How Tough Love Helped Livescape CEO Iqbal Ameer Build His Success Story
While most parents would splurge on the best that money can buy for their children, Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin thought differently, as his son Iqbal Ameer reflects. Here, Iqbal looks back at his journey as an entrepreneur and the highlights in his career that moulded him into who he is today.
"Dad is a tough businessman, alright,” says Iqbal Ameer, in acknowledgement of his father, who shaped him to become who he is today.
“To Dad, the most important value he could teach us was independence. Praises never came easily from him. But it was his way of showing us he loved us—he wanted us to be able to stand on our own two feet and never settle on mediocrity despite the odds,” he says.
Despite the tough love, Iqbal made it clear that he has benefited from his father’s unconventional brand of parenting in his entrepreneurial journey. Here, he chronicled how he evolved from a young self-started to the cool, composed businessman he is today.
Working for his keep in his student days
Although his parents could afford to send him abroad to study in Melbourne, Australia, Iqbal only received a minimum fixed allowance for his basic needs. To support himself, he worked part-time. His first job was working as a sandwich board man, before he signed up to be a flyer dropper and distributor. The latter taught him the basics of sales and marketing.
“In the process of giving these flyers out to total strangers, I had to learn the hard way on how to deal with rejection. So I improvised. I learnt how to strike a conversation with others and then ‘sell’ my flyers. It taught me a lot especially after I moved into the entertainment business,” he reflects.
From selling to thinking big
Iqbal eventually secured part-time work as a bouncer to a private club in Australia. He challenged himself to not just idle while on duty. He started observing the crowd that was coming and their habits. From there, he made mental notes on consistent customer behaviour and gave helpful suggestions to his employers to improve the business. His ideas led to more profits and from there, it was only upwards and onwards for Iqbal, career-wise.
His first foray in entrepreneurship began when he invested in a restaurant in Australia. “I was excited to own a venue where I could channel all the ideas I have in my head,” he reflects. While his business partner managed the operations, Iqbal focused on marketing and promotions.
In between running his restaurant, Iqbal dabbled briefly in event planning; he organised a Malaysian concert in Australia over an Easter weekend for fun. “I was engrossed in every part of the process and fell in love with creating unforgettable experiences and memories for others with the show we put on,” he reveals.
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Food for growth
When Iqbal returned to Malaysia, his invested into an ice-cream truck business. In those days, food trucks were deemed as ‘illegal vendors’ because no legislation existed for mobile eateries at that point in time. Aside from having to struggle with the local council and officials, there were a lot of other operational issues that prevented Iqbal from developing the business
“It became clear to me that the ice cream truck was not a sustainable business. Some days were good, some days were bad. We made money when we were booked during events,” he reflects.
One day, Iqbal’s ice cream truck business was commissioned for a music festival in Sepang, organised by events veteran Ben Law. There, amidst the cheering crowd, Iqbal rekindled an old flame for his past passion. “In my Melbourne days, I organised for 7,000 people, but here, Ben was planning for a festival of 30,000 people. I really missed the joy and satisfaction from that work. So I made up my mind I would like to go back to doing what I loved,” he reflected.
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Growth of the self
Iqbal first founded Livescape Group with a blank slate. “We had no idea what we were doing. It was a challenge to get international acts to pay attention to us when we were so new. Plus, we were running two businesses at the same time,” he explained.
It would be his father once again who would give him valuable advice that helped Livescape grow at an accelerated rate.
“Dad quickly saw that Livescape was lacking in focus and credibility. From his advice, I chose to focus on Livescape instead of the ice cream truck business. He also encouraged me to work on a game plan to build our credibility in the events and entertainment space,” he recalls.
To do that, Iqbal hired two new partners into Livescape—one had access to big-name international entertainment agents abroad while the other had experience in producing large-scale events.
Years later, events like Rockaway Fest and It’s A Ship! soon escalated Iqbal and his company’s profile. To sustain the company in between these big-scale festivals, Livescape also manages corporate events in the interim.
“When you face adversity in your journey, you have no choice but to grow,” he says. “You have to be driven by purpose first, profits are secondary. When you have purpose, you can rally your team together,” he shares.
Iqbal also shares that as a leader of a company, accountability is key. “You have to commit to self-improvement and you must own up to your decisions. You also have to take the fall when things go wrong and make peace with it,” he reveals.
With It’s The Ship! expanding regionally, more challenges await Iqbal. But he is ready for whatever that comes. “When the going gets tough, being calm helps. That’s how you sort things out one by one—things become less overwhelming then,” he shares.
See also: How Dance Artiste Suhaili Micheline Puts Her Heart In Her Art
Photography: Kah Mun
Creative Direction: Allan Casal
Watches: IWC Schaffhausen
Venue: Swiss Watch Gallery, Pavilion KL