Last June, Asiaonair, was launched. Concentrating on the hip and hot happenings around the region, Asiaonair is the offspring of 4 Malaysians, David Yong, Hon Loo, Melvin Lam and Elfred Yu. This is one e-business with a difference and is demonstrated by the fact that they have survived the dot.com meltdown. Sledgehammer talks to Elfred Yu, VP of Business Development to see what they’re doing right. A word of caution: Elfred Yu defies the stereotype of a typical dotcommer: twenty-something, bespectacled and a degree (better still a dropout) in computer science or computer engineering. Elfred has a background in business with a degree in Financial Management and many years of experience in consulting – financial, IT services and even entertainment. He takes care of the business and management side of Asiaonair in relation to technology and believes firmly that technology is great so long as it is transformed into a business tool to generate revenue.
S: What does Asiaonair do?
E: It’s an Internet broadband content and technology provider and we offer a network of multi-lingual and ‘participatory’ streaming content, innovative streaming software and practical online applications that enable users to communicate more interactively via voice, video, multimedia and wireless. We web-cast a lot of videos of local happenings and we have over 1,000 original video clips covering a variety of topics. We have our own camera crew that shoots the film material, which is then edited and uploaded. Usually these are clips you can’t see on TV, that’s why this is quite unique. This is a bit like Web TV. Previously, most Internet content is text based but now broadband technology makes it possible to televise on the Internet. Broadband enables faster downloading and whatever you view on the Internet will be very clear. You see a lot of audio-video and you can view the Internet like TV. But right now we’re banking on the building of infrastructure.
S: How big is the company?
E: Our staff strength is about 50+. We’re focussed on Asia, we have representatives and teams in Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand. In fact we have a country manager in Korea who manages our representatives there.
S: What is your reach?
E: We have an active subscriber base of 80,000 across Asia and we have reached out to just over 3 million page views and feature over 1,00 video clips on Asia’s lifestyles, events, people, food and shops, businesses and entertainment. 80% of our subscribers are Malaysian and the others are mainly from Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. We send out newsletters and have loyalty programmes for our subscribers to ensure they stay with us.
S: How has business been?
E: Rather good. We’re quite unique and because we’re one of the first to embark on broadband technology so we’re in the forefront spearheading the whole thing. There’s a great deal of talk about web commercials – transferring tv commercials on the web and what we do is that before some contents are viewed we put the commercials in. This is something that is pretty new to the advertising industry and we’re always talking to them but we also speak to many of the FMCG industries to promote their products online, for example, Eye-Mo and Mattel. The other thing is webcasting where we send out our camera crew to produce presentations of, for example, car launches. We put these on the client’s websites and/or on our own site – as an alternative sort of advertisement. These clips can be archived and viewed for a long time after the event – it’s like stretching time for the event.
S: What were the things that you did to survive the dotcom meltdown?
E: Despite the pessimistic outlook many have, no one can doubt that the Internet is the sunrise industry. We managed to sustain ourselves by not only being a dotcom but also by providing e-solutions which explains why we are still around. The e-solutions part of our business is a company called ADS Communications which deals with B2B, internet and intranet solutions. But this IS the business of the future. The boom showed that things are moving much faster in this industry than anywhere else. But the disadvantage is that too many dotcoms mushroom overnight and they often forget the fundamentals of sustaining themselves. Since the bubble has burst, those who have crossed over and have survived will consolidate.
S: What are some of the services that you offer for advertisers?
E: We give our clients many options. For example, web commercials where you can put tv commercials on the web for a fraction of the cost. We offer live and delayed casting of company agms, product launches, events, concerts, exhibitions. Our streaming technology helps you broadcast these important events live onto individual desktops around the globe in real time. You can stream this onto your corporate website as well. In delayed casting, the same is done after editing and it is not in real time. We also offer
sms advertising (we have a database of 1.7 million mobile phone users) to whom we can send messages at a click of a button. We provide the opportunity for ‘Interface Sponsorship’ in the hot spots of Asiaonair which create additional exposure for the brands and the company. We also do mass e-mailing where you can insert a promotional message or a hyperlink on our newsletter or even create a customised newsletter to be sent for your company to our subscribers. We hold online contests which brings the viewers in – everyone wants to win something – and they’re required to answer some questions regarding your company or your product in order to do so. We’ve come up with an innovative strategy to banner advertising which incorporates 4 interactive functions – watch my video/ listen to audio/ get gifts now/ buy online. We also have an established team of e-consulting professionals to provide cutting edge e-services such as online branding and marketing services, WAP development, intranet development, multimedia applications and systems integration.
S: Are you into e-business as well?
E: We have ‘Live Stores’ – the biggest electronic mall in terms of merchants and all these merchants sell their products through us. Basically our role is to help local businessman harness the Internet technology. We already have a comprehensive platform for them to start off on and our e-commerce platform is one-of-a-kind that integrates streaming of products and merchant videos to enhance the online shopping experience. We did promotions for events like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The response was quite good. During the low months we organise sales. We’re also the first to have e-logistics for delivery because many companies fail in the delivery area, we work with Running Man for local deliveries and FedEx for international and we work with UOB bank for our transactions. We also provide warehouse facilities where our merchants can store their goods. This reduces cost because it’s centralised and it also shortens the delivery time.
S: You did say that Asiaonair is all about local happenings – the latest events and products. Can you tell a little more about the contents?
E: We have a section called ‘Live Business’ where we cover the local business environment and do interviews with top business people. We also provide basic financial information like stock market updates and all that. We also have ‘Live Movies’ (a product of our strategic alliances with production houses especially in the US) where we showcase movie previews and trailers along with reviews as well. This also goes for music CDs as well. The ‘Live Views’ section encompasses local foods, local tourist attractions, local traditions, dances, weddings. We have generated a lot of interest and enquiries from abroad to have some of our contents on their sites – their audience will like to know more about Malaysia. The reason being that the world is so wide and people are curious about what is happening. TV is limited in catering to this need. That’s where we come into the picture.
S: What’s in the future?
E: Asiaonair aims to be Asia’s largest Digital media Company by the year 2004 and is currently working with all major broadband infrastructure providers in Malaysia. This year we are going to roll out aggressively our regional expansion plan into Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, San Francisco and Australia. We already have our representative offices and our strategic alliances in place and we intend to start pushing by June. By the end of 2002, Asiaonair intends to be established in Korea, India, Philippines and Thailand. China and Japan are targetted in the year 2004. We’ve done a good job in Malaysia and we intend to do the same in the other countries. We also see our subscriber base increasing dramatically – we have another site for Asiaonair which is entirely in Mandarin and this will be extremely useful when we go into Hong Kong and Taiwan and eventually China By the end of 2004, Asiaonair will be operating in 12 countries. It’s a vast opportunity here on the Internet, it just depends on how creatively we can harness it.
Asiaonair can be reached at http://www.asiaonair.com