MaGIC’s Asean accelerator ends on a high note

  • Says that 40% of Cohort 1 raised about US$6mil
  • Greater female participation in second cohort
MaGIC’s Asean accelerator ends on a high note

THE Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) recently held one of its largest demo days at its campus in Cyberjaya, where over 40 startups pitched their products and business ideas at about 300 investors, partners and other stakeholders.
 
The demo day on Aug 4 marked the official conclusion of the MaGIC Accelerator Programme (MAP), which the agency claims is the largest accelerator programme in South-East Asia.
 
“Our experience organising the first cohort was invaluable as it was the first time we ran an accelerator programme,” said MaGIC executive director of entrepreneurship development Johnathan Lee.
 
“However, we had the conviction and believed strongly in what we do and that it would yield results.
 
“Running an accelerator programme with 50 startups certainly has its challenges, as each is unique. We spent a lot of our time understanding them and helping them overcome their challenges,” he added.
 
According to MaGIC, the startups from the first cohort have managed to raise close to RM24 million (about US$6 million) over the last six months, and Lee said he expects the startups from the second batch to perform similarly, adding that some even managed to land investments during their tenure with the programme. [The preceding paragraph has been amended after MaGIC clarified its figures]

Interestingly, there was a greater number of female entrepreneurs in this year’s MAP, he said.
 
“This ratio is about 1:3 of females to every male entrepreneur in this cohort, compared with 1:6 in last year’s cohort,” he added.
 
Better organised
 
According MaGIC, MAP sets itself apart from other accelerator programmes as its curriculum focuses on getting startups ready to expand both locally and regionally.
 
There is also an emphasis on presentation skills, and understanding key metrics and financial models in order to raise investments.
 
Cheah Ken Hoong, senior investment manager at venture capital firm Teak Capital, said that this year’s cohort was better organised than last year’s.
 
“The pitches from the startups were better as they knew how to present key metrics like revenue, traction and customer acquisition,” he said.
 
“It was good to note that they emphasised profitability, as many investors are cautious these days and want to hone in on those that have proven to break even and remain sustainable,” he added.
 
JobStreet.com founder and angel investor Mark Chang, who was one of the invited speakers, said some of the pitches were interesting, although many are still in the early stages of their journey as entrepreneurs.
 
He had this to say to today’s startups: “Look at the long term and be prepared to spend at least 10 years nurturing your startup, and you may see it succeed in the next 20 years.
 
“With that in mind, your behaviour, strategy and actions will guide you towards success,” he added.
 
For a list of Cohort 2 participants, click here.
 
Opening international connections
 
Although the accelerator was geared towards Asean startups, there were participants from as far as Europe and North Asia.
 
Taiwanese e-book provider Nuazure was one of the international participants. Its business development director Hermann Tsao said that his team had benefitted greatly from the programme.
 
“Not many accelerator programmes are so open to welcome foreign participants. In fact, we heard about the programme through a participant from the first cohort and were encouraged to take part,” he said.
 
“We appreciate all that MaGIC has done as without the programme we would not have been able to understand the local ecosystem and make connections with local companies as easily.
 
“With their help, Malaysia will be the first point of our South-East Asian expansion,” he added.
 
Tsao said Nuazure is in talks with several local and regional companies, and has already signed a deal with local telco Celcom Axiata for its e-book platform, PubU, which offers users access to a wide selection of books and magazines for a flat monthly fee.
 
Though it currently only offers content in Chinese, Nuazure is working to secure content in Malay and English. The service is expected to roll out later this year.
 
As with the MAP Social Entrepreneur Track, the third cohort of the Asean Track is set to start in the middle of August.
 
MaGIC said it hopes that the links built from the first two cohorts will build the bridge for Cohort 3 and 4.
 
It expects the next cohort to attract more participants from Asean countries, with at least one participant from seven of the 10 countries.
 
Related Stories:
 
MaGIC gears up for MAP 2
 
MaGIC launches its Asean accelerator programme
 
MaGIC Accelerator Programme kicks off
 
 
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