Doing a deep thought over the holiday of Wesak Day in Malaysia as my WhatsApp has been quiet. Thinking of the next up of Nexus after enterprising it solely by myself during the difficult years. I founded Nexus solely with a small saving and with “Seed Fundings” from my Maybank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citibank and OCBC’ credit cards. When I first started enterprising, my youngest boy just came out to this world and say “Hi” to this world and added more challenges to me as I need to feed an additional person. Instead of adding more stress to me, this became a motivation factor to push ahead and never look back and my first turning point of business.

I first introduced SEO to Malaysia market and no one else even understands anything about SEO. During that time, essentially I’m going uphill battle against big boys in the traditional directory business, Yellow Pages, Buying Guide (Superpages), Infotoday, Infopages and many other directories. I was making cold calls using those directories as my primary source of the contact point and arranging an appointment with them. My very first client is Encord Sdn Bhd, this client domain expired but because the domain is .com.my and essentially you will have a grace period of 30 days to perform the renewal. The client wasn’t aware of the expired domain nor the service provider “one of the prominent directory provider” was their service provider, so I told the client I can perform the renewal and it just cost him “MYR100” and I went ahead with the renewal. From the MYR100, and I got my appointment to see Mr Tommy Ng of Encord Sdn Bhd as he needs to pay me back MYR100. I explained to him about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and to get his ranking in Google. During that time searching information using Google wasn’t that popular and he signed the first contract with me because of “Trust”. Nexus is being built and grows with our established core values being, Honest, Transparent, Genuine, Generous, Fun, Empathetic, and Exceptional. Nexus being taught and guided to be very “Honest” to our clients and we walked away from many deals when needed us to compromise our code of ethics; we will continue to walk away from those deals.

Honestly, I’ve terminated many employees due to the code of ethics being compromised as I’m not a very forgiving person myself. I also decided to come to a term of separation when the person is just not the right fit for the organization as I always treat work as work, friendship as friendship. I’m such a person always on the move and constantly looking for something forward and I always look for the things that could be improved. I think when you’re wired that way, as much as it can drive you to do things that are good and positive, you will not give yourself a break; always on the move and always be innovative.

Lately, I’m allowing younger team members to become my partners and leaders for my new business ventures in WeShot video production platform, WeRankODN building SEO using Machine Learning (PaaS); you just can’t be the person trying to do everything and fixing everything. Guide and groom them becoming the next successful entrepreneurs and ensuring them never fall into the trap of enterprising. I just feel I can’t be everywhere and I’m blessed to have the such a “Great Team” with me now and never before. I’m learning the lessons slowly and so are they learning from me as well. Some people think that I’m such a demanding person and a perfectionist. To me, it’s complete bullshit. I’m not a perfectionist by any stretch, but I’m definitely pushing every single person to find a way to improve your own self and also the company. I always have a soft spot for myself and those people have been with me for some time will fully understand me well. I’m a person always speak my mind out and I don’t like bullshit around, so I’ll expect you stop bullshitting to me as well.

At one time, I lost the whole team in Malaysia and I personally feel it is best to rebuild the team as it has deviated from our core values. I cannot keep fixing potholes from New Zealand, I need a team, which appreciate our core values and will stand by me. The very first person is “Felix” from “Gen Y”, I got him on board, telling him about the uphill battle and now I have a whole list of great people like Jun, Zoey, Puishan, Deen, Giselle, Simlim, Tan, Daphne, Peiling, Harry, Shichyn, Angela, Kent, Suhaila, Desmond and the rest of them including Interns. Among all of them TWO of the very standout and helped me a whole lot throughout the journey are May and my wife, Bernie. Whenever I promised something, I will definitely honor and deliver as that is part of NEXUS’s core values. It wasn’t easy and now we are finding a new office block to moves as our current office no longer able to fit in additional manpower anymore. Everyone in the office sacrificed a lot and of course, some of them really came into NEXUS with an evil agenda; that is part and parcel of the business and you will see your team will get to understand you more and stand by you. I managed to turn around another great guy “Robin”, he was one of the most negative in the company and I almost tell myself to slap his left and right; he had a big outburst and that was great! A very least, he spoke out and was using a very strong “F Word” and I told myself he is a reflection of myself. Today, Robin and another few great colleagues are my Co-Founders of our new business ventures. I want them to know what they’re doing, know the industry. But if you don’t know how to run a business, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your work, it won’t save you forever BUT start from a right mindset and it’ll save us for a long time.

