Start-Up interview: Nexlabs.co

Our next interview on myanmar-startups.com is with a very interesting company. Nexlabs.co is a little over one year old and a pretty cool digital agency from Yangon that creates  mobile apps with an Avengers’ approach! Curious? Then don’t waste any more time and read the interview!

 

So here we go with our interview. Thank you so much for your time and I highly appreciate you doing it remotely and spending time reading through it. The first question is always a personal one so we know who we are talking to. So could you introduce yourself a little bit before we talk business?

Hi, thanks for doing this interview. My name is Ye Myat Min (Jeff). I founded Nex Co., Ltd. exactly a year back on 10 April 2013. I grew up in Yangon and I’ve spent my entire childhood there and had a fantastic time.

After your short introduction. Let’s see where you’re coming from. What’s your professional background?

I left Yangon at 2009 for further studies in Singapore. Currently, I’m pursuing a degree course at Singapore Management University.

Before that, I was a diploma student at Republic Polytechnic and that’s when it all started. I was working as a freelance web/mobile developer from 2010-2013. I didn’t come from a very well-to-do family. So, as a student studying abroad, finance was a headache. After awhile, I started providing my know-how in development to other friends at my school. And they started recommending me to their business friends. One thing led to another and I was doing web dev for quite a bit of businesses in Singapore.

Then, at 2010, I purchased my first Macbook and started diving into mobile app dev (iOS + Android) and UI design. It was great and I immediately knew that mobile is something that I would want to focus on coming few years. However, I had to build up my portfolio. So, I started writing some apps and providing freelance work for others.

During that time, I also started providing Facebook solutions to agencies; apps, ads, engagement solutions and etc. That’s probably where I got my digital roots.

Have you always been interested in digital media? Or how did you end up with the idea for nexlabs.co?

Yes, I have. On average, I spend about 14 hours on the Internet. I would just look at everything and anything that’s under the sun on the Internet. And I started looking at how brands/apps/startups are trying to engage with potential users. To be more specific, I really got excited with Social Media and how anyone can create a popular content. So, I started analysing how communications really work over digital media.

Honestly, I don’t really know how things work except digital stuff. And at about end of 2012, I really wanted to start my own company. So, I started to learn some ropes for business

There are not many entrepreneurs in my family. So, most of my inspiration came from real-life stories of young entrepreneurs. If you think of it, it’s quite amazing, isn’t it? Teenagers starting companies and changing how the world works? That’s exactly what inspired me to start my own business. I thought – “How badly can you screw up when you’re 21?”. That was the push.

Before we start with nexlabs.co in detail one more question about the “why”. Many people leave Myanmar for other countries around Southeast Asia. Why did you decide to run nexlabs.co in Myanmar? 

Since I spent most of my adulthood in Singapore, I started to understand the true values of being in your hometown; spending time with friends and family.

The other reason was because I wanted to provide an awesome working environment for my friends. For full disclosure, most of the people working at Nex are my friends. I’ve heard stories of horrible environments where engineers and designers are not valued for what they are. I wanted to provide a better one for people that I know as well as aspiring engineers and designers.

Alright. Down to business. Mobile Apps? In Myanmar? A country with little online penetration. How does that make sense? 

It does. What we’re looking at is not penetration actually. We’re looking at the rapid growth of penetration. It does make sense in that way.

One of the nexlabs.co apps

One of the nexlabs.co apps – Qlubbr

 

Are you the only provider that offers this kind of service? What sets you apart from the rest? 

Not really. We’re not the first either. There are quite a few other providers that are providing some amazing work. But our unfair advantage mostly lies in our design sense as well as the team, itself. We’re really passionate about learning new technologies and making them relevant. I think that really is what sets us apart.

Does it work out so far? Are you afraid of “copy cats”?

It has, so far. We’re not only providing our services to local clients but also clients from Singapore and etc. So, there’s some traction there.

I’m not really scared of ‘copy cats’. There will always be one or ,better yet, many. Getting copied or replicated is the most valuable way of getting validated. You know you’re doing something right if you get copied.

Can you also give us a quick sneak peak into what’s in the making? What does the future hold for nexlabs.co? Expansions? Other services?

Sure. We’re actually building a product that will enable anyone to build beautiful native mobile apps by themselves for a small monthly fee. If you’ve used Wix.com before, you’ll be at home with our product.

Other than that, we’re actually looking into a few other things –
1. Expanding our team
2. Expanding into regional countries
3. Building multi-national team

How big is the nexlabs.co team now? Are you still looking for support?

We’re currently 11 people strong. We’re always looking out for talented people. If anyone who’s reading this would love to talk to us, I’d be really happy to!

Now we know what’s on the horizon. Brief walk back: Was it easy to set up nexlabs.co? Did you have to find investors? Partners? 

It was challenging. There were a lot of paper work and it was really painful and expensive to setup a company in Myanmar. It was a bit of a challenge to find an investor for a company that is going to be run by a 22 year old kid from Myanmar. But, we got through that. We have an angel investor, Ned Phillips, who believed in us from the early beginnings. I am really grateful for that.

We’re also looking at our next round of funding to push us through the next phase of growth.

What was the biggest hurdle to overcome when starting up nexlabs.co?

1. Funding
2. Talent
3. Office Space (Rental prices are crazy)

How does an “average” day look like for you right now? 

1. Reply emails
2. Run for meetings
3. Design some stuff
4. Code some stuff (I still do coding and designing because it helps me to be relaxed)
5. Reply emails
6. Think ahead
7. Plan for operations

How does / or did your office look like? Startup garage? 

We didn’t have our own office till November 2013. We were entirely stationed at DevLabs (circa Devspace https://www.facebook.com/devlabs).

We have our own office space now. Here’s a wall that we’re really proud of –
http://cl.ly/image/3i0g1V180S35 

What was the biggest success until now?

Being able to really form the team (our own version of Avengers :D) and build a strong relationship between team members which ultimately lead to strong teamwork.

Being able to create a really good working environment.

What’s your impression on the start-up scene in Myanmar right now?

It is definitely better than a few years back. But we’re also missing a lot of mentorship, incubation programmes and VCs. Hope we can have access to these in near future.

Do you work together with any start-ups? 

We do. Both in business and other social projects. Most of us are good friends.

What kind of start-up / tech venture are you missing in Myanmar at the moment?

Startups that are truly innovative and live by “customer happiness”. Startups that are willing to break traditional norms, work ethics and reinvent better ones.

A bit crystal balling: What’s the next big thing? In Myanmar as well as on a global scale? 

mCommerce, Micro-payments?

Since we’re spreading the word here. What do you want our readers to know?

If you’re looking to join a passionate team of engineers, designers and hackers, drop us an email at hello@nexlabs.co

If you’re interested to come onboard as an investor or an advisor, do drop me an email at yemyat@nexlabs.co

Follow us on Twitter at @NexMM. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nexmm

Famous last words 🙂 

Don’t be scared of the unknown. Dive into the unknown and build a success story around it.

That marks the end of our interview. I’m super happy and thankful that Jeff of Nexlabs.co took the time to do this with us! If you want to contact Nexlabs.co please do this via the links mentioned above.

Myanmar-Startups.com brings you interesting start-up related information from Myanmar, Interviews with up and coming start-ups and offers start-up consulting in order to move our wonderful country forward. Thankfully powered by My-Thai.org & sayfun.me

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