- Six early-stage startups with promising business ideas pitch to experienced mentors
- Areas for improvement include body language, persuasiveness, knowing market position
CRAFTING a business pitch that is both informative and succinct is a daunting task – especially for those who are only just venturing into entrepreneurial waters. The July 27 Grill or Chill (GoC) Women session by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) brought to stage a host of women entrepreneurs looking to take their business further.
In partnership with Girls in Tech (GIT) Malaysia, a global non-profit organisation focusing on women empowerment in technology, the six women-led startups namely YDJ, BlackBox Solutions, Camdy, PinkCollar, Active60 and KiddoCare pitched their business plans and addressed questions from the panel of ‘grillers’.
The ‘grillers’ or mentors were CEO of Proficeo, Renuka Sena; the co-founder and director of Ata Plus, Elain Lockman and the founder and president of Johor Empowerment of Intellectual Women Association (JEIWA), Fadilah Nizar. Equipped extensive experience and knowledge in their arsenal, the mentors afforded sound advice to the budding entrepreneurs.
In a feedback session to one of the startups, Renuka said, “You need to be very clear about who you are and your market position. When you prepare your pitchdeck, you must know your audience in order to appeal to them and introduce your company.”
Also sharing her thoughts on the pitching sessions, Fadilah says, “Some presentations were very good with clear mission and problem statements. But the areas to be improved upon include body gestures, personality and the ability to support facts with evidence.”
Elain commended Camdy on the quality and clarity of their pitch, “However, the founders do need to look into how they value their company. I also suggest two separate branding strategies, one for the handcrafted, artisanal products and another for more readily available goods.”
The managing director of GIT Malaysia, Nadira Yusoff, says “The most important takeaway for the women entrepreneurs would be the business validation and insight on how to improve their business proposition.”
But more than helping the six startups, the GoC Women session also played an important role in inspiring other women entrepreneurs in the audience. Nadira believes, “The session was an eye-opener to other women in the room to take charge, adopt technology and launch their ideas into businesses.”
From the audience, Nasuha Nordin, a lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Graduate School of Business shared, “My favourite presentation was by Camdy. The presentation was very good, except that, the budgeting and revenue stream details are quite vague.”
Introducing the six women-led startups
First to pitch was YDJ which is an acronym for YourDesignJuice.com which started off as a design blog in June 2015. The founder, Hazel Lee, ventured further and recently started YDJ Marketplace to enable designers to sell their digital design assets online.
“But moving forward, we’d like to provide a platform for artists in the local art and design community, many of whom are struggling to achieve a career breakthrough, to sell their creations,” Hazel shares. To achieve this ambition, the company is seeking an angel investor for funding as well as mentorship.
As for Blackbox Solutions, the managing director, Nadia Latiff says the idea of building a call system from scratch came when she stumbled upon issues when using third-party software while working at her father’s company.
“Some of the problems are it takes a long time to get support when repairs are needed, it doesn’t integrate well with other software, difficult to troubleshoot issues and not all features fit the needs of clients,” Nadia says, claiming Blackbox Solutions overcomes all these issues at a lower cost.
One company in particular that stood out during the pitching session was Camdy, a personalised gift marketplace which started in January 2017 to make shopping for presents easier. Co-founder of Camdy, Lim Yee Teng shares “We only focus on things that are original ideas, handcrafted or personalisable items.”
Among the gifts available on their marketplace are personalised chocolates, engraved wooden chopping boards and even rose bouquets with messages printed on the petals. Commenting on the grilling they encountered after the pitch, Lim says “We learnt the importance of justifying the market valuation we put forth before proceeding to another fundraising round.”
Pinkcollar, a startup recently founded by Zenna Law and Elaine Sim, aims to provide ethical and high-quality domestic worker recruitment services. “We hope to address the lack of labour protection for domestic workers and the unethical practice of exorbitant fees charged by agencies to employers in return for poor service,” Law shares.
Through a tech platform, the startup hopes to eliminate the number of middlemen involved in the recruitment process to offer a cost-effective, transparent and more efficient solution. “We are currently looking for a tech developer and seeking an initial investment of US$80,000 for the first three years of operations.”
Another startup called Active60, founded by Jane Lee, is devoted to helping senior citizens and retirees find suitable work. “Many of the retirees we work with share with us that they do not know how to spend their free time upon retirement,” Lee shares.
To provide those above 60 years of age a more fulfilling lifestyle, Active60 offers a platform where they can offer the skills they have acquired from the workforce to potential employers. “Apart from that, we host weekly events help build their social circle and we are looking to create more content for them online to engage them.”
Lee adds, “We are moving towards a more diversified revenue stream which includes events and content creation in addition to skill-sharing.”
Lastly, Kiddocare, a platform aimed easing the process for parents to book last-minute sitters also pitched their business idea. Although still in the early stages, the director of Kiddocare, Muhaini, shared that they have received outpouring demand from parents on the lookout for reliable service.
“As of now, we are still in the process of recruiting sitters who will have to be vetted and undergo the training we provide,” she shares. Based on the mentors’ feedback, Muhaini acknowledges the need to deeply assess their customers’ wants but maintains that reputable sitters and safety of children is their top priority.
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