The "Myth" of Gaining Work Experience (Part 1)

Upon hearing that I’ve gone off to venture on something of my own, people often ask me
“Don’t you want to gain some work experience first? Now you’re still too young!

When I people ask me this, I often reply by saying
“I know… I may be making the biggest mistake of my life”.

Yet, deep inside I have an answer to that question that I don’t reveal often enough. But since all of you who are still reading my blog (which has turned from humour to boring stuff) are either my friends or my most loyal readers, let me share the answer with you.

A word of caution before we go on. My views and my philosophy of life tend to be very radical. So feel free to be critical. I love criticism, especially constructive ones because they make me think. But please don’t take it too seriously.

I am after all a naive little boy who is probably misinformed into having the following views of life and career.

Now let me start by saying that I have the bad habit of questioning everything people tell me.

So naturally, when people tell me that I should gain some work experience first before starting on a business, I asked WHY.

When you work you gain 3 main skill sets.

1) You gain experience on how to work and deal with people.

2) You gain insight of how specific industries work.

3) You learn from people above you.

Yet, I will always remember what Richard Branson (Virgin Group) often advocates: Entrepreneurs are made in their early life and not in their thirties.

I look at my life now more like a ticking clock. I start thinking that ok, now that I’ve graduated and got myself the minimum of academic papers (a degree), I have till I’m 40 (18 years from now) to make sure that I am fairly wealthy by then.

If I am not ‘fairly’ rich by the time I’m 40, it will probably be far too late for me to be very rich in my lifetime (still possible… but unlikely).

Take for example Phillip Green, the retail mogul in the UK that owns Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and everything else under the shopping sun in the UK.

By the time he was 40, he wasn’t a multi-billionaire like he is today. He had wealth in the hundreds of millions of pounds but it was with this that he was able to jump to being a billionaire.

But the question remains… is it wrong to spend time working to gain work experience?

In my opinion, the answer is “It depends”.

And “It depends” on one thing.

What kind of work experience?

Today, if I decided to spend 3 years working as a cashier at McDs or as a receptionist at a cyber cafe, it’s still work experience. But is it useful work experience and would whatever I learn there help me much when I start a business.

Let me give you an example.

When considering whether to take up a job at an investment bank in KL, I started thinking about where I would be 5 years later.

The conclusion I came to was that in 5 years, I would probably be earning a 5-figure salary and would probably know plenty about stocks. Since I would be in finance, I would also probably learn a bit about some of the successful companies listed on the stock exchange.

So I might learn a thing or two about a company that makes rubber gloves.

I might learn how their business works, how their products sell and how they earn money.

So is that enough for me to start a successful glove manufacturing business like Datuk Lim Wee Chai of Topglove did?

The answer is probably NOT.

Sure, I would learn the things on the surface but you don’t have to spend years working in an investment bank to learn that.

All you have to do is buy a share of the company, pick up its Annual Report and go for its AGM.

Then ask plenty of questions.

Any man on the street could gain that knowledge.

What the man on the street won’t be able to learn are the more crucial things like

What exactly goes into the rubber that makes the gloves?


How does the chemical composition of each glove differ from the composition of its competitors and why is it better?


How do they keep their quality control on each pair of glove?

The man on the street would probably tell you

“Blow it up with your nose and see how much you can do that for before it pops”

The only way to really learn things like that would be to work in the industry.

Therefore, I decided that if I was going to work in an investment bank, unless I planned to start a Merchant Bank of Penang (which is highly unlikely), everything that I learned on the job wouldn’t exactly help me too much in any business I might pursue in future.

Sure, I would be highly paid at first.. but would I be a very rich man 20 years from now?

Pic info: If I had owned a Bank of Penang… this Maybank building would be MINE!!! And you guys would open accounts with me right?

Of course, there will be the general skills that I would be able to take with me like working in a team or organising time to meet deadlines.

But who says that an entrepreneur that starts fresh won’t be able to gain these skills?

Being the one to run the show, an entrepreneur would probably be forced to learn/gain all of these skills and more.

For example, an entrepreneur would also learn how to manage his cashflow, how to take calculated risks and how to react when faced with problems.

With this mindset that was far at odds with the traditional thinking of gaining work experience, I went to talk to one of my father’s friends.

A very successful Malaysian internet entrepreneur that has made millions after millions. He started doing business early in his life too, but not before he gained a few years of work experience as an engineer.

His answer to me was simple but made perfect sense.

“Timothy. Today the world’s economy has changed. During my time, people had to work in order to see opportunities. Today, with the internet coming up and plenty of visible opportunities at bay, you don’t have to work to see the opportunity. All you have to do is turn on your computer. So if you have an idea that you believe in. Go for it.”

