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Procurri: Pioneering in Asia

Interview - June 13, 2018

We speak to Sean Murphy about the enormous investment opportunities in Asia, as well as the pioneering work his company is doing.



In terms of a market from an American point-of-view, what do you believe is the potential of the ASEAN community?

We had a vision when we formed Procurri. We wanted to be the trusted partner for American and Western-European companies that wanted to expand in Asia. We wanted to build a company that has people in America, Europe and Asia, where our customers could speak to a local Procurri employee and have their requirements delivered in another part of the world. When we looked at Asia for our headquarters we considered the amazing brand of Singapore. In the corporate world, there's no better brand than Singapore. By having our HQ here, we can reach all of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong etc. We've just found it to be a great place to put a central office or a headquarters.


In terms of the potential of ASEAN, we see that there are a lot of talks about the need to digitalize so the region can reach its full potential and overcome challenges. In terms of this development, how do you see the growth of the economic block?

Our headquarters is here but we want to go after Indonesia and Malaysia, these other emerging markets. With the digital economy, we can find ways to overcome some of those challenges. We use Skype and all kinds of technology. We have small offices in Hong Kong, India, China and we find a way to use technology to make it work. A lot of companies aren't aware that this region has really accelerated. I live in the United States and you wouldn't find this infrastructure there. Americans believe this area is somehow behind, but I don't agree with it. They probably need to come here and see it. Our American customers and European customers, they already know it. The big businesses already know that Singapore is a great brand.


What is it that made you choose Singapore?

There's great rule of law, intellectual property, protection, connectivity. We're in the data center business so customers feel comfortable having their data reside here. If you're going to pick one place to start in Asia, this is the one place you want to do it. Plus, they've also made it very easy to do business. They've welcomed us. It's not like some places where the paperwork and the bureaucracy kind of overwhelm you, here it's been like “come and we will help”. As a matter of fact, the SGX, which is the stock market here, is trying to find ways to help us. They're not overburdening us with regulation, they're asking us, what can we do to help.


As a foreigner, how do you see the adaptability of Singapore and how future-ready is the country to embrace changes such as Industry 4.0?

Singapore has got an amazing workforce ready. Because of the education here in Singapore and because they've been planning for the 21st century for a long time, we have been able to find really talented people. For me, that's the best way I could say that they're going to be able to handle change and adaptability because they have a talented workforce. They're well-trained, it's world-class.


How do you see Singapore in terms of ICT in comparison to the US?

There's a lot of change going on with the cloud and there's a lot of debate about security privacy, data. As I said, Singapore is known for having a rule of law and having integrity when it comes to data. I see this as a key place where people are going to want to have data centers and have a lot of intellectual property here because you just know that it's a safe place to do it.


Can you explain Procurri’s inception and the objective behind the inception?

The IT markets in North America and in Western Europe are very mature. If you're an entrepreneur like me, those mature markets are dealing with things like virtualization, consolidation. Those are fancy words for “slowly shrinking”, right? That's okay there's opportunity there but that's not what I'm looking. Versus Asia which is growing like a rocket. We put our headquarters in Singapore so we're able to reach India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Entrepreneurs want fast-growing markets for the next decade in IT, it's all in Asia.


Could you tell us about Procurri’s journey and what are the synergies between the hardware and the software?

What we do is help companies to go from asset heavy to asset light. Right now, customers own their own infrastructure and they would like to someday be in the cloud. They're going to hire lots of firms to help them get there but what are they going to do with the assets?

For example, a company that has an all-on-premise data center, they have their own data centers today and someday, they want it all to be in the cloud. Once the software and all the workload go to the cloud, they're going to have all this excess infrastructure that might have data on it. It's still valuable and it might be scattered all over the world. We built Procurri to be a company that can help you if you're moving to the cloud and you need some short-term hardware to maybe do a project, we can rent it to you. Eventually we're going to try to own the assets because customers don't want them anymore. We're aiming to be the Uber or Grab of the IT business by matching empty car seats with people that need these short-term means to move around.

