Kyaw Lin Oo is a Myanmar entrepreneur, running own business in Singapore. In July, we met once in Yangon. But the interview is done via online. You many found many things to learn from his answers. Before reading about his interview, you should first learn about www.eventnook.com. Even I thought the website is built by a foreign company. Actually it is the product of a pure Myanmar. I am very proud of it. The website is serving for many global companies. Now enjoy reading interview!
1. Your profile (born, education, job)
I grew up in Myanmar. I graduated with Electronics major from Yangon Technological University (YTU) in 2002. I’m a software engineer turned entrepreneur. I started a company called EventNook, based in Singapore, which provides an online cloud based event management software platform for event organizers. You can use EventNook to set up or publish an online event website, manage event registration or attendance, sell event tickets online with credit card payment, etc. You can easily set it up by yourself in less than 10 minutes and it’s as easy as using a website like Facebook.
2. Tell us story of how you founded eventnook.com?
EventNook was launched in January 2013 with an aim to help events in Asia with a mission to make Organizing Events Easy and Simple for anyone!
When I started my own software company in 2010, I was attending a lot of conferences, business networking and seminars almost every week and I realized most of the events I was attending did not have a simple and easy way to accept online registration and collect payments. For example, there is a Productivity business association in Singapore and their events were handled the event registration in a very old manual way. You got to print out the paper form to fill up the registration details and send it back via Fax or Email. It will take an hour just for filling the registration form for a delegate. What an irony! It’s very unproductive and not easy for delegates who just simply want to register and attend the event. The registration should be less than 2 minutes with a simple online form which you can be registered via your mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer. It’s also very time consuming and not efficient for organizer to manage the event manually. Some of the event organizers tried to build their own event registration system and it’s not user friendly and very costly for them. The software was also unreliable as their vendor only built the system but never enhance the system or maintain well.
So, I took an online event registration project from one of the large conference organizers in Singapore and helped out their regional conferences with the event registration software I developed. Based on experience and understanding the industry I gained, we decided to start the eventnook business to help anyone who organizes events and make the event registration and ticketing easy and simple!
We launched EventNook in Jan 2013 with a first few initial customers. Since launched, we have helped over 2000 events from 20 people parenting workshop to Global Business Leader Summit conference and one of the largest Yacht Show in Asia.
3. What is the potential total market size for your product today? and what is its growth rate?
I don’t have the exact figure for total market size for our business but I can tell roughly about the industry. In North America alone, MICE industry alone is over 100 billion dollars annual turn-over with 10% annual growth. And there is also a huge market for events such as Music Show, Performances, Sport, Consumer Shows, etc. Definitely, it’s a huge market and events play the fundamental part of driving economy, businesses, social causes and getting people together!
There are also growing demand for online technology solutions as the internet population is becoming so huge and it’s almost 100% penetration in developed countries. Now, people bring this connected device everywhere and they even have more than one device. They are always connected to internet from mobile, tablet and laptop in parallel. The cloud based software is rapidly growing market.
Right now, we are focusing on Singapore market and plan to expand the business to other countries in Asia. However, we have some event organizers from UK, US, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia using our platform.
4. What potential market share can you achieve?
We have an opportunity to become the market leader in Singapore. We are also looking into to expand our business to other countries in Asia.
5. Why will people buy your product? (and not something else?)
Fast, Easy and Cost Effective. We remove all the hassles to set up an online event ticketing website and make it super easy for anyone to use it. You don’t need a handbook or manual to be able to use EventNook. If you want to launch an event, you can launch it immediately!
6. What’s is your competitive advantage and why can’t it be copied? (“What are the barriers to entry”)
We can’t prevent someone coping the idea or product. Making a business successful is more than an idea or product. Product is just only one side of the equation.
I would give an example of McDonald business. Making a Mc burger is not difficult. May be it would take you a couple days to learn how to make a Burger. You can even make tastier burger at home. But building a successful business like McDonald is super difficult. It’s a lot more than making a burger. After you started a business, you would realize that a product is just a part of the equation for making your business success.
7. Why do you think your team is the best team to deliver your business plan / forecasts?
I think we have the right team and spirit to move forward.
8. What risks are you facing?
There are many risks factors. The lifespan of technology business is also low and we got to move fast!
If you want to be a growing startup, you got to keep investing back for innovation and expansion and take more risks. The growth doesn’t come FREE.
9. What do you see Myanmar market?
I think the current opportunity is a first mover advantage as we have pretty much nothing! You just bring the existing business model which already works in other countries and make it easier for local market. But I think the companies also need to be very patient as things can’t be as fast as what you think as the ecosystem is not there yet for infrastructure and human resources.
10. When will you enter Myanmar market?
We already have some events in Myanmar using eventnook. We will be more than happy to help out events happening there.
11. Who do you sell to and how to you get customers?
Our customers are the event organizers who organizes events such as conferences, tradeshows, exhibitions, seminars, music, sport events, corporate events, festival, social events, etc.
12. Why will customers stay or do repeat business with you?
Customer Satisfaction is the key thing to retain the customers. We have a pretty good high scores from our customer for reliability, user-friendly software and friendly customer service!
13. Have you considered any alliance / partnership? If you already had, how did you do it?
Always! If there is synergy, we always look for a way to work together!
14. What are your cashflow projections? when will you breakeven? How much investments will you need?
I’m afraid I can’t answer this for now.
15. Your suggestions to Myanmar entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy job but it’s definitely doable with determination. Our people have talents and we just need to get some opportunities for more exposure with international.
I believe the internet will open up great opportunities for Myanmar and we will have the level playing opportunities with other countries for seeking skills and knowledge.
Software Service is borderless and it’s not that far from putting the software product made in Myanmar to the Global map. It’s quite possible to build a successful software business out of Myanmar for local and international market.
16. What inspired you to start own business?
I was really inspired by seeing how internet can change our life and how a little programmer can make a bigger impact to the world. I am a programmer and I wanted to give a try if I could make more impact with the skills I have and create a work place where people come and love to work together.
17. What is your goal and ambition?
For now, I’m helping people to connect via events by making events easier! 🙂
I will be contributing on projects which are solving the important problems and helping other entrepreneurs wherever I can.