, as well as adopt the latest trends in event management.
In the cloud
It is this very simplicity and comprehensiveness of Evenesis’ system that makes Y US different from the rest, just as the husband-and-wife duo had originally envisioned. While Yusno is pleased with the company’s current success, he has even bigger dreams.
He envisions Evenesis becoming the preferred event management system in the developed countries of the Asia Pacific region. This vision is bolstered by customers and clients which switched from competitors and whose testimonials have infused Yusno with the belief that Evenesis is on the right track.
As a cloud-based solution, Evenesis was designed and ready to go global from day one. However, its first attempts to penetrate markets in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in 2012 failed because it did not have the right approach.
Reflecting back, Yusno admits that they were not prepared for the cost involved and the need to change their business model. “The event organisers were not willing to switch to a paid software when they could hire workers and temps at a lower fee, and this caused them not to focus on the benefits and values we were bringing.”
This was where the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP) came in. Together with the coaches, Yusno analysed the company’s business model and target markets in South-East Asia. From there, they developed a new approach that pivoted and offered different models for the different countries, with an annual subscription fee with yearly maintenance and also on a per-event basis.
They also have packages targeted at different markets such as professional conference organisers, destination management companies, event organisers and corporate planners (at multinationals and government agencies).
Through the CGP, they not only made progress in expanding across South-East Asia, they also built a successful partnership with another CGP company they crossed paths with during the programme, called Hooha Asia.
To date, Hooha has been using Evenesis to organise its own events and marathons, reaching close to 200,000 event participants in 2015.
Evenesis is now primed for 2016, armed with the right business models and strategy, to penetrate the Hong Kong and Singapore markets, where it already established Y Us Pte Ltd in 2015 and appointed a local channel partner manager in Hong Kong, Teleos Global. Both countries will have models roughly similar to Malaysia’s.
And while it tends to get compared with Eventbrite and Peatix, Yusno clarifies that its product features, target markets, and business models are very different.
"We are geared more for the MICE industry and we benchmark ourselves against the likes of Cvent and eTouches. We have converted our competitors' clients and also captured the untapped market in this country and overseas,” he claims.
The company also launched a sister product called Venueville last year, a venue sourcing platform, with the aim of matching event organisers with venue owners. Currently, it has over 1,000 venues.
Sky’s the limit
Yusno’s ultimate goal is to leave a personal legacy of a global company that creates jobs for others. He wants to grow Y US so the company has offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
He also dreams to one day see Y US as a global, public-listed ICT company focusing on software development, specifically in the events industry – and that is publicly listed in the local bourse and two foreign stock exchange markets!
With the growing number of users and customers on a yearly basis, he believes it is on track to achieving this goal.
Yusno certainly has the right vision and mindset to succeed. Any aspiring entrepreneur can be motivated from his words of wisdom: “Start right away. It’s only when you actually start a business that you’ll know what to do. Advice is good but every person and every business is different, so I don’t believe in taking a long time to decide on starting a business. Go for it and just do it.”
Discover Y Us and Evenesis at www.evenesis.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.