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An Open Letter to Bill Gates

Dear Bill Kor,

Before I get to the point of this letter, please let me congratulate you for making it to your 11th year as the Number One on Forbes list of “The World’s Richest People”.

Your unique talent and foresight has truly played its part well in building your business empire that spans all around the world. Today you can sleep at night with the comfort that 75% (or more) of the people in the Developed World have used Windows at least once and 100% of the people in the financial world have heard of “Microsoft”.

The most admirable part of you is that you have the chance to be the Richest Man in the World by far but you turn it away by donating over USD29 billion to charity (since 2000) knowing that you love your money but there are some people in the world who need it more than you do. That is truly very admirable.

But speaking of charity, let me bring you to the reason why I’m writing this letter. You’ve never heard of me but my name is Tim and I’m a little small town boy from Southeast Asia trying his luck at dotcom glory.

I’ve been using computers all my life but I never really knew how much a licensed copy of your software costs since I always buy my computers in packages.

But when it comes to running a dotcom startup, I’ve come to terms with the fact that dotcoms have no money. So we buy and assemble our own PCs to save some money. One thing we never could not save money by assembling ourselves though… is Microsoft Windows.

Each copy costs AT LEAST RM300. In the past 2 weeks I have bought altogether 5 copies of Windows XP causing my family to go without food for 2 days. As you can see Bill Kor, it hurts.

Or as Eric Cartman from Southpark would say…
You’re breaking my balls“… I understand you’ve gone through much hard work in creating Windows for all of us to use but please allow the amateur Economist in myself present an argument to you.

Today, after all your research & development, the Marginal Cost of producing each copy of Windows is very very low to you. With Google coming in with their own spreadsheet, it won’t be long before they come out with Google OS.

So it won’t be so painful (and a potentially strategic move) for you to consider giving discounts especially to small little dotcoms right?

Please Bill Kor…
Please handle ‘my balls’ with care…

And if you still don’t care about ‘my balls’… please think of the other people who depend on ‘my balls’ (or specifically: ME)

Like my beautiful girlfriend that I call Baby Or my pet dog Ah Bop. Ah Bop is 5 months old and has yet to really see the world.

So please Bill Kor, please don’t ‘break his balls’ too.

Day 1 of a Little Unknown Dotcom

Today was the first day of work for me. I briefed both our new team mates about the project and what the business was going to be all about.

We met at the office boardroom at 8.45am sharp where they both sat down and listened as I paced around the boardroom explaining every detail to them

I have a bad habit of pacing when I think and it seems to help but it sometimes annoys my girlfriend so much that she tells me “PLEASE STAY STILL WHEN I TALK TO YOU” which translated into proper English means “SIT THE F*RK DOWN NOW”.

These days, my baby doesn’t even bother turning her head when talking to me. She just slaps her head down like this.
Anyway, back to what I was saying.

Both our new team members are years older than me so I had always feared there would be some issues with ‘taking orders’ from a young punk.

So the first request I made of them was

Please don’t look at me as your boss.
Look at me as your team mate.

I am too young to be your boss
but I am of the perfect age to be your team mate.

Yet, things seemed to be going all wrong on the first day of work.

The first thing that happened in the morning was the near explosion of our brand new 17 inch monitor that we bought and plugged in just last week. It was the computer assigned to Lee, our Head Web Developer.

When we turned on the computer, the monitor gave out loud repeated static sound like it was going to blow up taking all of us with it.

I blame it on Ming and his little smiley face when carrying the monitor around last week.

His boyish little smile was too much for a monitor to take.

Ladies, if you don’t want to self-combust, please don’t ever let Ming smile at you.

Shortly after we replaced Lee’s monitor with an old smaller monitor (so small that I could’ve sworn it was 2-inch and NOT a 14-inch as claimed by its cover), Lee’s computer started reacting funny.

When surfing around “My Computer”. Pressing the Left Ctrl button will lead to the entire window being closed and his web browser to pop up (so much for thinking that an Original copy of Windows with its constant updates will never have problems like this).

That I think was my fault.

I should’ve butt-smacked the damn PC a few times after I plugged it in last week.

Now on top of all these problems there was the mother of all problems.

Halfway working through the day, a power failure decided to find its way into my office building and the bright energetic office halted at a standstill.

So much for a great first day at the office.

But on top of all that, I took our new team mates for a good Japanese lunch hoping to break the ice and welcome them into the little dotcom we have set up.

It was certainly a lot more posh than the lunch the founders themselves normally have.

Take for example last week when Ming, Mohd Zacky and I went for our first dotcom lunch.

We had KFC and we barely talked so there was no bonding there.

Anti-Social Ming would be reading something off a piece of paper when I’m free to talk.
But when he’s finally free to talk, I get constantly interrupted by phone calls that sometimes make me wonder sometimes what a man’s gotta do these days to EAT HIS CHICKEN IN PEACE.
But at the end of all that of course… Ming and I managed to pose for a little picture with our best smiles.

Anyway, KFC was a luxury.

