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300 to gain marketing skills...via the Net

Malaysia.CNET, 30 May, 2001

KUALA LUMPUR - E-business services provider Sdn Bhd expects 300 industry players from various industries from Malaysia and Asia Pacific to participate in the International Internet Marketing Conference 2001 to be held from July 31 to August 2. chief executive officer Fione Tan said the conference is part of eOneNets e- business ownership campaign (eBOC), to help small and medium enterprises promote their e- business offerings. She was speaking to journalists after a signing ceremony between, Young Entrepreneurs Association of Malaysia and The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM).

"From the feedback we got last year, most people are aware of the need to get their business online. However, 97 percent of them still adopt a wait-and-see attitude. They don't know how to promote their Web sites. Secondly, they are not sure on the return on investment. These are the issues that we will tackle in the conference," Tan said.

According to NCCIM senior director Zaid lsmail, only a few NCCIM members have actually fully utilized the Net for business."In view of the global dot-com crash, a lot of us are even more cautious in investing in e-business activities. The EBOC 2001 can educate us on how to promote and market our services on the internet," he said.

Speakers lined up for EBOC 2001 are Search King lnc chief executive officer Robert Massa and MSC Ventures Corporation Sdn Bhd CEO Sarina Karim.

By caring a niche for herself - catering to small businesses who do not want to spend a lot of money to have a web presence - Fione has done something that few dotcoms in Malaysia has managed to do: actually make a profit. In fact, eOneNet, as she calls her company, has been profitable from day one.

Soft-launched in April, eOneNet raked in some RM30, 000 in the first month alone. Since then, monthly profits have been steady at around RM20, 000. She expects to keep up this monthly average until September when the company goes for a full-scale official launch. Cash flow is so good that she's not even considering looking for venture capital at this juncture. I'll only consider that when it comes time to expand in a big way.

She already has a branch in Singapore (of which she is a minority shareholder) and has set her eyes on the China, Hong Kong and Taiwan market. But, that's further down the road. She's still got plenty of group to cover in Malaysia, which is dotted (pun intended) with SMI's and SME's - all potential customers of eOneNet.

So, what's her secret? In a word: seminars.She holds three of them per month. Both Fione and her business partner, Harrace Lau, deliver their message in plain speak rather than the hyper-technical jargon that many dotcom entrepreneurs tend to use when describing their products or services. 'Speaking in layman's term is an effective way to inform and educate potential customers about the benefits of going online,' she says.

'Actually I have no choice but to speak in simple terms because I, myself, am not a very technical person,' Fione said. This was pretty evident when I asked her whether eOneNet's business model is that of an ASP (application service provider). 'ASP?' she replied.If doesn't matter. The important thing is that she has found a formula that is obviously working, and making her money. Whether this business is scalable is uncertain but for the moment, she's fulfilling a niche: helping SMI's and SME's who are taking baby steps into the dotcom arena.

Fione holds a Bachelors degree in marketing and it shows. Her spunkiness and natural confidence is almost infectious. An average day for her is 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. and she spends much of meeting up with existing and potential customers. 'Customer service is a top priority,' she emphasizes.

Despite achieving someday success at such a tender age, Fione does not display any of the cockiness or arrogance that some young entrepreneurs tend to exhibit. And, despite the fact that she is obviously a risk taker, Fione is incredibly conservative in her estimates.

For example, I asked her how many companies she expects to have signed up by September. She says 70, which is only 20 more than what she has rightnow. With her existing customer base of 50 and the word-of-mouth that would naturally ensure shoot for something I know I can achieve, 'she said"

And, how long will it take her to make her first million? 'Five years.' But that's an eternity in dotcom years, I remarked. 'I know but I'd rather be conservative now and surprise myself by over-achieving, 'she replied.

Now, that's spunk!

"300 to gain marketing skills...via the Net - Malaysia.CNET"

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