As part of our series of interviews with entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific who use the internet to grow, we spoke with Norachai Lappiam, the founder, CEO, and owner of Ad X-Zyte, to find out how he operates a creative sign-making business with global customers — all without a physical storefront.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
Eleven years ago, I was just making ends meet as a normal salaryman for a small local company producing newsletters and some signs. With a growing family to take care of, poverty was a real and terrifying prospect for me. That’s what motivated me to start my own company.
I started a sign-making company because I recognized that every business needs a sign for their storefront location if they want to attract customers. Now, I can support my family and give them a better life. We are fortunate to have enough money to send my son and daughter to university for higher education.
What sets your business apart from other sign makers in Thailand and in the region?
We’re completely online! Most sign makers in Thailand only have a walk-in shop. That means their business is limited to the town or city they are located in. As an online-only business, customers anywhere in the world can find us easily, using a search engine like Google Search. They can reach us by phone, tablet, or the laptop at their fingertips. I think convenience is the most important thing for attracting customers.
What difference has the Internet made for your business?
The Internet changed business for the better by growing our sales, connecting us to more customers, and keeping us ahead of our competitors. Before mastering AdWords, I was struggling to promote my products and to reach customers. We didn’t have enough social media, either. The change came when I started learning about AdWords. I’ve been working with the Google AdWords team for 4 years now. It’s been amazing. Whenever I have a question, they immediately reply and even call me to ask if it’s been answered. I saw a big difference to the business as early as 2014, when we hit TBH 50 million ($1.4 million) in revenue.
What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Master your own trade. Be active in the core of your business, expand your personal and professional connections, and use as many online media channels as possible to promote your business! I also treat my employees’ families like they are my family too. I try to take good care of them as much as I can. It builds our relationship in the long-term. Finally, be adventurous, too. Being adventurous is a key characteristic of our company—we enjoy discovering what’s new, being open-minded, and ready to face new challenges.
What’s next for your business?
We’re continuing to build our presence online and are experimenting with social media more. Recently, I’ve uploaded videos to YouTube to show our customers our sign-making process but we’ve been so busy I haven’t promoted it yet, so I haven’t gotten feedback yet.
I want to do my best in signage and continually improve our sign-making as much as I can. I also want to stay in the present moment and try not to worry much about the future. This doesn’t mean I’m not looking out for the future of my company! Let’s just say the older I get, the more I realize we should be less stressed. All I want is happiness, not money anymore since we’re fortunate to have enough and my family is happy.