START Mongolia, StartupJohor merge to form START

  • Aims to build a global acceleration hub for startups in Johor
  • Seeks to become a gateway to global expansion for Mongolian startups


START Mongolia, StartupJohor merge to form START


START Mongolia and StartupJohor, each an ecosystem developer in their own region, have merged into a unified brand, START.

The new entity combines the vision of building a global acceleration hub for startups in Johor with that of becoming a gateway to global expansion for Mongolian startups.

StartupJohor was established in 2014 and has dedicated itself to building the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the southern region of Malaysia. It has multiple signature programmes under its umbrella and incubates startups in its five coworking offices in Johor Bahru and Iskandar Puteri.

START Mongolia was established in 2011 as Startup Mongolia NGO and WorkCentral Mongolia. It is a nationwide ecosystem developer with community-building programmes in the startup community and a track record in the corporate world.

START Mongolia incubates companies with global ambitions in its three coworking offices in Ulaanbaatar. It has also launched its first coworking space and incubator in Darkhan in northern Mongolia.

“In general, the markets of Central Asia have had limited exposure to the global startup ecosystem. However, in Mongolia, homegrown startups, given the high internet and smartphone penetration, and culture of adopting new technology, are intensively altering the landscape.

“The tech and startup space in Mongolia has already given birth to homegrown fintech, martech, insurtech and blockchain startups. On the local stock exchange, a number of microfinance fintechs and blockchain companies have successfully raised funding through IPOs,” said START Mongolia chief executive officer Zolboo Bayarsaikhan (pic, above).

“Many great companies are coming out of Johor Bahru. Some of these companies have been acquired, while others have raised substantial funding and are on the path to IPOs on the local stock exchange. We are seeing a clear trend that strong startups do not necessarily come from first-tier cities such as Kuala Lumpur. There is a growing number of companies from tier-two cities as well,” said StartupJohor chief executive officer Feng Lim (pic, below).


START Mongolia, StartupJohor merge to form START


“Given this changing landscape, traditional businesses are keen to digitise their operations. However, in many industries, tech solutions as well as the corporate culture and structure needed to deal with digital transformation are not readily available.

“This is where START Mongolia has the team, expertise and community to help them. Now through this merger, START is setting up a channel for the rest of Asia to enter into the rapidly changing startup ecosystem and market of Mongolia and Central Asia,” said Zolboo.

“There are many resources for big corporations but we want to extend the same facilities and empower more startups and SMEs to digitise their businesses, starting from a transformation in culture and technological innovation right up to mergers & acquisitions. We can help then by combining our resources and becoming a global platform,” said Feng.

The merger expands the existing market reach of both parties. StartupJohor is based in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor. The state’s strategic location near Singapore and Indonesia allows companies to have easy access to market opportunities in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.

This strategic location with its relatively cost-effective environment as compared to neighbouring Singapore will be a gateway for Mongolian startups to expand their operations abroad. Johor also offers world-class infrastructure in Medini and Iskandar Puteri.

Mongolia’s geographical location make it a gateway for Malaysian startups into Central Asia.

START aims to jointly showcase Mongolian and Malaysian startups to investors and synchronise their operations. They intend to merge the best practices and databases of the two ecosystems. START also aims to open technology hubs and expand into corporate innovation programmes.


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