'This is a high ROI event for me' says Tok Pa of DNA's Digerati50 networking

  • Discerning group of tech mavens driving innovation, affecting changes
  • First ever Digerati50 Omniverse gathering heading our way next

'This is a high ROI event for me' says Tok Pa of DNA's Digerati50 networking

“On my way here, I was wondering if I would get any ROI from attending this event,” Mustapa Muhamed, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Economic Affairs, shared during his welcome remarks as Guest of Honor at the 3rd Annual Digerati50 Networking event held at RekaScape in Cyberjaya last Thursday.

One could not blame the minister for wondering if his time was going to be well spent as he was coming from an event in KL and had to return to KL for a dinner function, right after.

Fortunately, all turned out well. “I can now tell you that this is a high ROI event for me,” he declared, smiling at the cheers that greeted his remark from the 70 odd attendees, the majority of them, DNA’s Digerati50.

Eager to meet some of the risk takers, rule breakers and rule benders and innovators of Malaysia’s Digital Economy, Tok Pa, as he is popularly known, dived straight into talking, listening and questioning as many Digerati50 as he could.

Tok Pa listening to how Fancis Lui of NexMind AI beat a strong field of Asian startups to win the APICTA award for its multilingual SEO machine learning system. Looking on is Jes Min Lua, cofounder and CEO of Recommend Group.

The energy from the event, the products and services he heard about, the successes and challenges faced, the ambitions and dreams he heard, inspired Tok Pa to remind the gathered Digerati50 that he was, apparently, the world’s first ever Entrepreneur Minister when the role was helmed by him in the mid-1980s. He was proud of it. As he was proud of, and inspired by the movers and shapers of Malaysia’s Digital Economy that he met in his 90 minutes. “Entrepreneurs such as you are the ones who create jobs, who innovate and lead,” he said, leaving later than scheduled for his KL dinner.

Surely, he also would have had a lot to chew on from an insightful data-led report that Dr V Sivapalan, co-founder of Proficeo Consultants Sdn Bhd shared in a powerful presentation that was entirely based on 10 years of collecting information from the various entrepreneur development programs Proficeo has been deeply involved in. The key take-away from his presentation was that, “Coaching works. But funding is the rocket fuel that will give the country its best chance for outsized growth of its best coached startups,” said Sivapalan who has coined the methodology to achieve this rapid growth, the Pegasus Model.

Tok Pa and Dr Sivapalan engrossed in ecosystem conversation.

Seen taking notes, attentively, it was no surprise to see Tok Pa engaged in conversation with Sivapalan later.

And truly, the Digerati50 networking is all about conversations, as entrepreneurs who are too busy chasing their dreams, often do not have the time or interest to network with their peers. But they make an exception for this gathering, much to the delight of Venue Host, Cyberview Sdn Bhd whose managing director, Najib Ibrahim said, “Cyberview is honoured to have hosted the Digerati50 - a discerning group of tech mavens selected based among others for their potentials in creating digital disruption, driving innovation and affecting positive changes.”

Najib went on to add that as a Tech Hub Developer, tasked with revitalising Cyberview by driving the development of emerging technologies, “the work undertaken by the Digerati50 are critical and are certainly in alignment with Cyberjaya’s new Masterplan. The city’s ecosystem offers a range of benefits and incentives to help tech businesses such as these, to scale up or expand and we are more than ready to support the growth of these technopreneurs.”

Karamjit with Tok Pa and Najib Ibrahim, MD of Cyberview.

Meanwhile, MerchantradeAsia, a returning supporter of the Digerati50 Networking, enthused, “what an awesome networking event for Malaysia's techpreneur community. The Digerati50's are truly paving tomorrow's Omniverse reality today.”

Now, if that Omniverse comment has thrown you off, let me shed some light. With DNA already working on the 2022/2023 edition of Digerati50, and with all the recent excitement around the Omniverse (which is what Nvidia calls its version of the Metaverse), and with DNA soon to celebrate its 10th anniversary, it was only apt that we do something special – enter the inaugural Digerati50 Omniverse Networking!

Partnering with one of my Digerati50, the Me.reka duo of Gurpreet Singh and Rashvin Pal Singh, we have started work on preparing for what will be a first for almost all the Digerati50 and for me too!  

“It was great to reconnect with our technology industry movers and shakers at the Digerati50 event. The enthusiasm, optimism and level of energy is exactly what we need to support Malaysia and the region as we rebuild our economies. I’m also looking forward to the next event that is slated to take place in the Omniverse!” said Rashvin.

Assuming Karamjit does not fall off stage, we can expect the next Digerati50 to be in the Omniverse. Rashvin Pal Singh is to the right.

While in the past, I have written about the reasons DNA introduced its Digerati50, let me offer a quick recap. Independently selected by DNA editors and first introduced in March 2014, the Digerati50 are a group of entrepreneurs DNA carefully selects only one every two years. They are not necessarily from technology businesses either. For example, Senheng Electronics co-founder Lim Kim Heng, a strong believer in the power of data analytics and Alibaba’s concept of New Retail, is a Digerati50 from the 2018/2019 edition.

Whether or not from a tech background, our Digerati50 are whom DNA editors feel, can help shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, through the ventures they are pursuing, the products they are building.

Their success, current or potential for it, is not a key consideration for us. Difficulty is. For instance, Lennise Ng, cofounder and CEO of Dropee is doing something very difficult – getting mom-and-pop stores to go digital. She has been at it since early 2018. In early 2020 we choose her as a Digerati50 in our 2020/2021 Edition and we are super pleased with the traction she and co-founder Aizat Rahim have built, that culminated recently with their US$7 million Series A funding.

(L 2 R) Lennise Ng of Dropee, Jes Min Lua if Recommend Group, Nadhir Ashafiq, The Lorry and Maran Virumandi of DoctorOnCall.

I’ll let Lennise have the last word here about our gathering.

“It's wonderful to be a part of this fantastic community of Digerati50 and excited to see how it has grown over the years. On top of that, it's great to see that Tok Pa and Fabian Bigar (CEO of MyDigital) supported the event with fantastic sharing sessions together with the entrepreneurs. Big kudos to the DNA team for hosting an amazing networking session.”

Adlin Yusman (middle), Endeavor Malaysia with Joel Neoh of Fave.

(clockwise) JX Cheong of Poladrone, Effon Khoo from Kakitangan, Roshan Thiran of Leaderonomics, Sharala Axyrd (back to pix) and Lennice Ng (back to pix).

Karamjit with Sharala Axyrd of CADS amplifying the love, the camaraderie and the support among the Digerati50.

Kamarul Muhamed, cofounder and CEO of Aerodyne Group (right) with Johary Mustapha (middle), of Forest Interactive and Salim Khailani, Board Member of Cyberview and President/CEO of UDA Holdings Bhd.

Jaffri Ibrahim, CEO of CREST with Wei Chuan Beng of Redtone International.


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