MaGIC’s concern over flatlining in startup ideas
By Karamjit Singh September 21, 2016
- Additional danger is that same old ideas can trigger drop in new startups
- Aims to bring startups closer to corporates, expose them via MaGIC Symposium
ASHRAN Ghazi (pic), CEO of Malaysia Global Entrepreneurship & Innovation Centre (MaGIC) sees a worrying trend. “Taking a quick scan of the last two and a half years, MaGIC has done great job catalyzing entrepreneurs and strengthening the ecosystem but we also notice a flatlining in the ideas coming out – not just in Malaysia, but the region,” he says.
Attend any pitch event and you will hear almost the same old ideas coming out. And the bigger danger with this is that the number of ideas themselves may dip, which would be a double whammy. “And we don’t want that to happen,” he stresses. More so when looking at the issue from a nation building lense.
Which is why Ashran wants to tackle the problem at the idea creation level itself because if MaGIC doesn’t do anything to intervene, he feels the problem could mushroom.
And the way he wants to tackle this is to bring entrepreneurs, those with the mental mode that anything can be done, closer together to the people who have a lot of problems to solve – private enterprise which are stuck in their ways and unwilling to look at new approaches to solve their problems.
“You want to catalyse youth and the [entrepreneurship] community to make sure they are churning out new ideas that can potentially transform industries and that’s where our engagement with corporates comes in,” he says.
In essence, MaGIC wants to see how they can help corporates and various economic sectors solve their problems via startups. “That’s our call to action as we speak to the private sector.”
The good news is that corporates are already approaching MaGIC with the intention of beginning to engage with startups. Meanwhile he also has a policy tool to leverage on. The government had announced an initiative “Corporate Entrepreneurship Responsibility” or CER in Budget 2016 announced last year and designed to get more corporates to be involved in entrepreneurship development.
“We are engaging with corporates to encourage a long term relationship around entrepreneurship development to create that alignment where they realize they are doing good while benefiting their organizations,” he says.
At the same time, organising events such as the MaGIC Symposium, in its third year now, and going on for the next four days is one of the ways MaGIC hopes to inspire entrepreneurs to believe they can do and be anything and take this mental mode with them when engaging with the corporate sector.
Participants also have the opportunity to interact with speakers in the many mentor classes organized during the symposium. All the classes have seen full registrations.
“We have carefully curated the speakers to bring in those that don’t appear already in the many events organized by the ecosystem and specifically those that are doing things differently. Again this is designed to give our startups the belief that they can do things differently as well and expose them to new ideas happening around the world and let them explore the possibilities in the local context,” says Ashran.
Meanwhile, in terms of MaGIC’s expectations for the upcoming Budget 2017, the agency is looking at a social procurement incentive being introduced to act as a demand side lever to the social entrepreneurs that MaGIC is helping to train and develop.
There is also the hope of a Social Entrepreneur Certification being announced. Think of it as a MSC Status certification that Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation has been issuing over the past two decades with all the accompanying benefits to genuine social enterprises.
“We want to close the loop on trying to get incentives because social entrepreneurs are doing good for the nation. So, how can we catalyse that further so that the dollar that government spends will get better yield. But we also don’t want people to abuse that, and hence the procurement policy and certification policy go hand in hand,” he explains.
As with all the other requests from both private and public sector, MaGIC and Ashran will have to wait for budget day on Oct 23 to find out if the two asks from MaGIC will be announced.
But in the meantime, MaGIC and Ashran will be driving forward their mission of building stronger engagement between startups and the corporate world while inspiring entrepreneurs to come up with better ideas and exposing them to those who are doing things differently.