I’ve known Mak since high school, but we weren’t close back then. When I started working at Rapid Model – a 3D printing company back in 2014, we met again – but this time in a different identity. He started his first startup – Makerzone – which aims to be a local 3D printing marketplace to connect designers with end users on their 3D printing products.
Fast forward to date, Mak has moved on to another venture – SushiVid – an influencer marketing platform. Here is what Google says about him:
This interview happened over a casual dim sum breakfast in Taman Megah where we had a great chat about his startup – Makerzone and SushiVid – why he moved on to SushiVid and his obsession with technology.
Mak Loves Technology since young
*Sounds like my mother loves technology since young* – Sorry Mak, I mean, “Mak”.
Mak love technology ever since he was a kid. During our primary school days, there was only MSDOS and Mak was the renowned class pirate – where he copy games from computers and shared it with his friends.
As he grew up, he started to have more interest in cars, coincidentally, his neighbour had saved up many automobile magazines which eventually became his plaything. At the age of 12 years old, he could recognize car inside out upon glancing – including the price, model and engine technology.
What really made him to be obsessed with technology was this incident – where he broke his first computer, a gift from his mum, on standard 6:
I called and asked my friend to teach me how to fix my computer. I was intrigued by the fixing process. – Mak
At the same time, he happened to came across his computer receipt and he realized that his mother bought an overpriced computer. That’s how he started to learn about computers.
With his interest in computer technology, I was quite surprised that he didn’t study computer engineering:
“Hey Mak, since you said that you know about computer architecture before you went into uni, why not study computer engineering?”
There was no job demand on computer engineering. – Mak
Instead of computer engineering, he went into telecommunications engineering as he think that there is much more you can do on improving telecommunication speed.
Upon his graduation, he joined Huawei as a technical trainer for 3G products. Much to his disappointment, he realized that his 4 years worth of education on telecommunications industry, there was only 1 single slide that is applicable to his current job.
“Ouch, sometimes I feel sad that tertiary education degree has fallen to the state where it used as a benchmark for higher pay and job security/demand. Coming back to this, is that what triggered you to start Makerzone?”
During my trip to Algeria – where I was outstation. I was pondering and looking out of the window asking myself if this is the life that I want. The answer was clear. – Mak
HOW Makerzone WAS BORN
As soon as he realized that working isn’t really his true calling. He called his friends – Jacky and Yuhan – where they competed on Schneider Electric University Challenge as a team before. They discussed many options over the night and 3D printing is one of it.
On the very next day itself, Jacky came back and said that he think 3D printing is way to go as they wanted to solve the 3D printing design issue. Armed with vision and high in spirit, they ventured into a 3D printing startup and looking to expand across Malaysia.
The Problem With 3D Printing Marketplace
Like any other marketplaces, the idea behind the business model was to get an equal amount of supply and demand, which in this case, Mak decided to start off with supply a.k.a 3D designers.
As he ventured deeper into the business, he realized that 3D printing isn’t as straight forward as it seems:
3D designers are rare, and good ones are even rarer. We often ran into problems where we can’t find adequate designers that are capable to complete tasks that are “printable”. – Mak
On top of that, he is also facing challenges in generating demand. The Malaysian market isn’t matured enough to be like Shapeways – which operates in New York. Long story short, he somewhat knows that Malaysian market wouldn’t generate the sheer volume of transaction or enquiries to make his marketplace successful, so he had to pivot his direction by providing 3D printing services to sustain the business.
The result? He had a profitable business and break-even within 2 years.
“Eh, since you have a profitable business why did you move on?”
How He Stumble Upon SushiVid
Like what Mak has mentioned above, he stumble upon influencer marketing with Yuh Wen back in a coding boot camp.
“But Mak, really? You aren’t really into marketing right? I mean you’re more of a tech guy, what’s in it for you?”
When I check on influencers marketing on Google Trend, it is actually a growing trend, just look at local youtubers who made it big and you’ll get what I mean. – Mak
While this is a growing trend, Mak also said that he wanted to grow his software technical skills – that’s how he joined as their co-founder & CTO.
“But I thought based on what you told me, you should be more into automobiles or potentially, clean energy? No?”
You are somewhat right. This is why Elon Musk is my idol, he really does push and innovate things that are beyond your imagination. From what I understand, it would take ages for agriculture and clean energy to breakthrough. Being me, I’ve always loved technology but I’ll lose interest if it’s not growing as fast as I expected it to be.
SushiVid – according to Mak – was modeled after Famebit in US. It is a brand new marketplace which allows you to connect with influencers for marketing purposes. Brands can come in to craft campaign briefs while youtubers can submit and propose what they will do for the brand. As every youtubers caters to different audience with different styles, brands get to enjoy omnichannel outreach to their target market, and according to Mak, brands are loving the platform thus far.
“OK Mak, so what are your long term vision then? Not on SushiVid but on your personal agenda, what exactly do you want to do?”
I wanted to go into hardware business, especially with the upcoming wave of IoT. But when you think about IoT, it involves both software and hardware and I think in the long run, this is where I really wanted to grow. I want to know more on the technical side, especially on designing hardware.
Speaking with Mak was like speaking to a long lost friend. He is humble, somewhat geeky but yet, he is giving out the kind and caring aura all the time. It might be just me but I find guys like him are really a rare breed – not egoistic, staying practical and relevant.(This kind of man die liao Melody, so you better marry him fast!)
It was a Saturday morning well spent indeed.