MaGIC gears up for MAP 2
By Karamjit Singh February 24, 2016
- Alumni from Cohort 1 a great help during regional roadshow
- Cohort 2 programme tightened to benefit non-Malaysian startups
AS a selection committee starts work in Cyberjaya this week, more than 700 startups, mostly from South-East Asia, will be waiting anxiously for the results of their application to be part of Cohort 2 of the MaGIC Accelerator Programme (MAP) Asean, the commercial focused part of MAP. The other part is MAP Social Enterprise. (Paragraph edited for clarity.)
For the first time, startups from Taiwan (9 applications), Egypt (5 applications) and Russia (2 applications) have also applied, according to the government agency tasked with developing the startup ecosystem. Malaysia led the way with over 400 applications followed by Indonesia (34), Philipines (32), Vietnam (29), Singapore (29), India (24) and Thailand (20).
(Additional information added to para.)
However, being a government-funded programme, as in Cohort 1, 60% of the slots are reserved for Malaysian startups.
The committee of investors and MaGIC senior executives will whittle down the applicants to 100 startups, whose teams will then go through a series of interviews over two days.
This is to pick the top 50 startups which will then receive money for their expenses and travel to Cyberjaya. Beyond that, they do not get any funding.
Buoyed by the success of the first MAP from July to November 2015, the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has had a busy January, with roadshows promoting MAP 2 not just in the 10 South-East Asian countries but also in Australia and India.
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“It has all been very exciting,” says MaGIC executive director of Entrepreneurship Development Johnathan Lee, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) over the phone.
With more applicants received for MAP Asean, 710, versus the 640 for Cohort 1, Lee, who is leading the MAP initiative, points out that the applicants are also a “better fit” thanks in no small part to the road show that helped clarify the type of startups that are eligible. (Paragraph edited for clarity.)
“As our objective is to help accelerate the growth of promising startups, all applicants have at least their MVP (Minimal Viable Product) instead of applying with mere ideas, as during Cohort 1,” he adds.
As a former senior executive at Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, Lee is very familiar with the startup ecosystem in Malaysia, having played a role to help build it up during his almost six-year stint with the Ministry of Finance agency from 2008 to 2014.
A short stint as a corporate venture capitalist (VC) with e-government services provider My EG Services Bhd (MyEG) then saw Lee finally jump into the startup waters as cofounder of HealthSend in mid-2015.
His experience as an ecosystem builder saw MaGIC tapping him as ‘mentor in residence’ during its inaugural MAP in 2015.
If Lee thought that the brief sojourn was going to be the curtain call of his public service career, he obviously did not count on former MaGIC chief executive officer (CEO) Cheryl Yeoh’s powers of persuasion, who enlisted him full time to help the agency, especially with MAP. He replaced Warren Leow, who had led the creation of MAP.
Yet Yeoh's surprise departure as CEO of MaGIC last December, left Lee with a bigger responsibility.
Fortunately for him, with one cohort of graduates under its belt, MaGIC could rely on a network of alumni to help it sell the story of MAP as it gears up for Cohort 2 in March.
This is when the maximum three team members per startup, consisting of founders and senior executives, will again live, work, code and bond with each other at the MaGIC office, at a minimum of two weeks in a month over a four-month period. The 50 startups will again be relying on the pool of mentors, coaches and guest speakers that MaGIC will put together. [Paragraph edited for clarity.]
The alumni network has been really helpful during the MAP roadshow, according to Lee (pic).
“Naturally, those who attended the roadshows expected us to say good things about MAP, but this was where the positive sharing and input from our alumni was really helpful and so much more impactful than anything we said about the programme,” he says.
On the programme itself, Lee says that between 80% and 90% of the content will be similar, and any changes made were to tighten the programme and ensure maximum impact for participants.
“This is important as one of the big learning points for us was about the huge commitment the non-Malaysian startups had to make in attending the four-month programme in Malaysia,” he says.
This is where ensuring that each startup must have a minimum of three senior members in MAP helps them to better plan their time in Malaysia and ensure they do not lose out on building traction in their home markets, he adds.
Judging by the funding announcements of Cohort 1, where 28% raised either a seed round or a small Series A during MAP, participation has not been a drag on their momentum.
MaGIC is hoping for a post-MAP boost as well, going on record to say that it hopes to see at least 20% of its Cohort 1 startups raise VC funding within six months of graduating.
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