There's going to be all these computers that are going to be in excess. Our hardware business can help to move the excess probably from North America and Europe to Asia. We're keeping it out of landfills; we're keeping it actively in use, to be green for this world.

When you go to the cloud you have to remove your software first and it takes years to get the software ready, everybody's holding on to everything longer. You have to have maintenance and we're the low-cost global leader in maintenance. We want to help you move your assets around, we want to maintain it while you're keeping it and then finally when you're done with it, we're going to take it away and recycle it or resell it in an environmentally friendly way.

These big companies want to find one partner. They don't want to have 30 good partners in 30 countries. They want one company and one that can be trusted, that's why we want to be listed. We're the first company in our industry to be listed because being public gives us the credibility and authenticity. Plus, Singapore is the brand we want in Asia. The results have been pretty incredible.


You just signed a contract with a European pharma company. Could tell us more about the service you provide?

Back in 2012, I was day dreaming about what our customers really want. When my customers would ask me "Can you do this?" I kept saying no. And so eventually I put all the no's down on a list and said my next company's going to say yes to all this.

This was a contract signed in London with a major ninety-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company, but they didn't want any service in the UK; instead, they wanted service delivered in six Asian countries, but billed in one currency and they just want us to handle it. And that's the vision that we had that, there's going to be all these Western corporations that want an Asian partner they can trust. We built the Procurri brand on top of Singapore's brand. That's the first of that kind of transaction that's ever happened, where somebody in London hired you to do business in six countries: Singapore, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The challenge that we have is that we’re pioneers. Pioneers sometimes don’t end up winning, but we’ve done well as pioneers and followed our vision. What's amazing about that is that customers have a massive amount of need for more. This was kind of a test drive so if we do a nice job, it's just the beginning. For our shareholders, they know that some of these things need planning so it's going to take a while, but they're going to grow into some pretty big opportunities.


Last year was the turning point for your company. Can you tell us how you started 2018 now that we are 4 months in and how you see the world in 2019?

We had always planned to build the hardware business, then the maintenance business and then the disposal business. Last year, our results were challenged because our hardware business was lumpy, but we still kept building the maintenance business because we're in a worldwide race to be number one.

In Q1, we actually reported a profit that was larger than all of the Q1s from 2013 to 2017 combined. We've hit an inflection point where our vision, our mission, our value proposition to our customers and their financial results are all starting to align.

I think the future financial results are going to be great. I'm a small shareholder, but I'm going to go out there and do the job with a 100% shareholdings mindset every day. I'm trying to win the biggest customers that give me the most important job. That'll be the best for our shareholders and that's the way I approach my job every day.

When I see customers like this huge pharmaceutical giant, they could have hired anybody, and they hired Procurri because they knew we could get the job done. We're just getting started, we are five-years-old but we're just getting started. This company could be much, much, much bigger if we can execute.


Where would you like to be in 10 years?

The addressable market in our industry is 30 billion USD and nobody has more than 1-1.5% market share. I'm not aware of many industries that don't have a 5% market share player. If we could be the first one holding a 5% market share, that would be 1.5 billion, that's the opportunity that we have but we try to take it one day at a time. We're kind of old fashioned. We try to make sure that our customers are happy first because they provide all the opportunities. Then we try to make sure employees feel like they have a voice and they are empowered and then we know that if we get those two right, the shareholders are going to be just fine.


Would like to add anything?

There are great opportunities in Asia and the Americans need to know about it, especially American small businesses. They need to get here because the customers are here. You don't have to be a certain size to come and find customers here, so I would just encourage American entrepreneurs to consider Asia. There's no rule about when to look at Asia. With technology, you can come here and find customers tomorrow. Don't wait, don't say well I got to be a certain size because the action is here and it's booming. It's really an exciting time to come in Asia. I would challenge other entrepreneurs to come here. Be my first guest, come here and look and if you come here and see it, I'm pretty sure you'll stay.