From Artist to Entrepreneur
This entrepreneurial spirit spilled over to his undergraduate life when he started using his artistic ability to earn extra pocket money while studying in Universiti Sains Malaysia (he majored in Fine Art while pursuing a degree in Education). His hand-drawn t-shirts were in big demand and popular among his university friends!
Although he was studying for his degree in Education, Nic couldn’t imagine himself a teacher in a Government school. He rebelled and refused to conform, preferring to carve his own path.
“My first and only job was as an art director in an advertising agency despite not knowing how to design using a computer! My ability to market myself convinced my then employer to hire me to lead an entire team of far more experienced graphic designers,” Nic recounts.
He experienced agency work for a year but it turned him off. The hours were long and the deadlines, tight. He used to go home, shower and return after dinner to his office where he continued to work till the early hours, accompanied only by The Beatles. Until today, The Beatles’ song “Let It Be” still reminds him of the time he used to slog at the office!
The experience made him realise that he never wanted to work for others. He decided to start his own business because he knew that he could do so much better on his own.
This was how Redbox Studio was “born” in 1998, right in the middle of the turbulent Asian financial crisis.
Inspired by Wing Chun
Nic believes his knowledge, practice and competition experience in Chinese wu shu during his teenage years in Kuching, Sarawak may have been the catalyst for the Redbox X Factor, a system he developed in 2008.
The Redbox X Factor which has evolved into the One Mountain One Dragon system is deeply inspired by the highly lethal yet supremely elegant martial art style of Wing Chun, made famous by the movie “Ip Man”. Martial art principles from Wing Chun are the foundational principles of the Redbox X Factor system which he created to enable business owners understand marketing and business.
Says Nic, “We’ve transitioned and moved beyond conventional web design because we realised our strength has always been in marketing even from the beginning – just look at our clients’ results. Because I’m a business owner, I understand the dilemma that you as a business owner go through.”
The Power of Thinking Well
Nic started conducting workshops to teach business owners about web design and marketing in 2009. In 2013, he started experimenting with Marketing Mojo Meetups where he shares a lot of what he thinks about – smarter and more effective ways to market.
He also presents at Tech Tuesday sessions – educational sessions where business owners can attend to get clear about websites. He knows that the market is saturated with lots of misleading information given by unscrupulous people so getting the right information is often the first and most important step.
“Everything begins with the right mindset and the right question. Ask the right question or solve the right problem and you get the right answer. If you don’t, you’re running around in circles.”
All Redbox Studio workshops are pure education sessions without any pushy sales or over-hyped claims. Nic always believes that every workshop or session must be of value.
“When you educate sincerely, you are engaging in the best type of marketing,” he says.
Nic says he is fortunate to have learnt art, typography and design from his tough-as-nails professors. The knowledge of manually producing design when computers were just coming into play means that he understands the importance of design as a communication tool versus design for design’s sake. Over the years, Nic has nurtured this as the foundation for the remarkably distinct communication style which Redbox Studio is well known for.
“Redbox Studio has always been built on ethics. We’re here to empower clients with strategies so they can run a successful, world class business without sacrificing their integrity,” reiterates Nic.
Nic is currently the Chairman of Mensa Penang, the high IQ society. He is a platinum level author expert at EzineArticles.com since 2004.
On the media front, Nic has been featured by Men’s Health Malaysia magazine (December 2005) and Graduan (2006) with regular interviews by business undergraduates as a unique case study for their business and management courses.
He is also a regular speaker on entrepreneurship and has recently published his book, co-written with Krista Goon titled Web Wisdom.
If you'd like to invite Nic to speak on topics such as entrepreneurship or marketing, please contact him.
Connect with Nic
When Nic isn’t speaking, training or conducting workshops, he enjoys reading business books, sipping Pu-erh tea and watching sunsets. He is still madly passionate about all things design so Steve Jobs’ passing was truly a big blow.
Nevertheless, he considers himself fortunate that he lived in the era of Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs and Cantopop group, Beyond – three of the greatest creative legends of all time in his opinion.
He is also an artist and 2013 marked his official return to the world of art. (His artwork have been bought by private art collectors in The Netherlands and Singapore.) Read this interview to learn more about Nic.
Connect with Redbox Studio on Facebook.