New MaGIC CEO rolls up his sleeves, ready to launch new stuff
By Lum Ka Kay June 10, 2016
- Creativity and Innovation Labs to be ‘playground for entrepreneurs’
- ‘From an aspirational perspective, I want MaGIC to capture more lives’
THE Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) will launch Creativity and Innovation (C&I) Labs by the end of this year, according to its recently-appointed chief executive officer Ashran Ghazi (pic above).
“What keeps me at night is, ‘How do we be more efficient and scalable in helping entrepreneurs succeed?’
“For us to scale effectively, we need to develop ‘micro-ecosystems.’ From there, we look at verticals such as education, lifestyle and creativity – regardless whether it’s physical or virtual,” he told the media on the sidelines of the two-day Wild Digital conference in Kuala Lumpur, which ended June 9.
Declaring the C&I Labs would be a “playground for entrepreneurs to try new ideas, with access to the right networks and support system,” Ashran said the idea for the project came from observing the accelerators that are mushrooming across the region.
“The content of most accelerators are ‘same-old’ same-old.’ Hence, the real value in an accelerator is the network that it brings.
“At MaGIC, we’re running our own accelerator programme and I believe we’re doing a pretty good job at it, but our resources are limited as we’re only able to catch 50 people per batch.
“But from an aspirational perspective, I want MaGIC to capture more lives – and the only way is to think beyond an accelerator programme,” added Ashran, also an inaugural DNA Digerati50.
Spurred by conviction
Ashran was candid, admitting that he cannot guarantee that the C&I Labs idea would work – but added that he believes it can.
“It sounds good at the conceptual level, but we now have to figure what the execution risk is and what the possible pitfalls are,” he said.
Ashran said this was also part of a move to “scale MaGIC,” by leveraging its position as a government agency to act as a platform to connect the private sector to startups.
“We’re designing this without any business interest so that the private sector and startups can benefit.
“If private sector companies try to do this themselves, startups would be wary that there might be some catch somewhere,” he added.
Ashran stressed that he is determined to make this work, but is also cognisant of the challenges that he will face along the way.
“There will be quite a few bumps along the way, but what’s life without bumps?” he quipped.
Taking the ‘sexy’ out
Meanwhile, Ashran said that he is working to educate the startup ecosystem that it’s not just about becoming unicorns, or companies valued at over US$1 billion.
“The goal should be ensuring that you can help build businesses that can last for a very long time. These businesses may not necessarily be unicorns, but you can still build a solid business and we should be happy with such achievements.
“I’m trying to get everyone to share the same sentiment as me: Let’s build a business that can last for a lifetime.
“It’s not something sexy, but this is fundamental and will have a long-term impact on the country,” he added.
Another common issue in the startup ecosystem is the tech-obsession, as Ashran described it.
He said that many businesses tend to jump headfirst into the product or the technology, and become obsessed with it.
“It gets very dangerous this way as the execution risk may be very high.
“Yes, we cannot run away from technology because regardless what we do, tech will be the enabler – but let’s shift our premise to problem-solving.
“In other words, innovation. Many startups or entrepreneurs always start by saying ‘I want to build this app to solve this problem,’ but it’s not deep-diving enough.
“So the first question is, ‘What’s the problem?’ The second is, ‘How can we innovate?’
“Problem-solving should be the premise. Focus on the problem, then come out with the product,” he declared.
Other Wild Digital Stories:
We completely f**ked up in our first 8yrs: Catcha’s Patrick Grove
Unicorns: Not quite mythical, but a rarity in South-East Asia
Startups, don’t knock the competition if you want Khazanah’s money
Week in Review: With new CEO, will MaGIC morph?
MaGIC set to name Ashran Ghazi as CEO
MaGIC, the Malay language, and that ‘bumi thing’
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