Not many would want to trade the security of a government job for the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship. But, this was exactly what Hj Syed Mohd Yassin Hj Syed Anayatullah Shah, founder and CEO of Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services, did.
The year was 2008 and Syed Yassin’s spirit was full from the satisfaction of earning a degree in education from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). However, his heart just wasn’t in it.
He initially applied to UBD with the intention of becoming a teacher, he tells The Scoop, but life had other plans.
“In 2005, I started getting involved in my family’s business,” he says adding that it motivated him to venture into business and not apply for a government job.
Syed says he was willing to take the risk because he knew that there was much to gain from business. “It is not fixed income, which most people worry about, but (I look at it) as an opportunity to gain more (income)”.
“When I decided not to work (as a teacher), I remember my cousins saying to me what a waste it was to study for four years (and not becoming a teacher)… For me, they are not wrong — it’s their opinion, its just that my opinion is different,” he says.
“My close family and parents had no issues. They were supportive… I have their blessing,” he adds.
Equipped with experience and knowledge from working in the family business, he registered his company Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services in 2012. However, it also marked the start of an unfortunate series of disappointments.
“I submitted proposal after proposal, but no one actually took notice. Maybe my proposals were not strong enough or it was not something that they were interested in,” he says.
Syed’s persistence paid off. Two years later in 2014, he submitted a proposal to the Department of Youth and Sports for a ‘Cinta Rasul’ Carnival, which marked the beginning of his winning streak.
“They saw the potential of the carnival and how it could benefit not only the department and government, but the public as well as young entrepreneurs,” he says.
However, garnering interest and support was not enough. He struggled to convince vendors to participate in the carnival.
“I struggled to invite vendors to join the event, but, Alhamdulilah I managed to gather more than 20 vendors. My goal at that time was ‘inda untung inda apa, tapi jangan rugi’ (‘it’s okay if I don’t earn any profit, as long as I don’t incur losses).”
At that time, Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services was still in its infancy, fighting for a share of the market against established event management companies. He wanted to make his first event was successful, to ensure that the vendors would not have reservations about joining his events in future.
Just three months later, Syed organised another carnival called ‘Kembara Islam’ which was another hit.
Now the CEO can confidently say that Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services has gained vendors’ confidence to pull in a crowd. Their most successful event, ‘Letop Lebaran’, was dubbed Brunei’s biggest Hari Raya bazaar — it raked in $2.3 million and brought in more than 63,000 visitors over a three-day period in June.
Syed trusted his instinct and it hasn’t failed him yet: “At the end of the day… if you want to create your business, there is no reason why you cannot. All you need is a group of people who share the same vision.”