Co-investment with Cradle mark its maiden investments in Malaysian startups
Focus is to strengthen startups’ domestic foothold before expanding overseas
OSK Ventures International Bhd’s (OSKVI) recent announcement that it was investing approximately RM1 million (US$265,770) in two Malaysian startups ticked off a couple of milestones.
It marked OSKVI as the first company under Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd’s co-investment partnership programme to announce its co-investment deals – one involving education communications platform provider Sync, and the other with job search portal MauKerja.
More importantly, these investments also mark OSKVI’s debut in Malaysia’s startup space. The investments were made through its wholly-owned unit OSK Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd.
“These are our first investments into Malaysian startups,” OSKVI executive director Amelia Ong said on the sidelines of a media briefing on the co-investment deals in Petaling Jaya last month.
“The local startup scene has been garnering increasing interest of late, and we are excited to partner Cradle in exploring new technology companies that can contribute to their respective industries in a meaningful and socially responsible manner,” she said.
While OSKVI is new to the Malaysian startup space, it is by no means a new player in the technology sector. Since its establishment in 2000, it has been focusing its investments on various sectors and industries, providing equity capital to high-growth companies in the middle to late stages.
Among its notable investments are Green Packet Bhd, Willowglen MSC Bhd, Handal Resources Bhd and mTouche Technology Bhd. These four companies have a combined market capitalisation of RM460 million (US$122.3 million).
Strengthening local foothold
Sync, founded by Zharif Sharif, is a communications platform provider that helps schools connect with parents in real time via a school messaging app.
It is aimed at helping parents be more involved in their children’s education, as well as helping teachers communicate better with parents. The app is available for download for iOS and Android devices.
Currently, some 80 schools are using the platform, with approximately 1,000 parents on board at each school, the company claims.
Meanwhile, MauKerja, founded by entrepreneur Ray Teng (pic), is a job recruitment portal that focuses on the junior and non-executive segments.
The portal was set up partly because Teng said he saw a gap that other job recruitment portals did not address.
MauKerja said it is averaging 15,000-20,000 visitors daily, and has also signed up with various well-known employers such as AEON and Padini.
Teng is also founder of wearable technology startup WaryBee, which embedded personal safety devices into jewellery.
Although OSKVI believes that its investee companies are ‘gems’ that have the potential to scale regionally, it stressed that it is important for the two startups to build a strong foundation on the domestic front first.
“With MauKerja, we will come in and help it with its corporate governance first,” an OSKVI executive said at the media briefing in May, declining to be named however.
“This is because the Philippines and Indonesia, the two markets that MauKerja is eyeing, are different ‘creatures’ altogether,” he said.
The executive said OSKVI will also help MauKerja get connected to regional venture capitalists (VCs) when it has built a strong foothold locally.
“The moment it starts to go overseas, it will have to meet partners of different strengths to help it scale further. For now, we will make sure it has a strong footing locally, so it can replicate this overseas,” said the OSKVI executive.
According to another OSKVI spokesperson who also declined to be named, the company will be helping Sync strengthen its base in Malaysia by creating ‘synergies’ with some of its other existing investments.
For example, OSKVI is tying up with a local education group to set up a chain of pre-schools called Little Tree House.
“In this venture, we brought in Sync’s communication platform to the school so that parents can be more involved in their children’s education at an early age,” the OSKVI spokesperson.
Besides creating synergies, she said that OSKVI will also be helping Sync build up its base in Malaysia.
This includes building up its branding locally, as well as helping it out with its strategies.
“That will be our focus for now. Once Sync is strong, then we will help it with its strategy to expand outside Malaysia,” she said.
OSKVI officials said that if all goes well, Sync will start expanding outside Malaysia by 2017 and MauKerja will be in Indonesia and the Philippines next year.
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