Ability to handle failure essential in businesses

Being the co-founder and chief technology officer of a successful startup may be a dream for many.

But for Christian Edelmann of dahmakan, being involved in a business like his means more than just carrying some cool titles.

Dahmakan is a food delivery service that manages the entire operation of the business, from cooking, delivery, to payment, in-house.

Sharing with the audience at the On The Edge Talk: Enterprises in the Digital Age, Edelmann said the company has gone through a lot of challenges to arrive where it is now.

Together with his two other partners, Edelmann said they had difficulties securing funding in the initial stage of their startup.

“When we finally managed to find an investor, our one and only kitchen got burnt down. We had 400 customers waiting for our delivery and we had to send out an email informing everybody that we are not sending lunch for two days,” he said.

It was challenges like this that made him feel like he “got punched in the face almost every day.”

“I was very good in university and I wasn’t used to failing but that is very different when you start a business.

“As a student, we are taught to aim for 95% and if you achieve 95%, you are excellent. However, if you start a business and you get 20% right, you are considered really really good,” he shared.

Eldelmann said the experience helped him see the importance of the ability to handle failure.

“Universities should change the way they teach and let students fail more often so that they don’t get surprised when they can’t achieve 95% in businesses,” he said.

However, the challenges did not tear him down, instead it motivated him to keep striving.  “I like to see what I have created come to fruition,” he said.

For Joel Neoh, he shared that in the digital age, knowledge is no longer exclusive to certain individuals as information can now be easily found online.

“It is more important to know how to apply the knowledge that we have,” said the founder and chief executive officer of Fave.

Fave is a leading loyalty and reward platform with presence in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

An alumni of Monash, Neoh said there are two types of people who can create a lot of value for their companies – those who build technology infrastructure, and those who are able to utilise the multiple infrastructure available.

“If you are not particularly technical, it is about thinking how to apply the existing technology.

“That means you are very curious and well versed on various types of technologies, and know how to use them to deliver a personal solution for a certain problem,” he said.

He said no companies can survive on their own without leveraging on an eco-system or an existing infrastructure in this digital age.

Giving the example of Grab and Uber, he said, the success of these companies lies in the eco-system that is built around them.

“The reason why Uber or Grab is so successful is because there is Waze. Without which, how would the driver know where to find its passenger (for pick up),” he said.

Neoh also foresees a cashless society being developed in Malaysia in the next five to 10 years.

“It is seemingly impossible right now but we are moving towards that direction, where there will be minimal cash exchanged,” he said.

On The Edge is an initiative by the Entrepreneurship and innovation Hub (eiHub), Monash University Malaysia. It aims to bring together university staff, students, industry and the local community to address contemporary challenges.