‘No brainer for 1337 Ventures in running an ECF platform’
By Karamjit Singh May 21, 2019
- ECF license will allow retail investors, especially to tag along
- Opportunity for 1337 Ventures to level up funding it can provide
HAVING received one of the three new licences from the Securities Commission Malaysia to operate an Equity Crowdfunding (ECF) platform, Bikesh Lakhmichand (pic), founding partner and CEO of venture accelerator 1337 Ventures Sdn Bhd, is busy getting down to work.
The first order of business is to build their ECF platform. Simultaneously is to put the good word out that interested investors who wish to tag along on the investments 1337 makes, will soon get their wish.
“We have long had investors telling us that they want to tag along in our investments and the beauty of the ECF platform is that it will also allow retail investors and not just your seasoned angel investors and other high net groups to invest along with us,” he says.
Having run its successful Alpha Startups pre-accelerator programme since May 2014 and with batch 23, a fintech focused cohort supported by Bank Negara Malaysia, in session now, 1337 Ventures has had a steady and healthy pipeline of deals emanating from the 500 startups that have come through its programme, especially those who are judged the winners of each batch, and in whom, 1337 Ventures will make an investment into.
To recap, the 1,000 over entrepreneurs who have gone through Alpha Startups get to test and validate scalable product or startup ideas with their peers, guided by experienced industry mentors. The idea is to have them be better prepared to pitch to investors and grants. You can add, ECF platforms now as well.
Besides providing their Alpha Startups with another option for raising funds, for 1337 Ventures, having its own ECF platform now also affords it the opportunity to level up its investments into not just startups but Brick & Mortar SMEs as well.
Explaining this opportunity, 1337 Ventures is currently running the country’s first SME accelerator programme for Brick & Mortar SMEs that are eager to embrace the digital wave and equip their company with the tools and mindset to do so. The accelerator is being run in partnership with CIMB Bank.
Running the SME accelerator is part of 1337 Ventures’ strategy in offering transformation services to businesses keen to adapt to the digital economy.
“Our involvement in these transformation efforts gives us a window to identify promising companies that are too young or small to appear on the radar of traditional investors or even banks for loans. Our ECF platform could be ideal for them, especially if we invest as well,” says Bikesh. And invest it will.
As one of eight ECF platforms in the market now, Bikesh is not concerned about there being too many players. “Everyone has to have their niche. Ours will be that as operators of a popular accelerator programme, our Alpha Startups and SME Accelerator will give us a steady dealflow of qualified companies, of entrepreneurs that have won our trust for us to invest in.”
In the initial stages, most of the companies that go on 1337’s ECF platform, will be those that it has invested in itself.
Still, 1337 Ventures will allow other companies that want to tap into its investor network, to get on its ECF platform. The caveat being that the companies must undergo and graduate from an online version of its Alpha Startups, called Leet Academy, that 1337 Ventures is working on now.
With its physical programme running every four months only, having an online version allows 1337 to scale its offering and offer it 365x24. “Offering an online version of Alpha Startups also allows us to baseline the companies that want to raise money on our ECF platform. This way they will all speak the same lingo, do their reporting the same way, have engaged with customers and have a market ready product or service,” explains Bikesh.
Putting it all together, Bikesh says investors who are looking to get on board the growing ECF market will get, from 1337 Ventures, an ECF platform owned by a venture accelerator and venture fund that will be putting its own money into many of the companies raising funds, and all of whom must have gone through a specific accelerator programme. What can be more reassuring than that.
“That’s why it was a no brainer for us to apply for and run an ECF platform,” says Bikesh.