So, you want to open an office in Malaysia?

Why Malaysia?“The main reason was that Hewlett Packard, one of our longstanding clients, does most of its manufacturing in Asia-Pacific. Australia was too far out, Singapore was too expensive, and most of the other places we could set up a low-cost operation – India or South America, for example – are still a bit dodgy. Kuala Lumpur has a zero crime rate.”

How’s it going“The Malaysia office was the last piece in the puzzle for us. Our offices are only eight hours apart now: from KL to the UK, UK to San Francisco and then back to KL, so there’s always somebody awake to service our clients.

"And hiring staff’s been a breeze. Education is very much geared towards IT services, and the quality of spoken English here is perfect. Manpower is incredibly cheap: about a fifth of the price in the UK.

"OB10 also qualify for multimedia super corridor (MSC) status, which is awarded to multimedia companies that contribute to the Malaysian economy. It’s a hefty application – you need to provide a five-year business plan, but once MSC status is granted, you’re tax-exempt for five years, ten if you renew.”

Any major problems?“We lease our offices through Regus, and they provide a phone switch service. What we didn’t realise was that we were paying a premium on calls – our phone bills were astronomical, more than staff costs and rent put together. We switched to VOIP instead and now calls to the UK cost the same as a local rate.

"Telecoms are an issue here. If you want Internet access you have to lay the fibre cabling from scratch. We opted for a wireless connection to save money but whenever there’s a thunderstorm, and there’s a few, our connection goes dead. Luckily the rain is quite courteous – it usually arrives around half past five. “

What next?“The KL operation is growing and growing: I was only meant to be here three months, and yet, here I am! We’re also about to move into new premises in Petronas Towers, the second tallest building in the world, and with so many companies moving into the region, there’s no shortage of potential clients.”

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