Back in April, we invited Keeran Janin to our company’s brain storming session for a Q&A about innovation. Keeran’s foresight and uncomplicated approach towards business has not only encouraged us as a company to be more innovative, but it has has also helped our team to re-examine our strategy; and to shift the trajectory of our business focus for the next 12 months.
From Keeran, we learnt how to look at our market beyond Brunei; we learnt to question the way we do business; and to challenge the status quo. We believe that every business needs to have a friend and a mentor like Keeran. Therefore it gives us tremendous pleasure to share some of his insights with you.
You’re a successful entrepreneur inspite of doing your diploma mainly as a long-distance student in Brunei. Is there any correlation between an elite educational background and one’s success in business?
I’m completely Bruneian educated except for finishing the final year of my degree in the UK, so really I only spent about a year away from home in terms of schooling.
I jumped between different schools while growing up. Back in those days the rules kept changing and Bruneian children were at times not allowed to go to certain schools. So I started my primary education at an international school, then I went to a local school for secondary and then back to an international school for my A-levels. After which I studied for a long-distance diploma at a local ‘computer college’ (when I say college it was actually a small school in an old shophouse in Bunut). This college served its purpose and I got my diploma which I was then able to use as credits to put towards the final year of a degree in the UK. I think being exposed to so many different education systems and teaching styles was actually quite beneficial. I had to do extra work to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of my weaker subject areas. And at the end of that one year away, I was honoured to be awarded the ‘RM Footit Award’. This award was given for the best computing project of 2004 by the British Computer Society.
Walk us through the “Keeran Janin” entrepreneurship journey.
My story is quite simple. I was working for a mobile phone operator in the early days of 3G and from being in that industry I saw the great opportunity that there was in this industry and in particular the explosion that was about to begin with smartphones and consumption of mobile content. So I decided to start up my own business. And even though this may sound like the usual cliché, my business was started in a spare room in my home and on a shoe-string budget (I joined a local IT competition and used the $6000 prize money I won as my startup capital). From there onwards I just enjoyed myself coming up with ideas, building solutions and then seeing which ones floated and which ones sank.
You spent sometime in Silicon Valley recently. What did you do there and what did you learn?
As you know Silicon Valley for tech people is what Hollywood is for actors so it’s only natural to gravitate towards this area. Being an entrepreneur, I went to explore what I could do there. First thing that really struck me was the sheer pace at which things move and the energy. Decisions are made on the spot, with an attitude of not over thinking things and just trying it out. People there also possess a very infectious anythingis-possible mindset. After being there for a few weeks you find yourself truly believing that you could change the world with some seemingly crazy ideas; and not surprisingly the people that think like this are the ones that actually pull it off.
The theme of this issue is Entrepreneurship, Franchises and Technology. What role does technology play in Brunei’s society?
Technology whether you like it or not plays some part in everyone’s life not just in Bruneian society, but in the whole world. Technology is just a tool though, but one that if harnessed to its full potential can give you a strong competitive advantage. For a small place like Brunei, our best chance of being competitive as a country in the future is to fully embrace technology, in all aspects of our lives; and also in how we work to maximise people’s output and productivity.
We’re in a very unique position where we are a country with the means to acquire and use the latest technologies, and have the added advantage of being small and nimble enough to put them to use far faster than any of our neighbours. Executed correctly, technology could very easily be used to help propel Brunei to becoming the most admired society and economy in the region.
You have a reputation for being at the forefront of new, cutting edge ideas particularly in technology. How do you keep yourself abreast of the latest trends? How do you keep your company innovative?
I just have a passion and interest in doing things that are new and different. Today information and news is readily available at our fingertips. I’m constantly plugged into blogs, breaking news and stories from around the world whether I’m surfing the web on my laptop or on the go with my mobile. The people and culture in my companies are the same and we’re often in competition with each other to be the first to find out about any new innovations or bleeding-edge technologies; that in itself has the positive side-effect of keeping everyone up to date and innovative.
What is something that you and your company are best known for?
We are known for “Always choosing to take the path less travelled”.
What drives you?
Learning through experience, pushing my limits and occasionally surprising myself by doing things I’d initially thought were not possible.
What is your plan for the next 5 years?
I’ll be staying in tech for the next few years for sure, but expanding my horizons and exploring a much broader international market. Watch this space 😉
Keeran Janin is the founder of MeSixty. The company recently launched a breakthrough App called Chrends, a platform that provides everybody with a safe, secure way to share ideas and information about any topic with anyone. The company’s other flagship App: Best of Halal provides Muslims all over the world with a directory to search for the best Halal food in different cities around the globe. Keeran has recently relocated to Silicon Valley in search of his dream and to make a dent in the universe. We wish Keeran every success with his endeavour.