- An online panel discussion moderated by Mr. Lionel Chia, Consultant of BlackStorm Consulting was conducted in Chinese about some entrepreneurs’ experience in ecosystem building, particularly in verticals such as IoT SaaS, Dental, Manufacturing and Event Tech
- Panelists included Mr. Sonic Wong, Co-Founder of FOX-TECH, Mr. Thomas Tsao, Chief Executive Officer of CEREC Asia, Mr. Frank Chen, Sales Director of Mighty Net and Mr. YC Chia, Founder of Ticket2U
- This webinar marked the completion of Virtual Business Launchpad programme by BlackStorm Consulting
May 29, 2020: As time passes and the business environment evolves to become more competitive, many leaders realise that fighting the battle alone is becoming increasingly challenging. Many organisations have placed value on collaboration to bring better services to clients. In this event, the panelists discussed what it takes for a company to build an extensive ecosystem, to increase profits and break through your own barriers.
Our panelists include Mr. Sonic Wang, Co-Founder of FOX-TECH that specialises in efficient IoT solution for perishable goods, Mr. Thomas Tsao, Founder of CEREC Asia, a the largest Dental training centre group in Asia, Mr. Frank Chen, Sales Director of Mighty Net, which focuses on hardware innovation, and last but not least, Mr. YC Chia, Founder of Ticket2U, an Event Tech company. They are also proud Stormers of BlackStorm Consulting’s Virtual Business Launchpad Batch One programme.
Experience in Ecosystem Building
When asked about their current status of building an ecosystem, all speakers shared very interesting and invaluable insights.
For Ticket2U, it was rather smooth sailing as they managed to tap on a blue ocean market. YC shared that when Ticket2U first started in Malaysia, QR codes and facial recognition were still uncommon, but as they continued to build the ecosystem, they developed their own application, introduced their own kiosks and expanded their operation capacity to registering a few hundred guests to tens of thousands of guests. The ecosystem which they have established is fairly mature as they have not disappointed their clients before, and they have achieved their initial goal when they first started out.
As for the Dental industry and in the space of CEREC Asia, ecosystem is rather flexible from the start and reactive to the feedback of customers. The reason quoted by Thomas was CEREC Asia was a training centre of existing dental technology that was not widely adopted in the Asia market. Moreover, dentists, who are the customers need to constantly improve their clinical skills, which explained that the consistent demand of their service. He believes that one cannot plan out the whole vision for the Dental ecosystem at the start, rather it should always be planned step-by-step, adapted and overcome along the way when one met the needs of each stakeholder.
On the definition of an ecosystem, Sonic raised a very interesting metaphor.
Sonic illustrated building an ecosystem with a village of limited resources, where you may be able to harvest fruits or rear chickens on your own, but to hunt a wild boar, you may need three people or more to do so.
This metaphor extended to his start-up, which may be confident in performing steps 0 to 1 by themselves, but would need external assistance or expert opinion to grow from steps 2 to 100, which in this case, is Mighty Net’s assistance.
In response, Frank from Mighty Net agreed that no one company can function all on its own, and the success of an ecosystem is measured by the success of its clients.
Challenges in Building an Ecosystem
It is inevitable that all businesses will face challenges when building an ecosystem as there are always many moving parts. When asked about the challenges of establishing an ecosystem, Frank noted that one of them is identifying and matching the scale of the companies, which they would like to collaborate with, subsequently convincing them that it was a good collaboration. It is also for companies to visualise the benefits of the collaboration, as it would only materialise after some time.
Ultimately, passion is needed to overcome such obstacles and Sonic also quipped that a reliable partner is very important for a solid ecosystem.
On the biggest current challenge, Thomas shared that because of COVID-19, he was unable to supply dental materials to global clients, which has disrupted his businesses heavily.
However, he asserted that investing in an ecosystem is absolutely necessary as times are different from before, and the economy is ever-changing, so a mutually beneficial relationship with partners can help spread out risk and create more value. It is also impossible to create an ecosystem by yourself, so you should look for suitable partners and work on it together.
YC shared that COVID-19 has disrupted more than a thousand events which has compelled Ticket2U to temporarily adapt to the situation by becoming one of the largest donation platforms in Malaysia, while working with The Malaysia Zoo and other beneficiaries. It should also be noted that because Ticket2U is a credible brand, it was easy for them to make this transition into a donation platform.
