Member Spotlight: Conversations with 2018 SG:D Techblazer Awards Winners: Richard Koh, CEO,MDAQ Pte Ltd

Jointly organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SGTech, the inaugural SG:D Techblazer Awards was created in 2018 following the merger of the National Infocomm Awards and the SiTF awards, serving as the national endorsement for Singapore companies and exemplifying the spirit of innovation in technology development or adoption. The awards saw a record-breaking 331 applications by 218 companies, with eight companies eventually recognised for their achievements.

On our second profile of the Award recipients, SGTech speaks with Mr Richard Koh of M-DAQ Pte Ltd, Gold winner for the ‘Most Impactful’ category to find out what M-DAQ have been up to lately, and how winning the SG:D Techblazer Award has contributed to their corporate goals and their plans ahead for 2019.

[Mr Richard Koh, CEO of M-DAQ Pte Ltd sharing with us the latest development after M-DAQ’s win at Techblazer 2018

SGTech (SGT): Richard, has winning the SG:D Techblazer award helped your organisation in your brand recognition, as well as in the marketing and development of your products and services?

Richard Koh (RK):
 Absolutely! This inaugural award which combined the previously two industry leading awards has certainly helped in establishing M-DAQ’s position as a homegrown technology leader amongst an already impressive list of participating companies.

One typical challenge in expansion when we are still a relatively small in Asia, was how to rebrand ourselves. Winning the SG Tech award gives us a sense of assurance, a hallmark of quality and confidence to venture into other markets.
SGT: What are your business plans for the year?

 Over a 3 years transformation, we have tested and proven our hypothesis that if we are able to provide price certainty to our customers, this will lead to their commitment in transactions. Our sales have gone up by 300 points, that has also moved us from a cash burning start up to a profitable company. 

Now is the time for us to expand beyond what we are doing. We will be laser focus on diversification from both our largest client and from product verticals. We have embarked on an 18-month transformation plan to reach that goal.

SGT: Do you have any plans to expand regionally or internationally? If so, which new markets have you already expanded to, or are looking to get into?

 In the past our focus was mostly China. We are now moving towards the western hemisphere. We will be focusing on e-commerce, which is now tried and tested, and going back to our first product which is security exchange as well as other product verticals.

As part of our diversification and expansion plans for 2019-2020, we will be obtaining a banking license in the European Union as well as operating licenses and entities in significant economies in Asia Pacific.
SGT: Would you consider participating in overseas trade missions, such as: study trips, immersion programme and/or exhibiting in tradeshow organised by SGTech?

 I see SGTech as an industry federation, representing all the tech companies and digital enterprises in Singapore. Perhaps SGTech can spearhead a Singapore Pavilion in trade show events to showcase cross section of Singapore companies. This can be done in conjunction with Enterprise Singapore, with the private sector, Government, Federation collaborating to encourage Singapore companies to ‘hunt tech’.

In the past Asian trips, we tend to focus on a specific area. Perhaps it can also be more interesting to look at foreign market from an end-to end process, where companies can go there to perform a series of functions, with SGTech being a one-stop-shop for companies they represent. 

[Winners of the Inaugural SG:D Techblazer Awards, with Minister S. Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information]

SGT: Are there any areas that you think SGTech can assist you with?

IT Manpower training as well as enterprise security certification.

SGT: How important do you see the role of home-grown companies in developing Singapore ICT sector’s capabilities and standing?
RK: It is very critical to have more local home-grown success stories to spur others to also try and creating a global Singapore “brand name”. The last successful story was nearly 30 years ago and we badly needed a few more “true Singaporean born and bred” unicorns.

Singapore has been very visible and successful in the world stage mainly because our GLCs have been able to create an eco-system to hunt in unison. This is very powerful whenever they bid or participate overseas. But this cooperation only seems to remain within the layer of GLCs. They are more reluctant to partner with local start-ups unless they become very big. For example, if there is a Government bid, if you are a small, you will not be chosen. 

In Singapore, we somehow feel there are two tiers - a very pure private sector and a pure large GLC sector which are like ‘well’ and ‘river’ water that never mixes. It would be good to give the local enterprise a chance, to help them diversity or grow to a certain size, such that they can survive when you put them into the open sea.
SGT: With the continuing volatility in global trade and the geo politics in 2019, do you see this as an opportunity or a challenge to enhance your services and achieve and achieve even greater impact?

In all challenging situations, one can often find opportunities, as in the Chinese saying “危机 - 危险中找机会"

We have a contrarian viewpoint. When things are challenging, invest, during slow down, we can do more R&D or rethink about the business model. Instead of lamenting, we should use the downtime wisely to figure out things that we usually don’t have the time to do. I think this is why some companies go through a ‘phoenix transformation’ where they almost died, and were able to resurrect themselves by using those down time wisely. More if us should be doing that.

Continue to stay tuned as we feature more of our Techblazer 2018 Winners

Published Apr 2019