In-spiring young entrepreneur

“Getting the award was the best moment and the highest recognition I have received in my publishing journey,” said In. “Getting the award was the best moment and the highest recognition I have received in my publishing journey,” said In. “Getting the award was the best moment and the highest recognition I have received in my publishing journey,” said In.

By Elizabeth Chong

At just 32, Iko In has realised a childhood dream of being named among the Ten Outstanding Young Malaysians (TOYM).

In, who beat eight other finalists for the Business, Economic and or Entrepreneur Accomplishment category, is delighted that the recognition coincides with the 10th anniversary of the founding of his magazine publishing house under iN Publishers Sdn Bhd.

With the pressures of constant deadlines and regular overseas trips for trade fairs, In had almost forgotten his dream. Fortunately, his wife, Ianie Chong, hadn’t and she nominated him for this year’s TOYM, organised by Junior Chamber International Malaysia.

“Getting the award was the best moment and the highest recognition I have received in my publishing journey,” said In.

His accomplishments are astounding for someone with no publishing experience prior to launching iN Publishers’ first magazine – Creative Home – in 2003. Today, the fast growing group has five magazines which feature home living enlightenment and design firms that specialise in interior design for homes, offices, restaurants and hotels. It has also published several books, including (supermodel) Amber Chia’s Biography and (TV and radio personality) Chui Ling’s One Day Five Meals. For the past three years, it has also operated a retail shop and an e-commerce arm, iNShoppers.com.

“I don’t have much education but I have strong marketing skills and I know the importance of branding. It has always been more philosophy to be a pioneer or creator (of new trends) and not follow the path set by others,” he said.

He has stayed true to this philosophy; creating new market trends over the past 10 years. For instance, nine years ago, he launched iN.Design, the first local bilingual magazine published in English/Chinese and English/Bahasa Malaysia. iN Publishers also publishes iN.Home, a “yellow pages” of sorts for the industry.

In also delved into producing TV shows and iN Publishers now produces one season of Lifestyle.id per year. “We are the first (in the industry) to produce our own TV show and will be launching online TV later.” In keeping with the times, iN Publishers daily updates its website, and created apps for its magazines for the iPhone and iPad. “We need different products to target different market segments,” said In.

Another first is the creation of its own award – My Favourite ID Award (MFID), which in its inaugural run featured beautiful homes. The restaurant edition saw 100 judges picking the 10 most appealing and tantalising eateries in Malaysia followed by the prize presentation ceremony on Oct 29.

Aspiring entrepreneurs need to be determined and persistent

Earlier this year, In undertook a new project that culminated in the publication of the MFID Mook, a hard cover publication featuring the work on residential premises of 20 top interior designers as adjudged by 100 judges, comprising 80 local and 20 international personalities.

“I call it ‘mook’ as it is part-magazine, part-book. This project involved a lot of coordination and took six months. We plan to do this yearly. A restaurant edition is targeted by year-end and an office edition, next year,” he said.

Outside Malaysia, iN Publishers was the only Malaysian media partner for the 52nd edition of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the world’s largest home design exhibition fair better known as Isaloni, which is held in Milan annually.

In believes his lack of publishing experience has been a blessing in disguise. “Ten years ago, I felt there’s a market for an interior design magazine. Because I didn’t know better, I did things differently and was not hindered by how they have been done previously.

“Three years ago, we decided to get ISO certified and today, despite the constant deadlines, nobody needs to work overtime. At 6pm, we all leave the office,” he said.

He credits Chong, who was his first employee, for helping build the group. “It has been tough going but my wife has been very supportive. Initially, people questioned how we could be together all the time. No one finds it strange now. I’d rather work with her than have no time for her if I didn’t.”

“We discuss things all the time. We don’t always agree but he accepts my opinion. Our aim is to solve whatever work problem at hand,” added Chong.

In advises aspiring entrepreneurs to be determined and persistent. “When we started, there were many cynics and nasty remarks. Stay the course and be smart in judging how you respond to negativism. Marketing is very important and can make the difference between success and failure. You need to target the right market, and invest in advertising and promotion.”

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