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The next big things

These award-winning startups from Brunei are blazing trails in their sectors

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Siti Nur Aazzah (left) and Lim Ming Soon (right) from Network Integrity Assurance Technologies, Brunei's only satellite communications provider receiving the ACES Asia's Best Startup Award of 2018, with Andrew Bryant, managing director of Self Leadership Institute.

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Mixmediaworx, or MMW, is a full-service creative agency originating from Brunei Darussalam, named one of Asia's Most Promising SMEs.

THE ASIA Corporate Excellence & Sustainability Awards (ACES) category of Asia's Best Startups of the Year honours scalable startups that bring innovative products, services or processes to the marketplace, with a steady consumer engagement strategy. Recipients of the title are selected based on overall user count, strength in funding to upscale market capitalisation, and dominance as the next big thing to look out for in Asia.

Network Integrity Assurance Technologies Sdn Bhd (NiAT)

MORS chief executive officer Shanggari Balakrishnan was especially taken by satellite communications service provider Network Integrity Assurance Technologies Sdn Bhd (NiAT), which serves the Brunei market. The first licensed satellite communications service provider in Brunei Darussalam, NiAT provides both fully licensed Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) and satellite phones, plus airtime packages tailor-made to a client's needs and demands.

"NiAT was born out of a need to support the growing demands of satellite communications in Brunei. Its service is necessary for emergency response teams, Internet broadband and enterprise, and data transmission. As a service provider for Inmarsat and VSAT services, NiAT is able to effectively close the gap in accessing remote and rural telecommunications, enabling access to information and knowledge for all, regardless of geographical location. This effectively underscores what the ACES Awards panel of judges look for when selecting candidates for Best Startups of the Year," commented Ms Shanggiri.

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The satellite communications market in Brunei is worth approximately US$5 million - US$10 million. The requirement for satellite communications is vital, especially to some of the country's uncharted areas, and thus, NiAT is now focusing on building network infrastructure to enable wider back-end access to other parts of the region in order to maintain international standards and certification of services. This will also help provide customers with more seamless network access. NiAT's management team is also working on easing the regulatory burdens on the end-users of its service by engaging with regulators.

NiAT received approximately US$700,000 shareholder investment during its startup, and has not required any additional fiscal injection yet, having been profit-making in the last three years. Its chief executive officer Lim Ming Soon says, "The cornerstone of NiAT Sdn Bhd has always been its employees. The technology has always been there, as have the customers with their requirements. But it is our employees that put these two together, creating a marketable product."

Mixmediaworx's media domination

Mixmediaworx, or MMW, is a full-service creative agency originating from Brunei Darussalam. The company was named one of Asia's Most Promising SMEs for being a homegrown Bruneian brand which worked around the challenges of a small market. Incorporated in March 2009, MMW now has over 20 creative members collectively. The agency manages approximately 60 clients and roughly 240 projects a year, despite the challenge of sourcing for passionate local talents, which MMW does by actively keeping track of Brunei's potential future game changers.

Aside from offering comprehensive creative solutions under one roof, from concept and execution, the company also broadcasts on its very own media platforms. It ensures a steady stream of work by conducting frequent market surveys, maintaining strong client relations and implementing the latest and most effective market trends. Creative retainer contracts also help MMW weather the storms of change and possible economic downturns in the future.