Elton Kuah’s admiration of key lessons and takeaways from Alibaba, Jack Ma, and his Chinese teachers has inspired him to help those who want to better their business in the era of digital economy. We spoke with Elton to learn more about his company and entrepreneurial journey.
Can you briefly introduce your background to our readers?
I am an engineer-turned-entrepreneur from Malaysia. I am the founder of Enrich Social Media.
I was previously featured on Empirics Asia, where I shared my story on how I started my business. I consider myself a digital marketer with a “3D skillset”. My current business focuses on digital marketing and market research services and training.
This year, our company is moving into incorporating digital service platforms mainly on AI Marketing, digital publishing, and funding aggregator solutions to ensure a more supportive ecosystem for our customers.
These ideas are considered in line with my work-life mission, to reduce society’s divide through practical usage of digital technology.
What excites you most about your industry?
My excitement around my industry revolves around the application of digital technology and how it could potentially impact society.
Specifically, I am fascinated by how technology can radically improve underserved communities in emerging markets, which currently has a lack of digital marketing services and solutions.
What drives you forward in business to push beyond existing boundaries?
I always remember my customer’s words and action which shows how appreciative they are of my business in helping them achieve their business goals. This is something that really drives me.
I am also greatly motivated by the teamwork and cultural diversity of my company. Despite the fact that the majority of our team are not from China, we managed to successfully compete against local China-based team in the Greater Bay e-Commerce market.
In addition to our business achievements, we donate part of our revenue from online sales to help local Chinese tea farmers in upscaling their businesses and improve their livelihood. We take great pride in giving back to our communities.
What have been the most useful skills you have acquired and applied in your entrepreneurial journey?
I have learned to be more empathetic, resourceful, and flexible in my journey. This enables me to tackle the hurdles head-on in the pandemic, especially when I was forced to find new ways to connect with clients as many activities have ceased.
Instead of working on training and services in a conventional method offline, I began to collaborate with a community of content creators, logistics, and digital technology online to ensure that the needs of my customers are served well and we can scale the benefit of my work to help more people to achieve their desired impact.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Some of the best advice I have received is to “be consistent with your values to serve the right customers who appreciate them, earn the right to be helped and thinking long term”. This is a quote from Jack Ma, when he shared his thoughts on the direction of Alibaba’s future for the next 10 years with respect to the uncertainties of the digital landscape.
This advice is helping me to shape values that help attract business partners, stakeholders and to ensure better focus and lifestyle that I am content to build and nurture, moving forward.
Who inspires you?
My teachers in the Sun Yat-Sen University, China taught me things about life, while changemakers such as YSEALI and Alibaba Fellows, 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion as well as Pat Flynn Income Stream and Quaranteam communities all inspired me in different ways.
All the relevant communities have brought me a renewed sense of belonging, and constantly redefined my sense of purpose or my “why” which helps me to stay committed to my dream and helps others with the same vision get on board.
What have you learned that blew you away?
I have learned how to judge a person’s dedication by the value of the work they show rather than their job title or experience. During the pandemic, I had tremendous respect towards my teachers in China who shared relevant technology in business education context and helped enlighten the values and appropriate Chinese culture on why applying the technology can help empower the local society to uplift their lifestyles.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I would have learned more from peers and famous people’s success stories on what they would do when they face certain challenges and how they deal with the mistakes that occurred in the situation.
Also, I would tell my younger self several key values: not to be obsessed to think of things from my own self-interest only and how to practice servant leadership, learn to earn the right to be helped. All this value if practiced consistently would create a better impact on my future and help to serve others in a more fruitful relationship.
How do you unwind?
I go to staycations by myself, talk to friends that are not in my industry, and do ad-hoc meditation at times. Also, I believe in doing things that relate to my other passions such as having a good meal, volunteering to serve others helps me to refocus, to relax for a bit and enables me to have a better focus to solve my business problems and challenges.
What is a major mindset change or belief shift that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
A major mindset shift is that I learned from China this year is going to advocate the great culture that shapes their characteristics: ambitious, hardworking, caring for their families and communities well-being and relentlessly pursuing good education and success.
Also, from my education from Alibaba and YSEALI Fellowship in Digital Transformation, bringing help to the underserved society are possible with technology. Promoting inclusion and reduce society divide through effective usage of digital technology have become my life mission.
What are the books everyone in business should read?
Some entrepreneurship books I would recommend are as follows:
- The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman
- Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
I would recommend to combine reading with podcast listening and Youtube videos. For online resources, I recommend Start From Scratch and Build Your Own Brand by Pat Flynn.
Can you share your future business plans?
We are working on a project in Southeast Asia, known as The Smart Connector, an information platform that would facilitate the risk assessment for investors so they can make better decisions while investing in high-risk, early-staged, social impact-driven startups which are spun-off from university and research labs in the SEA region.
This initiative is stemmed from the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation Circle — Challenges of “How to address the lack of access to early-stage funding, so that investment does not come too late for start-ups in Southeast Asia?”, which I am the challenge winner.
Please do check out my new podcast Tao Of Online Business. The podcast depicts my own journey in finding ways to create a more sustainable online business and better business models through people I met and conferences that I attended.
Currently, I am looking for a guest with preference of offline businesspeople who has pivoted their business online or are engaged in new business spaces such as NFT, Metaverse etc. Similarly, if there’s a podcast owner who would like to explore if our podcasts can give value to each other’s audience, feel free to reach out to me as well from the podcast website.
Disclosure: This article originally appeared on Enterprise Zone (https://enterprisezone.cc/elton-kuah-founder-of-enrich-social-media/), and is edited and reposted under the authorisation and sponsorship of Elton Kuah.