Bikramjit Singh is a network marketing leader from Malaysia who currently has homes in Kuala Lumpur, Chandigarh, India, and Melbourne, Australia.
Bik got started in the profession by joining an American network marketing giant in the mid-nineties while living in Malaysia. He built a sizable organization using a traditional training system based on tapes, books, and functions. Five years later he moved to a new company and incorporated e-commerce and online marketing, building a business in over 100 countries.
In 2010 he expanded his dreams and applied his experience to start his own network marketing company with his brother Harvinderjit (Harry), selling online education in tablet format. Headquartered in India, the company is now operating in twelve countries spanning Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.
As founder and CEO, Bik leads his research and development team and works with his company managers to create sustainable growth. He also meets with government officials around the world to communicate his vision of eradicating illiteracy by offering high-quality, low-cost education.
Bik is passionate about showing decision makers and professionals how network marketing combined with cutting-edge technology has the power to connect people in the most rural and urban regions, helping them achieve their highest potential.
A Better Way
Bik’s family emigrated from India to Malaysia about one hundred years ago in search for economic opportunity.
“As the Indian population was growing, land was becoming scarce,” he says. “The only option was to move out. My great-grandfathers were contractors and my dad is one of the senior police officers for the Malaysian Intelligence police.”
Bik remembers his father telling him, “Son, whatever you’re going to do, make sure you have integrity and that you always walk tall whether in business or in a job.”
Bik’s parents sent their children to the U.K. to further their higher education. Bik earned his Bachelor’s in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Sunderland with honors.
“In my society, most parents want their children to become a top engineer, a lawyer, or a doctor,” he says. “After I graduated, I worked in the U.K. for a couple of years, specializing in satellite fiber optics engineering.”
In the early nineties, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Malaysia headhunted Bik to move back there and spearhead one of its fiber optics cable television projects. Due to his excellent performance, Bik was sent to the U.S. for further exposure and training in 1995.
“While living in Denver, Colorado, I bumped into an old friend named Scott Davis,” says Bik. “One day he told me about a business conference that was taking place and asked me if I could come and join him. Since this was after working hours and I had nothing else to do, I said, ‘Okay, why not?’
“As we walked into the coliseum, there were easily 20,000 attendees. The speaker sounded like an accountant and for about two hours I felt totally lost. After the meeting, as we talked to some of the attendees, I noticed that the vast majority of them were professionals, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, and architects. There were also some students and housewives, and all of them were talking about a concept called network marketing. I had no clue what that was, but was intrigued to find out more.”
After the conference, one of the people Bik met, and who happened to be a retired judge, invited him to his home. When Bik saw the fleet of cars in front of the house, he said, “You must be a really successful judge!”
The judge replied, “True, but I actually earned all this from my network marketing business.”
Now Bik was even more excited to learn more. Upon his return to Malaysia, he did some research and found out, to his surprise, that his father had gotten involved in one of the biggest American network marketing companies at the time.
“Dad and I started to dream and brainstorm,” says Bik. “I was doing well in the corporate world, traveling and jet setting. I was on my way to be trained as the next CEO of a management team. When network marketing came into my life, I became excited about free enterprise and the financial freedom that was put forth through this concept of leverage. I liked the idea of working once diligently and reaping the rewards over and over—unlike my job, where I was doing well and getting a good salary, but would have to keep working day after day for the next forty years.”
By that time, Bik had also ventured into traditional business. Right before leaving for the U.S., he had started his own IT company.
“In no time, I had forty employees working for me,” he says. “While in my corporate job I worked eight hours a day, running my own business required me to work fourteen-hour days. I was making much more money, but all my time was absorbed by my company. Given the limitations of both these experiences, I looked at network marketing and thought it could be a fantastic business.”
Going Full Time
Bik signed up in his first network marketing company under his parents in 1994. He kept running his IT company part time for one year, then left to do network marketing full time.
“My dad had already reached one of the top ranks in the company and became my mentor,” says Bik. “We are a closely-knit family, so my three elder brothers and two sisters also joined. Network marketing was totally new to us, but we were lucky because our American upline taught us a proven system to attract professionals into the business.”
Bik started out by showing the plan to all his cousins, with mediocre results. Quickly, he exhausted his friends and family list and had to move into the cold market, which he says made his business really take off.
