Johnson Lam of Kaki DIY tells Yellow Pages Malaysia why DIY culture matters.
Invention is second nature to Lam. – Pic by Yellow Pages Malaysia
It’s another day at work for Johnson Lam as he shows a design of a drone and explains what it does.
“This drone can carry a DSLR camera. It can tilt the camera lens downwards to record an image and send feedback to the system. It’s useful for topography, or for rescuing people.”
The drone costs a cool RM7,000 — a great price especially if it’s the handiwork of hobbyist inventors. The prototype is one of the inventions developed throughout Lam’s Drone Awareness Class aka Drone 101.
Hardwired for DIY
From a very young age, Lam has always been fond of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and anything related to motoring.
His enduring interest in DIY has driven him to set up Kaki DIY, a self-funded online site where he shares articles on his experiences of making his own performance parts out of junks found in industrial areas.
Kaki DIY soon garnered a lot of interests from inventors, innovators, tinkers and tradesmen.
It became a place for these like-minded individuals to talk shop and discuss DIY matters. And Lam’s role morphed from a mere blogger-administrator to a coordinator of sorts.
This drone costs RM7,000 and is able to carry a DSLR camera. – Pic by Yellow Pages Malaysia
His tasks include organizing talks, inviting DIY community leaders and industry experts for sharing sessions, and creating educational outreach projects to propagate the DIY culture among hobbyists and serious inventors as well as technopreneurs.
There are 22,000 followers on Kaki DIY Facebook Page alone. While more males are robotics enthusiasts, a number of women are also contributing to the community by actively participating in segments such as home improvements, and arts and crafts.
To Lam, it makes sense to spread, share and create awareness on the DIY culture.
It takes six months and half a million dollars to form companies to make a new prototype. A community of makers who can come up with a similar prototype will just require a month and will only spend a fraction of that money.
Inventors can earn good money once they make and patent products. IPs are valuable as they germinate from mere ideas coming from people who are out to make something that will simplify other people’s lives.
Lam concurs that many things have already come into existence to make basic living easier, such as cars.
Lam believes in the role of invention and innovation for a better future. – Pic by Yellow Pages Malaysia
“But there are so many ways to improve the car itself. Electric cars are more eco-friendly and more efficient. That’s innovation, and it happens more these days.”
As tech companies are responsible for creating solutions, research and development (R&D) should take up more than half of a tech-based company’s budget in order for it to function. This makes R&D the core of successful companies — more so than other oft-emphasized segments such as marketing. Lam can’t stress this enough although he understands why it’s the other way around for too long. “If you can convince people to buy your stuff, that will increase sales (of products).”
Lam opines that the lack of emphasis on innovation sees Malaysia falling behind in this field; even Thailand is ahead in the game.
Educating the public at large is a part of Lam's mission. – Pic courtesy of Kaki DIY Facebook Page
Scarceness of tech awareness in education, coupled with Malaysia’s laid-back culture, lack of tech jobs, scant resources and migration of highly skilled citizens also contribute to the dearth of tech culture.
“If we can create an ecosystem that supports tech culture, Malaysia can definitely be one of the top innovation countries,” says Lam.
Skill sets such as an aptitude for problem-solving and great communication skills enable aspiring inventors and techies to go far.
Lam says anyone can be a DIY person as long as they have an aptitude for it. – Pic courtesy of Kaki DIY Facebook Page
A sound academic background is a must although being a top scorer is not a major determining factor for success in the field.
“Some skill sets like problem solving aren’t always found or developed in classrooms. They come with aptitude and personality. You find them when you mingle, talk to experts and attend events. Or go to places like science fairs and museums.
“As long as the world revolves, there will always be problems to solve and things to improve. These require technopreneurs, designers and enthusiastic inventors.”