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Thinking Big In a Dotcom World

New Straits Times, October 2, 2000

SHE'S young and petite but when It comes to business, especially that of a new dotcom, Fione Tan Is busy moving forward with big plans.

"I plan to retire when I am 30," says the confident 22- year-old Tan who is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Sdn Bhd. "I want to travel, and see the world."

Her remark is not a sign of being tired of the corporate life but rather an indication of her confidence in her company, which according to her Is progressing marvellously. She claims that, which was softly launched in April, has been profitable, raking In about RM30, 000 in profits In Its first month of operations.

"We have a steady growth of RM20, 000 profits each month," she says. With just a small Investment and what It considers an attractive business model, has convinced 70 customers to subscribe to Its home-grown Web Creator 2000 software. The software was developed to allow small and medium-sized companies to have e-business - not e- commerce - operations up and running in a couple of hours. This can be done using two haste services that each cost under RM2,000, Tan says. "It's a stepping stone for them," she adds.

"Malaysian companies generally don't have the time and budget for huge investments to get into e-business." Another unique way of business model is through seminars." We thought of launching our site, but we observed that when so many dotcom companies launched their sites, there was hardly any value in it, " Tan says.

"Customer will come and get the piggy back, then go back and then they will forget about it," she explain. " You are not transferring anything to them or giving them any benefit." She believes that there are values organising relevant seminars. "You are disseminating valuable knowledge and getting to be know for it," she say.

She adds that on the average seminars on e-business are gaining popularity. She has already reserved requests from other cities to host such events. The seminars usually include leaders of companies who share their experiences and gives advice on issues related to starting a dotcom business.

With the way her company is progressing, there's no question that Tan's adrenaline level is raising. Two months ago she gave a modest projection of her company's growth by that September, would have 70 customers from 50, which was the figure again then.

Now, when her customer base has reached 70, it would be hard to says she is modest about her projection. Just a week ago, when comp times interviewed her, Tan said that she is quite confident of signing up 10,000 customers by December this year.

And she say that this number does not include the potential customers in China, where she is planning to have business up by end of this year.

Being relatively young, Tan is used to remarks and questions about her age and capabilities. But she has learned not to make that as an issue. She started her first job as a marketing executive at the age of 19 at Pan Global Insurance, right after she getting her honours degree in management and marketing from the Up-per Iowa University, a non- profitable organization, on a scholarship."Some of my clients would look at me, being short and young and I know that they are thinking what to do with me," Tan says. "You just have to win their confidence through what they expect of you, making sure everything is okay."

In fact, at times she made sure she got what she wanted. She recalls her experience when she was working at Kurnia Insurance, handling monthly budgets of RM1 million and needed to get approvals from certain departments.

"I would stand there and make sure they give them to me. Figuratively, they had to really kick me so that I'll leave," she recalls a with laughter. For her perseverance and achievement she was awarded the Best Performer of the Year as well as the Highest Achiever of the Year.

It is hard to imagine this feisty woman used to be as quiet as a mouse during her school days at Sekolah Menengah Jinjang in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.

"When people talk to me, I would hardly respond. I would just say 'oh okay'," she looks back. That all changed after she joined the Girl Guides and Ranger and Guides club at her school where she ended up representing her school at State level. "After 15 years of silence, I couldn't keep my mouth shut," she grins.

At SMJ, Tan was considered one of the top students throughout her five years there, achieving 7A 6As respectively for her Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations.

At the age where many enjoy shopping and bonding with their friends at their leisure time, spends most of her talking about business! in day out with her customers and co-workers. can't run away from I have to discuss with partners on how to progress your company," she says.

Her parents are just keen as her about the economy. "They will cut newspaper articles on companies that they think competitive to the business of," she Her parents also help the seminars that organises. "They took leave in the recent seminar to help me out," she says. Marriage is on hold Tan who thinks it is a partnership that will tie her freedom. "I will probably get married at either 28, but nothing sooner that," she says firm might as well live it first since I will be spending about 50 years with future husband.

"Business usually priority for Tan but she is also very fond of her dogs. Last month her colleague Harrace Lau, heard an emotional Tan on the phone just a few minutes before her presentation at a seminar.

"My dog Fiona just died then and I was crying about the whole thing and I told him to take my place,' Tan, who at one time had nine dogs.'s founder Jeff Bezos has an admirer in Tan, who is trying to follow his footsteps. "He once said in an article that he not want to look back age of 80 and regrets not doing what he wants,"Fione says..

And that's exactly what she wants to avoid as well.

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"Thinking Big In A Dotcom World - New Straits Times"


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