Who will make it to the inaugural Harimau x Startup list?

  • Ecosystem leaders participate as judges, playing role to drive culture
  • Finalists for 3 categories identified from total 32 submissions received

Who will make it to the inaugural Harimau x Startup list?

With 32 entries received at the closing 31st Jan date for nominations for the inaugural Harimau x Startup (Harimau is the Malay word for tiger) by DNA and Hiredly, I am excited to announce that we have gone through all the submissions and shortlisted the finalists for each of the three categories.

Read Also: Are You A Harimau X Startup?

I am even more excited to announce that we have put together a stellar group of ecosystem leaders as judges for the three categories. Judges will pick the winner for each category and decide if the other finalists have done enough in building their cultures that they deserve to be recognised as a Harimau x Startup.

For the above 50 headcount category, I am pleased to share that Khairil Abdullah has agreed to be a judge. Despite relocating to Amsterdam, Holland where he will officially start his new global role as CEO of VEON Ventures, which is part of VEON Group, Khairil is keenly aware of the critical importance a strong culture plays in the success of startups, and wants to be play his role in Harimau x Startup.

Joining him will be Stephanie Sitt, cofounder and CEO of INMAGINE Group a powerhouse digital design and creative group which counts assets such as Pixlr, Designs.ai and 123RF under its stable.

The third judge is Prof Loredana Padurean, who is Associate Dean at the ASB (Asian School of Business) and International Faculty Fellow at MIT Sloan. She is the Faculty Director for Action Learning and Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ASB. She also recently did research on understanding the evolution of startups to scale-ups to sail-ups.  

In the 21 to 50 startup category we have three respected names from the ecosystem, namely Yeoh Chen Chow of Fave; Goh Ai Ching of Piktochart and Marc Woo, country head of Google Malaysia.

For the smallest category by headcount, ie 5 to 20, we have Roshan Thiran, founder of Leaderonomics Digital, one of the most respected authorities on leadership and development in Malaysia. Joining him are Francesca Chia of GoGet and Singapore based Manoj Menon of Twimbit. Prior to launching his startup in 2019, Manoj had an illustrious career at Frost & Sullivan where he rose through the ranks to become Senior Partner and Managing Director of Asia Pacific.


Support from leading Malaysian accelerators

Recognising that encouraging and creating the right mindset among startups around the critical importance of building strong cultures, early, cannot be just done by DNA and Hiredly through creating Harimau x Startup, we have sought and received critical support from the leading accelerators in the country:

  • Alpha Startups Accelerators and Bikesh Lakhmichand of 1337 Ventures
  • Corporate Accelerator and Ben Lim of Nexea
  • Scaleup Endeavor and Adlin Yusman, Managing Director of Endeavor Malaysia
  • Sunway iLabs and Matt Van Leeuwen, Chief Innovation Office of Sunway Group
  • Scaleup Malaysia with Aaron Sarma and Xelia Tong of Scaleup Malaysia, and;
  • WatchTower and Friends Accelerator and Sam Shafie, who besides running leading ECF platform pitchIn, runs an accelerator as well.

Our accelerator partners have long been drilling it into their startups, of the importance of culture in trying to build that next winning company. Joining DNA and Hiredly to further drive the importance of culture through Harimau x Startup was a no brainer for them.

Who will make it to the inaugural Harimau x Startup list?It was also a decision that took Stephanie (pic) of INMAGINE Group, less than 5 minutes to decide, when considering being a sponsor for Harimau x Startup.

"An old saying goes something like this: Human resource is the greatest asset to any company and I've have been spearheading Talent & Culture Development for INMAGINE in the past 5 years. This is an area that holds dear to my heart."


Unveiling student talent via Harimau x

One other aspect of Harimau x that I and Derek Toh, founder/CEO of Hiredly are excited about is our decision to use the prizes as an opportunity to discover new talent as well. With such a cool name, it was obvious that winners of Harimau x should get a tiger related prize.

Instead of a typical trophy, each startup that our judges deem worthy to be a Harimau x Startup will receive of a cool framed 3D Harimau print thay they can proudly hang in their physical office.

Rather than getting a professional illustrator to come up with the three designs, one for each category, we want to use this as an opportunity to discover new talent in Malaysia and I am pleased to share that the leadership at IACT College have enlisted around a dozen students to come up with their interpretations of the 3D Harimau from which, with the help of Stephanie and INMAGINE, we will pick the winning designs for each category with the winning students invited to the announcement of our inaugural Harimau x Startup.

And, let’s not forget the main prize each category winner will receive. Suresh Thiru, former COO of JobStreet.com and Asia CEO of SEEK has agreed to mentor the winner of each category, once a quarter, for a year!


Just NFT it

With all the excitement/hype/buzz around NFTs, especially among Gen Z, we would be remiss to not create an NFT of our Harimau x prize for each category as well.

So who will be the first group of startups to populate our Harimau x Startup list, receiving the accolade as a startup that has a strong supportive culture? Will talent in the market gravitate towards these companies that have reached that level? Will founders start taking culture seriously from the get go in launching and growing their startups?

We certainly hope so!


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