Week in Review: Another step forward for the digital ecosystem
By Karamjit Singh May 5, 2017
- Event booking platform, VMO raises US$58k in 4-days with minimal marketing
- 2/12 years into its fund, ADIF welcomes US$4.6mil injection from Johor Corp
IF you are not convinced yet that, leveraging on digital, startups are trying to disrupt any industry they see a hole in, then let me introduce you to a hot space apparently ripe for the disrupting – the fecal ecosystem. According to CB Insights, VCs have been pumping in money into the space, elegantly called, Poop Tech, in the hope of hitting a royal flush.
I haven’t yet met any of these “entrepoo-neurs” here in the region though? Perhaps they don’t smell the opportunity yet?
Ok, now that I’ve had my fun with that, let’s move on to the serious business of disruption in the events space where Malaysian instant booking platform VMO Rocks Sdn Bhd just raised a total of RM500,000 (US$115,535) via an equity crowdfunding campaign and a co-investment deal.
What I found significant here is that it raised RM250,000 through CrowdPlus.asia’s platform over four days. That surprised VMO founder and chief ‘event-gelist’ Vincent Kok as well because no pre-marketing was done, aside for a few posts on Facebook.
The balance RM250,000 was raised from a co-investment deal with Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.
What this tells me is that investors are now diversifying their portfolios by betting on early disruptors as well. That’s great news for all risk takers out there as they don’t only have to depend on VCs or high net worth individuals for their early funding rounds. And this starts putting some pressure on these current incumbents as they realise startups now have another viable option for their early funding.
Founder Vincent Kok, who is VMO’s chief event-gelist says that successfully closing the crowdfunding in four days surprised VMO because no pre-marketing was done except for a few posts on Facebook. We brought Kok on to our Tech Talk show on BFM yesterday, so you can listen to the first 11-mins of the show where Kok talks about the prospects and about how despite not having a clear picture of the space, they just ploughed on and why he thinks, being first to market is never a good idea.
VMO, a platform that allows users to book event venues and services instantly, was launched in March last year and even secured an undisclosed investment from a customer, regional food and beverage owner and operator Rhombus Connexion Sdn Bhd in September last year.
Meanwhile, two other stories caught my attention this week. First, was the announcement by a primary healthcare provider in Malaysia, BP Healthcare Group. Aiming to convert as much of its services to a digital platform to deliver health services, it has chosen to partner with Microsoft Malaysia and is looking at an app as the main interface between its customer and itself.
It will be interesting to see how much of the customer care, the experience can be moved offline and whether the experience can be replicated in other high touch services.
Meanwhile, startups got another funding boost when a corporate player, Johor Corporation pumped in RM20 million into the Axiata Digital Innovation Fund. This adds to the RM70 million already raised by the fund and takes it closer to its goal of raising RM100 million. At its launch in 2014, ADIF had already raised RM50 million from its parent Axiata Group and RM20 million from Malaysian Venture Corporation Bhd or Mavcap.
I note that it has taken ADIF almost two and a half years to bring in another investment and that just goes to show how tough it still is to convince corporates to take small bets in this space. It’s not been easy for the Singapore government as well, which has been exhorting its large companies to make similar bets. But corporate involvement in this space is a critical lever to accelerate the expansion of the digital ecosystem.
With that, I wish you a restful weekend and a productive week after. And, for those of you who may want to check out the gaming action from the second university qualifiers of HotShotz, then please join me at IIUM (International Islamic University of Malaysia), Gombak tomorrow, May 6th between 10 to 6pm for the next qualifier. It’s going to be hot!