“First, I approached the people in my company, asking them to take a look at the business and immediately giving them a thirty-minute overview. That’s how I got my business up and going.
“Next, I literally had to go out and talk to people I didn’t know. I was taught that you don’t become a network marketing professional until you venture into the cold market. If you’re sitting in a restaurant, you say hello to the manager, you exchange your cards and you show him the business.
“For me, that worked very well because I understood that network marketing is about reaching out. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I started aggressively working with cold contacts, which was not easy because many people had preconceived ideas. Being an engineer, I knew success was about numbers and statistics: if I hit enough numbers, out of twenty, two, three, four or five would come on board.”
In 1998, Bik’s team got wind of a fast-growing company that had just opened in Singapore and where people were already making $2,000, 3,000, 4,000, or 5,000 a week after just a few months in the business.
“With the system we were using, it takes years to build this kind of income,” he says. “Obviously when my team heard this, everyone got excited, so we decided to go to Singapore and see what was happening.”
Bik thought the company was a scam his people were being lured into. He was surprised to find out that, headquartered in Hong Kong, it had been approved to do business in Singapore, while his own company, a well established American giant, was never given permission to operate there.
Bik inquired with the Singaporean authorities who confirmed the company was properly registered. Next, he and his family went to check out its headquarters in Hong Kong.
“We did some investigation and sat down with the directors,” says Bik. “We felt comfortable with them, so now I was in a dilemma. I looked at their marketing plan and e-commerce model, which were innovative for that time. After some more discussions over the next couple of months, I decided that this company promised a better future for me, so I joined.”
As Bik moved companies, he didn’t take anybody from his team along, leaving them under the leadership of his parents who continued to build Bik’s first company.
“I basically started from zero in this new company,” he says. “Naturally, anyone who felt comfortable enough to move with me, I did not tie their hands, but otherwise I left my previous team intact.”
What attracted Bik was a better compensation plan, a unique product, and a global model, because at that time, his old company followed a traditional model and experienced many delays when opening new markets. Having a global mindset, Bik wanted to be in a business he could take with him all over the world seamlessly, and that’s the possibility he saw in the e-commerce platform this new company offered.
Bik was now an experienced networker, and even though he had to rebuild a team from scratch, his new business took off fast.
“The one thing that had worked well in my first company was its system comprised of tapes, books, and functions,” he says. “I combined this with the new e-commerce model and built a network from there. While the idea of building internationally was alluring, my philosophy was that if I’m not strong in my own country, I will never be strong anywhere else in the world. My strategy became to build a solid network in Malaysia where I’m fully in control because I’m living here. I spent a lot of time building my local leadership base so that when the time came to take the business global, I would not have to go into a new country by myself.”
Bik prepared his so-called generals and when they were ready, the first foreign country they ventured into was India. In 1999, they started taking trips there every six to eight weeks with five to ten leaders.
“We would book a hotel and start talking to people,” he says, “from the concierge to the front desk manager, to cab drivers and business people we met in the lobby.”
The first year not much materialized, but they kept on building.
“If you want to tap a new market, you must continuously go in again and again,” says Bik. “You cannot go into a country just one or twice and expect a market to grow. We did about six to eight trips in a year, which was not easy with a growing team at home.”
Bik explains how one of the difficulties in expanding into another country is getting to know the culture and understanding how people think and operate.
“Malaysia is an ethnically diverse country, comprised of Malays, Indians, and Chinese. When we planned to enter India, I enlisted my Indian leaders who had contacts there. We also prospected and started to train people from India who were either studying or working in Malaysia. Going into India, we took the representatives from that country with our other leaders. The Indians were the ones who gave us the breakthrough to the other contacts.”
Bik and his team visited malls and talked to the owners or managers of each retail shop, introducing themselves, handing out cards, and setting up appointments. They made flyers and distributed them in apartment complexes.
“The first year, we didn’t do functions,” says Bik, “only one-on-one meetings. After that, my Indian business started growing, and about two years into it, we were seeing two to three thousand sign-ups every week.”
Bik says the secret to not getting discouraged during that first year was making the business fun, no matter the circumstances.
“It was not easy and there was a lot of frustration,” he says, “but because we worked together as a team, we enjoyed it. We just were persistent, and the question whether our work would pay off never occurred to me once. I firmly believe that in order to create anything in life, we need not struggle. If we think we are struggling, we are failing.”
