Digerati50: Filling the tech ecosystem gaps
By Karamjit Singh December 2, 2017
- Always under-promise & over-deliver, always use your own resources – or ask for help early
- Challenge not about quantity but of talent having better problem-solving, money-making ideas
Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its series that profiles the 50 influencers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 2016-2017 (Vol 2), a special print publication released in February 2016. The digital version of that publication can be downloaded from the link at the top right corner of the page thanks to the sponsorship of Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia’s convergence champion.
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FOR most of the past decade, Bikesh Lakhmichand (pic) has been helping shape the Malaysian tech startup ecosystem through his companies and initiatives like 1337 Ventures and iTrain.
He has helped entrepreneurs by turning their ideas into prototypes or minimum viable products, trained mobile app developers, and has even invested in a startup or two.
And that’s not even counting the various IT-related training and project management courses he does for corporate executives.
You would think that Bikesh already had enough on his plate trying to spur the Malaysian tech ecosystem, but he has even expanded his scope of activities to encompass the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore.
In late 2015, he tied up with Talent Corporation Malaysia Bhd (TalentCorp), a government agency set up to address the shortage of talent in the country, to form 1337 Academy – an entrepreneurship\ programme with a twist.
That twist? The Academy, for unemployed Malaysian graduates who are less 27 years old, is not open to those with good academic results. For Bikesh, an inaugural Digerati50, these initiatives are only the beginning, and he has more ventures on the way to help fill the gaps he sees in the ecosystem.
“From our perspective, the problem with the Malaysian tech ecosystem is not so much about an insufficient number of people as about them having better problem-solving, money-making ideas.
“What can solve this? Education and experience. “We just need to improve education as far back as possible, like high school, if not earlier. There will always be the exceptional few that short-circuit the process and figure things out on their own, but not everyone is wired that way,” he says.
As part of his efforts to fill that gap, Bikesh has a iTrain Kids division aimed at teaching children IT- related knowledge, such as coding and how to build apps and games.
“We are also working with a local university to embed our Alpha Startup modules into their entrepreneurship course,” he says.
A regional play is also very much on Bikesh’s mind.
“In 2016, we will be focusing on regional activities. We will continue to run Alpha Startups in the Philippines, and will add Jakarta next, along with Ho Chi Minh City,” he says. As for his investments, “as in the past, we will invest a small amount into early ideas, but we will double-down, or more, on the teams that show us what they can do with so little,” he adds.
While Bikesh’s presence has expanded significantly, there are a few things that remain the same. Among them are two pieces of advice he got early in the game, and which he swears by: Always under-promise and over-deliver; and always use your own resources – or ask for help early, even if you can eventually solve a problem yourself.
He believes that the Asia tech startup scene, including in Malaysia, “is not about who you know, but rather, who knows you.
“We have been in business for a long time … . We choose to do all this because we can.
“Also, we are starting to see more private sector people playing in the space, and I think 2016 would see more support coming into the ecosystem.
“We just need great entrepreneurs to receive this support,” he adds.