CEO of Exabytes, Mr. Chan Kee Siak has once again appeared in an interview with The Edge, the highly popular and noted business magazine of Malaysia to share his insights into eCommerce and his e-entrepreneurial journey which started when he was at the tender age of 19.
Commanding 21% of market share in Malaysia and serves over 50,000 customers in 121 countries, Exabytes Network was founded by Chan back then when he was still enrolled in Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC). The hardworking chap sold computer hardware and helped customers to design their websites to earn some extra pocket money before he discovered the potential market of web hosting in Malaysia. “Back then, the Internet was a very new thing and there were very few players offering hosting in Malaysia,” Chan said.
Chan’s first 100% online based business started by the name of hostkaki.com, which was later changed to Exabytes Network when Chan decided to drop out of TAR College and fully concentrate on his online web hosting business. Described by Chan as “a once in a lifetime opportunity”, business of Exabytes had since tripled and quickly expanded from reselling to buying its own servers and renting then out to clients.
When asked about how could Malaysia emerge from the stiff competition around the globe in the technology and online industry, Chan indicated Malaysia’s greatest advantage was that majority of Malaysians could speak at least 2-3 different languages. Indeed, the success story of Exabytes was full of challenges. In early days, the biggest challenge faced by Exabytes was manpower as web hosting was still very new and many Malaysians did not have the relevant skills and needed to be trained. As a technie, Chan also admitted that he did not have the aptitude for bookkeeping. “I think this is a common situation faced by most technopreneurs. I simply outsourced my company accounts for the first 6-7 years. As a result, I didn’t have a good idea of the exact financial position of the company. The consequence was that I lost out on opportunities and reduced the company’s potential. But of course now, we have someone in charge of overseeing the company’s finances,” recalls Chan.
Chan’s advice to newbies who just ventured into the technology and online business was that investors should focus their spending on the core business activities instead of investing heavily on furniture, nice office and cars to keep their start-up costs low.
Today, Chan runs a very creative and dynamic company to accommodate the current generation employees who prioritize job satisfaction over wages. Like other establishments, Exabytes must continue to grow to stay profitable. “The future is with cloud hosting. Everything can be hosted online such as your accounting software. Companies need not install the software on their computer to use the application anymore,” Chan was quoted as saying. He then added that Exabytes hoped to expand to nearby countries in the future and at the same time continue to maintain its position as a market leader. Seeing Singapore as a strong competitor, Exabytes established a Singapore based subsidiary few years ago to compete with it more effectively.
Also having many years of experience in serving overseas clients especially from North America, Chan indicated that the growth of web hosting has been rather stagnant in the past years in the US and Europe hence many overseas competitors have already landed in Asean. As Malaysia is stable both politically and economically in the region, many overseas players have chosen Malaysia and Singapore as their primary target markets in the region. Besides, the boom of mobile applications is also increasing the demand for web content which then boosts the demand for web hosting.
When asked about the current global economic slump, Chan was optimistic that it would instead create more opportunity for Exabytes. “When many employees were retrenched and couldn’t find a job, they needed to fund income and the online business model is one of the best choices as it requires only minimum business setup costs, operation costs, etc.”
In fact, CEO Chan has been busy giving speeches at different venues such as seminars and universities in these few years. We believe that his interview with The Edge would be another piece of great advice and inspiration to many rising entrepreneurs.