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Business owners are always on the look out to learn new ways of improving their business and expanding their network.

The BFM Enterprise Breakaway 2014 held last Friday at Nexus, Bangsar South was an event that gathers great minds. The BFM Enterprise Breakaway was BFM’s first on-the-ground event back in 2011 and today, it remains one of our most anticipated events every year with entrepreneurship continuing to be one of our biggest focus and passions.

Now in its fourth year, the BFM Enterprise Breakaway is an annual conference and exhibition that truly keeps the entrepreneurial spirit burning brightly with inspiring success stories, honest conversations and real world lessons.

“Made in Malaysia” has long been synonymous with bad quality, poor service and lousy design and packaging. This has led to a lack of support for Malaysian products and services both locally and globally. Although this is changing, we believe that much still needs to be done to rethink and rebrand what it means to be made in Malaysia.

Hence, this year, they decided on the theme “Proudly Made in Malaysia”. Whether it is producing high quality goods and services, delivering superior customer experience or creating cutting-edge design and innovations, we hope to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs who will raise the bar, commit to global standards and transform “Made in Malaysia” into a world-class brand.

I went with my CareerScope partner, Izzat, who attended last year's event as well. As we were having breakfast of mini murtabaks and coffee, while waiting for the ballroom doors to open, Malek Ali, the Founder of BFM Media, was making his rounds getting to know the delegates. He came to our table and started making conversation with us. Malek Ali himself! (Will post our photo when it is released by BFM's official photographer)

He asked about Izzat's past Breakaway event experience and what he thought about the new event venue (previously it was held at Sime Darby Convention Centre which posed a parking challenge). Malek also revealed his one track way of thinking which can be a challenge when thoughts are flooding him when on stage (he was to be grilled on stage first thing on the event agenda). Breakfast Grille is a segment on BFM where people of interest are grilled by the BFM host on current issues.

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BFM founder himself, Malek Ali
The doors opened at 9am sharp. It was very nice ballroom, clean lines, good lighting and neutral colours.
Malek spoke about his journey thus far and BFM's plans. They played some videos of programmes they already have (videos were produced by their own staff which showed them as a creative and fun bunch despite the fact that they deliver serious business aspects).
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The first panel to speak about the importance of visionart leadership comprised of Adnan Lee, Managing Director of MBG Fruits, Datuk Azrin Mohd Noor, Founder/Group CEO of Sedania Group and Goh Miah Kiat, CEO, Karex Berhad.
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From left: Adnan Lee, Datuk Azrin Mohd Noor, Goh Miah Kiat moderated by Raymond Phoon, Author & Sales Psychologist, PowerUpSuccess Group
If you met any of them on the streets, you wouldn't guess that they held such high positions. Adnan Lee spoke about his parents fruit stall in Petaling Street and how customers always asked them if "your fruits sweet ah?" and their response "Yes! Money Back Guarantee!" and thus MBG was born when Mr Lee decided that he wanted to grow his family fruit business into something bigger and more accessible to the urban crowd.

Mr Goh spoke about how his family started the business of creating basic condoms to becoming a multi-international company when the US and UK government purchased condoms from his company. 

One thing they had in common was that they had big and very targeted dreams.

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When starting a new business, we sometimes don't take risk management seriously. Steve Crouch, Country President, of ACE Jerneh Insurance Berhad spoke about the risk elements in businesses and how Ace Jerneh helps businesses identify and minimize risks.

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After a short tea break (we managed to squeeze in a group photo), I got to know a bit more about the businesses of those seated around me.

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From left: me, Nicholas, Sue of ICBC, YC Tan of Dale Carnegie Training and Edison of Travel Revo
The session continued with a discussion about the importance of employee engagement in bringing a business forward. David Mizam Hashim, President/Founding Director of Veritas Design Group, Edmund Eer, Founder/CEO, of iTAc MSC Outsourcing, Timothy Tiah, Co-Founder, of Netccentric. 

