Time ripe for next-gen technopreneurs

Illustration: BT/Ray de Jesus

Saturday, October 22, 2011

THE future looks promising for the next generation of technology players.

Just ask Simon Soo, director of Mint, and Keeran Janin, founder of MeSixty, both panelists at yesterday's first social media conference held at the Radisson Hotel.

Organised by the Asia Inc Forum, the forum was the first conference which brought together close to 200 participants made up of social media users.

In their session, "From Idea to Enterprise: What does it take?", Janin and Soo spoke of their experience in being technopreneurs and the movement of social media in Brunei.

Both agreed that Brunei's environment helps to create the "perfect test bed", mainly due to the standard of living in Brunei. "This is a country where you can take up a challenge, fail and get backup without worrying that losing your salary will mean that you have no food to eat at night," said Soo.

He added that with backing from the government, Brunei has a "very niche advantage" for developing technopreneurs and generating ideas that could push good products out of the country.

With a growing focus on the IT industry, both technopreneurs were asked if the market right now has become "too saturated". "Wherever you are in history, go back 200 years, in each industry they were inventing light bulb for example, it was overly saturated," Janin said. "They were pushing the edge of what they could do at the moment, and what that does is that it pushes us to think of new things and people can always think of new things," he said.

He added that in the case of technology, it is moving at a much faster pace, which is a "good thing".

Soo added that it isn't necessary for budding technopreneurs to make their products a global product. "Social media opens up the whole world to be connected to each other but in every business, there is never a product to sell to everyone and it is always up to us," he said, adding that it is easier for businesses to sell once they have prioritised their product to meet a certain market.

"Yes, of course you can sell to the whole world, and that would be perfect, but to get things started you don't need to have that product for the whole world, and it could just be a small thing that could take off," he said.

While the future does look bright for the technology industry, both agreed that in terms of intellectual property protection, the Asean region is "not there yet".

"We have protection laws in place and you can protect your intellectual property legally, but there is a lot less precedence going into litigation over IP," said Janin.

He said that in countries like the United States, competitors would sue each other and eventually come to an agreement, whereas in Asia, there is rarely a case when two competitors would sue. "It will get to that point eventually, but it is definitely a new concept because they don't actually follow these laws in the Asean region," he said.

Soo said that with the younger generation becoming more familiar with technology, they will be able to prepare themselves for a niche or product without being saturated. He added that there is always a challenge for people with "entrepreneurship in their hearts" to challenge and to break the rules and move onto new areas, however with technology in place it would be easier.

Janin added that in Brunei there are a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs to start, especially for the generation now. "It wasn't that our generation had it very hard either, but I think that is a continuing development, but as things get better, you've got more people taking part," he said.

Janin added that with more people taking part, it would also mean more competition and different challenges. "If you want to start, and you have that dream, there's really not much standing in your way except yourself," he said.

Workshop participants included Azhani Daniel of emmagoodegg.com, Lim Ming Soon, general manager of TelBru's product development, Rano Iskandar of ranoadidas.com, Delwin Keasberry of projekbrunei.com, Dinoza Mahruf of Breeze Magazine from Sabah, Dato Paduka Timothy Ong, chairman of Asia Inc Forum, Hj Mohd Rozan Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yunos of bruneiresources.com and Tom Bonius, social media coordinator of Rapidea Solutions from Sabah.The Brunei Times