What he said made perfect sense to me: That the world today has changed but so many people are not adapting to it hence the old belief that it is a MUST to first gain work experience.

Decades ago you would never hear of self-made billionaires that made became billionaires by the time they reached their thirties, but today it’s becoming increasingly common starting from Michael Dell of Dell Computers

and now on to people like Sergey Brin of Google Inc.

The world has changed in almost every way. Even in financing your business.

Many years ago if you wanted to do a business, you either put in your own money or borrow money from the bank.

(The latter can be very distructive especially if you’re doing a dotcom since you’ll have to be servicing bank interest when you probably won’t be generating any revenue or making any profit for the first few years.)

What has changed today is that there are venture capitalists. People who’re willing to invest in your company for just an equity stake.

There are also government grants and government support for dotcom companies down in the Multimedia Super Corridor.

Having no money to start a business has become less of an excuse now for the complacent.

How hard is it to get venture capitalists to invest in you?

Well, a few weeks ago, my little dotcom was unsuspectingly approached by a wealthy businessman looking to obtain an equity stake upon hearing of our business idea.

If an inexperienced and naive 22 year old boy (with nothing but an idea) could do get the door open… why can’t everyone else?

Now if you managed to read this far in this blog post, the next question you should ask is

So what’s wrong with working for a few years first before I even attempt to start a business?”

That will be a question I will answer some time in the future.

PS: Of course, in life there is no one way to get to a certain place. So I’m not asking everyone to forget working and go straight into business. This is just what I’m doing… and something I may regret later in life if things don’t work out…

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When you want to get away from your woman

Ack.. women…

Who needs these beautiful creatures that make us fly to heaven and back distract us from our everyday chore of being a MAN!

They say you just can’t live with women, but you can’t live without them either.

So every once in a while, a man has got to get away from his woman to spend some quality time on his own with other men.

And where else better to go than PC FAIR at PISA, PENANG!!!!

(Of course if you really want to go somewhere full of men, you could always go to prison. But let’s be good and respectable citizens and keep that out of minds ok?)

That’s right.

Last Saturday all the men in Penang were rushing to PISA causing a massive traffic jam in the area.

The PC Fair wasn’t too bad. Not everything there was as cheap as you’d imagine and it wasn’t really as huge as you would think.

But the amazing thing about it is the experience of… what a friend of mine calls, a “sausage fest” ie a place full of men.

But don’t take my word for it… check it out yourself
‘SAUSAGES’… and more ‘SAUSAGES’…


Yet, it was a little weird.

It was supposed to be a PC Fair so you would imagine the ‘sausages’ there would be wanting to buy.. PCs right?

But no… all the sausages decided that the thing to buy for the year was.. PRINTERS!!!

And not just any printer.. CANON PRINTERS!!!

‘Sausages’ *hugz* Canon Printers.

But Canon was prepared.

They stocked up tons of printers. It was a warzone.

‘Sausages’ vs ‘Sausages’, everyone was pushing their printers over to the cashiers to buy it.

But on some fronts, it was very encouraging to see ‘sausages’ helping other ‘sausages’ push the printers over to the front.


It was almost as if every ‘sausage’ had to own a Canon.

My guess is even the big VIP ‘sausage’ that opened the event bought one himself

Feeling the peer pressure, my friends and I decided that we had to have one as well, eventhough we didn’t have enough money to buy one each.

So the 3 of us sausages shared one.

So uhmm… yeah….. we now have a printer that none of us really know what to do with.

Anyone want a printer bought by 3 sausages?

The Entrepreneur’s Pass

The dotcom company that Ming and I have been working on will cover the Singaporean internet market (though we have an office here in Penang to develop our product).

So naturally we planned to incorporate a Pte Ltd company in Singapore but before we could do that, I had to apply for an Entrepass (Entrepreneur’s Pass) which kinda acts like a work permit for me to be in Singapore to work on the business.

The Entrepass application is not like the standard application form you would imagine.

It had to include our business plan, my entire background, work experience and even the academic grades I achieved at university.

I was a little worried that my application may not go through since I would guess that I was among the youngest and the least experienced to apply.

Sure, I may have worked briefly for some foreign investment banks and I may have done a little internet venture that received modest media attention but that’s nothing compared to what an outstanding entrepreneur 10 years my senior would have strapped under his belt (someone like Irfan Khari).
Not to mention, the application included our business plan and needless to say, a rejection could also mean 3 things

1) Our business plan was not good enough (We didn’t do enough homework).

