CEO Cheryl Yeoh lays out MaGIC’s ingredients: Page 3 of 3
By A. Asohan September 12, 2014
Funding and exposure
In just about any startup event DNA has covered in the past two years and more in Malaysia, complaints usually centre on the funding ecosystem here. What is MaGIC doing to address that?
“This is one reason why the critical mass is so important. I think the regional VCs always bypass us because they think there are no startups here. There are! They’re just invisible. They’re in their homes,” says Yeoh.
“So we’re building a database to ‘surface’ them. The Asean Accelerator can also create that visibility, here at MaGIC in Cyberjaya, because this is a programme with a start date and an end date, and after the four to five months of the programme, we will end with a demo day.
“This is the platform where we will invite regional VCs to come and see the pitches. We are already creating linkups with these private investors because we recognise that the Government’s role can be to come in and seed, and create that critical mass, that visibility. Hence we provide that little bit of funding.
“But beyond that, we create the linkages to local private VCs, and we’re also getting a lot of interest from Japanese VCs – there’s never been a better time for Malaysian entrepreneurs,” she declares.
But she reiterates her point that startups do not necessarily need funding to build prototypes, and believes that MaGIC can close a loop here.
“When we accept entries for the Asean Accelerator, they have to have a prototype, a proof point. If not, they can go back to the MaGIC Startup Academy to learn how to do it.
“The Academy was established to support the eventual Accelerator. It prepares you, preps the talent, so that you can build these prototypes,” she adds.
Follow-on action … or lack thereof
Malaysia has played a host to a number of startup and entrepreneurship events in the last few years, from accelerator bootcamps to international conferences and hackathons.
But there has been a lack of follow-up action, and a lack of success stories. What is MaGIC doing to ensure there is sustained interest and development? For example, after the Asean Accelerator, how is it going to help these companies? So many startups have been launched at such events or programmes, but many seem to disappear.
“I don’t think that’s entirely true,” says Yeoh. “I think that people don’t know about these startups because they are not tracked, which is why we’re going to launch a startup database later this year.”
She says MaGIC has established a partnership with CrunchBase, a sister site of US-based tech blog TechCrunch, that acts a directory of startups, profiling the companies, the amounts of funding they have raised, and where they are in their lifecycle.
“We’ll be sharing data and schema with CrunchBase. Any company that is documented on CrunchBase, we get the data; any company that is documented on MyMagic will be on CrunchBase too,” says Yeoh.
MaGIC intends to run two batches of the Asean Accelerator every year, and in the upcoming national Budget that will be unveiled in October, is asking the Malaysian Government for an allocation that would allow the programme to run for a few years at least.
“We will be tracking these startups throughout this stage on our database, so we will know what happens. Like I mentioned before, we look at the whole lifecycle of the startup, so this includes all the routes to exits,” Yeoh says.
“I think it’s a matter of focus because MaGIC cannot boil the ocean, we cannot do all things for all people. We are starting here, but we’re not losing sight of what it takes for startups to exit, and how.
“We are trying to figure out all these things as well,” she adds.
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