Enterprising never comes easy, I used to sleep on the sofa at my first startup. I’m glad I did. Everybody today talks about work-life balance and that’s a great thing but I’m glad that at 21, 22 I put in that kind of time because it leapfrogged my career. I remember vividly during a big network disaster experienced by my former company and I was one of the key person solving the problems as it affected thousand of employees across the whole USA. Working throughout the nights and finding time to update my bosses the status in their “voicemail” system and the next day back to the office again. After the disaster, my Director “John” told me “Lui, go ahead and take your calm time and unrecorded leave; all expenses pay for”, you will understand and appreciate the recognition. The experiences working in the USA really steered me to the right direction of enterprising, never give up and always find a way to solve the problem. There’s no substitute for time and I was in twice the amount of meetings as people of my age because I was spending twice the amount of time working on my career, and I got more exposure than a lot of people out there.

Hopefully, I wouldn’t have to work that hard now with all my co-founders and I believe empowering them by giving them right advice will be the way going forward and obviously “TRUST”. During this period of time, I also found a God daughter “Ah Lui Jenice” and she has been helping me day and night with wholehearted but just lack of experience and she slowly getting there. I promised my people and I always walked with talk and fulfilling what I promised them. I experienced before by pouring your whole heart and soul into a company but have it go under, due to “Greed” of the business owner and I always tell myself honor what you promised your staffs and colleagues; don’t do thing otherwise! I said I never want to put myself in that position where I would have to do that to somebody on my team!

NEXUS made a lot of bad decisions early on, so as me making a lot of bad decisions. When I hired my first General Manager, she was like having a great time with the colleagues and causing so much of losses to the company and to the extent I need to make tough decisions. That was the kind of stupid shit that was happening at NEXUS that I didn’t even know. Luckily that was around the time I started putting a new pool of people to help me with the business, so they were finding all the problems and fixing one after another. The company has ZERO borrowing and we don’t have to concern about our salary and survival. Sometimes I do think about it NEXUS could have grown faster or done some things bigger, but I’m glad that I don’t have to put up with those stress. I’m glad I don’t have loans with any Bank, I’m glad I don’t owe people any money now, and I’m glad that I can wake up tomorrow and say, “NEXUS’s going to do this and I don’t have to go through the board for approval,”.

NEXUS supposed to belong to someone else if they kept their promise of my 15% stake as I didn’t want to build a business. I was trying to do something that I love to do and find a company to let me do it for them; I didn’t want to start this business. Well, sometimes you need to be thankful of that happened and now you built the brand is widely being recognized as being the most ethical digital company in Malaysia and more so doing great work especially in SEO.

Well, when I started NEXUS the vision is always doing the thing right for our clients, building websites for some people is, “It’s my work and I want to make some money from there,”. Within my team, they came across many services providers in the market misleading the clients and even some to the extend telling clients that they have their own VPN … blah blah blah and they also come across service providers telling clients to win the deal … “Well, it looks pretty but it doesn’t rank in Google.” and I ask myself … is that how SEO should be interpreted? To me, at NEXUS you really need to build a site that will drive “audiences over algorithms” and not the other way round. It’s like we will need to take the time to just humanize the people behind the searches, and the people becomes the audience of your site. Whenever we do SEO at NEXUS, we always humanize the SERP, we need to understand the human behavior better than understanding Google Algorithm. If we spend more time to understand marketing and people behavior, rather just purely chasing after Google Algorithm, clients will see success with NEXUS.

Comments

  1. Francis, nice story to read, and like many successful entrepreneurs, there are many challenges along the way, but with your strong personality, your hard work and the spirit of ‘always deliver the best’ to your clients, I think it is all paid off and became a role model to many of us – who is also still struggle and working hard in our startup journey :D. So glad that you have make it so far, and congratulation on your new startup. You should really share more and inspire more young peoples in the future as your next goal in your life :D. Cheers, SL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *