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Focusing On: Ganesh Kumar Bangah

by Su Aziz

Get to know Ganesh Kumar Bangah, founder of Commerce.Asia and speaker for WYN thinkTALK discussing future of leadership, which is on 28 March 2023. A quick chat before the serial entrepreneur’s session got him talking on the entrepreneurial spirit and more.

Ganesh Kumar Bangah is not only founder and executive chairman of Commerce.Asia group in Malaysia, the 43-year-old is first and foremost known as a serial entrepreneur. His entrepreneurial journey started at 17 years old and was inspired by Bill Gates, whom Ganesh saw on TV. ‘I was working part-time in a cybercafé, just after form five. I told the owner that I want to become the Bill Gates of Malaysia,’ he recalled.

Ganesh made history by becoming Malaysia’s youngest CEO of a listed company at 23 years old. His entrepreneurial skills have been acknowledged by many including Society Magazine as one of Asia’s most influential people, Tech in Asia regarded him as one of Southeast Asia’s Top 30 tech founders, EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year and Top 10 of Malaysia has described him as one of the most inspiring Malaysian tech entrepreneurs.

Filling a gap, Ganesh believes is a startup’s specialty, ‘Entrepreneurship can be a very strong motivation to solve the world’s problems. Every entrepreneur and startup pitch deck will start with one of the world’s problems and how to find a solution to that problem. I believe, if we create more entrepreneurs, they’ll be able to solve all of the world’s problems over time. That’s what has been driving me since I first started my entrepreneurship journey. If you want to be an entrepreneur, do it because you want to do something good for the world. If you see a problem, it’s natural for entrepreneurs to be passionate about solving it. Entrepreneurs are able to leverage their passion and ingenuity to create cost-effective, profitable solutions to those problems.’

Past and Future
Ganesh started Commerce.Asia to help local SMEs adopt e-commerce more effectively, so they can thrive in an increasingly digital world. Similarly, when he invested in Netccentric around three years ago, ‘My purpose was to train more influencers across the region and help generate more income for them.’ Commerce.Asia, an all-in-one e-commerce ecosystem, has grown tremendously in the past four years. In 2021, it has more than 92,000 active sellers and group gross merchandise volume (GMV) of USD1.5 billion throughout Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

‘When I started working as a young entrepreneur, I was a tech geek,’ Ganesh admitted. ‘I was a Microsoft certified professional systems engineer, as we used to call it. That gave me fundamental understanding about the building blocks of technology. Due to that, I could connect the dots between these different building blocks to create useful applications for end users.’ Over time, the people he hired started doing that work. ‘My role evolved into more of a visionary and strategist, looking into the future and seeing how we could use all the building blocks that we have today to develop new solutions for the future that’ll be useful for consumers and end users.’

Leadership by the Book
‘I’m a big believer of Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War,’ Ganesh confessed. ‘Sun Tzu said, if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. [Likewise], when you start a business, you need to understand your competitors in the field, your market and find the product market fit. Firstly, look at yourself or the leader of the business that you’re investing in, or starting. Then, look at the market or the environment, and how you can potentially capture the market. You also have to look at the timing.’

Timing is everything. ‘Start your business at the right time,’ Ganesh advised. For example, if you launched an e-commerce marketplace 15 years ago, it would be too early. This is because logistics infrastructure was not there to support it. If you launched an e-commerce marketplace six years ago in Southeast Asia, it may be the right time. If you launch an e-commerce marketplace today, it’s too late because the leaders are already there.’

Final Words
‘Today, I enjoy helping [and mentoring] new entrepreneurs more than being an entrepreneur myself,’ Ganesh admitted. Through being on EY Entrepreneur of The Year judging panel gave him an opportunity to see how high-level entrepreneurs grew their businesses. ‘Seeing different entrepreneurs build, grow and pivot their business, gives me a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment. Sometimes, even happier than my own success.’ For instance, ‘An intern from more than a decade ago has now become a CEO of an affiliate marketing companies and became hugely successful, with USD1 billion in volume. When I see the success of people whom I trained, that makes me very proud. [It felt like] I had a part in that person’s success.’

Read the summary of the thinkTALK session on future of leadership which happened on 28 March 2023.

Read about leadership from the other two speakers of the thinkTALK session: Keith Tan of Crown Digital and Pat Dwyer of The Purpose Business.


14 Mar 2023
Last modified: 4 Apr 2023
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