- Tell us briefly about yourself and about what you’re doing now?
I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at easyuni.com. I’m originally from a far Kyrgyz Republic, which was part of the former USSR. I came to Malaysia in September 1996 to study at a university. Since then I’ve mostly lived in Malaysia, eat nasi lemak and occasionally say “lah” :)
- What would you describe as the 5 key traits every aspiring entrepreneur should have?
I’m a first-time entrepreneur, but I’ve always had this passion for entrepreneurship in me. Since starting this journey, I’ve learned that the following traits are critical for me (in no particular order).
Flexibility and adaptability
When we first started easyuni we had a slightly different idea in mind. As easyuni grew, we realized that certain things didn’t work as we thought they would and other things work better. So, we adapted.
Like the story of Instagram, the guys behind the company started by working on a completely different idea and when they realized that photo sharing was becoming popular, they adapted by dropping their original idea and launching Instagram. The rest, as they say is history.
There’s a saying that the only constant in entrepreneurship is change. Therefore, being flexible and adaptable is very important.
Persistence and tenacity
Doing business is hard and it takes time before you start seeing the results you hoped for. You will face difficult times and to succeed, you need to push through and persist. Don’t give up.
This is one of the most important traits. If you’re not passionate about your business it’s hard to be persistent and push through the difficult times.
Ideas are great, but in the end it’s the execution that matters. You need to not only think about those grand strategies and ideas, but actually make them happen. And most importantly, you need to execute on a high level.
It’s important to have good communication skills. You need to clearly articulate your vision to your employees, partners, investors. It all comes down to this - we live and work with people.
- Looking back over the last 10 years, what would you say are achievements you’re most proud of?
Ah.. this is easy :) I’m a proud father of three beautiful children. I’m proud of their amazing mother. I’m also proud of how far easyuni has come over the last 4 years.
- Since you started easyuni, what have you learned?
I’ve learned many things like the key traits mentioned above and how I fare against them, the intricacies and nuances of building an Internet company, the importance of a team, and many other things.
- If you could turn back time, what is 3 key lessons you’d tell your younger self?
Do things on time, everything has its own time. For example, I had a great opportunity to learn a foreign language when I was in university. I didn’t take it seriously and thought I could always pick it up “later”. That never happened. I wish to learn it now, but between work and family there’s very little time left.
Make more friends in university. University is the place where we make lifelong friends. In most cases these friends become closer than your childhood friends because after high school some friends move on. As you grow older it becomes harder to make new friends as we get busy. So, don’t just study while in university. Go out, make friends, socialize!
- What life advice would you give to young people today?
Attending university or college is important in so many ways. Make sure you do that.
While in university, it’s important to study not just for the grades, but to learn and gain skills. For example, if you’re going to study Marketing, start a blog about something you’re interested in, like Internet marketing to grow your blog’s traffic. Or, if you’re going to study Software Engineering, start your own pet project, a simple mobile app or website. These practical skills that you learn will help you stand above the crowd when the time comes for interviews for your first job after graduation.
- Do you think it’s important for people to have a mentor? Why?
Yes, it’s important to have a mentor because “they’ve been there, done that”. You can avoid some unnecessary mistakes.
- What are your favourite books and why?
I’m passionate about entrepreneurship, so my favorite books are related to that. Especially about Internet and technology entrepreneurship. They are my “mentors” :)