A platform for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs
Aims to help those starting out make the right linkages
SURPRISINGLY, this is the first time Digital News Asia (DNA) readers are seeing a story on TiE Malaysia, the local chapter of TiE Global that started in 1992. TiE Global itself was founded in Silicon Valley in 1992 by a group of successful Indo-American entrepreneurs.
TiE, or The Indus Entrepreneurs, describes itself as the world’s largest non-profit organization promoting entrepreneurship, with over 13,000 members spread across 56 Chapters in 13 countries and five continents.
“We have definitely been quieter than (we were previously),” said TiE Malaysia president Puvanesan Subenthiran (pic) in an interview with DNA. “However, we are moving back to our roots of mentoring entrepreneurs and helping them make the right linkages – but with the understanding that as entrepreneurs, they have to do most of the work.”
While the name may suggest that it is for ethnic Indian entrepreneurs only, that is not the case, he said.
In February 2012, it sent two teams from Malaysia to TiE’s All-Asia Business Plan Competition (AABPC), an international program for Asia-based graduate-level university students. The winners were guaranteed a place at the Rice University Business Plan Competition, the largest and richest intercollegiate business plan competition in the world.
In a first, TiE Malaysia’s team won first place, beating over 1,200 participants from all over Asia Pacific and 34 other teams from 12 other TiE chapters.
The team, comprising Melvin Wong, Eddie Lim and Hassanal Burhanuddin, presented a winning business plan on a fantasy online game website.
Drawing attention to this, Puvanesan said TiE promotes entrepreneurship and innovation as a culture to stay competitive.
Last year it was picked as a partner in the Lab2Market Commercialization Program (L2M) which provides a catalyst for commercialization, bringing innovators and investors together.
L2M sees Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education, Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd (the Ministry of Finance’s venture capital arm), Agensi Innovasi Malaysia or AIM (an agency set up to spur innovation), Technology Park Malaysia, Malaysian universities and TiE Malaysia working together.
TiE charter members Puvanesan himself, T.M. Chan, Ravindran Navaratnam and Asgari Stephens are among the mentors for this.
Having completed the L2M Pilot Program in May 2012 and L2M Cycle II in October 2012, TiE Malaysia was given the mandate to proceed with Cycle III, IV and V in 2013.
“But really, our mentoring is open for anyone,” said Ravindran (pic), the deputy president, adding that some entrepreneurs have also got funding from TiE members.
TiE is also quite informal in how its helps entrepreneurs. As if to demonstrate that, during the interview with DNA, Ravindran shared that he is helping an entrepreneur who had already invested RM1 million of his own money into a security-based business and needed to raise RM500,000 to deliver on a contract he had received from a Singapore customer.
[RM1 = US$0.32]
“Do you know anyone who would be interested,” Ravindran asked Puvanesan.
“Actually that sounds like something we (Privasia Technology Bhd) would be keen on ourselves,” said Puvanesan, who is also the chief executive officer of a tech company listed on Bursa Malaysia.
“Done!” said Ravindran, turning to me, smiling. “See how we help entrepreneurs?”
Naturally, an expression of interest does not mean a deal is done but the informal manner in which TiE operates also means that entrepreneurs get a quick response on whether anyone from the TiE Malaysia network is keen to help them.
And this is really the key, because mentoring only works when there is a fit between entrepreneur and mentor, for the mentor to invest time and to bring his or her network into play to assist the entrepreneur. “The ability to access people is so important,” said Ravindran.
“Consider us a platform for entrepreneurs,” added Puvanesan.
And today, that platform also comes with office space at the TiE office in Mont Kiara which entrepreneurs can use for free. But they have to give back to the TiE cause in some way and form, said Puvanesan.
Again, that informality. Some entrepreneurs will like that. For more information on TiE Malaysia, email [email protected], the executive director of TiE Malaysia.
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