Founder and managing director of multifaceted company Armani Media Dato’ KK Chua keeps his eyes fixed on the prize—which explains his passion and drive.
It is hard to believe that Armani Media has only been around for five years, given the amount of output it delivered in such a short time. Not only does the company publish magazines like Property Insight and Entrepreneur Insight, it also hosts awards like the Prestigious Developers Awards (PIPDA) and the 100 Most Influential Young Entrepreneurs Awards (100 MIYE), as well as educational events and seminars all year long.
When you sit down and chat with the company’s mastermind, Dato’ KK Chua, you will immediately grasp why the company is growing at a rapid rate. Driven, ambitious and committed, Dato’ Chua stumbled into entrepreneurship after leaving a cushy corporate job, due to office politics. He then had a fair share of ups and downs, from building and selling off an art studio business to setting up his own property agency. It was the struggles he faced in the latter that paved the way for Armani Media.
“One day, it hit me, why don’t I come up with a magazine where I could interview successful investors, developers as well as property gurus to get their insights and stories?” he reflects.
Most successful property investors will always spout the same advice—location is important. “It’s a mantra that’s been shared again and again. The idea is just a theory. Theories don’t guarantee success until you have the experiences to back it up. So when I started my magazine, I focused on stories of people from all walks of life. Property Insight just took off from there,” he says.
Soon, the magazine accumulated a following, which prompted Dato’ Chua to wonder if there are other avenues he could venture in to create value for the community. This led him to the creation of small-scale events like property roadshows, seminars and a summit to facilitate discussions surrounding the topic of property investment. The success of these events led to the creation of PIPDA.
Dato’ Chua then figured he could apply the same formula in the local small-and-medium enterprise industry. “SME accounts for a majority of businesses in Malaysia. As an entrepreneur myself, I wanted to tap into this huge market. We apply the same principles we did for Property Insight, we cover real stories so readers can be inspired and reflect on their growth,” he explains. In the same vein, he applied the same formula in events for Entrepreneur Insight magazine—the 100 MIYE being the highlight of the brand.
In an age where the internet has lowered the barriers for entry into businesses, Dato’ Chua reveals that the selection of 100 entrepreneurs is done with stringent procedures. “Our minimum criteria are: a minimum sales turnover of RM3 million a year, and they must show us proof that their company is profitable. We also do background checks on the nominees as well, such as on their credit scores,” he explains.
Consistent contact with entrepreneurs taught Dato’ Chua lessons he applied into his own business—like the importance of humility in leadership. “As the founder, it is normal to be driven because it is your own company. I used to expect a lot from my team. Turnover of staff was high because I expected excellence. One day, my wife made me realise I was too caught up in my own point of view when she saw how I communicated with my staff,” he says.
“There’s an old Chinese song I like called Valley. The lyrics have a deep meaning. In our lifetime, we have many valleys to cross. Sometimes, you reach the top of the valley only to realise no one is following you. You are all on your own. Life is like that at times, thus I make it a point to ask myself, as I lead this company: Is everything I pursue worth it?” summarises Dato’ Chua, who looks up to esteemed tycoon Robert Kuok, as he plans to lead his company to the next phase —regional expansion.