As some of you may know, I operate a paperless home office. Paperless here doesn’t mean “no paper” but less paper. I do not retain physical copies of my files and I scan all my hard copy documents before disposing them or returning them to clients. This saved me a lot of office space.
Paperless law firm is not a new concept. I’ve know many large international to local small firms doing that. In fact, I was trying to help the KL Bar to implement a paperless system.
I still print and photocopy documents. I currently use a worn out second hand photocopy machine, an old printer and a Samsung Monochrome Laser Multifunction Printer (SCX-3405).
The second hand photocopy machine is nothing to shout about. I rented it for RM90 a month. It breaks down once in a while but it will magically heal by itself after a few hours. But there had been times where the machine broke down while I was in a hurry. Thank god for back up printers.
The Samsung printer on the other hand is great. It’s a 4-in-1 multifunction device. I use it for personal and office use.
Surface fit for anything A4 size and below
Quick installation guide. Very, very easy. It’s plug and play!
It can print, copy, scan and fax. I normally use it to scan incoming documents (for archiving purposes). There’s a feeder on top of the printer which allows me to copy numerous documents at one go.
One great function about this printer is that it has wireless printing from mobile devices.
Couple of months ago, my firm had a little disaster.
My roof leaked couple of weeks ago after heavy rain. Many of my documents were damaged by water. Documents printed by the old printer were badly damaged. The ink faded! However, documents printed by my Samsung printer was okay as the ink did not fade.
Other than that, the water flooded my room and consequently my laminated floor was damaged. The power tripped causing a few electronics to short circuit. My Samsung printer was also exposed to the incoming water. Fortunately, it is still working after having a “bath”.
For more information on the Samsung printer, please visit Samsung’s page.
Sundays is owned by the Ms Read family who owns Ms Read (well known plus size clothes boutique), Plan B and Ben’s Independent Grocer. Helen Read’s daughter bought their products and was interested in putting their products at Sundays. It’s a big breakthrough for my wife and Jessica as their little startup is just a few months old. Sales have picked up quite a bit. The ladies worked 24/7 to get their products out!
This handcraft business is quite interesting to me. It’s a tedious job. My wife and Jessica spent a lot of their them putting things together. I help them out sometimes by doing no-brainer jobs like gluing things together. I usually give up within an hour. I could be spending an hour making products worth RM100 (just a rough estimate). However, my time cost for my legal services is about RM700 an hour. Thus, the work didn’t really interest me.
Of course, I have no control over ThinkPartyThoughts’ business but it doesn’t stop me from wondering how can one scale this business to a multi million dollar business. My wife has a book that says handicraft business doesn’t make millions but I beg to differ. So long there is a demand, millions can be made.
I think the most effective way to do so is to outsource the production of the handicraft. It could be to housewives or even our local kampung folks. We could pay them for each piece that they product (e.g 1 – 5 cents per piece). With an endless (rather substantially) supply of ready to sell products, one can have increase their distribution chain.
It goes without saying that distribution chain must be wide. Other than local retailers, I think focus should be given to the foreign purchasers who want to purchase high quality handicraft at a lower price. ThinkPartyThoughts products are in essence “western” products thus it appeals to Westerners too.
Other than that, ThinkPartyThoughts can pivot by offering to their distribution network by selling products of other aspiring handicraft entrepreneurs. The former can charge a commission for each product sold.
Well, easier said than done. Nevertheless, I think following this method the business can flourish faster and easier.
Remember the problem that I had with my heel? I blogged that I went to a Chinese tit tar to get it fixed.
It did work for a while but the problem persisted. Few months ago, I decided to go for western treatment and Anna-Rina recommended Optimum Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Centre to me.
The owner, Dr. Lee, took only few seconds to diagnose my problem. My painful heel was due to flat foot! He immediately recommended me to wear shoes inserts with arch support. I also changed my Crocs slippers to Birkenstock slippers which have arch support.
I’m glad to report that the problem is gone! I also got Dr Lee to sort out a muscle tear on my shoulder. He got it fixed within a few sessions. But it did costs me a bomb to fix my muscle tear – first session was RM150 whereas the remaining sessions cost me RM100.
M-1-12 Plaza Damas (Hartamas Shopping Centre),
50480 Kuala Lumpur
This year’s Chinese New Year is rather quiet as compared to last year’s celebration. Last year, my friends from Australia were back hence we had activities almost every night. But this year, the night activities were cut down tremendously. We had late night sessions for the first few days but eventually died down.
Before the fireworks started to go off, my Eastside hengtais came to my house to play card games. I must say that my luck is pretty good this year. While playing BlackJack, I had 21 points three times consecutively.
As usual, my family had a low key reunion dinner. We had our reunion dinner at Padi House, Seri Petaling. On the next day, we had dinner at Secret Recipe.
My sisters Anna and Jenny organised a steamboat dinner at Anna’s place. My niece, nephews and grand nephew were there to join us too.
