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This Malaysia telco startup is available in 200 countries: Here’s how they did it

Despite COVID-19, the company was able to expand their services and grow revenues 91% annually, and they expect the number to rise.

The startup in question is IX Telecom, founded by Noor Mohd Helmi Nong Hadzmi and Mohd Amzari Tajudeen.

The pair met back in Multimedia University (MMU) where they were just roommates with an entrepreneurial spirit. Helmi understood that they needed experience before starting a company, but that didn’t stop them from trying.

In 2003, Helmi joined AtlasOne, a telco startup, but it folded just after two years of operating. Helmi then joined AirAsia to head the low-cost carrier’s network team. Back then, AirAsia only had 5 aircraft to its name and by the time he left, the company expanded to a fleet of 100 aircraft.

AirAsia was on the rise but he still had the itch to pursue his entrepreneurial dream of running a telecommunications company, and thus IX Telecom was born.

Mohd Amzari Tajudeen (Left) and Noor Mohd Helmi Nong Hadzmi (Right), the founders of the company. Image Credit: IX Telecom via Vulcan Post

Connecting Companies Worldwide

IX Telecom is a company that provides connectivity, services and digital transformation to other companies around the world.

They’re also known as a Virtual Network Operator (VNO) and that means they don’t own any infrastructure. Instead, they work with 1,000 operators in over 200 different countries to provide customers with an internet connection.

Explain It: A VNO leases network towers and connections from network operators. A VNO then provides its customers with internet connection and services.

“IX was just a materialization of my dream that I had in college. Now that I had the experience, I knew exactly what I needed to do to make my dream a reality,” said Helmi in an interview with Vulcan Post.

He said the name IX was an abbreviation for (I)nternet e(X)change as it is literally what IX Telecom does: providing internet and connectivity to others.

Right off the bat, Helmi realised that telecommunication infrastructure takes a lot of money and time to build, so they had to improvise. Taking a VNO model that worked overseas, he tweaked it to fit the local market.

In the early days of the company, it was very challenging—they were the new kids in town and their potential clients only had eyes for big names and international players.

So, they changed course to focus on Hong Kong and Singapore instead. Coincidentally, their first customer was a Malaysian company with a branch in Singapore.

Not Just A Location But Also A Co-Founder

And because they had to fly often, it made sense for them to set up shop in Cyberjaya, which is close to KLIA.

Helmi then said that Cyberjaya is Malaysia’s centre of innovation. With Cyberjaya as the first MSC Cybercity, it also equipped IX Telecom with amenities like Data Centres and Fibre Networks.

Cyberview (a Tech Hub Developer, spearheading the development of Cyberjaya) provided them with lucrative rental rates and Cyberview also helped out with marketing and branding of the company, getting them noticed by the public.

Aside from that, Helmi also joined programmes offered by MDEC or MaGIC, both of which are based in Cyberjaya too.

The team believes that Cyberjaya, their first location, has helped them grow to reach 200 countries worldwide.

Despite COVID-19, the company was able to expand their services and they’ve experienced a 91% annual revenue growth, and he expects the number to grow too.

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Part Of A Nurturing Ecosystem

To be successful, Helmi said that the company had to be innovative and always learning.

“Working closely with telco and tech companies makes you realize that the state of technology is constantly changing. There is always a new type of technology being introduced into the market. So you need to always stay on top of things.”

The ecosystem in Cyberjaya nurtured people with the same mindset and that creates an ideal space for them to interact with tech and creative companies.

“Being close to such raw information from these companies made it possible to constantly evolve our products and services. Now, some of the companies here are already our clients. The calibre of companies based in Cyberjaya fostered a close-knit community because it was easy to communicate and exchange notes.”

IX Telecom also recently won a Life at Work award, thanks to the diversity and inclusion practices within the company.

“Cyberjaya is also an inclusive and diverse place for all races and the atmosphere has the same vibes that we have in IX Telecom.”

Helmi also won the CEO Champion award of Life at Work for his inclusive leadership to the management and employees.

But their work is not complete, IX Telecom just recently launched their Software Defined-Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solution and they’re venturing into digital transformation too.

He also has a few choice words for companies looking to venture into telecommunications: “It’s a diverse and dynamic field. Keep innovating and tailoring your products to cater to new business needs that keep arising.”

This article was first published by the Vulcan Post.