Week in Review: Asean startups, Malaysian companies want you
By Karamjit Singh March 27, 2015
- Maybank, Axiata Group and others partner with accelerators
- Market access opportunity to help create investible startups
IT was just in late January that our Singapore editor Gabey Goh wrote an article about how the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) felt that corporations were the missing link in the accelerator model.
According to Dr Alex Lin, the head of IDA venture capital arm Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd, startups flounder not because there is inadequate funding but because they lack access to resources to quickly validate their products and business models.
Corporations bring three crucial opportunities to the table, he said: An established customer base; existing infrastructure; and deep domain knowledge of their respective industries.
That’s spot on and it is exciting to see corporations in Malaysia beginning to engage with startups by partnering with accelerators.
What’s even more exciting is that they are not just looking at opportunities within the Malaysian startup ecosystem, but are casting their eyes at startups across Asean (the Association of South-East Asian Nations), a political grouping of the 10 countries in South-East Asia.
The value for the corporates is that they have an opportunity to accelerate innovation within their own ranks by partnering with startups.
And this is fabulous news for startups in the region. Because, as Lin says, “With access to a customer base, infrastructure and deep domain knowledge, startups become investable and viable.”
This is exactly what Malaysian-based Maybank Group, with its 22 million customers and presence in every Asean country, brings to the table. The regional banking group just announced its partnership with 1337 Ventures which runs the Alpha Startups accelerator.
Do watch out for their four-nation Ignite roadshow to pick 20 startups which will be flown into Kuala Lumpur for what should be an exciting three-day bootcamp.
But the Maybank news was not the only one DNA reported on which involved the corporate sector partnering with an accelerator.
The Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre also launched its Asean-focused accelerator, the MaGIC Accelerator Programme (MAP) over the weekend, with entries open on April 1.
MaGIC chief executive officer Cheryl Yeoh was excited about the number of corporations that had signed on as partners for MAP, describing it as akin to the ‘Pay It Forward’ culture that is so central to the success of Silicon Valley as an innovation hot spot.
The likes of Axiata Group, Digi Telecommunications, Tune Talk, Accenture, Zaid & Co and Macrokiosk have already signed on, with more to follow, she expects.
Imagine the resources the 75 for-profit and social enterprises will have when they start their four-month accelerator programmes from July to November in Kuala Lumpur.
Neither Maybank’s Ignite nor MaGIC’s MAP offer funding to startups, but I suspect they will not be short of startups that want to get into their programmes. I also suspect the success of these programmes will see an immediate reaction from other corporates in Asean countries.
That’s going to be good for startups in the region and the existing accelerators that have built a track record.
And in my excitement, let me not forget to acknowledge that Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) was actually the first corporate in Malaysia to partner with ecosystem players. This was back in December 2012 when TM partnered with national ICT custodian Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and StartupMalaysia.org to kick off the Digital Malaysia Corporate Accelerator Programme.
So, if you have been sitting on a hot idea you think can be disruptive, there has never been a better time for you to act on it now.
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