Bob Chua - Malaysia’s Entrepreneurial Adrenalin Junkie
DSA caught up with Pulse Group CEO Bob Chua just after he had returned from a trip to Nepal. Not a business mission, but a thrill seeking ride on old time Royal Enfield Motorbikes across the Himalayas with a couple of adrenalin junkie friends. You can view a video of Bob’s journey here.
Perhaps the most famous entrepreneur adventurer is Richard Branson but there are many others and perhaps we should not be surprised that a thrill-seeking streak runs through these people. Every entrepreneur is a risk taker at heart and their business journeys can be just as “hairy” as their physical adventures.
A look at the history of Chua shows him to be a real “old school” entrepreneur.
After cutting his teeth in senior positions at companies like Neilsen and TNS, Bob felt he had built enough experience in digital research to go it alone, eventually he started Pulse Group, which now lays claim to being one of Asia’s premier Digital research agencies.
Bob’s Pulse Group journey like his Nepal adventure has not been typical. In very short time after founding the company, he successfully took Pulse public in 2008 raising approximately RM2,500,000 on the Plus Stock Exchange in London. By October 2012 Bob and his major shareholders decided that that the shackles of being a PLC were thwarting the development of the company and they made the decision to voluntarily delist.
Doing so has enabled the company to be far more agile and respond to new opportunities as they come up. Not many Malaysian’s have the drive to list on a London based Exchange and very few, Malaysian or otherwise have the courage to delist. These two facts alone show the extent of Bob’s tenacity.
As one of Malaysia’s early IT entrepreneurs we were interested to see if Bob felt the Malaysian Government does enough to help the new batch of budding start-ups. His view was quite fascinating and very telling. He points out that the Malaysian Government is doing a lot these days to support tech start-ups. A lot more than when he first started out and he sees this as a positive step. However Bob adds a word of caution, he is proud that Pulse has never taken any grants from the Government and points out that too much government spoon feeding is actually a bad thing for an entrepreneur.
This is where his old school heritage comes through. For Bob the struggle to get started is an important part of learning how to survive and excel in the real world. A helping hand from government is OK, but too much and the danger is we create molly-coddled entrepreneurs that don’t have the battle scars to succeed in the commercial rat race.
Bob’s new Big Data Practice “Pulsate” is further evidence of a “tuned-in” and experienced businessman who knows how to jump on opportunity when it arises.
In truth Big Data is a natural progression for a company like Pulse Group. The business of pulse has always been to extract knowledge from Data.
When Bob started in this business working for companies like Neilson, even though the data collection techniques were different (data was collected by clipboard carrying students being paid to conduct questionnaires in the street) the driving force has always remained constant – extracting value from data.
For a company like Pulse Group, the rise of Big Data can be both a threat and an opportunity, but like all successful entrepreneurs, Bob only sees it as an opportunity. Pulsate his Big Data division is only at the start of its journey, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it drives Pulse Group to greater success than ever before.
It is clear Bob sees the opportunities. Providing outsourced Big Data services is a natural progression of what Pulse Group already does, but we can hear Bob’s brain whirring with the other possibilities he is exploring such as a Big Data training academy to capitalise on the huge forecasted big data skills gap the world is already experiencing.
We are sure that Pulse Group will have a part to play in the Malaysian Big Data Scene and beyond, but we are even surer that just as Bob is already planning his next Motorbiking Adventure, his entrepreneurial ride is also far from complete.