We had a day trip to Mentakab on the second day as my parents in laws were there to visit other relatives. The traffic to Mentakab was okay but it was extremely jam the next day.
Not my tyre shop!
On the same day, we made a trip to Sg. Pelek, Sepang. It’s a small town located near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. One of my wife’s relatives had an open house and I must say it was a culture shock for me. This relative took over a park, erected a tent and hired performers to sing and dance on stage!
Wife’s aunty brought Rocky a long for the trip
On the 3rd day of Chinese New Year, my wife and I had a little open house and invited my friends from the West side (we refer friends who live in PJ as Westside while those who live in Old Klang Road, East side). We served them snacks and coffee. We ended the evening with card games.
Sui Lin (in cheongsam) was back from Sydney for Chinese New Year
Who can forget about our Prime Minister’s controversial angpow?
This Chinese New Year also marked the death of Timothy Tan’s father. He was not well and subsequently succumbed to his illness. My hengtais and I used to see him every Christmas as we would go to his place for Christmas dinner.
Speaking about tradition, I made sure that I attend En Peng’s Pai Tin Kong session at his house on the 8th day of Chinese New Year. I’ve been attending it since high school and I thought I shouldn’t miss it at all. But the attendance by the gang was rather poor. Only me, my wife, WK and Kiang could make it. Nevertheless, I am glad that I attended it.
Long red firecracker for the year of the snake
Although it was a quiet Chinese New Year, it was an enjoyable one. I hope the year of the Snake will bring joy, happiness and wealth to everyone. HUAT AH!
For my wife’s 31st birthday, I brought her to Dining in the Dark KL. In Dining in the Dark, you will get to dine in total darkness. You can’t even see your food or utensils!
Dining in the Dark KL is operated by Werner’s and it is located on top of Werner’s at Changkat Bukit Bintang (parking is terribly expensive but try Radius Hotel). The interesting bit is that the manager and waiters of Dining in the Dark KL are blind! Our waiter, Darius, guided us to our table in total darkness. We had to hold on to him.
Once we are seated, we were served with a three course meal which remained a secret after the whole session. A session last about 2 hours. You can eat with your hands or utensils. I hate eating with my bare hands hence I ate using my utensils all the time. It’s tough eating with your utensils in total darkness!
My eyes were quite uncomfortable throughout the session. I guess I’m not used to total darkness.
I must say that the food is not bad. I wasn’t expecting it to be tasty. Sorry, no pictures of the food as we were required to surrender our phones before going into the dark room!
But here’s the menu. You won’t know what you will be eating until the end of the session. If there was a cockroach on top of your food, you wouldn’t know too :D
Also, the menu changes from time to time. You can tell them to cut out certain stuff if you have allergies or certain preferences. You are also required to come on designated time. They don’t want people walking in and out throughout the session.
Lastly, one of the best parts of this experience is to be able to speak with people who have vision disability. They are just like us. I am told that Werner’s had made efforts to hire blind people to work with them to give them a better life. Kudos to them.
Our first outing on the first day was to Tienanmen Square. There are not many things to see there except for a mountain of tourists.
However, the National Chinese museum located next to Tienanmen Square was excellent. There were plenty of artefacts but unfortunately, the English translation is lacking. I wish I know Chinese better!
Tight security at the Museum. Body search before entering!
My favourite exhibit at the Museum. A picture of a thousand years old logo. It was used as a trade mark!
China’s first postage stamps circa 1878.
After our museum tour, we took a stroll to the Forbidden City. It was extremely cold and the roads were covered with snow and ice.
It was packed with people although the place is massive. We could hardly take a decent picture.
The white parts on the wall are ice.
Due to the size of the Forbidden City and the lack of time, we rushed from hall to another hall. There were hardly anything to see but Jack brought us to a small Puyi (last emperor of China) museum in one of the small courtyards of Forbidden City.
Frozen money in a pond
I was told that it takes about a week to explore the entire place. Further, many of these places are restricted. I didn’t enjoy the tour to the Forbidden City. The walk almost killed my feet too.
On the last day, I bought a book by Li Shuxian, Puyi’s fifth and the last wife, titled “My Husband Puyi: The Last Emperor of China”. It’s a book about Puyi’s life after Emperor and prison in the eyes of Li Shuxian. I was hoping to read more about Puyi’s life as the last Emperor of China. However, it was mostly about Li Shuxian’s love story with Puyi.
I was invited by a Singaporean law firm to give a talk about the Malaysia data protection laws to their clients on 5 April 2013. Coincidentally, the Startup Asia Conference 2013 falls a day before my talk thus I signed up for it. Melissa of PerkPool also signed up for it.
This time round, I stayed at Value Hotel Thomson, Balestier Road, Novena. It’s a decent hotel except that my room has no windows.
Restaurant next to the hotel. Anal Fin anyone?
The event was attended by over 700 tech startups and investors coming from many parts of South East Asia, and even Taiwan, China and Japan. I was amazed with the amount of expats in the Singaporean startup scene. Many of them have planted themselves in Singapore to start their business.