2) Our business idea sucked.


3) The government didn’t believe that Ming and I were good enough to pull it off.

We’ve been waiting for weeks for the answer.

This morning Ming called me up from Singapore.

“I have bad news… your Entrepass application was rejected“.

Ming and I have always tried to remind each other to work under the assumption that NOTHING EVER GOES AS PLANNED.

We had previously briefly discussed a backup plan should my application be discussed but right at that moment, the only words I could utter was

“So how…?”

Ming was quick to answer.

“So HOW?!? It was approved lar!!! That means we’ll be incorporating the Singaporean company soon… WOOHOO!!!”

It occured to me at that point in time to say to Ming
“Leh mah don’t go and play this prank on me lar c*bai”

But I was so relieved I couldn’t get myself to scold Ming.

So there you have it everyone.

Our first little victory after all this time.

This was the first time in this business that something once went as planned.

So thank you Singapore.
Thank you for giving Ming and I a chance to prove our worth.

An Argument With My Partner: The First of Many to Come

My partner Ming and I are very different people.

Let me give you an example of how.

Before we started this business we spent a long time doing the necessary research. We spent time writing up a business plan, collecting market data and talking to the right people about it.

Yet, having worked in an investment bank twice in my life, I insisted that we build a financial model to predict the profitability of the business in the future.

So, with the help of Boss Lepton, I worked out a financial model on Excel.
As time passed, I tried perfecting the model by adding more variables to it to derive better predictions until there finally came a time where Ming said

“Listen… F*CK the model ok? They’re all assumptions at the end of the day and few things in our business is going to work out the way we assumed it would be“.

Ming was right.
The saying goes that the less educated you are the better an entrepreneur you would be and it comes from precisely this reason.

The more educated tend to over-analyze and when you over analyze any business, it will never turn out to be profitable enough for you.

Now, without Ming what I would’ve done (or at least try doing) was to build a kick ass state-of-the-art financial model that could predict how much our earnings would change even if the cute girl down the street decided to buy herself a new pair of shoes instead of our product.
What Ming would probably have done without me was… to not build a model.

But together, we had the best of both worlds and left the worst behind.

Our personalities complement each other but of course, they sometimes also clash.

Just yesterday we had our first significant argument.

It all started with a tiny mistake that Ming made in his work.

For me, it wasn’t so much the tiny mistake he made in his work.

I just expected Ming to take responsibility for his mistake and move on because I had always believed that if you never took responsibility for your mistake, you’ll never learn from it. But Ming on the other hand had another good point.

He expected me as a partner to not rat on about this mistake and just take the required measures to move on; something I had better learn to do in future when we make more mistakes and when the mistakes get bigger.

Both were reasonable expectations.

But you can imagine how they ran into each other.

Yet, the weird part about the argument was not the argument itself but rather the way we felt after the argument. Shortly after the argument when things were getting very emotional, Ming had the wisdom to say
Ok look, I need some time to cool down… call me back in an hour“.

In the time between hanging up the phone and calling him back I had a very weird feeling.

One of my girl friends used to tell me that I am always very nice to my friends and people I know in every way that I can be but when people upset me, I can be unreasonably forgiving and write them off my life.

Suddenly, whichever friend that upsets me would become no more than a casual “Hi Bye” friend to me and to be honest, I often did it subconsciously so it never affected me.

The only exception for this is of course… when I have fights with my girlfriend (which I seldom do) Pic info: My baby, the only person in the world I would never shout at

and now.. this…

Ming was the first to mention it when I called him 3 hours later
“F*CK MAN, Do you know you’re like my girlfriend now?

After I argued with you I felt very affected by it”.

and then it hit me that I felt the same.

My mind was affected by the argument so much that I could barely concentrate on my work.

Instead, I kept thinking about what to say to him next and how I should apologize since I knew the way I talked to him before was wrong.

We kissed and made up in the end (not literally of course).

So there you have it everyone.

Meet my new girlfriend. His name is Ming.

He can be very bossy. But he’s worth it.

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 Tuitionhamster.com 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 Tuitionhamster.com 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 Tuitionhamster.com.

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 Tuitionhamster.com 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 Tuitionhamster.com 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 Tuitionhamster.com.
My baby would drive all the way into the city to see me after work just to do nothing but watch me work on Tuitionhamster.com.

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 Tuitionhamster.com (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 Tuitionhamster.com. The website sparked off a trend of online tuition agents which charge commissions to make good money (Tuitionhamster.com 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 Tuitionhamster.com 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 Tuitionhamster.com 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.