Bik explains his philosophy with an example:
“Think of someone who doesn’t know how to swim. If you put him into deep water, he will start to struggle to stay afloat. The more he struggles, the more he is going down. While struggling and gasping for air, suddenly he sees a dead body that is passing by, doing nothing, yet it is floating.
“Nature works in mysterious ways and teaches us great lessons. Stop struggling and start floating! This is the concept I adopted. If you want to do something, enjoy it. If you are sitting in the heat, just be and enjoy the heat. If you are in the cold, move and enjoy the cold. Same with networking, I just enjoy it, regardless of the outcome. If you enjoy it, it’s easy to keep going. Enjoy every step of the process, whether it leads to frustration or achievement. Stay put in your vision, know what you want, and just keep doing what you need to do to get there.”
Launching a New Company
Bik stayed with his second company from 1999 to 2010. When he joined, the company was in its infancy, so he brought a lot of the teachings and trainings from his previous company with him, especially around organizing events.
“My first company was running events very successfully,” he says. “We brought in the concept of events to this new company, which was not part of its culture. We also instituted teacher trainings and eventually an intensive program where leaders receive a special training to run events.”
Bik says the most important skill he developed in his second company was building new markets.
“The company gave me international exposure and I built in nearly one hundred countries. Every week, literally, I was in a new country. I traveled from Africa to Australia. I was in South America and North America. The experience I gathered from this was amazing. When you’re building in Africa, it’s a totally different market. The Middle East is a different market again. Our motto became adapt, adjust, accommodate, three concepts we quickly learned and applied wherever we went.”
Over the years some things started happening in the company that conflicted with the principles of truth and integrity Bik’s father had taught him.
“It came to a point where I no longer believed in the way the company was doing business,” he says. “I eventually decided we had to part ways. I could have joined another company, but I felt by now I had enough experience and connections to pursue bigger dreams. I also had a deep desire to set things right.”
Bik had seen how network marketing was touching a lot of lives. In his twelve years with this company, there had been a lot of legal problems in many countries around the world. He had experienced how, in developing regions such as India and Africa, if things go wrong, the business can destroy lives.
“If you live in an urban area and your business doesn’t work out, you can simply decide to do something else and no one will disturb you,” he says. “If you’re in a rural area, people you’ve gotten involved won’t leave you alone; they’ll make your life miserable. You may even be arrested and put in jail if you are perceived as having misled people into a business that is not legal in your country. Because the company did not always take its legal issues seriously, I even had people in my network who committed suicide.”
Bik decided that to do things right he had to start his own company. He had grown a strong team of leaders who also wanted to make a greater impact and truly bring about change.
“Network marketing is a sunrise industry,” says Bik. “Even though still young, we know it will prosper. I love it and we want it to bring value to the world.”
In 2010, Bik left his team under the leadership of his eldest brother and moved on to launch his own company with his brother Harry. They chose to continue with the e-commerce model, which would have allowed them to build quickly in many countries, but instead they focused on building India for the first two years.
“We did not want to grow too fast, then head into problems such as delays in product delivery,” says Bik. “We strategized building in one country and stabilize it by developing leadership, and only then expand into other countries.”
Looking for a product, Bik knew education was going to be a powerful sector in the future.
“We are moving from a skill-based economy into a knowledge-based economy,” he says. “I had not seen many network marketing companies focusing on education. We wanted to be first to focus exclusively on education as our premium product. Instead of picking up a product from the shelf, we wanted to do the research and development in house and built the product from scratch based on the concept of online education.”
Focus on Education
Today Bik’s company is regularly receiving awards for its product, which consists of a digital program allowing children to study from home and acquire a grade school education. Highly qualified Cambridge- and Oxford-trained teachers provide an international syllabus and a test environment based on the concept of gamification, allowing students around the world to compete with each other in real time.
“With technology moving so fast, in one year, we had to transition from a desktop to a tablet environment,” says Bik. “Instead of children having textbooks, it’s all going onto mobile devices. First in the world to provide 3D animation videos on an Android tablet format, we received a nomination from the World Education Congress recently held in Mumbai, attended by eighty-eight countries. We won the award for the best educational use of mobile technology.”
In August 2013, Bik had one of the winning products in “Education For All” at the World Youth Summit sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UNESCO, Internet Society (ISOC).
