Updated: Jul 5
Chief Sales Officer of Malaysia’s Events Technology Firm, Accucap Shares His Experience in the Events Industry.
Hi Jim, thank you for taking the time to do this phone interview. Would you like to give your audience a little preview of what your company (struggling with the pronunciation) Accucap, pronounced as Er-Queue-Cap, what does the name mean?
(Giggle) Good morning and thank you for being on time for the call. Accucap MSC Sdn. Bhd., is a Malaysian home-grown company which I founded together with a few family members. The name itself doesn’t really have a specific meaning. It was meant to be something unusual or catchy like Google or Facebook. We started out servicing mainly hotels selling display solutions . Pretty much like an SI (Systems Integrator). It took us a year or 2 but we soon realized that events were more lucrative and fast paced so we took whatever money we had and invested it into some equipment. Lo and behold, our first major client was L’oreal and from that very show in the Suria KLCC concourse, we bagged our second customer PETRONAS.
My family members have since left to pursue other interests so we continue to build Accucap like a corporate entity rather than a family run business.
Wow, what a way to get into the audio visual business. Is the Audio Visual (AV) business competitive and what is the competitive advantage of Accucap?
The AV business just like any other businesses in Malaysia is hugely competitive. It’s a real shame as what we do is so highly skilled and yet many sell it at a price that is simply un-fathomable. Let me give you an example that clearly highlights this. We have done shows all over the world and I recall meeting an American client from Chevron Texaco in a Major Oil & Gas show. He lamented that prices in Malaysia are merely a quarter of what he pays on a global level. Simply put, many players in the market buy equipment in US Dollar prices and sell at rock bottom RM prices. This in the long run is simply un-sustainable.
Accucap has always worked away from this trend. We have created our competitive advantage based on 3 niches namely:
We excel at the hugely complicated shows that has multi-track plenary sessions and speakers' presentation submissions,
We deliver consistently high delivery of successful shows,
We ideate with and for our clients.
Tell me a little bit about your clients – are they all local Malaysian companies?
Through the years, we have worked with many customers in Corporate Malaysia. We operate in 4 broad areas which were the exhibitions industry, the mall driven events , the meetings and conferences industry and finally the “events” industry where you have launches and gala dinners. Some of the significant clients that we have had over the years included all the major beaty brands such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Shiseido which drive the mall events. At one time, we were also running a lot of fashion related shows for our clients. For the exhibition industry we serve the top players in the market such as PICO, Innogen , Brandme, Perk Idea and many more. As for the conferences, our major clients includes the likes of Apxara who is a major player in the pharmaceutical industry as well as SPE ( Society of Petroleum Engineers) who are a global organization. We were helping them in Major conferences throughout the Asian region as well as Oceania. We have also had a slew of banking customers as well as Insurance companies. All in all, we do have a very enviable past clientele list and I do appreciate all of them till today. Our showcase deck used to be well over 200 pages and most clients who saw it for the first time would be in awe. I have since stopped sharing this deck as our name has become a staple for those in the industry.
I know Accucap merged with Apxara in 2018 to formed Aavii Worldwide Sdn. Bhd. Isn’t that a little sensitive to be working with other event agencies when your subsidiary Apxara Travel is also a competitor working with corporates & multinational companies in Healthcare, Beauty, & Financial Institutions?
On the surface level, it may first come across as sensitive, but on a deeper level our top supporting event agencies know that we never cross the line. Besides, Accucap has been around in the market for more than 15 years and it’s no point shooting over ourselves else we won’t have long-term business relationships with events agencies. Firstly, the customers that we serve are simply too diverse to be of competition. For an example: the pharmaceutical industry players vs the Oil & Gas players. If it is one thing we have learnt over the years, most agencies focus and build niches in specific areas. Someone who does events for the alcohol industry rarely focuses out into the pharmaceutical conferences per say. The other thing we hold dear is reputation. As the adage goes, it takes forever to get someone to trust you but only a second to lose it.
The pandemic has put a lot of life-events on hold, how is Accucap holding up a year since Malaysia had its first lockdown?
Accucap and in fact our group of companies under the brand Aavii has managed to weather this storm better than most. Now, this is not to say things weren’t tough for us. It was. However, we managed to pivot into the digital realm very quickly given our background. We moved into webinars, livestreams and also hybrid events. We also played a significant if not crucial role in the group’s ability to pivot into digital events and this has helped kept our people and company afloat during these disastrous times. We did well over 326 webinars, livestreams, hybrid events as well as virtual AGMs for public listed companies since March 2020, and just last month, we ran what I would like to call “mega conferences” together with Innogen and SPE. The show was called the International Petroleum Technology Conference 2021 and it had well over 50 streaming sessions with a couple of hundred speakers running over 6 concurrent tracks over 8 days. What did I tell you about how we excel at the hugely complicated shows right?
Wow, that’s amazing how you and your team pull through the pandemic and pivoted into live-streaming. So, where next from here?
What do you mean next? Between now and Dec 2021 or the next 3 to 5 years?
(Laugh) Both short term within 2021 and medium term 3 – 5 years?
Short term wise….. we need to focus on the recovery. On a business front we need to rebuild our war chest both financially and also in terms or human capital. We need to help our customers execute their events and rebuild the industry together. Many of our competitors have shuttered and our industry is still licking its wounds.
Medium term wise, I believe………….. this pandemic has changed the world in which we live in. The future lies in technology and more importantly the mastering of technology because so many people are online now and have gone digital, I believe medium to long term growth will be fueled by the online era and how we master it. Many of these applications are more on the realm of the digital economy and AV plays a different part in it now. As events return in Hybrid form, I also see that there will be shortages in manpower for all event companies to cope with running both physical and digital events simultaneously.
Perhaps a little twist before we end the interview. You’ve been in the Audio Visual business for almost 20 years now. Looking back, what would you have done anything differently? For some of your audience, I’m sure they like to know if AV is a sustainable business as investment cost is your main CAPEX.
This a tough one to answer (laughs a little) but I’ll try my best to address it. AV business is just like any other businesses – it is not always the way you want it or hope your ideas will miraculously make it when you first start. It’s a lot of trial & error for us at Accucap. We started with system integrating but went into owning events equipment & content development for conferences, exhibitions & events. Looking back, I would likely pick the same path but be a little more mindful on cost and ROIs for equipment we own. Just like any other tech, AV equipment has their lifespan. So it is imperative that you maximize rental of these equipment, much like selling a hotel room yet keeping your cost in check. Otherwise, you’ll be working back to back with very little profit or no profit to fuel the next new equipment. It is really like juggling 3 balls at the same time with your bare hands – the right hand must know when to let go and pick up the ball.
Whether AV is a sustainable business? Yes it is. Over the past 20 years, we’ve carved out a very nice niche for ourselves and like I’ve mentioned earlier, complicated multi-track events is a sweet spot for us as our team is experienced and dedicated. We do not just rent our equipment out, we sit down with our clients to understand their need and ideate side by side with them for results they want. So, it’s a rather long and creative process when working with our clients.
Hope I manage to answer this question of yours… phew!
So, what’s a piece of advice you can give to people who is reading this article now who is wanting to jump into your business?
I’ll tell them don’t but you can always join our team (laugh out really loudly). We are based in our Gadget Lab store in Sunway and parking is free, so you should really join us instead of setting up another company.
On a serious note, we are always looking for people who work well under pressure, gets all excited over the latest hardware and knows their way around software that are more complex than your basic Microsoft Office. If you dabble in creating your own videos, music or similar;
you most likely have the capability to be taught on how to create and run a show both physically and digitally.
But if you insist to start another AV company, my advice will be…………….come team up with us instead. To go at it alone in this day and age would really be committing financial and mental suicide. Come and speak to us, partner up with us and leverage on our skills, experience as well as reputation to help you build your own core set of customers and ultimately your own business. The world now moves at break neck speeds and the more we work together and share the spoils of that labor the higher our chances of success.
Mr. Jim Tan is The Maverick & Chief Sales Officer of Accucap Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary of Aavii Worldwide. Aavii is a brand experience agency based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For almost 2 decades, Aavii is the source of event creativity for Fortune 500 brands in meetings, conferences, incentive travel, events and content development. Aavii was founded with the vision of “Changing The Way People Meet” through events technology & content development. For further information about the group, visit www.aaviiworldwide.com