Due to the risks involved in setting up a business, many young people choose to abandon their dreams of making it big and instead opt for the safe haven of employment. It has been said that 90% of the start-ups go bust after a few years –falling into the so called Valley of Death! This usually happens in the transition from an idea to the development of a new product or service.
The good news is that the internet or the cyberworld can now make your ventures much less risky and thereby increase your chance of making it a winning story rather than a sorrowful one!
First of all, the internet is a free platform that helps you to gain access to both local and international potential customers instantly. What is more interesting is when you develop your product or service, you can engage your online community to provide ideas and test your product and subsequently improve on it. You can then produce in small quantity and sell it online based on demand. There are now available in Malaysia the 3-D printing service providers who cater for small quantity and personalized production. Finally, you can engage your customers online in such a way that your customers become your marketers, so again you save your money from employing a team of marketing executives running all over the place for you and worry whether there will be any sales at all.
This scenario is very different from yesteryears’ centralized mass production where much money and effort were invested in setting up a factory and then having to sweat through all the processes of production and marketing before seeing any return at the end of the tunnel. Very often, one failure is enough to kill one’s spirit to continue in the entrepreneurial pursuit!
This is the latest industrial revolution – the internet opens a borderless market for you at minimal cost, in addition to a sharing economy platform where you can share your ideas and business with others, in return for their contribution to the growth of your business.
We now call these entrepreneurs cyberpreneurs and young innovators have an important role to play in this kind of venture. We have already seen some successful cyberpreneurs such as ‘Uber’ and ‘Airbnb’. The following is an interesting triumph story – how a grandson revamped his grandfather’s invention into a successful business using this new concept of sharing on digital platform.
Mr. Hauser was a Swiss engineer who immigrated to the US in 1920s. He was passionate about gardening and figured out a way to design a new type of automatic sprinkler that would make watering lawn easier and better.
He went through the usual process of generating the idea and then created a prototype by tinkering in his garage, without having access to the abundance of tools and supplies we have today. He subsequently filed for a patent and came to the biggest challenge most entrepreneurs face, that is, production and bringing his product to the market. Should he set up a company and factory to manufacture and sell his products?
Fearful of the risk, Mr Hauser licensed his invention to an existing manufacturer: Moody for a royalty. The product sold well and naturally, it was Moody who eventually made the big buck, not Mr Hauser.
Fifty years later, Mr Hauser’s grandson Mr Chris Anderson decided to improve his grandfather’s invention and develop the business, but using a different approach.
Through the internet, Mr Anderson managed to gather a group of sprinkler enthusiasts to exchange ideas – someone created an app to control the sprinkler; another set up a site with the manuals and created customized control panels; someone else suggested connecting the sprinkler to online weather forecast, so that the sprinkler will know if it’s going to rain the next day.
Meanwhile, he used a control system for the sprinkler which was implemented through Arduino, an open hardware kit which was super cheap, as it was open source and there were no royalties. On top of that, Arduino was used by a vast community of geeks around the world, who had answers and solutions for the most and least diffused technical problems – It turned out that a professor at the University of Massachusetts was able to help him to figure out a way to programme Arduino to command a hydraulic valve!
Then Anderson created an open source license and used the service of an industrial 3D printing service provider to produce based on his needs and orders and sold the products online and shipped through logistic service providers.
What was fascinating was his price of US$155 was way less than that of the traditionally manufactured competitors’. This was because R&D was free and there were no fixed costs!
In addition, while his grandfather had to build his invention and business with his naked hands and basically alone, Mr Anderson had many people with technologies that facilitated his entire process from the beginning and they also became his first customer base.
So, do you have a great idea and hope to strike it big? What are you waiting for? Start by engaging like-minded people online and begin the journey today! Below are some technologies and tools that can help you at various stages of your journey as a Cyberpreneur!
Ms Wee Hui Bieh, AFMSA
Youth Advisor & Media Liaison
International Council of SME & Entrepreneurship (ICSMEE), Malaysia, an affiliate of ICSB
Based on Presentation at 4th Asian SME Conference, September 2016, Jakarta by:
Professor Luca Iandoli
International Council for Small Business (ICSB)
About International Council for Small Business (ICSB) &
International Council of SME & Entrepreneurship (ICSMEE), Malaysia
Founded in 1955, the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) was the first international membership organization to promote the growth and development of small businesses worldwide. With chapters and affiliates in more than 80 countries, ICSB is currently based at George Washington University in Washington D.C, and its mission is to advance entrepreneurship and the development of SMEs worldwide.
The organization brings together educators, researchers, policy makers and practitioners of small businesses from around the world to share knowledge and expertise in their respective fields, enabling members from around the world to gain access to the best minds in business, education and government. Over the last 50 years, the ability to develop these personal and professional contacts in various countries and across cultures has given ICSB members an advantage in the global market.
International Council for SME & Entrepreneurship (ICSMEE) Malaysia, established in 2013, is ICSB affiliate in Malaysia. Although a young association, ICSMEE has experienced robust growth and currently has a branch in Penang. ICSMEE is headed by Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Mamat, a former Secretary-General of Ministry of International Trade and Industry and Dr Zakaria Taib, an intellect and senior corporate figure.
This post is also available in: 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified))