Did You Know
Did You Know
IT all started when he was 11 years old and he would always find himself taking apart and putting back together a VCR tape.
Since then David Chen's quest to build his own business and merge it with his interest in technology would take him to the US, Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore. It would also push him to draw inspiration from the unlikeliest persons and places.
"That's always been a childhood dream of mine. That goes way back when I was in high school and in my college days. I've always wanted to have a business, but it didn't happen overnight. My mom said:"David, you should go get a job, and get some work experience before owning a business. It is good to learn and see the world first," said Chen, founder and CEO of global brand Kata.
And get a job, he did, in the US. He first worked with AT&T, where he got his corporate training, before moving to Bank of America to learn more about finance. Finally, he worked with Cisco Systems to learn more about technology.
Coming back to Hong Kong, he put up an IDD company. One world Telecom in 1999. As with any other business, the beginning was challenging.
"My experience is that when you try to put your idea into a business, you realize you don't know anything. You realize that you just have the illusion or the perception and you learn that you know nothing about servers, switches, and lines, but you learn what you need to do," Chen said.
He soldiered on and, four years after, he put up Owtel shops which then sold phones from various brands.
"Back in 2009, I looked around and I said 'Hey, that's not good.' Anybody can sell what we have. The guy next door had Nokia, Samsung, and i thought we needed something different, something better, something that we have that no one else has, and that's how the Kata brand came about," he said.
It was in the Philippines and in a meeting with a Japanese guy that Chen's search for a simple, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce brand name ended.
"We need our own brand. The question then is "What do we call it?" We looked around and we considered this name and that name, and we said that it must not be too complicated because you wanted people to be able to pronounce the name and remember it very easily. So, it has to be very simple," Chen said.
"And I was thinking one night, and I was thinking of what should i call it, and there was this fellow from Japan and his name was Shikata. I was in a meeting with him and I thought that Kata really sounded so simple, sounded really good," he added.
He then searched the internet and found that Kata means "form" in karate in Japanese.
"To me, it means simplicity... Very simple, very easy to remember. It's the best name possible and any Asian can pronounce it... We do business in Asia even though we are a US company," he said.
As for the koi fish as Kata's logo, he say it illustrates the brand's philosophy of "making life easy."
"We wanted something different, something unique and no one has ever used it (koi fish). This is an Asian brand and the fish represents zen, energy, and vibrance.
That's how we came up with the koi fish and the shadow of it." he said.
"In technology, you gotta catch up, number one. Once you caught up, you need to level up, and right now we are taking it to different levels. Not only have we learned, we have mastered it," he said.
This pursuit is evident in the latest Kata products - the Kata box, and the Kata tablet T4.
Chen said the Mega VPN app allows users of both Kata Box and the T4 to play games, watch movies and shows. Kata as an exclusive partnership with Mega VPN and it is preloaded and free in Kata's newest devices.
"You could play games, but you could also watch movies. Sometimes, kids don't want to watch TV, they want to play games so that is the ability of the Kata box versus of what's out there." he said.
"Our tablet(T4) has a TV folder and you can access Netflix, CBS and all that stuff. No one else has built a device like that and we have this because we're doing this as service. We're always been a service company. We started out as an IDD company. So now, this device, we flipped it to provide service, and this is what we have always been." He added.
In the near term, Chen said Kata would be focused on marketing and getting the public to know better about the brand and its products.
Presently, Kata products are sold in Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, the US, and Canada. Next year, Chen said he is eyeing to expand to Malaysia and Taiwan. Eventually, he is also seeking to venture to South Korea and other Southeast Asian markets such as Myanmar and Cambodia.
Going public and offering Kata's shares to the investors is among the company's long-term plans, he said.
"Going public is the ultimate goal. [It will probably happen] when we are ready, and I love it to be in Hong Kong. Hong Kong would be [a] nice [place to list]." Chen said