The multiple portraits of the Golden Gate Bridge in Ganesh Kumar Bangah’s new office, Commerce.Asia, illustrates the admiration he has for San Francisco; more precisely the valley that birthed some most of the world’s most prominent tech giants.
“I love the city,” says the e-commerce veteran, a smile on his face.
To a larger degree, Ganesh’s affection is toward the entrepreneurialism spirit that had integrated so well into its community and a vibrant ecosystem that helps businesses thrive. His aim?
To bring a slice of that ecosystem back to Malaysia.
“In 2016, I went to Silicon Valley where I mentored the Google Launch Pad, an accelerator programme. That’s where I found Growth X. I realise that their methodology will be able to help the companies that I was mentoring.”
The Silicon Valley-based Growth X runs market acceleration programs that helps companies find their product market fit.
What Growth X can do is turn that instinct into science because you are able to create a methodology for successful go-to-market strategy
Ganesh, who took a short ‘retirement’ break after MOL Global, an online payment company he founded was acquired by gaming company Razer Inc in mid-2018, set up Commerce.Asia with a mission to provide one-stop solution services to SMEs.
One of it is was training - and that’s where Growth X comes in.
“The academy focuses on teaching companies how to reach product market fit and grow their businesses online,” say Ganesh. “We are the first licensee of Growth X out of Silicon Valley and we are now launching it here in KL."
“People always think that entrepreneurship is (about) instinct.”
“What Growth X can do is turn that instinct into science because you are able to create a methodology for successful go-to-market strategy,” he elaborates, adding that local accelerators tend to focus more on product building and fundraising instead of strategies to help companies build and grow their businesses.
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“You really have to find the fit. What is your brand promise? You need to find out who your targeted customers are,” says Ganesh.
“So, there’s actually a process for market discovery - how to message, how to find your targeted customers. Then, market messaging - how do you reach those customers, which channels do you use?
I realised that Malaysia have a lot of technology enablers to help SME sell online but even so, SMEs still don’t really know how to do so
“Finally, of course, market results - how do you retain the customers? This is the process that the merchants can learn from Growth X,” says Ganesh, who aims to train train fifty to a hundred merchants a month.
Apart from training, Ganesh, who famously bought Friendster in 2009 through MOL, observes that the industry needed a place where SMEs can solve all their pain points under ‘one roof’.
He laments that while Malaysia has some 920 over thousand SMEs and micro-enterprises (the sector constituted 98.5 percent of the total business establishments) roughly less than a third have an online presence and a majority, he says, are not well equipped to grow their businesses online - a problem he aims to help fix.
“As chairman of PIKOM, I realised that Malaysia have a lot of technology enablers to help SME sell online but even so, SMEs still don’t really know how to do so." By that, he meant SMEs' readiness in areas of logistics, mobile payments, supply chain and distribution platforms and even digital marketing.
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“There’s a lot of confusion” says Ganesh. “There are so many vendors and marketplaces, that they don’t know who to choose."
“So, I started Commerce.Asia as away to help bridge the gap between SMEs and technology enablers,” says Ganesh.
To do so, the company also invests into companies that provides solutions to its merchants, as part of Ganesh’s growing portfolio of startups that he serves as mentor too.
One of which is Bayan Baru-based e-commerce SiteGiant that allow merchants to sync and sell their products on multiple marketplaces like Lazada, Shopee, Amazon, 11street, among others. It also provides integrated inventory management, shopping cart and payment gateway solutions.
Commerce.Asia also invested in dropshipping company Kumoten and warehouse provider, LetMeStore.com - providing end-to-end solutions. “So, if you’re an SME and want to sell online, you can come to us and we do everything for you,” Ganesh sums it up.
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Whilst Commerce.Asia addresses a real need among local SMEs in moving their businesses online quickly, Ganesh says his motivation is not all about the money.
I want to see Commerce.Asia to be a truly successful ecosystem builder, and it’s not just for financial reasons but also to help the SME and the ecosystem
“I could be retired today,” says Ganesh. “But I think the Malaysian ecosystem really needs champions who have done it before, to come back and help develop the ecosystem.”
“So I want to see Commerce.Asia to be a truly successful ecosystem builder, and it’s not just for financial reasons but also to help the SME and the ecosystem.”
He agrees that while policymakers have made positive strides in positioning Malaysia as a digital-first economy, more needs to be done to elevate Malaysia’s status as a digital hub.
“We need to have more initiatives to improve our branding and perception,” says Ganesh.
“One of the reasons why I decided to invest and license Growth X is so that we can strengthen that position. Malaysia has the ecosystem and we are developing the ecosystem to enable our tech enablers and SMEs to grow and thrive.”