Founder and CEO of Genio Sdn Bhd, Kennie Chong is no stranger to starting small and working hard to achieve the kind of success in life he desired, anchored on the platform of honesty and integrity. In an interview, he shares on his journey in establishing his event management and production company, his future dreams and the advice he has for young entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own business.
Hailing from Ipoh, Perak, Kennie Chong grew up and had his early education in his hometown before moving to Nilai, Negeri Sembilan to pursue a course in electrical and electronic engineering at INTI College. He first obtained his diploma and went on for a degree at the University of Leeds, England. Upon his graduation, Chong started working as an engineer in a semi-conductor company.
“I believe in gaining enough experience through employment opportunities even before I venture into business,” shares Chong. “I had always been curious and interested about entrepreneurship and management skills.”
“After about a year of working, I decided to quit my job and start my own company, Genio Sdn Bhd. We started in Ipoh from a very humble beginning with minimal resources,” Chong reminisces. “Then I decided to venture out to new frontiers as I didn’t want to just rest on my laurels. I moved my company to Kuala Lumpur for a fresh start.”
Chong had the opportunity to meet his first mentor who is renowned in the field of event management. “He is the one who had impacted my career immensely. I decided to start a partnership with my mentor although I considered myself working for him,” says Chong with a smile. “We managed to come up with a deal where I will be primarily involved with business development and he will manage the operations. It was a great time for me where I got to be mentored and was able to earn a living at the same time.”
However, it wasn’t a walk in the park for Chong in Kuala Lumpur as it was a new environment for him. “I had to build all my networks from ground zero and handle the public relations aspect as well. It was very challenging initially where financial commitments have to be met and investments are constantly required to stay relevant,” laments Chong. However, he and his team overcame the challenges and through time and sacrifices, the business soon started to flourish.
“From the beginning, I envisioned Genio to be a leading event management company not only in Malaysia but across whole of Asia. Currently, we are now living that dream as our company has expanded services to Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Thailand,” says Chong with a sense of unmistakable pride. He personally thinks that a successful company is all about quality over scale, as that is the key contributing factor for sustainability and competitiveness. He also emphasizes the importance of having a team that delivers quality, thus providing a service that is of worth to clients and ensuring great satisfaction for them. “This will also secure their affection for the company,” he says.
“When we first started out, we offered event services and provide ground breaking ideas to enhance creativity and concepts. Down the road, we progressively ventured into event production services and we purchased our own audio and visual equipment such as LED screens, sound and lighting systems among others,” says Chong. Genio also supplies its equipment to other event companies and soon diversified into branding, video production, marketing consultancy and IT systems related to event industry.
Chong believes that in order to build a successful company, it is vital to stay innovative and think out of the box in order to constantly create something breath-taking. “Essentially, we are all concerned about getting on top in a very competitive market. Therefore, I have always emphasized on collaboration where effective business alliances could be forged. I also believe that when we go it alone, we can respond quickly, but when we want to go far, we need to collaborate in order to maintain maximum distribution of resources for the industry as a whole,” he explains.
Chong has kept expanding his business to other countries in the Asia Pacific region. Ten years’ down the road, he sees himself to be a motivational speaker and will focus in giving back to society. “I would like to give talks and share my experiences, ideas and skills to students, industry players and young entrepreneurs,” he says.
“Be daring to pursue your passion and be dead persistent about it. Always believe in what you are doing and overcome your doubts, and one day all these shall turn into great pay cheques,” says Chong. Also known as the “eventpreneur” or “eventainment guru”, his advice to young entrepreneurs: “Honesty and integrity built great businesses, where a right mentor will guide you to the right path. Be daring to explore uncharted waters, stay as ‘hungry’ as possible, and always learn humbly from the pros. Remember, luck alone is never going to bring you anywhere and make you successful.”