On a brighter note, when asked about the deciding factors of success of an ecosystem, Sonic expressed that sustaining the core and identity of individual companies is very important, while Thomas agreed and added on that this can aid in sparking ideas off each other when brainstorming. It might be tough to set it up initially, but once you overcome it, you would be able to reap great benefits.
Building a Successful Ecosystem
“No one would dare to say that it is not important,” Frank expresses his views on collaboration in today’s context.
He shared that collaboration has actually existed all along, but the only thing that has changed is how it is perceived. He has hoped to establish a more direct collaboration with partners, which could provide mutual benefits. This would not be otherwise produced without collaboration.
Sonic added that partnership can be compared to being in a relationship, as you must clearly understand and consider what your partner wants or needs, they may wish to improve publicity or branding, and not merely profits.
On recovery of the economy and company from COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas asserted that there is always change facing newly established companies, and elaborate plans will never be able to catch up to advancements, so founders must have the mental preparation for this.
Considered as a silver lining, he suggested that many important or busy figures are more available for arrangements of a meeting as nobody can travel out of their houses, making more fruitful discussions possible.
Additionally, YC shared that Ticket2U has taken this time to improve its facial recognition technologies and added bus ticket to one of its services. This downtime has actually accelerated their progress in improving their organisation.
Building an Ecosystem as a Startup – Yes or No
YC’s advice for companies who are still in its initial stages to focus more on what the market needs, instead of focusing too much on establishing an ecosystem.
When you have an idea, and you want to execute it, you must firstly look at the market fit, says Sonic. Something similar in Taiwan would be incubation, which would inform you of the feasibility of your idea. Subsequently, using the same method, you should start searching for resources, solutions, partners, and connections to improve the visibility of your brand in the market. This would help you gradually build up an ecosystem.
The difference between establishing an ecosystem thirty years ago is drastically different from the present, as the business environment is not the same anymore. With more choices, the business scene is more competitive, and a lot more focus is put on marketing, making the functions of an ecosystem more complex and elaborate, explained Frank.
This panel discussion was an eye-opening experience as experts of different industries shared their opinion on establishing an ecosystem, its definition and importance, as well as how to make it succeed. BlackStorm Consulting is very proud of the amazing sharing by all Stormers.
Watch the full playlist of the panel discussion (in Chinese) here: https://youtu.be/aOOsxrBtFXI
About BlackStorm Consulting
BlackStorm Consulting (http://blackstormco.asia/) is a Singapore-based boutique growth consultancy firm that specialises in corporate strategy, profit management and investment management. We scale businesses in Southeast Asia. Our clients and connections are internationally present and range from small and medium sized businesses, MNCs, to government agencies.
FOX-TECH (http://www.fox-tech.co/) enables farming, logistics, cold chain, and manufacturing owners to monitor, track, and improve their operation by our data analytics IoT Platform. FOX- TECH combines secure, low power consumption, efficient data structure, and high sensor accuracy devices with its cutting-edge platform to simplify IoT for everyone. FOX-TECH is empowering business owners to have the required temperature and humidity changes alerts when it’s needed, while also providing a global coverage for monitoring.
About CEREC Asia
CEREC Asia (https://www.cerecsasia.com/) is a certified CEREC CAD/CAM training institute founded in 2016. It is an authorised independent training centre for official Dentsply Sirona training certifications. Other than on-site training, CEREC Asia also provides digital courses. The group has developed the first product called EasyPrep, which has been distributed by dealers locally and is in talk to distribute to countries like China, Malaysia and Thailand.
TOOTH FAERIE (https://www.facebook.com/TOOTHFAERIE.Asia/) is a crowdfunding project under CEREC Asia. TOOTH FAERIE is a dental-specific crowdfunding platform.
About Mighty Net
With over 30-years experience and facilities both in Taiwan and China, our professional team offers thorough services from product development, design verification, pilot run, mass production, to global logistics. Mighty Net (https://www.might.com.tw/) delivers one-stop service with quality and confidence.
Ticket2U (https://www.ticket2u.com.my/) is an online ticketing and event management platform that helps you buy and sell, manage and check-in tickets for your event at ease.
Ticket2U owned ticket2u.com, ticket2u.com.sg, ticket2u.com.my, ticket2u.co.id, cloudhax.com and hax.com.my. Our operations covered Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.