Lessons from a student entrepreneur

(File pix) Pitching at the Makerthon Challenge held in conjunction with the Global Entrepreneurship Community Summit.

MANY people have a view of university education as one that will help them gain the relevant paper qualification to get access to the world of employment, preferably launching into professional careers.

While the paper chase instills knowledge seeking skills and proves one’s ability to attain a certain level of intellectual capacity, the university experience provides much more beyond academics and may open doors that lead to the business world, turning job seekers into job creators.

Javendra Kumar, 24, is proof that immersing oneself in the total university experience and taking advantage of the opportunities and facilities on campus have helped him to become a successful student entrepreneur.

Due to graduate this October with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering (Honours) from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), the lad from Ipoh, Perak founded Javen Global Enterprise — a T-shirt printing services company — in his second year of studies.

From a modest one-man operation, Javendra now has a shop at the university student centre with a team which services not only the community at UKM but also tertiary institutions across Peninsular Malaysia. He has attained many achievements and has been named as UKM’s entrepreneur icon by the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and SMEs Development.

Recently, he was part of a group of 30 students from public higher learning institutions in Malaysia who attended the Youth E-Commerce Programme (YEP), a collaboration between the then Higher Education Ministry and Alibaba Business School to produce young ecommerce entrepreneurs. China-based Alibaba is the largest e-commerce organisation in the world with 549 million users.

The stint exposed students to the ecosystem of e-commerce business.


Javendra said his journey has been a series of incidents which has led to his “true calling”.

Coming from an average income family, Javendra’s parents — particularly his mother — harboured ambitions for him to become a doctor.

“After scoring straight As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations, I was offered a place at Kolej Matrikulasi Pahang to pursue a pure science course. I thought that would be the best choice in order to pursue a degree in medicine at one of the public universities.

“But after matriculation, I was offered to study biology at UKM. I accepted the place in UKM but changed the course to civil engineering to please my mother as she wanted me to pursue a professional course. I wanted to read law and though my father was agreeable, I didn’t want to burden him further as my brother and sister were studying at private institutions,” he added.

With an affinity for science but not so much for mathematics, Javendra struggled hard to be up to mark in his studies.

“I love to memorise things and I hated maths. I am not that IT savvy either. But engineering classes were filled with maths — mainly calculus, statistics, algebra, autocad.

I studied really hard and managed to get an IJM scholarship that is offered annually. In my batch, only two students were awarded the scholarship. It reduced my financial burden and made my parents happy.”

During his semester break, Javendra worked with IJM at various project sites including the Mass Rapid Transit project.

“It was during this time that my dad died and I had to be independent financially. My mum is a housewife and I can’t be dependent on my siblings. So, once my semester started, I decided to look for opportunities to generate extra income,” he said.

(File pix) Javendra Kumar at the closing of the YEP programme with Alibaba Group vice-president Brian A Wong and recently retired Higher Education Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur.


Javendra started looking for part-time jobs on or nearby campus and he toyed with the idea of a carwash business but that did not pan out as he did not have any money to invest.

“It was at this same time I was appointed head of UKM Rukun Negara Secretariat. We organised a few events and programmes, and needed T-shirts. I surveyed the prices of existing suppliers in UKM and found them a bit pricey. Then I compared the prices of other suppliers outside campus and realised that the business has potential,” he said.

“I knew that if I can supply good quality T-shirts to all the clubs and societies at UKM at a cost-effective price, it would be a great venture.” He formed a partnership with several factory operators in Kajang and then took the bold step of registering a company at the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

“I had no idea what to call it so I named it Javen Global Enterprise and listed printing, food and beverage, IT as the company’s services. Then I started marketing on social media as the go-to guy for printing at UKM.”

He saved up the revenue from his printing jobs to set up a physical shop on campus as clients would have more confidence in a brick-and-mortar venture.

“It took me nearly a semester to get a shoplot at the student centre. I worked with a team of seven students to launch my first shop with the attendance of a few VIPs. I gave the team training, set sales targets and business picked up.

“We started getting media coverage and publicity. I had to make this big and provide as many part-time jobs for students as possible.

We have the resources, knowledge and we are young,” added Javendra.

From there, he applied to become a vendor for UKM. “I submitted the documents and after some time, I received an email stating the application was successful. I just can’t describe how I felt at that moment, having brought together a team of friends and giving them hope, and telling them not to depend on PTPTN or our parents for money. Time is not the barrier.

“And let’s start now, instead of wasting time — we can have fun and make some money at the same time.”

Today, Javen Global Enterprise hires freelance designers and bids for big projects at UKM. At other universities, it supplies T-shirts to societies and clubs through fellow students based on commission. It also supplies T-shirts to corporations.

“Our target is for everyone to make RM3,000 monthly.”


Javendra credits UKM for the support and encouragement in his journey to becoming an entrepreneur.

“It gave me the drive to take the business to a higher level. Nobody scoffed at my dream but showed me the way instead and opened doors through the various courses and programmes available.

“I was given the chance to give talks to fellow students attending the university’s entrepreneur courses and at Entrepreneur Day events. UKM is where I realised my calling as an entrepreneur,” said Javendra.

The professors at UKM recommended that he applied for the Youth E-Commerce Programme (YEP) organised by the then Higher Education Ministry and Alibaba Business School earlier this year. Taking place at Alibaba’s global headquarters in Hangzhou, China, Javendra along with 29 other students attended lectures and held discussions with business unit leaders at Alibaba.

They also visited sites, such as Hema supermarkets, to see innovative strategies such as New Retail — the marriage of online and offline retail systems — in action.

The students visited the T-Mall shop and the operations office of Taobao, one of the online platforms under the Alibaba Group.

While the participants were in China, they were also exposed to customer management modules, e-commerce organisation development, online business operations and business communications.

“My training at Alibaba helped me to dream big and see the potential of doing business all over the world, not just in Malaysia.”

At Hangzhou, throughout the programme the students were placed in groups of six to work together and pitch a project to a panel of judges.

“My group won the overall winner prize based on an e-commerce solution targeted at students. As follow-up, Alibaba asked us to come up with an action plan based on the pitch to take e-commerce and trading to a global audience.”

When Javendra returned to Malaysia after the Alibaba stint, he was appointed the president of the National Youth Ecommerce Committee for the Chamber of Digital Entrepreneurs Development 2018/2019.


Javen Global Enterprise is in its third year of business and is reaching a six-figure income.

And on a personal note, Javendra is proud that he is able to give his mother a home of her own — something the family did not have previously.

“In the next five years, I will let my team manage the business. I will monitor the progress.

Meanwhile, I want to work in a company and follow a successful entrepreneur — a mentor — to learn and get more experience in the corporate world.


Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/06/379513/lessons-student-entrepreneur

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