N2N Connect Berhad Side Stories: Humble Beginnings

N2N recently completed the acquisition for Hong Kong based AFE Solutions, previously owned by Reuters International Holdings SARL, for US$11.5million. While investors were initially sceptical, they soon gained confidence after seeing N2N’s efforts in growing the Hong Kong market.

This is reflected in their financials. In their latest financial results for quarter three (Q3) for 2017, the company saw RM30,096,000 in revenue, an increase of over three folds year-on-year from RM10,670,000. However, based on the financials for the first half of this year, the company only raked in RM11,364,000. Comparatively in the same period last year, N2N earned RM10,106,000.

Based on those numbers, it’s safe to say N2N has always been a consistent performer – and they aren’t stopping there. If the latest financial numbers are to be of any indication, N2N’s sights are higher, and investors are increasingly putting faith in the company’s appetite for growth.

However, it wasn’t always that smooth going. N2N started in a 600sqft office located in Jalan Sungai Besi. In the early days, the company operated with only a six-man team. Tiang shared with us some interesting snippets of their beginnings: “We were so excited to move into our office. There was no carpet, no tables or chairs – so the PC packaging box became our table and we sat on the floor. Two weeks later when the carpet came in, all of us were so excited. It was a cheap, thin carpet with no underlining; that was good enough for us!”

This sounds exactly like the garage start-up story we see and love on the TV. Tiang joked: “I always said – why Malaysia didn’t have many successful companies – because we don’t have enough garages!

“Our conference room was the mamak stall next to the tree in front of our office. When we said let’s have a conference, it means going there, have teh tarik, roti canai. But we can’t have conference when it rains – there’s no roof!”

Today’s startup scene is a much different story. With strong venture capital backing from angel investors, and an extensive network of support available – today’s startups could afford to look at setting up shop in a decent enough office, with furniture to spare. For Tiang however, the struggles of a self-funded company hit home.

“I always say you need to spend wisely, you need to outlast other people.”

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