The 2-day conference had 100 over start up booths (mostly with very small booth – just enough to put a laptop). The booths were always packed with people. Melissa and I went to almost each booth to ask them what they do and exchanged name cards with them. Approaching people at the booths seems like an effective way to network for me. It’s easier to talk to some strangers standing by the side minding their own business.
Stefan Jung of Rocket Internet. Rocket Internet is an international online venture with more than 100 over market leading companies in 40 over countries. They own Zalora in Malaysia.
Of all the startups exhibiting at the booths and/or presenting at the event, these are my favourites:-
Kwix – a Singapore startup with an app that allows you to order your food via your mobile phone while you are in a restaurant. The kitchen will be notified of your order. No need for waiters! Spaces.sg – a Singapore startup with a portal that finds and books meeting and party venues in Singapore . LoveBytes – An app that allows a couple to share things and document the relationship eg how many days together! Shiroubu -a Japanese startup to connect travellers and tour guides. Anyone can be a tour guide! Social Happen – a Thai startup with an app that gets users to do certain tasks when they are at a merchant’s premises. If the user completes the task and clicks on a button on the App, the user will be rewarded a gift from a vending machine. PiktoChart - Malaysia startup with an app that helps people to build infographics fast and pretty. They got a really cute name card!
Lots of Buttons – A Hong Kong e-commerce that sells craft buttons at 50% of retail price. They have 25,000 buttons for sale! Xunta.cc – Founded by Sense Luo, Xunta.cc is a China start-up dating website for gays. It’s interesting to note that 30million Chinese are homosexual. That’s like the whole of Malaysia!
One interesting feature of Xunta is that it allows gays to exchange name cards. The name card has a unique code for each user. With the code, the recipient can locate the other person on Xunta.
According to Sense Luo, 60, 000 gays have signed up with Xunta without promotion. The 7 person team’s target revenue is USD700,000 per year. Sense says 6 people in their team are gays.
The event had excellent speakers from the regions I mentioned just now. Some are successful startup owners and some work for well known brands such as AirBnB and Twitter. Here are some points I picked up throughout the talk:-
PropertyGuru PropertyGuru co-founder, Steve Melhuish is a British who travelled around Asia for 6 months before settling in Singapore.
He found that there was a void in the property industry in Singapore when he came to Singapore. With this void, he created PropertyGuru with some friends. But PropertyGuru had 3 competitors within few months of operation. The founders did not draw any salary for the 1st and 2nd year. Hardest challenge initially was to get property agents to advertise on the Internet. Property agents were using traditional media for a long time.
Today they have 24, 000 property agents. Revenue for the year 2012 is not published but Steve revealed its 10 over million. They have expanded to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
However, Steve said he regretted expanding 2 other countries too fast as it stretched their resources. Before that, they had only 1 country to manage but now they need to focus on four.
Steve advised that entrepreneurs to build depth in home country first before expanding to other countries. He revealed that PropertyGuru’s next target is Hong Kong and they are starting IPO this year.
Lastly, Steve also advised entrepreneurs that if they believe in something, just do it! Take risk, believe in yourself and be passionate.
One of my favourite tech companies, AirBnB has set up an office in Singapore early last year. It is valued at USD1+ Billion now. AirBnB is social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.
AirBnB relies on word of mouth to promote. They had 3 million bookings in 2012 and have loads of hosts in Bali, Koh Samui and Phuket listed on AirBnB.
Sometime in 2011, a AirBnB host’s home got thrashed by a user in 2011. With this incident, AirBnB introduced safety measures to verify users.
Notwithstanding the horror story, AirBnB brought fortunes to many people. A Cambodian AirBnB host charges USD16 per night and he uses that money to fund 5 of his brothers’ education.
We also managed to pick up many interesting facts about specific markets. In Vietnam, there are 91 million people. 95% of 15 – 24 years old are connected to the Internet. They have cash on delivery culture in Vietnam. E-commerce operators have to deliver products to customers before they pay.
In South Korea, you should launch an Android App 1st instead of iOS because the former leads in South Korea. Also, in Korea, you can send offline gifts using bar codes. Recipients can redeem gift at merchant’s outlet eg coffee.
Barrier to entry is pretty low in Singapore. It’s easy to set up and do business. However, it is difficult to do so in places like Indonesia and India.
Kee Lock Chua‘s analogy on taichi and copycats was a great eye opener. He said one can copy a taichi move but it is nothing unless one execute the correct breathing. Same like businesses. One can copy your business model but it is no use unless he or she understand how it actually works.
I had to leave early on the 2nd day because I had to give a talk organised by the Singaporean law firm. It’s actually my second time with them. The last round we had 60 over people but this time round we had 200 over people! Singapore has just passed their own data protection laws thus many people are interested in this topic. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to speak to their clients on the Malaysian perspective.
It looks like this year is going to be a journey on data protection and startup related matters. Hope it turns out well!