2012 is the period smartphone users in Myanmar are increasing a lot. In 2012, there were about more than 849,000 mobile internet users, according to Ministry of Information’s declaration. Most of those user volume is existing in Yangon. Those increased user searched for mobile applications which will give them fun and excitement. Beside Facebook and games application, they wanted to test some Myanmar app. At that time, less than 50 mobile app came out in the market, which includes news app, Myanmar language and font apps, and entertainment apps. A small entertainment app which is called m-tarot came out in mid 2012. No one knows who is developer. But many users, not only from Yangon, but also from other regions of Myanmar, share the mobile apps a lot for free. Tarot is what many people in Myanmar play for fun and for decision making in their life. But M-Tarot aimed just for fun. People liked it and they play everyday in their Android smartphone. It’s like playing card on phone. Developer, Zaw Min Tin, 27, added some content. He is today founder of Pixellion, a UI/UX design studio startup in Myanmar.
Read feature article about him at MyanmarTimes
After getting success in free version of M-Tarot app, he later determined to sell it by making premium version of the app. He sold it 2000 Kyat per app. Just within four days, he got 4000 USD revenue. After selling for six months, he got over 10,000 USD. About 5000 mobile users subscribed the premium version, mean while there are 10 times of the premium users are free app users and cracked version users were more than 5000. His friends and mobile app developers in Myanmar encouraged him to make more app and build a company for mobile app development. However he is now the founder of the only one UI/UX design studio in Myanmar. Another interesting fact is he is self-funded startup founder who denied investments from local and international companies. As we are friend since 2014, I realised that he found his passion in graphic design making. He is one of the entrepreneurs I respect in Myanmar. From his self-taught life, he stepped in IT careers and worked a lot. And then he chose his passion. He is a college drop-out who don’t want to attend university after finishing 11 grade in Myanmar education system. He worked as networking engineer, video editor, web developer, and then finally a graphic designer. His skill also exist at php coding. He specialised in front end developing the most and freelanced for website developing in 2012.
His personal website – www.zawmintin.com
He started his company in 2013 by himself alone. In 2014, he registered the company under government regulation and now the company is having more than 17 employees. Everyone knows that he saved money which he got from M-Tarot app selling. 10,000 USD is not a big money, but still an enough money to rent a space and hire some people. In 2013, He entered online community, graphic design selling platforms and freelances platforms such as Graphic River, Creative Market, ENVATO studio and 99 Design. After officially launching his company, the company started getting local clients. His focus market is Myanmar and regional countries in South East Asia. He shared me his plan of expanding his business by opening new office in Bangkok, Thailand in next one or two years. Why he is not thinking expand first in other regions of Myanmar is tech business is not growing yet in other regions of the country. Therefore he prefer choosing Thailand where lots of Thai and international entrepreneurs are working.
“I can say that our company is focusing on UI/UX and the only one pure UI/UX design maker in Myanmar”. I agree with him because there are few companies which do UI/UX however they are making own mobile apps and other mobile apps, web development business. In Myanmar, there is an issue which is some companies are doing everything. For example, a company start web development business mean while other department of the company is making e-commerce business. Also that company may have news website and magazine. In such case, no other companies who like to create e-commerce website will come to that company for web development. Conflict of brand and conflict of type of business is one of the issue. Zaw Min Tin clearly saw it and only focused on UI/UX, branding and design for social media pages of companies. Therefore other companies who are making mobile apps dare to work with his company, Pixellion. 2014, the startup period of company is the period many Myanmar entrepreneurs are coming in Myanmar to start mobile app, web development and other software business. It was the right time for him to start because he got lots of clients who believe how UI/UX play main role in a mobile app.
The company got offer from lots of investor for fund raising. He denied because they were asking for big part of the equity as he told. However he is willing to talk with every investors who can invest and add more value to the company. Service business is not needing money a lot actually. It just needs good human resources, good internet and an office space. It may be also the reason why he can self-funded himself. He mentioned that he is expanding the company by getting bigger room in Yangon. Currently, the clients volume and his company capability is directly proportioning. His idea is to make the company which has over 400 employees, which is a corporate size. However he mentioned that he will still keep the spirit and culture of the startup environment. Everybody got amazed by knowing his expected employee volume. He told me he is planning to make a platform where designer sell design images and business and individuals buy. It will be an e-commerce platform. I have no wonder for local startups are having big ambition. But His opinion for country develop is a little different from others. While others are saying growing more startups is the solution for the country to develop, he said growing a business which can give big volume of opportunities is the solution. In the point, I agree with him that the bigger the company, the bigger opportunity the company can provide.
He now has about 17 employee. Excluding an office manager, and an advisor and an accountant, all are designer who are passionate about creating graphic design and UI/UX. Product centric concept is still surviving in Myanmar. Many developers are believing they can also do front end design and development. Many business are believing buying a WordPress theme is the solution for the company. It may be true. But if you really look to the consumer centric concept, it will be wrong. Local people’s behaviour and culture is quiet different from other countries. User interface and experience should be tuned accordingly. Only those who have experience on global market know the importance of UI/UX. May be it’s the challenge for Zaw Min Tin, but he is very optimistic on the market. 30 percent of his clients are foreign companies. His design price is less half cheaper than an international design houses are charging. But his design is on the level of international that every local startup recommend.
Service business is easy to survive. He is putting in all the revenue back to the company and still not thinking about taking for his personal life. He and his employee take the salary on which they can survive. The rest benefit goes in the the company’s expanding plan. He is going to have a bigger room to have more than 30 employee in few months. Right now, he is not doing any marketing because words of mouth is the key of his company success. However to expand beyond his expectation, he is now discussing with me and other marketing experts for his marketing plan. He said that he would focus on social media for marketing the company.
His friend Ye Myat Min, founder of Nex, is also the one who got him clients for UI/UX and other design project in starting up period. Today he have lots of friends who are staring business in technology industry. Startup community in Myanmar is not small but not big too. I know him, he knows me and we all know many other startups in Myanmar. The number of product making startups are more than the service startups in Myanmar. I would say, however, there are only less than 100 tech startup business in Myanmar. He don’t see the government’s law and policy is challenge for him because he believe that he can find the solution. Many people in Myanmar still think that money is the important need to build a startup. He tell everyone who asked him about starting a business that money is less important than passion. “I follow my passion. Passion bring you the the gaol you wanted to reach. There is a will, there is a way. I founded my way. I usually suggest them to find where their passion exist. I was successful in mobile app market, but I found my passion in design creation. So here I’m right now”.