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

  • Echelon Malaysia Satellite saw 15 companies compete to win a spot to main event in Singapore
  • Leading media group The Star launches RM20mil fund targeted at tech start-ups

Week in Review: What an awesome week for start-upsTHIS was an awesome week for start-ups. First, we had Singapore-based online media company e27 hosting the Echelon Malaysia Satellite on April 17, where 15 start-ups competed for the chance to get to the main Echelon event on June 4-5 in Singapore.
 
I had a lot fun listening through the pitches that ranged from loyalty-based ideas to saving consumers money on just about everything. One team emerged the winner and will go to Singapore and get the opportunity to catch the attention of global investors.
 
But really, all of them were winners because of the exposure their ideas got and the sharing that went on between them with the networking. One entrepreneur who rued his slow start (you only got five minutes) was already planning on doing a much better job next year.
 
And by next year, I would not be surprised if a fair number of the 15 had already received some investment from the latest fund to launch, targeting early-stage tech start-ups.
 
What’s exciting to me is that the fund is owned by the private sector – in this case, leading media group The Star. Its RM20-million fund has a large number of focus areas which will be good for all the start-ups out there.
 
Not surprisingly the launch of this fund has been warmly welcomed by not just entrepreneurs but industry bodies like the Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia and the Government, especially Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, which is currently the main avenue for early stage start-ups to get funding.
 
My main concern with The Star’s fund is over its impartiality. As a media organization, it must profile interesting tech companies and entrepreneurs to its readers, whether they are an investee company or not. It will be up to the public to hold it accountable if it does not live up to its “People’s Paper” tagline.
 
Speaking of which, one story I was excited about was of a former start-up that grew up to become a listed company and which earned RM89 million in revenue with a net profit of RM20 million last year.
 
[RM1 = US$0.32]
 
Its founder Chu Jenn Weng was inspired by a visit to the famous garage in Silicon Valley where Hewlett-Packard was born. “I asked myself, why couldn’t a Malaysian build a great technology company too?”
 
From that question was born leading machine vision company Vitrox Bhd. I will share with you next week what it is up to.
 
And also for next week, Disrupt is back! If you are interested in the outsourcing space, then register now and make your way down to PlugNPlay Technology Garden at the 7th floor of South Tower, Gardens, MidValley at 5.30pm on April 24.
 
You will enjoy the discussion the topic will generate – Outsourcing: Has Malaysia Missed the Wave?
 
Previous Installments:

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

Week in Review: The rise of the angel investor?
 
Week in Review: The rise of digital-only publications

Week in Review: The certainty of taxes

Week in Review: Phison founder determined to make his mark here

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