“We were able to enter this contest because we made our tablet work offline as well, allowing us to reach a lot more children,” he says. “In India, for example, only 12 percent of homes have Internet access. What happens to the 88 percent? They are left behind. We preloaded our content into a tablet so children in the most remote rural villages can get the best quality education.”
At its foundation, Bik’s company strategy was to create a powerful product that offers a solution to a social problem, then uses the network marketing model to distribute it globally. Instead of having legal problems going into new countries, Bik’s company is now welcomed by most governments because they know how much they need education.
“Recently we were invited by the education minister of Tobago to make a presentation,” says Bik. “The chief minister of Mumbai has invited us to do a run-through of our concept for their public education system. Next week I’m meeting the deputy education minister in Malaysia to present our product. Network marketing is often met with skepticism, but because our product is so desirable, we hope it will be embraced by the skeptics for the value it brings to the development of their nation.”
To train its distributors in market development, Bik’s company formed the G-Team, which includes IT experts and animators who create demo videos to help prospects conceptualize how the product works.
“We know a network marketing company cannot thrive without a good training system,” says Bik. “We want to have a leadership-based organization, not just customers or retail; we want a combination of both so we can create strong growth.”
When speaking to parents, distributors cover the product benefits from two angles. First, most parents send their children to after school activities, which often comes at a high cost. Second, given the risks of kidnapping, accidents, and school shootings, it’s not always safe for children to leave home. Most parents are happy to invest in a product that allows their children to study where parents can monitor them.
Bik’s online education product addresses another social issue, which is the gender inequality when it comes to education.
“In India, for instance, the more rural you go, the less importance is given to the girls’ education,” says Bik. “If there are two kids in the family, one boy and one girl, only the boy may be able to finish grade-school or pursue higher education. With our product, the parents will buy it for the boy and the girl.”
Envisioning the Future
Three years old, Bik’s company just opened new offices in Chandigarh, India. He has another office in Hong Kong servicing his international clients.
Bik and his team have a five-year plan to grow the company. Trained at IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology), his developers are committed to improving product features; his management team, trained at IIM (Indian Institutes of Management), is equally dedicated to furthering the company’s mission to eradicate illiteracy from the world.
“One reason I chose education is I strongly believe it is the most powerful vehicle to bring change,” says Bik. “Every child in this world must be given the opportunity to learn and develop—that’s a human right. However, in India, for instance, 60 percent of the kids are not given adequate education. To show our commitment to this cause, we have already pledged free access to our product for 100,000 underprivileged children so far.”
Bik says he also wants to offer a unique business opportunity whereby individuals from any background can come in and develop a full time income in one year’s time.
“It used to be, if you wanted to become financially free in network marketing, it would take you five years on average. I want to break that barrier. E-commerce has changed the way we do business. Today, if you’ve been building for five years and you’re still not seeing the income you need, it means perhaps you are doing something wrong, or something is not right with your company or product. Our company strategy is to give a high payout: our distributors earn up to $1,000 in commission for a single referral.”
Bik’s sees his company becoming one of the most prestigious online learning institutions in the world.
“We had to start with childhood education, but even here we are already using artificial intelligence. We want to branch out into different languages. We want to go beyond traditional school education. If a child wants to learn how to bake a cake, they can log into our programs and learn it. If they want to learn to play the guitar, they can do that. If they want to learn French, they should be able to.”
Bik also wants to include personal development and social skills, something he believes is grossly neglected in schools.
“When I was growing up and we had a visitor, my father would call us to come out and greet the person, no matter what we were doing. We were expected to sit down and socialize. Today you see children walk right past their uncle or aunt without even saying hello. Social etiquette and helping others is a vacuum in today’s generation and probably generations to come. This is something we like to integrate in our learning.”
Bik plans to offer diplomas all the way up to Masters and PhD’s through a state-of-the-art educational platform, including in the subject of network marketing. To accomplish this, he sees potential for a future collaboration with Networking University.
Bik’s wife has a Masters in business administration and lectures at a school in Malaysia. She also collaborates with his corporate team on syllabus content creation and provides her expertise to assure optimal curriculum development.
Social entrepreneurs at heart, Bik and his wife show their commitment to sustainable business by planting a tree for every product they sell.
“Not only do we want to make a lasting change,” says Bik, “we are passionate about building a business we can transfer to future generations.”