NEX raises $150k more from Blibros; to become a full-stack digital agency

As featured on DealStreetAsia

By Juliet Shwe Gaung

Armed with its second round seed funding, Yangon-based digital agency NEX, that offers web and mobile development services, has added the creative design dimension to enable the two-year-old startup to become a full-stack digital agency in the frontier market. NEX recently raised an additional $150,000 from existing investor Blibros Ltd, an investment company under the management of the Family BÖCKER. With this round, Blibros’ investment in NEX stands at $300,000.

Ye Myat Min, 24, founder and CEO, NEX, is bullish about adding the creative design function. In fact, the firm is at a stage in Myanmar where it is educating the ecosystem about the possibilities and impact that design and marketing can have. In that direction, it has launched a voluntary initiative Yangon Redesigned, which is all about producing content and building awareness of design in Myanmar businesses.

Through the Facebook page of Yangon Redesigned, NEX have introduced some of their design works such as creating awareness about the country’s landmark elections, Myanmar’s traditional food, social causes and so on.

With a current valuation of $2.5million, NEX works with clients in Myanmar, China, Singapore, US and Europe. Speaking to DEALSTREETASIA in an interview, Ye Myat Min talks extensively about the creative design function at the digital agency. Edited Excerpts:-

NEX started its creative design team recently. How did you come about setting up this function?

Earlier, we handled application and website designs. However, we did not handle the logo design and branding aspect. Only around May 2015 we thought about working on design that included branding. When we receive a project, it happens most of the time that if the website is modernized, the logo is outdated. Some of our clients’ logos have been created a long time ago and the color used for the logo does not match the website that we have developed. On the other hand, if we change the website to match the logo, it doesn’t look good. So, it started when we thought about pushing our clients to change their logos.

When we walk around Yangon, at most of the shops, there’s only a signage. No proper logos, tag lines or branding. Most of the shops will make a sign board, go to the printing house for the menus. We tried to conceptualize the idea of what if there is a logo, and the menu created goes along with it.

What is the scope of work which will be covered under the creative design wing?

Under the creative design, we do branding including creating logos, custom printed cups, point of sales (POS) materials such as flyers and billboards, designing for social media posts, campaign designs, website designs and creating user experience. We have five people working for the creative team including a manger.

How do you go about the design process with your clients?

Before we create a design, we brainstorm on aspects like why the design needs to be created, what impact it will have, what is audience preference and who are the audience. When we get a project, we first do a detailed research. After finishing a design and before handing over to the client, we test audience perception for a month. Creating a logo is easy but maintaining the consistency is important. In some large companies, the use of logo in different areas is not consistent. We give an emphasis on these areas.

Do you see some challenges dealing with clients?

We turn most of the conversations with the clients to be educational. For example, we are working on the website for Rangoon Tea House. They already have a great branding and an eye on design, therefore, it is easy to carry on the conversation. They would easily understand why we are doing. However, for some clients, when we create a mock-up we always need to explain and have an educational process.

What’s the idea behind starting Yangon Redesigned, a non-profit initiative?

The idea of the non-profit is to be able to reach the educational material to everyone. The works created at Yangon Redesigned are what is deduced through public knowledge. It is our initiative and we want people to see our work, and provide a kind of knowledge or inspiration out of it.

Can you tell me some of the businesses that you have already been engaged in creative design?

We are now working on businesses in the food and financial services sectors.

Is there any non-profit organisations that you have worked with?

Connecting with NGOs is very difficult and takes time due to the approval process. However, we already have ideas from our side. Last month we planned to create a video and graphic campaign for some women-related issues like breast cancer and smoking. However, we could not take it forward due to lack of time. We feel instead of directly stating the ideas to the NGOs, it is more effective to lay out our ideas for them to see.