Total Oil introduces Startupper of the Year Challenge in Malaysia

  • Aims to support entrepreneurs and is not part digital transformation, says MD
  • A total of RM 100,000 allocated for top 3 startup ideas as well as mentorship by jury members


Total Oil introduces Startupper of the Year Challenge in Malaysia


TOTAL Oil, the fourth largest oil and gas company worldwide, is introducing its Startupper of the Year Challenge in Malaysia. Following the favourable response from the first instalment in over 30 African countries in 2015, the group is bringing back the programme in almost 60 countries worldwide.

Within the Asian region, other countries involved are Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan and Fiji. The managing director of Total Oil Malaysia, Sachin Singh (pic) said: “The Startupper Challenge is a genuine commitment to the society where Total would like to make a difference.”

The 2018-2019 Startupper of the Year Challenge aims to support and reward local entrepreneurs below 35 years of age, who have a project or business that is less than two years old in any business sector. The candidates’ projects will be assessed based on their innovative nature, positive impact on society and community as well as feasibility and potential for development.

Speaking about the rationale behind the programme, Sachin believes that it is closely tied to Total Oil’s role of being a responsible corporate. “Being a responsible corporate does not only mean making profits and creating jobs, but also involves our contribution to society. Our aim is to uplift the fabric of youngsters in society and help them make their ideas a reality.”

Other than Sachin, the lineup of jury members for this programme are Norhizam Kadir, vice president, Growth Ecosystem Development of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC); Fadzarudin Shah Anuar, the CEO of FashionValet; Leon Foong, the CEO of Socar Malaysia; and Dinesh Ratnam, the director of the CEO’s office of Catcha Group.

“We try to create an environment in which ideas that are socially impactful and tangible can see the light of day through implementation and funding,” Sachin said. He clarified that all types of startup ideas are welcome to partake in the challenge, as long as a social benefit exists.

When asked if the Startupper Challenge is part of Total Oil’s digital transformation journey, Sachin insisted that the programme is aimed towards helping the community. However, he said, “Transforming digitally is the normal fabric of any organisation today. Internally, we have a strong culture of innovation with a bank of ideas and innovation committee set up.”

“We receive a lot of ideas around improving efficiency, work life balance and customer retention. But I have to say, any change can only occur if the upper management drives it forward which is the way it is in Total,” he added.

The Startupper challenge is open for registration until November 13. The top 100 participants will be shortlisted by mid-November, after which there will be an online voting period for the public. In January 2019, the top 15 participants with the most votes will pitch their business proposals to the jury. The top 3 winners will be selected by March 2019.

“RM100,000 has been allocated for the winners – RM50,000 for first place, RM30,000 for second place and RM20,000 for third place. The jury members will also act as mentors and provide coaching to the winners for a period of one month and above at their own time,” Sachin shared.

As far as a partnership opportunity with Total Oil, he said “We’d like to operate in our core competency of energy. If the project is something that is close to our business and the owner would like to associate with us, it is something we may be open to.” 

The first-prize winners from each country will also have the opportunity to compete with each other at the global level. Six overall grand winners will be selected by a grand jury. Additionally, Total Oil will also present a Top Female Entrepreneur Award to “recognise and encourage participation from women entrepreneurs.”

Participants may register for the 2018-2019 Startupper of the Year challenge here before Nov13.


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