Young and indomitable
Posted on 25th July 2016
They may be starting small, but theyre dreaming big.
He may be just 28, but Ho Wai Loon has set his sights on building a world-class R&D centre. But to get there, you have to run a viable business, and that’s why he set up Abbe Group. LIM WING HOOI reports.
HAVING a compelling mission statement before you start your company may just help you stay focused as you go about building your business.
For Dr Ho Wai Loon, 28, his aim is to set up a world-class research centre where you generate new knowledge rather than just applying what’s already known.
This, of course, requires massive funding, so the first task Ho has set for himself is to start a viable business. To this end, he started Abbe Group in 2015 with schoolmate Ooh Wei Chee, also 28. The firm provides R&D and consultancy services related to industrial processes for a host of industries from semiconductor and automotive, to pharmaceutical and oil and gas (O&G).
“We begin by addressing the core needs of the customer, whether this is to build a great product, speed up a process, improve efficiency or reduce cost. We also provide one-stop industrial automation spare-parts supplies at competitive prices, with prompt delivery,” says Ho.
As they don’t have the resources yet to set up their main manufacturing plant or buy their own R&D equipment, Ho and Ooh rely on partnerships with companies and universities with the relevant expertise in fulfilling their contracts.
Ho (right) and his partner, Ooh, take on jobs that range from RM500 to RM200,000.
According to Ho, who has a PhD in theoretical physics (intense laser field), this type of collaboration allows academics to work on real-world problems encountered by the private sector.
“During my doctoral study, I provided technical solutions to some local and foreign companies. I found that due to lack of communication among private corporations and research institutions, the new findings by local researchers are either not known to the private sector or the new findings cannot fulfil market needs,” he says.
Many of Ho’s clients — he has cultivated 20 in less than a year — were the companies he had helped when he was a doctoral student at University of Malaya.
The fees for the services that Abbe Group offers range from just RM500 to RM200,000. Last year, they collaborated with a Singapore-based company in designing and fabricating ball-bearings for ships ferrying O&G parts.
Expecting to achieve RM1mil in revenue by year-end, Ho says they are currently involved in a project to develop an industrial machine for a client. The works undertaken for the project include consultancy on the design, calculations and simulations, and the development of hardware and software.
Right now, Ho operates out of a rented shop in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, with just three workers. He says their next step is to raise funds as they frequently import the latest products.
The early capital outlay have come mainly from the savings of both founders.
Dr Lim Kok Sing of University of Malayas photonics research centre collaborates with the Abbe guys from time to time.
“I invested in the stock market in the early years to understand how it works. Eventually, I managed to make some money. But I thought, instead of investing in other companies, I might as well sell the stocks and invest in my own,” says Ho.
“We hope to hire local talents to help us grow the company,” he adds.