#Asia Warren Leow: My company Designs.net went global since Day 1 – here’s how I did it


The former Executive Director of MaGIC is embarking on a new journey with Designs.net


The Southeast Asian startup scene might recognise Warren Leow as Executive Director at Malaysia’s government-sponsored startup community MaGIC. He is the man who used to run its acceleration programme.

However, he has now moved on to a new adventure — founding Designs.net, an online marketplace for templates, services, and online-to-offline printing.

When asked about what inspired him to start a new beginning, his answer was firm: The opportunity to build a global marketplace from Day 1 within Southeast Asia.

“At MaGIC, I was leading a lot of work in ecosystem building and relationship management. Now, it is more about pushing for stellar business results for a core business,” he explained.

Designs.net aspires to be the one-stop-shop for all graphic design-related requirements. Users can buy templates for brochures, banners, logos, and fonts, also engage designers to customise the templates. Eventually, the platform allows users to funnel them to local printers for fulfillment.

As Leow described it, “Think of it as a potential platform which integrates templates, services and online to offline printing.”

Designs.net is owned by the Inmagine Group — a global creative ecosystem powered by design, technological innovation, and entrepreneurship — founded by Andy and Stephanie Sitt.

There are many aspects that Designs.net leverage from its existing position within the Inmagine Group. From more than 300 designers it has within the group, to the 16 million visitors it gets for the group’s royalty-free stock photo platform 123RF.

Designs.net is currently internally funded by Inmagine Group and is being run by a team of at least 40 staffs.

“Within the 123RF group, I also support partnership initiatives to bring more value to the group. So the new challenge definitely appealed to me when thinking about options after MaGIC,” Leow added.

Also Read: The MaGIC of building a thriving startup ecosystem in Malaysia

Designs.net currently has 15,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) and is aiming to reach 100,000 by the end of the year. It aims to be the platform to empower designers all around the world to monetise their creative work more flexibly.

The company’s ambition for global domination began after it discovered 90 per cent of revenue comes from outside of Asia.

“The nature of the digital content industry as things stand are skewed towards US, Europe, Japan, etc. Hence, the reason why it has to be global from Day 1,” said Leow.

“To target the markets, it is about spending rationally on user acquisition across the different geographies we currently operate in as a group,” he added.

However, reaching out ot international market is not always an easy feat, a phenomenon that Leow saw in several Malaysian startups.

Most products and services are tailored specifically for local markets, or its quality is simply not sufficient for international market.

“However, there are a few Malaysian companies which have succeeded globally such as Mindvalley, Fusionex, Jomsocial, 123RF. Opportunities are available for those with a clear focus or a niche which makes sense,” he said.

Also Read: MaGIC whips startups into shape and preps them for the world stage

In order to fulfill the mission to go global from the start, Leow’s advice for businesses is quite straightforward: “Get your product and your unit economics right”.

“Do your due-diligence before jumping into any new idea. Both are fundamental when it comes to business planning and a path towards sustainability and profitability,” he ended.

Image Credit: Warren Leow

The post Warren Leow: My company Designs.net went global since Day 1 – here’s how I did it appeared first on e27.

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