Week in Review: All about founders, or the ideas?

  • Another week in the ecosystem dominated by startup news, including two VC investments made
  • From Disrupt to Founder Institute CEO Ressi to Dave McClure of 500 Startups

Week in Review: All about founders, or the ideas?THIS was yet another week when startups dominated the news. On the funding side, Digital News Asia (DNA) was happy to break the news that EasyUni.com received venture funding in the low single-digit millions from Teak Capital Sdn Bhd. Helmed by Edwin Tay and Dr Sivapalan Vivekarajah, the startup plans to ramp up its regional rollout with the help of the cash infusion.
 
Also in the news was Nexx Studio, which received US$250,000 in seed funding. What is exciting about this is that the funding comes from Crystal Horse Investments. And, incredibly, this is was the Singapore venture capital firm’s eighth investment into a Malaysian company!
 
The message here is that, if you ain’t getting any love from the VCs in Kuala Lumpur (KL), head on down to Singapore!
 
The KL-based iOS games development and publishing company had earlier received US$70,000 from local angel investor Tan Swee Yeong.
 
What I found even more interesting is that Crystal Horse only shared the news with DNA for its Malaysian release. To me, that is just the latest validation of DNA having arrived as a major media outlet when it comes to technology news here.
 
The portal just turned one and we celebrated with you, our readers of course, with our DNA-TeAM Disrupt topic, ‘Are you your startup’s worst enemy,’ putting the focus squarely on founders and the various challenges they have to grapple with as they build their companies on the back of a vision they have and with the help of the team they have assembled.
 
While the Echelon Malaysia Satellite event only chose one startup to invite down to Singapore for the main event next month, the awesome news is that Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, will be in Malaysia next month and five startups will get to pitch to the man! Check out this article for details.
 
We also ran two interesting articles from an interview with the founder of the Founder Institute Adeo Ressi – a man who knows all about founders and what they face daily.
 
Why the focus on founders? Simple – the success or failure of any startup in the tech space is dependant almost entirely on the founders. Do they have the humility and self-awareness to realise when they have outlived their usefulness as the main drivers of their companies’ continued growth? To then step aside and pass the reins to someone better equipped to drive the business on?
 
For a startup to be successful, and to keep building on that success to grow into a regional or global company, it often requires a captain with a different set of skills than what the founder brought to the table in the early years.
 
However, Dr Gabriel Walter, the founder of Quantum Electro Opto Systems Sdn Bhd, disagrees. The most prolific commentator on DNA quotes from his mentor, Prof Dr Nick Holonyak Jr, inventor of the LED (light-emitting diode), who constantly reminds Walter that success depends more on the “strength of the idea” than the people.
 
Do you agree with Gabriel’s mentor? Or you feel the widely-held convention that “it is all about the team” is the winning bet when making a decision to invest in a startup? I wonder what Crystal Horse and Teak Capital were betting on.
 
Previous Instalments:
 
Week in Review: Do they owe the ecosystem anything?

Week in Review: GE13 hits the ecosystem … hard
 
Week in Review: Are our public schools failing?

Week in Review: What an awesome week for start-ups

Week in Review: Are we Malaysians naturally blessed with smarts?

 
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