Normal lunches would have us eating Wan Tan Mee that costs RM2.50 per plate and living on biscuits when the hunger strikes later in the afternoon.

Anyone want to donate lunch money to the “Feed Stewie Foundation”?

Please send your cheques to

The Feed Stewie Foundation
Menara Bagilah Stewie Makan Ayam,
82, Jalan Kalau Boleh Tambah Juga Milo Ais Satu,
Daerah Milo Ais Kurang Manis Ar
12100 Penang,

The Malaysian Blogosphere Gets Together

In spite of ending my previous blog just a few days ago, I kept my promise of attending the blogger’s meet that was held at KLCC yesterday.

Now before we move on to the pics, I think it’s only kind for me to take time to introduce the two people who made the fun-filled gathering possible.

The hemsem Yee Hou And the bubbly Jolene. Thank you to the both of you for going through all your troubles so that all of us could sit and chat.

Ok on to the limited pics I have of the gathering.

I didn’t take as many pictures as the rest of the bloggers there because.. well.. let’s just say.. my shy camera felt very very small at the sight of the other many cameras out there.

You know you’re meeting with bloggers when you see ten thousand cameras in one place.
Wilson (
Boss Lepton) and I went to the meet knowing that we didn’t know anyone and nobody would know us since we’re still pretty new to the blogosphere and this was our first social meet so I went prepared to feel left out.

Pic Info: Jasiminne The Penguin whom I must say was the ‘bubbliest’ personality in the meet.

So when I started going round shaking hands and introducing myself with the line

Hi… I’m Timothy/Stewie… don’t think you’ve ever heard of it before but I used to have this blog called Leng Mou.

I was prepared to hear a response like

“Uhmmm.. Leng Mou.. hmmm… yeah.. I’m not sure if I’ve heard of that but I’ll check it out when I go home (though I’m pretty sure I won’t)“. Pic Info: Boss Lepton and I with Jennihsurf

Or even a response like


But I was caught off guard (and a little relieved) when people responded by saying things like


(I guess the list of bloggers going that was posted on Yee Hou’s blog helped. Some of the bloggers there must’ve found my old blog from there.)Pic Info: My Boss and I with Jasonmumbles and Joan

So I felt quite at home there eventhough it was a pity I never really got to meet EVERYONE.

Still, everyone was so friendly, it almost felt to me like a Chinese New Year dinner with family.

Except for the part where Boss Lepton and I were snapping pictures with the most number of hot, sexy and sweaty girls I’ve ever seen in my lifetime in which I felt like I was in a Playboy magazine photoshoot. Unfortunately, that’s all the pictures I took that day 🙁

I should’ve taken more pictures with the other nice bloggers I met there like Albert but I guess I was distracted. Sorry guys.

My guess is that all the nice people I met at the meet would go to my old blog and will completely miss this blog entry.

But to the rest of you who are here, thank you for the fantastic experience that I was lucky to be a part of.

Putting things in place

The notion among most dotcom skeptics is that dotcom startups are poor. They think that dotcom startups have little cashflow and almost no cash and they’re right!

Although my partner and I have been lucky enough to find financial backing that would cut us some slack, we always fear the day that we might run out of money. So for now, we’re a very stingy dotcom. We stinge on everything we can except for one thing: People.

I’ve learned in the past that good people are hard to find and when you pay peanuts you get monkeys. So when we employed our first two programmers just last week, we weren’t afraid to assure them that should the company do well in future, they will be handsomely rewarded.

But we do stinge on everything else.

For example, we didn’t buy our computers.

We bought the parts and assembled them ourselves (though we actually did this not only for the cost-saving benefit but also because we needed to customize each PC we had since they each had different purposes which was exactly what Google did for their first computers).

Meet Mohd. Zacky.

Zacky is an outstanding computer engineering student that won scholarships after scholarships during his academic life. He is technically the 3rd of our 3 first employees but then again… I don’t know if we can count him in as an employee because we don’t pay him.

Zacky was an old school friend of mine that I happened to meet up with weeks ago (he also happened to be using in the past to find students without knowing that it was my little toy project).

When Zacky met up with me and heard our business idea, he desperately wanted to be a part of it in spite of me repeatedly telling him that we can’t afford to pay him because a lot of our money was already going to go to the 2 programmers we just hired.

But it didn’t matter to him.

Zacky told me that all he wanted was to be a part of it and learn all he could. Ming and I admired his drive, so we took him on with the promise that if we grew in future and he was still with us, we would give him a full-time job after he finished his final year at university in 2007.

I brought Zacky up because he had an essential part in assembling our computers.

Being an Economics student, I had no idea how to assemble a computer of my own but I knew I had to learn if I was going to be in the business and if I believed that this was only the first of the thousand computers I will be assembling in my lifetime.

Zacky was the teacher and I was the student.

We started with all the parts that we bought from PC Depot in Penang.

We sourced the entire island and we found that the cheapest computer parts are sold at PC Depot and the best part of it is that you don’t even have to haggle.

Its fixed price is already the cheapest you will ever find.

So first came the parts of our office’s very first computer.

Then came the fun of putting everything together.

