Opinions | Digital Transformation

Everyone Can Be An Entrepreneur: Ata Plus’s CEO & Co-Founder, Elain Lockman, shares how entrepreneurship needs to be inclusive to all backgrounds.

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July 7, 2022

Elain Lockman, the oldest of two siblings, was born in Kelantan and now lives in Kuala Lumpur permanently. A proud Convent Assunta alumni, she recalls her favourite moment when Sister Enda, the headmistress at the time, taught her to be a more caring, charitable, and all-around person. She understands that other Assunta (Assuntarian) pupils have the same values, making it easy to identify other Assuntarians.

She recalled how dedicated, and enthusiastic her teachers were about imparting knowledge beyond what a typical textbook would provide. They would coordinate the "Charity’s Day" programme, which involved students setting up booths and selling goods. The school will give the sales revenues to people in need.

When Elain was 21 years old, she applied for a temporary part-time job as a waitress at Pizza Land while she was enrolled in her second year of university in the UK. She also worked at Mara House's cafe, serving customers and making dishes like banana fritters. She added that Westerners value gratuities highly and will leave generous tips if you provide good service.

She had quite a few job offers after graduating college, but she returned home because her late father was ill. Even locally, she was able to secure several other job offers, and on her father's advice, she decided to accept a position with Petronas.

At Petronas, Elain was specially chosen to work in a 'Special Strategic Study' consulting group for the Petronas Strategic team, formulating plans for the next 20 to 30 years at that time. Elain was exposed to and gained first-hand experience working and engaging with the top management of Petronas, including the President and Senior Vice Presidents of Petronas, through this voyage. She is often reminded of her time spent working for Petronas when she looks at the Mesra store now.

Evolving in her career, she would never have thought of being an entrepreneur. She knew that she did not want to be a part of a large organisation with multiple layers. It was not her cup of tea, and she gets easily frustrated. "You need proper governance to handle large organisations."

Elain's decision to become an entrepreneur was accidental; before joining Ata Plus, she was working under contract as a consultant at a newly established fund management company. When the firm did not perform well, she made the decision to end her contract and launch her own business instead. At a certain point in her entrepreneurial journey, she starts to think, "What is my purpose?" and "How can I give back to people?" That was when Ata Plus was founded.

The purpose of Ata Plus is to assist other business owners who face challenges in obtaining funding. "Not everyone comes from a wealthy background. Most people pay with their hard-earned money, according to Elain. SMEs often make up between 50 and 90 percent of the economy, depending on the nation. Elain believes that Malaysia should prioritise the importance of SMEs' contribution to the country’s economy.

Ata Plus is an alternative equity fundraising or funding platform for fundraisers. The general public may use it to invest in a business they believe in that can give them the desired return. The smallest sum of money ever invested in a business in an Equity Crowdfunding Campaign in Malaysia was only RM10. You never know which business you invest in might turn out to be the next big thing, like Grab or Facebook. Ata Plus' current objective is to be listed on a stock market because it is already well-known to the stock market and had a good level of exposure to the public before the pandemic.

For many business owners, the struggle is nothing new. Elain's challenge with Ata Plus, like many other organisations, is funding. She did, however, remark that Ata Plus is extremely lucky to have the backing of the people who believe in the company and share the company's ambitions and aspirations. She stated, "As a token of our appreciation for their support, we wish to deliver full returns to our investors and the people who believed in our organisation."

Elain provided three pieces of advice when asked to share her secrets for becoming the person she is today. The first is a saying she has held onto since she was 12 years old, which reads, "If you believe, nothing is impossible." The only obstacle you have to overcome in life is you. Resources are plentiful right now. Just conduct a search on Google or YouTube. These two are technically completely free schools.

Next, incorporate The Four Agreements into your daily life. These four moral principles serve as a road map for liberty and well-being. The following are The Four Agreements: 

  1. Be impeccable with your words.
  1. Don’t take anything personally.
  1. Don’t make assumptions.
  1. Always do your best.

 The most crucial advice is to trust in the supreme being. Elain said that while she is progressive and liberal, she was brought up in a religious environment. Elain advises, "When nothing appears to work, pray. God is always there for you. "

She advises every startup business owner to have a mentor or a reliable, trusted person. Finding a strong support network is crucial when you are in a leadership position so that you can get through the challenging times.

Through email newsletters and the news, Elain learned about Mereka and the Digital Business programme. She recruited one of the three Digital Entrepreneurs participants at the end of the programme. The idea is fantastic overall, and we hope that people who apply for the Digital Entrepreneurs programme will remain passionate about their future careers and true to who they are.

If you run a business just like Elain, and would like to transform it digitally, sign up for the Digital Business programme here!

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