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Technovate, Out of the Box
Spinning in the Right Direction

April 15, 2002

SPINNING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

As a small public relations agency catering to technology start-ups, The Right Spin cancertainly empathise with its clients. Itself a start-up, The Right Spin was founded by friends Stacy Ang and Nancy Lim, both former employees of the National Science and Technology Board (NTSB), now called Agency for Science, Technology & Research or A*Star.

What sets this company apart from other tech-based PR agencies is the founders’ strong grasp of its clients’ technology business. As the marketing communications head at NSTB, Ang was handling the PR for technology start-ups. Her partner, Lim, was the assistant marketing communications head at NSTB. With the relevant experience and a strong domain knowledge of the IT industry, Ang felt she had an edge of the other IT-centric PR firms that were being set up to cater to the dotcom boom a couple of years ago.

So, instead of sticking to their steady jobs, both she and Lim decided to strike out on their own. “I guess you can say we were inspired by the start-ups that we were dealing with all the time,” she says.

To keep costs low, they started out by sharing an office with another tenant. “We only took a small space,” Ang says. Their big break came in the middle of last year when Iaxil, the landlord of the Innovation Centre at Science Park II, invited them to relocate at a special rate to services the various start-ups there. In return, Ang says, she offers special competitive rates to the start-ups located at the centre.

The Right Spin caters to the niche tech start-up industry, which may sometimes be neglected by the larger PR firms. After all, there are not big fish we are talking about. Although the dotcom bubble has burst since Ang began her business two years ago, the company has decided to maintain its focus on helping tech start-ups with media relations. After all, it’s their niche, and if you can’t differentiate, it’s hard to make a mark in this highly competitive industry.

But it’s not as if they’ve been starving for business. Ang and Lim have been lucky in that they’ve not had to work too hard for new business. Ang says new clients are mainly referrals and since the last quarter o last year, they’ve been getting at least one serious lead every fortnight. Typically, 50 percent of these leads actually materalise into new business for the company. But they have been selective, preferring clients in the technology business and those that “value PR on a long-term basis”, says Lim.

The Right Spin is currently in the enviable position of having more business than it can handle. The company – which has four employees, including the two founding partners – usually handles four to five accounts at any one time. These accounts are typically on a one-year retainer basis, although they also welcome and undertake one-off projects.

Ang is now considering hiring more people in order to cater to the rush of new business coming in. It certainly looks like she’s spinning in the right direction.


‘SIMPLE’ to maintain a balanced life

Although she company, The Right Spin, is a PR start-up, Stacy Ang does subscribe to the idea of working long hours – something that may be common in the PR industry and de rigueur with most start-ups. “Long hours may be common in the industry I work in but there is a way to get around it,” she says.

The attractive 31-year-old, who comes across as friendly and down-to-earth, says she and her partner, Nancy Lim, 33, are family-oriented individuals who believe in leading a balanced life. “We may be very busy but we need to lead a hurried life” is Ang’s philosophy. Easier said than done, right? She doesn’t think so.

Ang says it’s simple. She managed their time well by keeping completely focused during working hours. No dilly-dallying, No wasting time talking unnecessarily with colleagues. No making constant trips to the washroom. Just heavy-duty work during office hours. After hours is a different matter, of course. Then it’s time to unwind, relax and do things she likes.

This is something she tries to inculcate in her two staff too (it’s a small company). She’s currently looking to grow the staff size but finding people with a keen interest in technology as well as an attitude and aptitude to learn “is not really easy”, she says. “It’s always a challenge to find like-minded people to join this company.

The main satisfaction that Ang derives from her work is seeing her start-up clients grow from day to day, knowing that her work actually contributes to their development. She says she will do “almost anything” to help her clients succeed. Talk about commitment!

She has no regrets leaving behind a steady and secure job for the life of a start-up. The experience of setting up her own company and turning it into a sustainable, viable business is her greatest reward. Taking the entrepreneurial route has made a difference in her life and she is relishing every moment of it.

“Although NSTB ( National Science and Technology Board) is a bit different from other statutory boards, there are still certain rules there that you have to follow,” says Ang. “When you start your company, you crate your own rules. So instead of going by the book, you write your own book.” And, that’s just the way she likes it.
 

 

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