Week in Review: Taking advantage of the runway

  • Malaysia matches up with most nations in creating supportive ecosystem for startups
  • But the all-critical drive to succeed has to come from entrepreneurs digging deep

Week in Review: Taking advantage of the runwayI MET more startups this week than I have in the preceding six months. I was down in Singapore for Echelon, which from humble beginnings has grown into Asia’s premier startup conference and meetup event.
It attracted people from all over the world, not just Asia, and is well worth the time for anyone in Malaysia to attend.
I was happy to see many Malaysians there, from entrepreneurs who had stands to promote their companies; those who came to network with peers from other countries and to meet potential investors; to executives from a number of government agencies who came to learn, exchange experiences and pick up ideas on how they can do a better job for the Malaysian ecosystem.
And this brings me to the Malaysian ecosystem and how it compares with others.
We compare very well actually. Firstly, few places within Asia offer as conducive an ecosystem as Malaysia does.
And yes, we compare as well as Singapore too. As Patrick Grove of Catcha Group, Khailee Ng of Says.com and Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley forcefully highlighted on Wednesday night in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia offers a comparable talent pool but at a third the overall cost. This cost savings applies to launching your startup in Malaysia compared with Singapore as well.
Mind you, Grove is Singaporean but he has been building his Internet businesses out of Malaysia since 1999.
And he had this interesting snippet to share: “I have found that it is easier to monetise Malaysian consumers than anywhere else in South-East Asia. You will lose money in Singapore and Indonesia, but Malaysia is our cash cow and helps us go regional.”
Take note, all of you who like to whine about Malaysia being “too small a market.” Those who say this probably have not tried to monetise anything here.
The three of them spoke about their experiences launching successful startups from Malaysia. Ng had set the stage for the discussion with a presentation to a packed house at the WebCamp KL gathering at Mindvalley’s office. The fact that 500 Startups founder Dave McClure and his Geeks on a Plane gang were in attendance too obviously helped bring in the crowd.
With an international mix of guests, I thought Ng did a fab job of highlighting Malaysia’s obvious strengths as a base to build and grow out a regional and global Internet company.
But best of all, he could highlight examples of Malaysian-based companies that have succeeded using KL as their base. So it was not just painting an alluring picture with nothing to back it up.
For those who want to point out that more money is available in Singapore, that is true. The people who control the money may be sitting in Singapore, but they will invest their money anywhere they find the right blend of hungry and talented people, promising ideas and supportive ecosystems.
Don’t tell me Malaysia does not have this.
It is not perfect, but I can tell you that a whole bunch of people are working very hard to make things better, including those kicking off programmes to help all of you become better entrepreneurs.
But the all critical drive has to come from you. Do you have it? Are you ready to take advantage of the runway that has been created for you?
Previous Instalments:
Week in Review: Telco tales

Week in Review: MDeC no longer sole ecosystem anchor
Week in Review: All about founders, or the ideas?
Week in Review: Do they owe the ecosystem anything?
Week in Review: GE13 hits the ecosystem … hard

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