This profile showcases a company that has continuously scaled with multiple means. Company has demonstrated extreme business agility but has been built on strong leadership principles.
HQ: Malaysia/Hong Kong
CEO: Vijay Eswaran
Revenues (USD, year): 500 million
The QI Group is a diversified multinational with regional offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines and a wide range of subsidiary companies in nearly 30 countries. The group has six main business lines diversified into lifestyle and leisure, luxury, training and education, property development and management, logistics and an e-commerce-based retail and direct sales business.
The group ventured into the education sector in 2011 with the establishment of the Quest International University Perak (QIUP), in Ipoh, Malaysia. The constantly evolving group has also invested in the hospitality segment in Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Africa and Turkey through a range of spa resorts and boutique hotels. The QI Group is also a strategic partner of the Malaysian-based Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI).
Case Study: Scaling through diversification
The QI Group was founded in 1998 during the dot.com bubble burst, when most companies decided to divest from online ventures. Being the first of its kind in its industry to enter the e-commerce world, the group quickly grew from a handful of staff with a few hundred loyal customers to a global conglomerate with over 5 million customers worldwide.
Today, QI Group is a diverse conglomerate of businesses that organically grew from the need to do backward integration for our core business, direct selling, which is also the group’s flagship business. The agility in operational execution is aided by several other subsidiaries that helped support the growth of our direct selling business.
Dealing with hypergrowth was one of the group’s main challenges in its early years. Our flagship business broke out of its comfort zone by opening its borders to a new, unknown and unexplored region. And without much forewarning, product demand spiked to a vertiginous level. The explosion was phenomenal and demand skyrocketed within just a few months. Ensuring an exceptional customer experience was a true challenge at that moment: our platform wasn’t translated to the local language, our product materials were not multilingual, we were using an international currency; and we didn’t have a warehouse to ensure timely delivery. We had to act fast, and act wisely, to address all these issues and service our customers.
We decided to involve our main stakeholders and ensure we had buy-in for specific and rather large decisions that were to be made to cope with this spurt of growth. Effective stakeholder management was the key in ensuring our growth would continue.
Within a couple of weeks, we had a task force of QI staff on the ground that ensured decisions made by headquarters were executed with agility and swiftness. A local partner was found to set up a simple partnership company that functioned as representative in the region. This local partner provided customer support, aftersales support and training to new staff when and where needed.
Within weeks a logistics partner was identified and delivery times shortened dramatically. Local customer service was a main concern and, while initially managed from the headquarters in Hong Kong to ensure customer experience was not disrupted, we soon managed to hire local staff to support all customer needs. After only a few months, the global group had managed to become a relevant player in the local realm of its industry.
Last but not least, as giving back to the community is an important part of our philosophy; we identified a local charity involved with children with special learning needs to form a long-term partnership with our global CSR arm, RYTHM Foundation.
Peer CEO Advice
- Hypergrowth is something that every high-impact entrepreneur wishes for, but it is also a major challenge.
- Continued growth may mean diversification. While diversifying, the company needs to maintain clarity of purpose and principles.
- Effective stakeholder management is a key for scaling and continued growth.