Driving virtual reality forward

"YOU can do anything you want in the world. You could be a janitor, you could be a plumber ... you just have to be the best there is and excel at it," Paul Koh claims, an advice that was passed on from his father, Charlie Koh, a guiding credo that has shaped the life of the 26-year-old entrepreneur.

Born in Malaysia, Koh's streak of globetrotting and adventuring began in his early years, as he bounced between the country, America and Canada in his childhood, before eventually going as far as the Antarctic in his early 20s.

Eventually starting Kezerk Imaging, a photography company, at the ripe age of 15, Koh's business would eventually become Kezerk Innovations, a digital visual technology company that is constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries on the application of virtual reality (VR) technology, holographic display and magnetic levitation.

How did you start and run Kezerk Imaging full-time when you were only 15 years old?

I quit school when I was 13. I figured that I didn't like it any more. It's not that I was too smart, I just didn't want to know some things; I didn't want to learn everything. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and I didn't want to be a doctor or an engineer, so I didn't feel like I wanted to study intense mathematics or science.

I realised that I absorb knowledge better when I had interest in something. So I started Kezerk Imaging and travelled around as a photographer, including living with a friend's family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. My education was formed by home tutoring and life lessons.

Why did you get into photography?

My father suggested I take up a photography course in Melbourne. I initially had no interest and took up the suggestion just to travel, but when I realised I was good at it, it snowballed into what it is now.

What was it like going on an expedition to the Antarctic?

I was picked by Prudential out of a huge list of entries, along with two other Malaysians. It was an amazing experience. It was a huge, huge place. It was like the size of China, but just all white. No humans, a few penguins, but anything beyond the coast is totally empty. It was amazing to see that in a world where we see people all the time, there can be emptiness.

What did you take away from the experience?

This formed another part of my education. I realised that there was a cyclical nature to technology, as we went from using whale oil in lamps to light bulbs, which eventually led to a global warming due to the need for energy.

Essentially, an invention stopped whaling and caused climate change, but an invention is now killing the planet, so a new invention is needed to save the planet. I learned that we need to constantly innovate, and that we have to invent as fast as we consume.

What led to Kezerk Imaging transitioning from photography to VR?

I realised that photography is a really challenging market space commercially due to the competition.
As time was valuable, I decided to go as huge and as crazy as possible by exploring every avenue in visual technology.

By moving from photography into VR, your business evolved. But will it stop there? Or do you plan to move beyond 360 imagery and virtual tours?

Now we have holograms and magnetic levitation technology. We will always pick up new tech as they surface. Like I said, we have to constantly invent and innovate. If there is something interesting, I'll jump right in, but right now I'm more focused on merging existing technologies into a usable space.

How do you find the time to manage multiple businesses with your extreme – for the average Malaysian – lifestyle?

I don't really manage my time. I work as hard as I can throughout a year and then I just take a long break.

Do you have a goal in this business that you intend to reach by 30?

I plan to grow the company as big as I can, and then exit at the right time. I don't want to sit on it for too long, or to get too sentimental with what I'm doing. The idea is to make enough money, then start a venture capital. I love business as a sport, or as something I can constantly learn from.