Malaysia Tech Week 2019: Winners from 500 Startups Pitch Pit impress VCs

  • SME finance solutions and wireless power network startup stole the show
  • MoneyMatch graduates from BNM sandbox, seeks funds to expand operations


(Bottom row, from left) Redbeat Ventures CEO & AirAsia deputy group CEO Aireen Omar; Kejora Ventures general partner Raymond Hor; RHL Ventures general partner Jo Jo Kong; and Golden Gate Ventures senior associate Jeffrey Chua with the Pitch Pit participants

IN CONJUNCTION with Malaysia Tech Week 2019 June 17 to June 21 (MTW19), the early stage venture fund 500 Startups hosted the MTW’19 Pitch Pit with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

Fintech dominated the show with startups Reap and Curlec emerging in first and second place respectively while wireless power company Transferfi secured third place.

Although two fintech startups achieved the top positions, managing partner of 500 Startups, Khailee Ng believes the genre of startups has little to do with it making its mark.

“Those with the most evidence of progress and market potential ultimately get the most interest.”

A total of 12 startups pitched to a venture capitalist (VC) judging panel comprising of Redbeat Ventures chief executive officer & AirAsia deputy group chief executive officer Aireen Omar; Kejora Ventures general partner Raymond Hor; RHL Ventures general partner Jo Jo Kong; and Golden Gate Ventures senior associate Jeffrey Chua.

While no prize money was given out, winners received two tickets each to the Wild Digital 2019 conference, potential investment by the panel of VCs and one-on-one mentoring from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Each of the judges were allocated a fictional US$10 million to contribute to three startups of their choice. Reap drew the judges interest with US$13.3 million pooled together with its business of solving small businesses’ short-term financing by using credit for operating expenses.

Currently, small businesses can send funds from their credit cards to recipients but in the future, Reap plans to pay on behalf of the SME directly. “By allowing them to use credit instead of cash, we are fundamentally changing how small businesses access short-term financing,” said Reap co-founder Kevin Kang.

Coming in as first runner up with US$12 million in fictional funds, the chief executive officer and co-founder of online direct debit payments company Curlec, Zac Liew explaied the problem it addresses: “Collecting payments in Malaysia has historically been difficult for businesses, particularly SMEs, due to inadequate payment options,” he said, adding that direct debit is only made available to large corporations.

As for the second runner up Transferfi, the chief executive officer and co-founder Aashish Mehta said that the company is “creating the world’s first long-range, safe and efficient wireless power network.”

Driven by a mission to provide people anywhere with access to power, the company’s internet of things (IoT) technology eliminates the need for cabling infrastructure and is capable of reducing costs by 50%.

The other participants were Factohub, Lumiere32, Grom, FutureLab, Igloohome, Postco, MoneyMatch, iMotorbike and Dattel.

Recently graduated from Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) Sandbox, remittance service provider MoneyMatch also pitched to raise funds for its expansion into Australia and Brunei.

Representing consumer intelligence company Dattel, ex-chief executive officer of Malaysia Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), Ashran Ghazi also faced the VC panel asking for S$11 million in funding. “We are a B2B company against branded giants out there. It is difficult for the giants to transform and the startups to build the space we are in at the moment,” he said.


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