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From left: Andy, David Mizam Hashim, Timothy Tiah and Edmund Eer
It was generally agreed that besides money, staff view their contribution to the company as important. Recognition is high up on the list of importance.
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We broke for a rushed lunch after that. We were given an hour but it simply wasn't enough (I had no time for desserts which looked so yummy!) as we were busy getting to know people, checking out the booths and items on sale.

Two booths that caught my eye were the Nala Designs booth and ThreeandTees booth selling BFM acronymed slogans.

Threes & Tees is a Digital Merchandising Platform that enables companies and individuals to merchandise their brands almost like a local

Nala Designs offers a product line that draws from the wealth of inspiration of Malaysia’s melting pot of Chinese, Malay and Indian culture.

Colourful, timeless and unique, this range has grown from just stationery to include accessories and home ware. Be it a note card to cheer up a friend or throw pillows to brighten up a room, nala will make your world a bit more beautiful. (and arty farty people like me just love stuff like these!)

nala means successful in Swahili and is also the name of founder of nala, Lisette Scheer’s daughter. Lisette first started nala as a way to revive the forgotten art of letter writing and began modestly with a collection of stationery called Pretty in Peranakan based on Straits Chinese porcelain. Over the years it grew into brand that believed in preserving Malaysia's beautiful heritage but in a contemporary way.

Born in Singapore, raised in Malaysia, her multi-cultural background informs the way she creates and this exclusive range continues to be well received in specialty bookstores and gift shops around the world.

Story of Nala
nala's Willow Wishes collection

Next on the panel were Teoh Wee Kiat, Co-Founder of myBurgerLab, Lee Jee Shen, Founder of Softinn Solutions and K. Mohan Kumar, Managing Director / CEO of Love on Wheels Healthcare Services.

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From left: Teoh Wee Kiat, Lee Jee Shen and K. Mohan Kumar moderated by Raj Kumar, Vice President - Global Consulting, UCSI Consulting

They spoke bout their unique businesses. myBurgerlab was inspired by ShakeShack (US), In-N-Out (US), Grill’d (Australia), GBK (UK) and the likes. They decided that Malaysia needed its own version too. So, they started with one simple objective. Sell really good, juicy burgers on a fresh buns. No shortcuts.

Lee Jee Shen's company offers a cloud reservaton platform for small hotels and family-run lodging businesses. Its mobile solutions allows business owners to manage their property while travelling.

Love on Wheels Healthcare Services provides healthcare in the comfort of your home.

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What do Rotiboy Bakeshoppe, Beaubelle and Greenroom 136 Enterprise have in common? They're all made in Malaysia brands gone international. A reason why some local companies make it big overseas is because the locals don't give them as much support as they need and when challenged like this, they try their luck overseas and boom! things just fall into place. Mindset is one thing. Locals tend to think that Made in Malaysia products are not very good in quality. Government support is another issue.

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From left: Patrick Lim, Ruby Siah, Hiro Tan moderated by Lee Jia Ping, Managing Partner of The Listening Tree

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Most entrepreneurs face challenges. How they learn from these challenges and how they overcome them, makes all the difference.

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From left: Nik Shazwan Nik Azam, Mathavan Chandran, Lim Kon Lian moderated by Jeevan Sahadevan, Action COACH  
Nik Shazwan, Managing Director of CeriaTone Amplification spoke about how he grew his amplifier business which started out as a hobby. Mathavan Chandran, a brainy boy who grew up in a kampung in Johor Bahru (and refuses to return), jumped many hurdles before becoming what he is today heading INFOValley Group of Companies which provides a technology to hospitals to do virtual autopsies among other services. Lim Kon Lian, Managing Director of LKL Advance Metaltech started his business before the age of the internet which meant flying to see suppliers in Germany to purchase medical furniture.

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As a business owner myself, it is meeting and learning from people like these that motivate me to keep growing as a person to ensure that my businesses grow with me.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the next BFM Enterprise Breakaway!


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