Last weekend, two Singaporean companies made their first foray into Malaysia together.
Doby Studio, headed by Gary Goh - with his now-famous Little White Dragon education comic series - joined Ottonium Comics to participate in Kuala Lumpur's annual Smart Kids Education Fair 2010.
Before a new comic brand breaks into the mass market, years of sound strategy preceeded it. To consumers, a Naruto or Pokemon seemed to come out of nowhere suddenly to make it big. To the creators, they'd already put in years of undying passion and hard work.
In the short video I made, you can see some of the hard work come to fruition. Gary and I had to deal with PR (public relations), HR (human resource) and business. There were light moments (us struggling to understand the GPS system) and valuable ones (my dad came along, and shared his experience of doing business in Malaysia when he was young).
The first obstacle we faced was traffic flow. For some reasons, traffic did not come to our alley! Once we identified the problem, we worked with the organisers of Expomal to set up our booth in a make-shift location. That made a big difference. It is also a testament to the organisers that they took immediate actions to assist newbies like us!
With that issue out of the way, I started to see, for the first time, the faces of my Malaysian customers. They came from all races, in all languages. Thank goodness for our good local friends who gave their weekends to help us! My KL friends were able to speak to parents in Cantonese and Malay, while I spoke to them in English and Mandarin. Gary Goh, ever the tireless crowd drawer, stood on a stool. Using his loudspeaker, he announced to passerbys our presence.
Because we were virtual unknowns in Malaysia and a majority of the parents have very young kids, sales were moderate but encouraging. I got a great sense of pride that some of my Sir Fong books are now in Malaysian homes. I have no doubt those who bought the books loved them!
I learnt a lot from the Fair: 1. with sincere and good partners, we can make changes on the spot to correct unforeseeable situations, 2. don't go anywhere without good friends and careful research, 3. don't give up when things seemed difficult. Stick it out to the end and the rewards will be totally unexpected and surprising. 4. Get your family behind you. They will lift you up so that you can focus on the essence of your business.
This is just the first step in Sir Fong going international, but it is a solid first step!