N’osiris CEO, Stalin Vijaya Kamaraj breaking market monopoly
By Satoko Omata
What is IoT (Internet of Things)? Ask a sensor provider and they may tell you it is about sensors collecting data. Cellular providers will tell you it is about the access network. Software companies will tell you about Business Intelligence (BI).
N’osairis says, it is all of the above; and they are the people who can do it for you. First incorporated in 2008, it was a long journey before they were recognised as industry top players, winning multiple awards including the 2016 TIE 50 award in Silicon Valley, as well as top nominee for the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year.
Break the market
Before the glitz and glamour, N’osairis was just a corner in the kitchen of a house. Back in 2008, 3G was just getting deployed and current Chief Executive Officer Stalin Vijaya Kamaraj, along with two other friends decided to incorporate that technology into Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
Stalin was working with a major MNC in a regional role at the time of inception. Having worked with banks, he noticed that the deployment of each ATM is a lengthy and costly process, racking up a bill of RM18,000-RM30,000 per annum. The heavily monopolised nature of communications provider in Southeast Asia, has led to inefficient deployment; cables were laid underground and the troubleshooting took days, if something fails.
“That costs scalability. We wanted to bring alternative tech to the market to break the monopoly of incumbent providers. The more providers like us come to market, the market becomes more efficient. From an end client perspective, they get options to do their business in a more efficient way,” Stalin explains.
It was not until 2010, after two years of intensive research and development (R&D), did N’osairis finally presented its first product to local incumbent bank.
“We broke the market. From a RM18,000 – 30,000 annual investment, we reduced it to RM8,000 per annum,” he recalls.
It is not just about releasing any product or services. N’osairis is adamant in providing products that are reliable, secure and cost effective. So through their R&D, they were able to give a guaranteed availability uptime of 99.7%. “I learnt that from being in an MNC. They give guaranteed uptime, when local providers do not.”
Ultimately, Stalin explains, IoT needs to help businesses achieve the three great promises: increase top line (revenue); reduce costs and enhance customer experience.
Services not Products
Today, N’osairis is more than 66 team member strong, with a turnover of RM33 million as of the end of 2017. Enjoying a 100-160% growth year-on-year, N’osairis now operates in Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. Expansion into other emerging markets are in progress.
Instead of selling integrated products, N’osairis partners with sensors, communications providers and BI providers to offer enterprises IoT as a service. All of the components are connected and managed on the NeX (N’osairis Exchange) platform; businesses just need to connect to the NeX and capitalise on the benefits that the IoT ecosystem has to offer.
“Businesses have their own core business to look at. They cannot start a department dedicated to IoT,” he opines. “Once they are connected to NeX they can deploy IoT applications anywhere our businesses are located. They do not need to worry about deployment; we design the blueprint, we deploy, and we manage it for them.”
While N’osairis aims to provide a peace of mind, access to data is still a major concern for its clients. Instead of relying on third-party cloud services, N’osairis removes the ambiguity of data loss by deploying their own private cloud, providing dedicated systems for some of its major clients.
“Ask any startup; the time for you to break even is three years. Why three years I have no idea, but it is going to be three years, so just keep giving your best and hold on to your dreams.”
It was not until he went through the trials of being a startup that he understood. “When you do something, you must be so persistent that the market sees you as reliable. To gain that credibility I guess it takes three years.”
Those three years, N’osairis tried approaching to clients directly, but failed to convince the big players; despite its sound technology. Instead, they brought the technology to the same incumbent communications providers they wanted to compete against. For six years, acting as a technology provider to the incumbent communications provider in Malaysia, N’osairis was able to slowly gain recognition and prove the feasibility of their service.
Soon they were expanding to Indonesia and Philippines. Interestingly, Stalin observes faster growth in the aforementioned countries. “Enterprises there are somewhat more liberal in exploring newer technologies.”
“We have been there for the last four years and I see that the way they are advancing is already faster than us; the Malaysian IoT scene is slow compared to them. Adaptability might be slow now, but they are preparing for the leap. Whereas we are just taking steps. When they take the leap, they will be 10 steps ahead of us.”
The Government Link
N’osairis is part of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme. Stalin credits much of his rapid success to the market access, advice, and visibility that MDEC provides.
“Being a GAIN company, they help a lot going into markets. They create a government to government relationship, introducing us as companies the government endorses. If I did it myself I might take 30 steps. That kind of credibility that G2G gives you, 30 steps becomes just 10 steps.”
“I go to them for a lot of corporate advice. Corporate exercises, the way you manoeuvre the corporate world; MDEC gives a lot of valuable advice for that,” Stalin states. “One thing I appreciate is that they not only give you advice, they will follow up.”
The Next Five Years: Big and Bigger
Currently, N’osairis focuses on five verticals: retail, utility, agriculture, government, finance. However, it is not stopping there. From plans in Artificial Intelligence to global strategic partnerships N’osairis is planning big.
Stalin gave a glimpse into their next step, moving into the manufacturing and healthcare space. As Stalin describes, N’osairis is looking into expanding the team and recruiting experts in these fields; as well as building their capability to incorporate more systems in more verticals.
Unlike other players currently in the market, N’osairis is a pure play service provider. Other service providers often enter a market with a product to offer, then driven by a need to changeits commercial model start offering services.
“We provide services precisely because we do not do products. There are multitude of great products out there, if it is only provided as a service to enterprises it will make greater impact and business optimisation.”
Beyond expanding the team, he also explains that they are looking to move regionally into key markets including Cambodia and Vietnam. “In three years, we are looking at expanding across the entire Southeast Asia. In five years, Greater Asia. I want N’osairis to be a known IoT services provider, or business optimisation player in Greater Asia.”
This story first appeared in the Business Today magazine (March 2018 issue)