IoT or Internet of things is a system where technologies or devices collect and transfer data through a cloud or platform. In present times, we are taking advantage of this smart and advanced system to make our lives easier, and to some extent, better. For tech or system developer, IoT is an innovation playground of endless possibilities where they can transform their ideas into reality, however, many of them don’t have a platform where they can connect their sensors to. Dr. Mazlan Abbas, Dato’ Wei Chuan Beng, and Dr. Gopinanth Rao are IoT enthusiasts who created a platform called Favoriot and it helps developers from all over the world to create their own IoT solutions in a faster and easier way. Aside from their IoT platform, they also created 4 applications.
Faces of SMEs Team (F) got the chance to talk to one of Favoriot founders, Dr. Mazlan Abbas, and here is his interesting and inspiring story.
IoT is a system where technologies collect and transfer data through a platform. For tech or system developer, IoT is an innovation playground where they can transform their ideas into reality, however, many of them don’t have a platform where they can connect their sensors to. Dr. Mazlan Abbas, one of Favoriot founders, created a platform that can help developers create their own IoT solutions in a faster and easier way. "Take that jump and take the leap of faith. You must be passionate towards making your dreams come true."
Posted by Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs on Tuesday, February 4, 2020
F: Why did you start your business?
M: We started in April 2017. We had the idea of helping people when they’re living alone, like the elderly or people who are retired, because they usually have a hard time in calling for help when there’s an emergency. So, our solution is RAQIB which is an application that helps monitor elderlies at home through a wearable smartwatch. You can monitor their health, location, and safety. Then, we extend our solution to monitor people who are joining the Hajj. Muslims who join the pilgrimage usually have a hard time finding ways to go back. Our application can help them know where they are and connect them to the right people if there’s an emergency. Our third app is FAVORSENSE and it is a smart-city solution to engage the city council and the local citizens. Through our platform, city problem reports can reach the local council in a faster and easier way. You can even put the exact location so the local council can know where to solve the problem. At the same time, citizens can also track the progress of the solution to the problem. Our fourth product, which is still a work in progress, is called D’scover and it is a smart-travel companion and we hope to launch it soon.
Aside from the 4 applications that we established, we also have a platform where people can create their own IoT system easily and that platform is Favoriot. IoT is when we are moving towards an era where everything can be connected through the internet. It requires a network connection and from there it goes into a platform, called the middle web, and that’s where everything starts to connect. There are a lot of people who want to develop their own IoT solutions but they just don’t have the platform to connect their sensors. They subscribe to our platform and they’re are given the access to have a system where they can create applications easily and faster. We open this platform to everyone because we want to encourage more people in Malaysia to create IoT solutions. We also extended this platform to other countries as well. More than 2500 developers in 90 countries are using our platform as of the moment. We also won the “Malaysia’s Best IoT Startup” award in 2019.
F: Did you have a full-time job before starting Favoriot?
M: I’ve worked in several companies before Favoriot. After I graduated from college, I became a lecturer in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for 10 years. After that, I left the university to join a telco company and I got the chance to work in different departments in my 13 years stay. Later on, I joined a government agency and I focused on R&D. They assigned me to work on wireless technology and that’s when I got interested in IoT. I worked there for 8 years and then I went back to the telco industry. In there, they want me to set up a subsidiary focusing on digital services, and that was my turning point. Basically, I’m just building a new startup company but it’s not my own. In December 2016, my co-founder and I were on a business trip to Silicon Valley. It’s different when you are in a place where big tech companies are there, like Google and Apple. We also got the chance to visit other places where you can see a lot of logos of startup companies that we are actually using daily, then you realized that they also started small and now they are growing big. That gave me the confidence to start my own. The moment we came back to Malaysia we decided to start on our own. After 2 ½ years working as the CEO of the subsidiary, I talked with one of my co-founders and agreed that we want to venture on our own.
F: Can you share with us one problem that you experienced and how did you handle it?
M: Initially, they say that the idea is good. It’ a good tool to help the elderly but in reality, there are technical and price issues. In terms of practicality, a lot of elderlies are not into technology and they are having a hard time in using smartwatch. As you get old, you became more fragile and not really suitable for a smartwatch. We changed our smartwatch model because of that reason. In regards to the pricing issue, our hardware is dependent on the partner and that’s why we can’t control the price so much. So, we made it simpler and make the price yearly, instead of monthly.
F: What legacy do you want to leave behind?
M: I want to create as many jobs as possible for the younger generation. I want to create a community of generation IoT. I can see myself as one of the pioneers in Malaysia to evangelize IoT. One day, one of my staff said that he saw my name as one of the top influencers of IoT in the world. I was number 20. It surprised me how I managed to get on that list. Because of that, I realized that I’m the type of person who loves to share and write. From that point, I’ve been writing a lot of articles. There’s not a lot of talent in Malaysia in terms of IoT right now, that’s why I want to create a movement for IoT in young generations in Malaysia. Once you have enough talent, then the business will grow. When there are a lot of businesses, there are also more available jobs.
We also appointed ambassadors in different countries, to help us promote IoT solutions and our platform so we can encourage more people to make their own IoT project. We’ve been helping a lot of people, especially university students who are making their IoT projects. We also have contests that we offer to universities and they have to make a project using our platform.
F: What is your advice to those who also want to start their own business?
M: Don’t think too long. Take that jump and take the leap of faith. You must be passionate towards making your dreams come true. But be careful when you design your product because the most important part of a product rollout is the product-market fit, which means ensuring that the solution that you build is really meant to solve a problem and the problem must be big enough for you to sustain and grow your business. You can make money when you work in a corporate world but it’s not the same when you join the entrepreneurship world. The fun part is the ownership, freedom, and excitement.