I’m back with the third case study and final case study for Fireconvert’s launch.
Since I started growing Entrepreneur Campfire and my other niche sites, I started becoming obsessed with one question: how many other Malaysians are doing what I’m doing? And, how successful have they gotten?
Asking myself these questions have led me to discover iBilik, which sold for a cool 8 figures in 2013 and Afterschool, a student-uni matching site attracting half a million sessions a month.
These are sites built by Malaysians which have been quite successful in Malaysia.
The sites featured in today’s case study were all built by Malaysians, but with a twist – instead of targeting a Malaysian audience, these are sites built by Malaysians for a broader audience.
These websites may have roots in Malaysia, but they’ve taken off to an international stage. The majority of visitors to these sites are from countries like the US, UK, Australia and so on (or as some people might label as ‘traffic from Tier 1 countries’).
The obvious advantage of having a Malaysian team with readers from Tier 1 countries is the cost-spend arbitrage that exists thanks to a the lowered costs of having a Malaysian team and the increased spending power that come from customers from Tier 1 countries.
I hope that by showing you these sites, you will start looking beyond Malaysia when you start or grow your business, especially online where the costs of doing so are massively lowered.
These five are by no means the only sites that have done well on an international scale, but only the ones I’ve uncovered so far.
Most of these sites have remained hidden from most Malaysians because there is so little local media coverage about them compared to startups.
Honestly, that’s a real shame because some of these sites are valued multiple times more than a lot of startups out there.
Today though, you’ll discover something only few have seen. And I hope you leave feeling as inspired as I did when I found them.
Let’s start with the one niche that has carried more hype than any other: cryptocurrencies:
At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at an all-time low, trading at less than a quarter of its all-time high of almost $20,000/BTC.
Whether this spells the death of the cryptocurrency hype is left to be seen.
My hunch, though, is that cryptocurrency is here to stay and that is why I’m opening this list with CoinGecko.com, a live price aggregator site for every known cryptocurrency.
If you’re a cryptocurrency enthusiast, you might have used CoinGecko without realizing it was made by Malaysians.
With just over 9 million sessions a month, CoinGecko has carved a nice spot for itself in an increasingly crowded world of online crypto sites: whether the price goes up or down, people will still visit CoinGecko to get the latest information.
It’s clear that a big part of CoinGecko’s success comes from entering at the right time when cryptocurrencies began picking up interest.
CoinGecko’s site has ad banners placed prominently at the top of the site, indicating that one of the primary ways of making money is through advertising.
Aggregators like CoinGecko shows that it’s not always content that brings in traffic. If you create something useful that millions of people will want to use, you’ll still get tons of traffic.
HongKiat.com deserves a mention here for being one of the pioneer ‘internet companies’ in Malaysia to make it big around the world.
Started by Lim Hong Kiat as a humble blog where he shared his design tips, HongKiat.com has grown to millions of visitors a month. At its peak, HongKiat.com received over 10 million monthly visitors.
Although it gets ‘only’ 3.8 million monthly session these days, HongKiat.com is still one of the most widely read websites on design in Malaysia and around the world.
The website began as an ads-supported site, but in recent years, a ‘deals’ section has popped up, adding an e-commerce element to the site as well.
The biggest lesson with content sites like Hongkiat.com is that persistence truly pays. Hong Kiat started the site in 2006, started making enough from it a few years later to quit his job and continues making money from it more than a decade later.
Even though OffGamers has almost 1 million monthly sessions, it remains largely unknown to most Malaysians since visitors from the US, UK, Germany and Saudi Arabia makes up a majority of its traffic.
OffGamers is one of the world’s leading gaming service providers, with over 3,000 games under its wings.
The site was started almost 15 years ago and continues to dominate its niche space today.
OffGamer’s is a prime example that if there is enough demand, focusing on a narrow niche can still be very rewarding.
Last but not least on this list is none other than WebHostingSecretsRevealed.net.
With almost 240,000 sessions a month, WebHostingSecretsRevealed.net is one of the biggest Malaysian players when it comes to the web hosting reviews niche.
Although on the outset, WHSR’s traffic is tiny compared to the three sites above, it is still an impressive figure if you consider the niche WHSR is in.
WHSR competes in the highly competitive space of web hosting reviews. This niche is well-known for having one of the best affiliate payouts (a minimum of $50 per sale) with a lot of wannabe reviewers but few winners.
The web hosting niche remains competitive and I wouldn’t be surprised at the amount of upkeep required to keep the stats.
Personally, I salute WHSR’s efforts in this space, as I couldn’t imagine going into it myself.
WHSR is proof that just because a niche seems competitive, it doesn’t mean you can’t win. If you win, like how WHSR has, you’ll be cashing in a lot of money.
With that, our launch case studies conclude.
The big lesson in this case study is having the right
Of course, there is always the element of luck in each case – CoinGecko rides on the cryptocurrency craze, HongKiat leveraged on the needs of web designers in the 2000s and sites like OffGamers picked up their customers as mass gaming became increasingly popular.
Nonetheless, a lot of people must have seen the same trends and thought to themselves: I don’t stand a chance.
But the drivers behind each of the sites in this case study were not bystanders, but action-takers. If you take action, luck multiplies with your skills and become rewards.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my first three launch case studies. I’m looking forward to creating more. If you’ve liked this, subscribe to get exclusive ones I only share with my email list and nowhere else: