Start with one cause



Too often, people prepare to be prepared. Some take action, some do not. Described as constantly restless and oftentimes labeled an arsonist only to burn the barn down, that is the mantra tech entrepreneur Lance Cheang, a Sunway College alumnus lives by.

Throughout his studies in Sunway College’s School of IT and Management (SITM), Lance worked part time in a local IT start-up in Bandar Utama as a part time network systems engineer. "I didn’t really like taking pocket money from my parents, so I started working quite early to ease my parents' burden. I got the job quite easily partly because I took a professional course and became a Microsoft Certified Professional right after Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia."

Starting his business was initially scary. "I started my business with RM5,000 in the bank and a mortgage to pay." Lance quit his last job just a month after putting down the deposit for a condo next to Sunway University (Sunway Lagoonview Condo), where he lived for the next 15 years. "I rented out the master and single bedroom for a tidy sum enough to cover the mortgage and maintenance fees while I stayed in a makeshift bedroom converted from the study area. The condo turned into a great source of capital as it appreciated a great deal throughout the years, which I managed to refinance over time to fund business expansions." Only when he got married and had children that he decided to move to a house with a larger compound.

An entrepreneur at 23, Lance wasted no time deciding that a 9–6 job was not for him. After switching three jobs in nine months, he jokes, "I swapped an eight-hour work day for a 16-hour work day, sometimes pulling 24-hour all-nighters; when I was running a web hosting business, 2 AM was the only time I was able to update and fix any server problems in freezing cold data centres." He has since stopped hosting services in 2017 for the more sustainable Cloud model, which laid the groundwork for the most current iteration of his business as a technology concierge service, where his company fuels the customer’s business growth with cloud technology.

He currently employs young and energetic individuals in Vlan Asia, managing customer engagements across Asia. Vlan Asia is a pioneering and leading Microsoft cloud service provider in the SME space in Malaysia. It is also credited with being the first partner in Asia for Zendesk, a cloud-based service desk solution, and is still the only active Zendesk partner in Malaysia. The company is also a partner for Hubspot and Oracle Netsuite. 

Much of Lance’s approach to business was influenced by his appointment in a global non-profit blockchain technology foundation. He was tasked with introducing, educating, and expanding the use of blockchain technology in government, corporations, and academia across Asia and the Middle East. He identifies, nurtures, and unleashes like-minded young individuals within the organisation to further the foundation’s causes.

He was among the keynote speakers at the Asia Leadership Conference in Seoul, Jump-start Islamabad,  021 Disrupt Karachi, The Northern Region Innovation Forum, and various panels globally advocating the usage of blockchain technology. He was most recently a panellist at the Canalys Channel Conference in Singapore and a speaker at the Zendesk SMB event at the Sheraton PJ in November 2022. 

"I really couldn’t speak in public. I took the role because I knew it was a public role and I had to force myself to practise speaking in public. Speaking well in public made me a better leader as it gave me the confidence to communicate my directives and align my team in the right direction. I still find it upon myself to seek speaking opportunities to share my knowledge and expand my experience as a public speaker." 

A man of action, Lance’s mission is to inspire anyone who will listen to just "start with one". "Start with one can mean different things to different people. For someone aspiring to do good, just start with one cause." His company, Vlan Asia, too has supported many causes, most notably activities supporting causes to upskill and reskill women returning to the workforce with technology skills in hopes of securing jobs in the tech sector. He also supported the Malaysian Community Pharmacies Guild by providing the training platform to train and upskill Malaysian pharmacists to be vaccine providers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For someone looking to start a business, just start by looking for the first customer. Then the first staff member to assist internally. Just start. Opportunities abound in our country, as are good causes we can support. We just need to start with one.