Week in Review: Leveraging public funds to raise private money

  • Bikesh Lakhmichand returns unused portions of pre-seed fund
  • Confident of raising a US$10mil seed fund next year  

Week in Review: Leveraging public funds to raise private moneyIT is always good to take two steps back from whatever we are usually caught up in and take a holistic view of everything that is going on. Hopefully, we will see some patterns that we could not when absorbed in the nitty-gritty of daily deadlines.
But for those of you who are interested in telco happenings, you are in luck as Goh Thean Eu has spent a few days looking through the first-half results of the main mobile operators Celcom, DiGi and Maxis, and reports on what he saw. I urge you to make time for this as it makes for very interesting reading.
Meanwhile, congratulations are in order for Khairil Yusof, founder of open data initiative Sinar Project, which won the Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) Awards under the ‘Rights’ category. It was presented to him in Istanbul during the 9th Internet Governance Forum held last week, which Digital News Asia (DNA) covered thanks to a grant by the South-East Asia Press Alliance.
Sinar Project, established in 2011, is an initiative which uses open technology and applications to systematically make important information public and more accessible to the Malaysian people.
And then there is the exciting news that the Malaysian Government is going to launch an equity crowdfunding platform, likely in 2015. We ran an article with thoughts from some industry players on the proposed framework the Government is considering establishing for this innovative funding platform.
But the news that caught my attention was about Bikesh Lakhmichand of 1337 Ventures returning to the Ministry of Finance, the unused portion of a US$1.6 million (RM5 million) pre-seed fund that he was running.
I have not come across any entrepreneur who has returned early public funds entrusted to them, and struck out on their own by raising private money.
And, I have not come across any entrepreneur who has not taken a salary doing so too! Bikesh claims that he is not taking a salary from the Government for running 1337 Ventures. He has an established IT training business that has been running for 10 years now. But he won’t be going back to that.
Basically, Bikesh wanted to run faster and target startups across South-East Asia, without being encumbered by the inevitable bureaucracy that comes with managing public funds.
And having 18 months of experience managing the fund – and in the process of investing in 16 Kuala Lumpur-based startups and establishing deep networks and relationships across the startup ecosystem in South-East Asia – he just went out and raised a pre-seed fund.
He basically leveraged on the experience he picked up while managing a public fund to raise private money. Even better, is that next year he is confident of raising a US$10 million (RM32 million) seed fund.
He declines however to reveal how much he returned from the unused pre-seed fund or how much private money he raised for his pre-seed fund. But he hopes the Government will entrust the money he has returned to another entrepreneur to create another pre-seed fund and accelerator.
“And I hope that entrepreneur can then follow in my steps and eventually raise private money to launch his own venture fund and accelerator,” says Bikesh.
The ecosystem will be the stronger for this.
Editor’s Picks:
A deeper look into Malaysia’s Big 3 mobile telcos in 1H2014
Equity crowdfunding: The good, and not so good
Inside Microsoft: A peek into the heart of an empire
Malaysia’s Sinar Project wins regional award, seeks to level up
Big data analytics: Companies still struggling with the basics
1337 Ventures pivots from public to private funding
Post-Snowden revelations, action still a long way away
Previous Instalments:
Week in Review: Competition and mitigation strategies
Week in Review: No more love
Week in Review: Of dotcom business models
Week in Review: Don’t let IP issues bite you in the rear

Week in Review: Lots of funding activity in SEA
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