Launches with RM5m funding from government, spread over five years
First batch in March, with at least 2-man team with in-house technical expertise
There is a new accelerator in town. 1337 Accelerator is being launched in Cyberjaya in March. Managed by 1337 Ventures Sdn Bhd, the start-up funding of RM5 million comes from the government via the Ministry of Finance. The money will be spread over five years at RM1 million a year with 20 app start-ups receiving seed funding of RM50,000 each.
The twist is that in return for funding them, 1337 Ventures will take a 30% cut of the revenues earned by the start-ups in its program for the first two years. “But if any of these start-ups get acquired before this period, they can choose to repay the RM50,000 so that we can invest that money again,” says Bikesh L (pic, middle), CEO and founder of 1337 Ventures, which will manage the program. Bikesh is also currently the CEO and founder of iTrain Sdn Bhd.
Those who think the seed fund will accept just any idea will be in for a disappointment. “We aim to take app development to a new level and are not interested in those who want to develop your typical app,” cautions Bikesh.
What 1337 Ventures will be looking at are apps that go along with hardware, apps that deal with variables that are not just on-phone but dealing with the back-end of enterprise systems. Among the verticals are healthcare and education. As Bikesh notes, “these are not your typical apps.” There is a place for gaming apps too but the bar will be set much higher. No me-too game ideas for this accelerator.
A key part of taking app development to this new level that Bikesh speaks of is the mentor approach that will be taken. 1337 Ventures has put together a strong pool of mentors who will work with the investees on a weekly basis to sharpen their apps, both from a technical and marketing perspective. “We are going to have both technical and business mentors,” says Bikesh.
The early pool of mentors includes Johaness Reuben (pic, right), Eliza Noordin and Brett Bibby (pic, left), founder of Game Brains and one of the leading game development studios in the country. Bret now is Product Specialist with Unity, a leading game development company where he evangelizes game development in Southeast Asia.
Incidentally, Johaness was technical director for Game Brains for 15 years. Eliza meanwhile is well known in the tech industry for her involvement with startups and was also the angel investor in Slashes & Dots Sdn Bhd which was recently sold to US based iJoomla.
Bikesh expects the strong personal network of the mentors to also play a big part in helping the startups 1337 Accelerator takes in. But to get in, entrepreneurs out there are invited to the inaugural pitch that will be conducted on Thursday at KDN Cyberjaya.
For further details email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.1337ventures.net.
Note that 1337 Ventures is looking for a minimum 2-person start-up and where one person has to be technically strong. “We are not accepting those who plan to outsource development to a third party,” clarifies Bikesh. Infact, he says that 1337 Ventures is emphasizing the need for app startups to have strong technical expertise. The founder may be the one with the vision and idea but they must have a strong technical person in the start-up team.
With the accelerator providing most of their needs, the funding will mainly be used for salaries with the technical person drawing a higher salary than the founder even. Explaining this, Bikesh says, “As founders they should have more skin in the game plus the early part is all about building the product.”
It is going to be hard work when they get into the accelerator. “The space even has bunk beds built in for developers to work throughout the night. We really want to push bootstrappers into a program that produces results. Each team gets an iMac with preloaded software for app and game development and have access to our devices, such as Virtual Reality goggles Oculus Rift, for testing their apps so they need not spend the RM50,000 on purchasing all these items,” says Bikesh.