Finding Entrepreneurs Among the Young


By UOW Malaysia KDU

IT is statistically true that out of the millions of start-ups worldwide, about 1% ever make it in the long run.

But some other facts repeat themselves so many times that they become difficult to ignore, observed UOW Malaysia KDU Associate Professor Dr Brian Wong, Head of the School of Business.

“Young minds see what others cannot. Young hearts have the passion to sail through a sea of objections and rejections. And it is not just one or two or three cases,” Dr Brian Wong points out.

Not counting Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mike Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Steve Jobs (Apple) — all of whom never completed their tertiary studies — he said there exists a long list of people who cooked up ideas that eventually became multi-billion-ringgit enterprises while they were still in college or university, and they even abandoned their studies for the sake of those ideas.

Jack Dorsey dropped out of New York University and founded Twitter.

Michael Dell dropped out of medical school and founded Dell.

James Park dropped out of Harvard and created Fitbit.

Larry Ellison bowed out of University of Illinois and University of Chicago and built Oracle.

Swedish Daniel Ek gave up on his degree from Royal Institute of Technology and founded music streaming service Spotify.

South Korean Bom Kim left Harvard after six months and eventually founded Coupang Inc, the largest online retailer in the country.

American Frederick Smith did complete his time at Yale University. While there, he wrote a paper for an assignment and described how to start an overnight delivery service.

He got a ‘C’ for it. Later, he founded FedEx.

“You see the pattern?” Dr Brian Wong asked.

It is for this reason that UOW Malaysia KDU never ignores entrepreneurial ideas that germinate out of the student population.

Dr Brian Wong said the key entrepreneurship courses offered at UOW Malaysia KDU requires all degree students to form teams.

“The diversity of students’ backgrounds adds a great flavour to business idea development,” he observed.

And while the entrepreneurial spirit is one of the six graduate attributes that UOW Malaysia KDU dedicates itself to impart to the student population, one cannot expect to start a business without knowing the ground rules on financial management, human resources, administration, and such like.

For this reason, UOW Malaysia KDU has a custom-built, business-simulation environment called Enterprise Lab, which the students simply call the E-Lab.

In there, guided by certified EuroPEN-PEN international trainers, a suite of simulated set-ups including the Simplified Business System trading platform, human resources, administration and marketing platforms drill students in the nuts and bolts of running businesses.

Using various methods to face VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), students learn to take calculated risks.

Best of all, said Dr Brian Wong, they learn to fail.

“You can build a nuclear-powered, sure-fire, fail-proof mouse trap. But will the market want it and be willing to pay for it? This is what entrepreneurs must learn,” stress Dr Brian Wong.

Besides E-Lab, UOW Malaysia KDU also established the first purpose-built ideation and teaching facility called the Entrepreneurialism Pod (E-Pod).

The purpose: (1) Make a conducive environment for the ideation thought-process, (2) create an eco-system for student-mentor interactions and industry linkages, (3) hold entrepreneurship specialisation courses, (4) incubate and commercialise students’ business ideas and (5) exhibit what they create.

E-Pod and E-Lab were launched by Deputy Minister Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Muslimin Yahaya on Nov 30.

On top of E-Pod and E-Lab, UOW Malaysia KDU prepares the Experiential Learning Hub, Business Showcase Avenue and Prototype Development Service at its campuses in Glenmarie, Shah Alam; and Georgetown and Batu Kawan in Penang.

Dr Brian Wong points out that a paradigm shift is occurring with the digital economy growing rapidly.

“There will be greater demand in organisations for soft skills and the entrepreneurial mindset. The adaptability of young minds will be crucial to this growth,” he stressed.

And it shows. UOW Malaysia KDU graduate Mong Sorik Rath, formed Rothsorik Engineering in Cambodia.

She distributes cables and accessories from Vietnam and Singapore. “People rush into starting businesses thinking that once their store is opened and the products are on the shelf, profits will come.”

“It is not like that. Behind each successful business, a strong business foundation is required,” she said.

Mong holds dear to every ounce of know-how she acquired from UOW Malaysia KDU’s entrepreneurship development efforts.

“Especially the accounting modules,” she said with a smile, adding that knowing the principles of finances made her a more solid businesswoman and saved her from the penalties of not complying with tax regulations.

She also treasures the knowledge she acquired on managing staff and crystallising company objectives.

Another graduate, Nikki Ou Yang Hong, founded SpargoEats in the Klang Valley to build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.

UOW Malaysia KDU’s School of Business, she said, “prepared me for my entrepreneurship journey well, not just the business know-how but essentially the right mindset”.

“We’re committed to leaving people better than we found them. We’re in the business of feeding people, and we’re out to change what that means.”

Nikki announced that she had sorted her first tranche of investments and is working towards raising more capital.

Celine Foo Mei Qin manages the family businesses, TT Foo & Associates, a chartered accounting firm, and Foo Advisory Services, an audit and taxation house.

“UOW Malaysia KDU School of Business gave me valuable experience and knowledge. The entrepreneurship course was stressful at times, but the resources provide a unique business simulation for us to engage in. It helped me see things from many perspectives and broadened my exposure to entrepreneurial activities,” she said.

M. Batumala Rao now takes care of his family business in Perak, Munikass Healthcare, a dealer of Indian herbal products.

“Subjects like Entrepreneurship, Finance and Strategic Management helped me in so many ways such as sales aptitude, business strategies and the handling of business finances. I could never have taken care of my family business without all that knowledge,” he said.

Dr Brian K M Wong (km.wong@kdu.edu.my) is a marketing and entrepreneurship enthusiast based in Kuala Lumpur. His experience in academia and industry has developed his expertise within the areas of marketing, strategy, management, and entrepreneurship.

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14 December 2021

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Events Coverage

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UOW Malaysia KDU



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