Authored by: Low Jun Yi, Shafishuhaza Sahlan
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) succesful alumnus shared his journey from student to entrepreneur
The Center For Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIRO) UTM Interns has organised the CAIRO UTM Interns webinar on Student’s Idea to a Startup.
It was delivered by Dr. Khor Kang Xiang, the co-founder and CEO of Techcare Innovation Sdn. Bhd.
Responsible in developing smart rehabilitation and fitness devices, Dr Khor is a graduate from Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), UTM in Rehabilitation Engineering.
The CAIRO UTM Interns webinar was moderated by Mr. Low Jun Yi, a fellow intern undergoing industrial training in the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIRO), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia UTM. CAIRO UTM Interns is an industrial training group supervised by CAIRO UTM members, Associate Professor Dr Yeong Che Fai and Ir. Dr. Shafishuhaza Sahlan.
Dr Khor initiated the talk with a reference to an article on sihatMalaysia (http://sihatmalaysia.my/the-tech-that-cares/) which was published in 2019, based on Dr. Khor’s accomplishment, by far.
According to Dr. Khor, towards the end of his internship back in 2013, he felt unfilled and could not see himself working the same thing every day. Hence, Dr. Khor decided to challenge himself by venturing into the medical field, and when looking at him now, he eventually succeeded.
Along the way, Dr. Khor successfully gained numerous distinguished honors and awards while building his reputation in the medical field.
Among the significant awards include Young Innovators at World Innovation Summit for Health, Excellent Award and 1st prize (Microsoft Track) in Innovate Malaysia Design Competition, Best Presenter at the International Conference for Innovation in Biomedical Engineering and Life Sciences (ICIBEL) and many more.
Dr. Khor intrigued the audience by questioning them with a simple question “What are your dreams?”.
His simple question is intended to remind the audience of their very first dream, i.e. intentions, and to always follow their dream. He had similar experience when he first built his startup. Whenever he felt like quitting, he would always remember the question and moved forward. Dr. Khor then shared his life journey, through his ups and downs and his constant struggle, much like everyone else in similar situation.
During this journey, Dr Khor felt that his life will turn out exactly like others before him, but to his surprise, that was not the case, there was a turning point event that had changed his life, forever.
During the university years of Dr Khor Kang Xiang, in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, joining the UTM Robocon Team, he participated in numerous competitions throughout the years, where he and his team successfully attained several rewards. However, at this stage of his life, Dr Khor started to wonder whether the reasons he joined the competitions were simply to get his participation documented, and of course to win, which he did.
Therefore, Dr Khor asked himself, “why should I bother to work hard after achieving all those successes?” There and then that Dr. Khor realized of his initial intention. When recalled, Dr. Khor’s initial intention was to study hard, and contribute ‘something’ back to society. That was the turning point of Dr. Khor’s life, where he adamantly decided to get involved in the biomedical fields.
As time passed by, Dr. Khor constantly reminded himself that, that was the best decision he has made, and now, as the CEO of TechCare Innovation Sdn Bhd, he never looked back.
Dr Khor continued to share his experience on how he kicked off his startup. Dr Khor’s advice to the audience is, “don’t stop … keep going…”. Dr Khor himself never gave up in conducting research and implement improvement on his inventions.
To improve on the quality of his products, Dr Khor constantly utilizes his opportunity to learn from research experts through his academic and industry collaboration. Dr Khor emphasized the importance of tests and trials on product development, as well as collecting responses or feedback on the developed product.
Examples of trials and tests conducted in Dr. Khor’s company can be observed in Figure 1 and Figure 2, where it is a compulsory phase before the products were released to be sold.
In addition to that, Dr Khor also highlighted the importance of connecting to the ecosystem. Three goals are required to achieve this, firstly is understanding the pain. The needs of people need to be understood where the proposed solution will have large pools of users with expert practitioners who conduct studies on the problem.
The second goal is conducting quality research,where Dr. Khor took the opportunity to learn from research experts, because advanced research facilities are very important to provide necessary assistance.
The last goal that Dr Khor highlighted is creating sustainable business. This final and most important goal requires assistance from commercialisation experts and effective communications with the manufacturers and distributors.
Dr. Khor also advised the audience that one will succeed only when he or she has the right attitude, which he realized this advice in finalizing his PhD study. In Figure 3 below, the goals highlighted by Dr. Khor is presented.
Dr. Khor continued his talk by introducing his company products to the audience which are FIBOD and CR2 (Refer to Figure 4). FIBOD or Fitness Balance Board is a balancing device that can help maintain one fitness and train the balancing abilities. CR2, on the other hand, is a physiotherapy device that can help users perform some simple hand movements, i.e. a very useful device for recuperating stroke patients.
True to his words, Dr. Khor showed some of the users’ feedback and mentioned that his customers are spread across five countries (Malaysia, Thailand, India, China and the United Kingdom).
Finally, Dr. Khor summarised his talk by relating to the term 5W and 1H. The first W is related to the statement, why you want to do this. Dr. Khor told the audience that to be constantly motivated, one needs to be passionate on the subject matter i.e., passion is key.
Next, thinking from the customers’ perspective is crucial in solving problems that arise. Hence, the proposed solution originates partly from the customers point of view and are not solely designed for commercialisation purposes. The next W comes from who will do it with you? i.e., signifies a solid team to help each other, and consisting of team members who have the same goal, but with different approaches.
Lastly, the letter W comes from where and when to sell. A plan or strategy for sales and marketing is required to execute these steps fully. This will then lead us to the letter ‘H’, i.e. how you can do it. To relate to this, Dr. Khor mentioned that related technical skills are required when developing a product.
In conclusion, the talk yields an inspiring and positive aura that the audience could learn so many things from, utilizing Dr Khor’s colourful journey, starting from being a normal student, (exactly like the UTM interns) until becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The key points gained from this talk are the steps needed for students to build a startup and knowing the essential elements in creating a business.