COFFEE TALK: EVENTS LEADING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DXN
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
In the last blog, I mentioned that towards the end of 1992, I decided to establish DXN. The journey wasn’t easy. Even after waiting for 10 years, I felt that I lack preparation to establish a company. The funds were not sufficient enough to start a farm, factory, and an MLM company. Most of my money got used up in establishing a mushroom farm. I decided to adapt the eco-farming approach and acclimatize the Ganoderma to adapt to the environment not to spend a lot of money to modify the shed to protect it. Eco farming is a minimalist approach; I let the Ganoderma grow in the natural environment with minimal interference. Only the strongest and the most effective Ganoderma will survive.
Lucky for me, at that time, healthy food was not under strong legislation. I put up a simple factory; the only expensive instrument in the factory was a special grinding machine to perform Nano grinding. I also bought a simple manual capsule machine to produce the capsules. After establishing the farm and factory, I was left with no money to set up an office. A friend of mine, who owns a music center, rented me the first floor of his shop. The rent was 87 ringgit per month. At that time, DXN had only one product; RG-GL. So just one small cabin was enough for me to accumulate the stock. All I had was a table, one computer with an Epson dot printer, a few chairs for the guest, and that's it! The first office of DXN was established. The only staff was a young lady clerk with a salary of 250 ringgit per month. There were no sales at that time, so we needed my wife's salary to sustain the business.
I think I have broken a few records in MLM history. The first one was the smallest MLM company globally with only one product, one clerk, one table, one cabinet, and one computer. In many ways, DXN looked crazy for sure. People in Alor Star gave DXN a nickname: Syarikat Gila. It means a crazy company in the Malay language. But we had something that eventually beat all other MLM companies; it was the Eka Naga process, The One Dragon company. It is an Oriental dragon with a long body. It refers to the process of manufacturing to marketing, all under one roof. We were the Eka Naga company from the first day DXN was born. We had 3 Ekas in the beginning; Eka Naga, Eka Pasar, and Eka Minda. Pasar is the Malay equivalence of Bazaar, and Minda means mind.
So DXN is a One Dragon, One Market, and One Mind company. In front of DXN was a youth sports club. The rental for the meeting hall was cheap; only 30 ringgit per night. So I rented the small meeting hall to start the first meeting of DXN. I called and invited as many people as I could. I borrowed a video camera from my brother in law to take some videos on DXN Ganoderma. I recorded the various growing stages of Ganoderma and my experiments on the chicken's etcetera. I also borrowed his slide presenter to cast the slides of my recordings on the white walls. In the evening, about 12 people came to the meeting. One of those 12 members was a guy who was doing very well in MLM companies. I had high hopes for him to join me. During the meeting, I realized that my 12 guests were not so happy that I go to forests personally and fetch those Ganoderma. They seemed more interested in the story of why I left such a secure job as a government employee. Anyhow, I kept on with my presentation, and when I reached the marketing part and told them about "One World One Market," they burst into laughter. One of them asked me, what is the nearest town to Alor Setar? When I named it, they asked me how many members I had in the town? I said none. They laughed again. All of them excused themselves during the coffee break; funny, no one came back. I was supposed to tell them about the marketing plan after the coffee break, but none were interested in listening. For them, being an engineer was prestigious, but a farmer was a laughing stock. The meeting went very wrong and was a catastrophe. Not only did they not join the DXN, but words also started to circulate that an engineer in MADA has turned lunatic. I realized that setting foot in the Chinese market is not an easy task, so I shifted my focus to the Malay market. DXN started to generate some sales; towards the end of 1993, DXN could generator about 20,000 ringgit per month. Well, that is the sales, not the income. The Income was hardly a few thousand. In June of 1994, my wife told me the bad news that there were only 4000 ringgit left in the bank account. DXN would run out of money soon. That was when my wife and I thought that it would be wise to stop DXN for a while.
This was the time when a friend of my sister was the Eagle of the current market. He knew me because of her; to his knowledge, I was that mad man from MADA dreaming of One World One Market. He joined the market as an Eagle to jump the ship of the money game. It was the wrong ship, and he lost all his money too. He opened up a small noodle store to sell noodles with the funny name: Damned hot fish head rice noodle. Once, my wife took me to that noodle shop to lighten my mood and shove my troubles to the far end, at least for a while. When we took our places at that noodles shop, the man recognized me and greeted me warmly. I ordered the rice noodle. He asked me about DXN, and I told him that things were bad. I told him that we are thinking of taking a step back and starting again when things become less tense. Then he told me something that changed my life. He told me: Look, Lim, once you are an MLM man, you are always an MLM man, you should not stop, once you stop, it is over! You won't be able to go back in again. Then he pointed to himself and said: Look at me, I stopped. This Is the end for me; there is no way I can go back to MLM again. His words were like the lightning that struck a precious realization to me. He said that my business has already started, and my product is also starting to move into the market. He told me: focus your mind and energy towards pushing your way forward, for there is no turning back now.
One fine day I took my wife to Mount Jerai, which was at a 1-hour traveling distance from my town. We spent a night there; it was a beautiful night. The small town's lamp and some houses flickering softly; the chirping of the insects was very soothing. We sat there for quite some time without talking much. Then I told my wife: Dear, I am going to resign from MADA. She was quiet for a moment; maybe she saw this coming. She knew that this job was taking a toll on me. After pondering for some time, she asked me the practical question: Now DXN is at its worst, what if the company ran out of funds and collapsed? You would be left with no job. I told my wife; I am a technocrat. I may lose all my money, but my skill and knowledge will always be there with me. The very next day, I tender my resignation. Soon after resigning, I had two immediate problems at hand. The first one owned MADA for a housing loan, and the second one was my bank account, which had nothing in it. My wife knew about this situation, and quietly, she talked to her father. He agreed to loan me 40,000 to settle the housing loan. Eventually, I paid that loan with monthly interest.
A few days later, I received a call from one of my contractors I worked for before. He tried to confirm with me the news that I just resigned. After I confirm that piece of information, he told me that he would send his daughter to my office to buy some of my products. When she arrived, I have to say, she arrived with bliss, and when she left, she left with the 6,000 ringgit paycheck on my table. I was taken aback; that was a huge sum of money. I asked her, that's a lot of products; what are you going to do with so many products? She told me that they had a huge family, and consuming all these products is not a big deal. That was the first time I got some money from a contractor, but that wasn't a bribe or some illegal deal; it was a sale of the products that I made!
Finally, after some ups and downs, DXN was on its feet, and it was running and kicking. In the next coffee talk, I will tell you how DXN developed the market in Malaysia.