For Phison CEO and co-founder Pua Khein-Seng, entrepreneurship isn't about chasing money so much as it is about creating value out of nothing and nurturing people, whether employees, suppliers or clients, writes LIM WING HOOI.
is part of a team of five, comprising two Malaysians, two Taiwanese and one from Macau, who in 2000 founded Phison
, the Taiwan-based original design manufacturer specialising in flash controllers.
In 2012, Phison set up a 1,800-sq ft research and development (R&D) centre at the Bayan Lepas Industrial Estate in Penang, with a staff of eight.
A graduate in electrical control engineering from the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Taiwan, Pua says getting their business started was far from a stroll in the park.
In fact, it was as bad as one could imagine, with nasty employers and lawsuits thrown into the mix.
university days, he
signed up as a researcher with a professor of his
on a programme that was developing NAND flash technologies controller for flash drives.
"We became their core technicians, sometimes sleeping in the office and barely attending class," Pua
They eventually succeeded in helping to develop a workable compact flash controller during the programme.
While this was a happy break-through, Pua
friends decided that they were not being properly remunerated for their efforts.
They used up half a million dollars in the first nine months of operations for rental, salaries, machinery and R&D expenditures, and as such, Pua
says, the fledging company took up any jobs that came their way - from designing USB card readers to MP3 players and voice recorders.
During one of the court proceeding, Pua remembers becoming angry when an FTC general manager said: "You young people are shameless.
After that incident, the company started to grow from strength to strength, and Pua
made it a practice to patent what the company designed.
According to Pua
was able to weather all the challenges because he
had on his
side - not fair-weather friends but - shareholders, suppliers and clients who had faith in what the company was doing.
"Sometimes, we meet our clients' needs even when we lose money on the deal because they are the people who will be around not just to give us better deals in the future, but also when times are bad," he
With a staff of 1,100 in a 40,000-sqm R&D centre in Jhunan, Miaoli, Taiwan and R&D offices in Penang (Malaysia), Hefei (China), Silicon Valley (US) and a logistics office in Tokyo (Japan), Phison
has an export market that covers the US, Europe, Japan and China.
Concluding the interview, Pua
says the company remains humble and focused, with a strong leadership guiding it.
The partners - now president, chief technology officer (CTO) and directors at Phison
- have remained with the company through thick and thin.
"The five of us have something in common: we are not addicted to money," stresses Pua