Kicking it up a notch in Penang

  • OpenStartup monthly event aimed at start-up community launched
  • Piktochart founders to share their experiences

Kicking it up a notch in PenangFOR a state that lays claim to being Asia’s Silicon Valley, and which has tens of thousands of world-class engineers, Penang hardly has made a ripple in the Internet space.
In Mark Chang, chief executive officer and founder of JobStreet, it can lay claim to having produced the most successful listed Internet company in South-East Asia as measured by market capitalization – but JobStreet was listed nine years ago.
It seems like the well has run dry before it could even spring forth.
However, the scenario is not that gloomy either. Enter Curry Khoo and Tan Yin See, who believe that Penang is bubbling beneath the surface with top talent.
Since about a year ago, the duo has been running a monthly event called Tech For Penang or TE4Penang, basically a networking event. On March 28, they are taking it up a notch by organizing the first OpenStartup, which is targeted at start-ups.
OpenStartup will kick off with the founders of Piktochart, Goh Ai Ching and Andrea Zaggia, talking about the ups and downs of their journey in trying to realize their dream of “making information beautiful.”
It was really the increasing turnout at TE4P which gave Khoo and Tan the confidence that things are indeed picking up at the entrepreneurial level among Penang’s geeks.
“For instance, at our last GBG (Google Business Group) Georgetown meeting, over 35 people turned up,” says Khoo, who says that TE4P was set up with the purpose to bring more tech events to Penang.
Kicking it up a notch in PenangThe other incentive in organizing TE4P and OpenStartup was about the travel time. Khoo and Tan are tired of traveling down to Kuala Lumpur to attend such events.

TE4P itself is building some momentum now with plans for hackathons, barcamps (user-generated conferences or ‘unconferences’) and bigger events soon, says Khoo (pic).
The plan is to stay focused, even as the crowds get bigger. TE4P will split them into smaller interest groups with dedicated people to run the group. “Currently we have three groups for Penang; GBG Georgetown (focused on web technology especially Google), NoMAD (focused on mobile apps development) and OpenStartup (focused on tech entrepreneurs and start-ups),” he says.
As TE4P builds in momentum, the duo behind it hopes that a market-leading technology vendor would be able to support the community’s growth.
In order to reach a wider community, there are also plans to stream OpenStartup live using G+ Hangout and to post the sessions on YouTube.
For Khoo and Tan, the end goal is simple – for TE4P to be a platform to enrich and spur the bubbling Internet ecosystem in Asia’s Silicon Valley.

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