AN EXCLUSIVE MARKET

Malaysia 2017 | IT & INNOVATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mark Britt, Co-Founder & CEO of iflix, on the attractiveness of Malaysia, changing demographics, and successful regional expansion.

Mark Britt,
BIOGRAPHY
Mark Britt is an experienced leader of technology, content, and marketing-led businesses. Prior to founding iflix, he served as CEO of Nine Entertainment Co’s digital arm Mi9, where he was responsible for the company’s SVOD investments and portfolio of start up ventures. Before that, Britt served as the General Manager of Microsoft’s Consumer and Online business for Asia-Pacific. During his tenure with the company, Britt was instrumental in expanding Microsoft’s consumer and internet businesses into Southeast Asia, India, China, Japan, and Korea. Britt holds a diploma in law from LPAB.

Why does iflix focus specifically on emerging markets?

We are passionate about emerging markets. We believe the opportunities here are enormous. More than 3 billion people will enter the middle class over the next 15 years, and they will collectively purchase 1 billion new smartphones. This increasingly affluent group will be connected, and have access to information and cultural influences on a global scale. They will want to be entertained at a world-class standard. At the moment, for many of these people, their only option is piracy. We founded iflix with the aim of offering consumers an alternative that is better than piracy. We envision bringing together the world's best content, with thousands of first run exclusive titles, current hits, and iconic, award-winning TV series, blockbuster movies, popular local and regional content, children's programs, and more, on a world-class service where users can both stream and download programs, all for an unbelievably low monthly price. When it came to pricing, instead of asking how much people would pay for this service, we chose instead to calculate what was the lowest we could feasibly charge and still build a viable business.

What made you decide to start your operations from Malaysia, and how is the startup ecosystem?

Malaysia is an extraordinary country to do business in. We participate in a program called Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) that provides great incentives and support for international startup firms like us, including facilitating the recruitment of foreign talent through visa access, and connecting us with the larger ecosystem fostered by organizations like MDEC, from which we receive key assistance on education and promotion. Kuala Lumpur is a culturally open, global commercial and financial hub, with high educational standards and many international schools. This makes the city attractive for expatriate assignments. Furthermore, the relative cost of doing business is low while the ease of doing business is high. The pool of global talent available is also significant. Approximately 30,000 Malaysian graduates with an overseas tertiary degree, international experience, and business perspective repatriate each year with the aim of continuing their careers back home. A considerable percentage of our team fits this exact profile. As we continue our rapid growth, expanding into new markets, it is a great advantage to have this depth of talent, who are foreign educated with international backgrounds and networking experience.

In addition to Malaysia, you are making progress on regional expansion. Could you brief us on the developments here?

Our first bet was to attempt to build the entire product with world-class technology out of Malaysia, and we succeeded. Our experiences and learning here have given us an extraordinary understanding of consumer demands in emerging markets, and the challenges which need to be overcome to fulfil those. In Asia, we are now live in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Around the world, there is a band of countries that have a number of things in common; paid television penetration is low and internet connectivity is leapfrogging ahead—in some instances going from no connection at all straight to 4G. Myanmar, for example, has gone from 3 million mobile users in 2014 to 45 million this year, and almost all are using 3G or 4G. Unlike markets such as India, there is no incumbent base of old technology that needs to be upgraded here—everyone can and does immediately move to the latest technology available. Our footprint is a global set of markets which all meet these criteria, including Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. These countries are culturally diverse, but they all share similar levels of infrastructure development and market dynamics. The first phone that many people in these markets have access to is a smartphone that additionally has the capabilities of a supercomputer, and is used as a remote control for in their daily lives.