And after all that was done…


If you’re wondering why the monitor is white when the PC casing is black, the truth is we didn’t buy the monitor. We salvaged it from some old office equipment we found in our office building.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be saved on like original software ie Microsoft Windows which costed us a bomb.


Believe it or not, for now we can’t even afford to have Microsoft Office installed in all our computers since that costs over RM500 each (Pirated software is OUT OF THE QUESTION for companies)!!!

Only one of our computers which we’re planning to get next week will have Microsoft Office. Everyone will just have to share 😛

We are so poor… we are so poor….

The Road Less Travelled

People have always asked me to tell the story of so here it is.

Ever since I was a boy, all the older people around me told me the same thing

Study hard now and get good results so you can get a good high paying job when you graduate.”

So, when I went to university, I picked the course that would naturally lead me to one thing:
To be an investment banker because investment bankers get paid plenty from day one.

Everything I did in life was towards this goal. I studied hard in school and at university. During my summer holidays I did summer internships with foreign investment banks in KL to gain some experience and increase the chances of me getting a job there when I graduate. All this changed last summer when I decided to try something different for once and worked with two friends on

I’ve always wanted to do business, something everyone in my family has always known but my father never took my ambition seriously and I can’t blame him because at this age every ambitious young man talks about doing business but few ever walk the talk.

So I decided to do not only to do something out of the norm for once in my life but to prove to my father that I like to do a little more than just talk. That very summer holiday about a year ago, I was lucky enough to be offered internships from 2 foreign investment banks in KL.

I knew I couldn’t possibly do both Tuitionhamster and work at the same time (since investment banks alone work you to the bone) but I had no choice: I needed to earn money to fund so I began my work-filled life.

I started work at 7am each day and I got off work at 9pm on an average day, sometimes even later depending on the work load. By the time I got home, had my dinner and took a shower the clock would read 10.30pm and it would be time for me to start working on
My baby would drive all the way into the city to see me after work just to do nothing but watch me work on

Then came the weekends.

My weekends were spent fully on the Hamster. I would be out in the sun giving out flyers or visiting tuition centres asking (actually begging) for their support.

We were sometimes turned down but we never gave up. Because we lacked funding, the first version of (which was pretty much a DIY job) looked very much like a 9-year-old girl’s homepage with only 9 teachers signed up with us and an average of only 20 unique visits a day.

Yet, 6 months since we started work on the site and 3 months after we launched the beta version of it we were lucky enough to get some publicity help from Jeff Ooi, Mack Zul and a few other very nice bloggers out there.

Then came the newspaper interviews. I can remember the day when our article first came out in The Star. I was back in London by then when my father gave me a call just to tell me

Son, when you first started this, I thought it was nothing… but now you’ve proven to me that you can walk the talk and if this is what you want to do when you graduate, I will give you my full support“.

Today, we haven’t touched the website in months partly due to our exams but we’re still lucky enough to have over 400 teachers signed up with us at The website sparked off a trend of online tuition agents which charge commissions to make good money ( wasn’t designed to make money). Today there must be over 10 of such tuition websites.

Since we started we’ve had more than 600 messages sent from parents who visit our site to the teachers signed up with us (of course unfortunately, since we have so many teachers and the service was free, not all our teachers have been getting tuition jobs from us).

And all this was done with just a total cost (including marketing costs).

At our peak, I reckon we used to be among the top 5 tuition sites in Malaysia. But since we’ve left the site alone on auto-run without any further marketing efforts, its popularity has dropped from before.

We’re not doing much for the site anymore since we’ve run out of money that is necessary to bring it further (its just there today to serve its existing users). So it is just a matter of time before dies off (though it is very surprisingly still being frequently used by teachers and students on a daily basis).

Yet, it was the experience we had in building up the website that made this all worth it.

Shortly after graduation, we were faced with the choice of whether to sell or turn it into a full-time internet business.

In spite of receiving interest from a potential buyer, my partners and I decided to keep it running as a free service for as long as it will last on its own (since our capital was so low, we didn’t need the money).

For months now I’ve been working on a business plan in partnership with a fellow internet entrepreneur from Singapore named Ming that founded the e-retail internet business Gadgeit while he was still a student..
We’ve been making plans in preparation for what we believe (and dream) will eventually be the biggest dotcom in Southeast Asia.

Yet, the big test of faith came when I received a call from my ex-boss at an investment bank in Kuala Lumpur asking if I was interested in applying for an opening they had which offered an excellent opportunity for fresh graduates like myself.

I thought about it for a few days and I came to realize that what I really wanted to do was to achieve something meaningful. A few years down the road, I want to be (or at least try to be) a successful South East Asian entrepreneur.

My partner was relieved that I didn’t fall for the temptation. Today, I sit in my new dotcom office looking out the window at the island of Penang.

When some people look at Penang, they see a small forgotten city in the North of Malaysia. Yet, my partner and I see a city with endless opportunities. Hopefully there is an opportunity waiting for us.

This is the story of my life and the story of my life to come.

To accomplish great things,
we must not only act but also dream,
not only plan,
but also believe.