Radica Software is on a global mission to redesign engineering processes
By Satoko Omata
For many entrepreneurs and start-ups in Malaysia, Klang Valley might seem like the be all and end all; one that is buzzing with activity and opportunities. For this crowd, Ipoh – the capital city of Perak – is that proverbial small sleepy town for the tech scale-up scene.
What many may not expect is the presence of a company involved in sending rockets to space being based in this unassuming township. Of course, Radica Software is anything but lacklustre in its achievements.
The company specialises in developing engineering software for electrical, hydraulics and pneumatics. Conceptualised from the need for better, more efficient software within the industry, Radica Software sought to reinvent the industry with its engineering program suite, Electra.
Armed with a repertoire of star-studded clients from across the globe, Radica Software has proven itself to be at the forefront. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL), Apple, HP, Siemens, Philips and SpaceX are just some many organisations who have benefitted from Radica Software’s solution.
Business Today speaks to Thomas Yip, Chief Executive Office of Radica Software, to pick his brains on how a small-town Malaysian company has managed to reach for the stars.
No Pain, No Gain
When it first unveiled the software online, Yip shares that it was not expecting such a strong demand, especially from other countries such as US and Mexico: “We designed a software that we would want to use ourselves. We truly understand the needs, requirements and pain points, and therefore, sought out to remove them.”
Having an impressive client list from over 48 countries worldwide, the company prides itself for designing a platform that is simple to use without requiring extensive training, while still able to complete details automatically. The software allows users to improve productivity by three to five times, thus enabling engineers to complete tasks quicker and easier.
Radica Software focuses on being customer-centric by going to great lengths in ensuring high-quality work in every aspect, even when nobody is looking. However, much like many other start-ups, be it local or international, Radica Software’s journey to success was not one without growing pains.
In its early days, the company was less prepared for mass production, which resulted in manic moments during the initial delivery of its Electra boxes.
“Unfortunately, the printers re-typed our copywriting and made glaring spelling mistakes on our boxes. For me, this is especially embarrassingly. Being late in delivering the boxes, we spent the entire night at the printing factory to obtain the first few boxes so that we could send them out the next morning,” laments Yip.
Thankfully, those first two orders were the only boxes that went out with an error from Radica Software. After rectifying the mistakes with stickers, the affable CEO made sure this experience remained to be a core lesson in ensuring the highest quality in every detail of its products.
Building a small-town company is not without its challenges either. Access to talent is not as abundant with brain drain being very much a real challenge; it is an issue commonly found in the big cities as well.
“We have to be innovative. For a business that is based outside of the Klang Valley, thanks to globalisation and the internet, we have a wider pool to choose from. This includes the ability to hire freelancers all around the world. We also have an extremely successful internship programme. With an attrition rate of 97%, only three out of 100 applicants are successful,” he shares.
Small Town, Big Dreams
While Radica Software has already found success overseas, it is not resting on its laurels. It hopes to further grow its footprint worldwide, and with guidance from the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the company is poised to do just that.
Connecting local industry players with its breadth of international support, the MDEC Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme brings visibility, advisory and mentorship for local companies like Radica Software to thrive further on a global platform.
“I had the privilege of joining GAIN’s Silicon Valley immersion programme. Through this initiative, selected local companies like Radica Software are offered a myriad of services that would eventually lead to us to getting a soft landing in the United States. From setting up a company to providing an office space, we continue working directly with GAIN on our expansion plans and areas where we can be more visible to potential markets,” says Yip.
The support from MDEC is also timely as Yip is confident that Radica Software is well positioned to grow its business further. There are changes in the horizon from within the industry, in which Yip strongly believes that cloud-based CAD is the future.
On this end, Radica Software recently unveils its cloud-based CAD product, Vecta.io, which – at press time – is in public beta. The company is also looking to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into diagramming tools to predict user intent, enabling users with even more speed and convenience for their work.
Through its latest endeavours, Yip hopes the company will not only grow from a business standpoint, but also increase its global user-base.
For the company, it is not just about producing great products. Despite having all its cards laid out on the international front, Radica Software is not one to forget its roots.
Yip admits that Malaysia is generally a hard client to please. This is an issue that is not only unique to Radica Software; it is a common woe for many entrepreneurs and start-ups operating in the country.
“It has definitely been easier to gain recognition and acceptance overseas rather than locally. Unfortunately, it seems that we are not the only one. Personally, I think local culture seems to dictate that overseas products are always better than local products. Additionally, I believe international companies are more proactive and open to change when it is about improving their productivity as compared with the local market,” he opines.
Regardless, Yip is a strong believer in paying it forward. He is passionate about engaging, contributing and growing the start-up ecosystem in Malaysia.
He concludes: “I would like to play a more active role in contributing to a more vibrant ecosystem, especially in Ipoh. Given the chance to do it all over again, I would have grown my company much faster, both locally and internationally.”
This story first appeared in the Business Today magazine (December 2017 issue)