MDEC HUBUNGKAN SYARIKAT PEMULA MALAYSIA DENGAN PELABUR GLOBAL MENERUSI #GRINDSTONEFOUNDERS

HAUZ Enterprise Sdn. Bhd kini meneroka peluang untuk bekerjasama dengan pelabur global menerusi program #GrindstoneFounder anjuran MDEC.

Dua syarikat pemula (start up) tempatan yang terpilih mengikuti program Grindstone Founders anjuran Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) yakin ianya akan membuka peluang untuk ‘memikat’ para pelabur teknologi digital global dari seluruh dunia sekaligus meluaskan lagi jaringan perniagaan.

Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif HAUZ Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. , Ho Di Yan berkata, salah satu pengisian yang terkandung dalam program berkenaan ialah kerjasama dengan University Draper yang terletak di Lembah Silikon, California, Amerika Syarikat.

Universiti berkenaan mempunyai reputasi hebat dalam bidang keusahawanan dan teknologi digital apabila berjaya menarik lebih 2,300 usahawan  dari 85 negara serta mengumpulkan dana pelaburan bernilai lebih AS $350 juta.

Di Yan berkata, sebagai syarikat pemula yang ditubuhkan pada 2018, beliau sangat teruja kerana terpilih mengikuti program bersama universiti berkenaan.

“ Ini akan yang menawarkan akses ke rangkaian pelabur Lembah Silikon dan program Mentor “.

“ Kami juga berpeluang untuk berhubung secara terus dengan Tim Draper yang merupakan pelabur terkenal untuk Tesla, SpaceX, Skype dan Twitter,” katanya ketika ditemubual wakil MDEC di sini baru – baru ini.

Menurut Di Yan, beliau akan menggunakan peluang itu untuk memahami bagaimana syarikat – syarikat pemula di Lembah Silikon beroperasi di pasaran Amerika Syarikat.

“ Syarikat pemula di sana (Lembah Silikon) bukan sekadar beroperasi di pasaran domestik negara mereka sahaja sebaliknya melebarkan operasi ke seluruh dunia. Ini yang ingin kami pelajari, saya percaya pendedahan berkenaan kelak akan membantu HAUZ Entreprise Sdn. Bhd.  ,” katanya.

Di Yan berkata, syarikatnya berteraskan teknologi yang memberi penyelesaian tentang pengurusan tenaga kerja dengan menawarkan satu platform digitalis dalam sektor perkhidmatan dan perusahaan.

Di Yan yang mengasaskan syarikat berkenaan bersama dua rakan kongsi iaitu Shah Fariq Aizal Shah Ghazni dan Woo Cheng Kit berkata, pada mulanya mereka hanya menawarkan perkhidmatan teknologi kepada syarikat – syarikat keselamatan.

“ Namun pada 2019, kami menyedari wujudnya masalah besar dalam pengurusan tenaga kerja. Pemilik perniagaan berdepan masalah seperti mempunyai pekerja yang ramai di pelbagai lokasi namun pengurusan operasi masih dilaksanakan secara manual,” katanya.

Jelas beliau, ketika ini syarikat berkenaan mempunyai 10 kakitangan dengan memberi perkhidmatan kepada syarikat -syarikat yang memerlukan sistem digital dalam mengawasi pekerja dengan lebih mudah, efisein dan mengurangkan kos operasi.

Ditanya mengenai perancangan masa depan syarikat itu, Di Yan yang juga pemegang Ijazah Sarjana Muda Pengurusan, Pembinaan dan Bangunan dari Univeriti Sheffield, United Kingdom berkata, HAUZ meletakkan matlamat untuk memasuki pasaran ASEAN yang mempunyai potensi cukup besar.

“ Sebelum itu, kami harus menguasai pasaran tempatan terlebih dahulu dengan menawarkan teknologi dalam menguruskan operasi syarikat dan pengurusan tenaga kerja.

“ Kami memahami banyak syarikat di rantau ASEAN ingin beralih kepada pendigitalan dan dengan pengalaman kami yang telah mendigitalkan pelbagai industri di Malaysia, kepakaran ini boleh dikongsi dengan negara – negara jiran,” katanya.

Sebelum ini katanya, mereka dipilih sebagai ahli dalam Jawatankuasa Asian Professional Security Association (APSA) yang memberi kelebihan kepada HAUZ untuk mempromosikan pendigitalan operasi kepada syarikat -syarikat keselamatan.

Mengenai kerjasama dengan MDEC, Di Yan berkata, beliau menyarankan syarikat pemula untuk berhubung dengan agensi berkenaan bagi mendapatkan pandangan tentang pendigitalan yang seterusnya mampu merangsang sektor ekonomi digital negara.

“Bagi kami , inisiatif MDEC ini membantu pengumpulan dana di samping boleh mendapatkan pandangan mengenai pembiayaan modal,” katanya.

Sementara itu , bagi  Manu Menon yang mengasaskan Youthopia bersama Nathalia Lim berkata, beliau turut teruja untuk mengikuti kursus secara maya bersama Universiti Draper.

Manu, 45, berkata, peluang untuk belajar bersama pakar di Lembah Silikon merupakan kesempatan terbaik dan mampu memberi nilai tambah dalam usaha melonjakkan syarikatnya ke pasaran global.

“ Sebelum ini, aplikasi pembelajaran yang kami bangunkan turut menarik minat dua sekolah swasta di Vietnam yang sedang menguji keberkesanan untuk pelajar mereka.

“ Kami turut menjalinkan kerjasama dengan Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) untuk mengembangkan kerangka pedagogi yang mantap bagi menghasilkan lebih banyak kandungan untuk membantu pelajar menguasai teori dan amali dalam bidang teknologi kejuruteraan,” katanya.

Berhubung program Grindstone Founders, Mano berkata, syarikatnya memohon untuk menyertai program berkenaan selepas melihat pengumuman melalui Facebook MDEC.

Ditanya mengenai perancangan Youthopia selepas ini, Manu berkata,  mereka telah melancarkan versi beta platform yang kini mempunyai lebih dari 100 pengguna.

Kami melancarkan platform berasaskan web yang direka untuk keberkesanan dengan menawarkan pembelajaran bersaiz kecil yang dikhususkan untuk kanak -kanak membina kemahiran masing – masing.

“ Youthopia  merupakan platform yang melengkapkan kanak-kanak dengan kemahiran abad ke-21 seperti pemikiran kritis, penyelesaian masalah, komunikasi dan kerjasama,” katanya.

Sebelum ini, Kementerian Komunikasi dan Multimedia (KKMM) menyatakan komitmen untuk memperkenalkan dasar baharu bagi menyokong pertumbuhan ekosistem syarikat pemula niaga atau ‘startup’ di Malaysia.

Menurut KKMM, syarikat pemula niaga merupakan industri yang penting kepada negara pada masa hadapan dan bakal menyokong kemaraan era Revolusi Industri Keempat (RI4).

Sementara itu, Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif MDEC, Surina Shukri berkata, Founders Grindstone merupakan program selama enam bulan yang merangkumi bengkel intensif yang dilaksanakan oleh rakan global dan pengendali ekuiti pendanaan awam (crowdfunding).

“ Ini  bertujuan untuk menawarkan kesempatan bagi memanfaatkan platform kerjasama yang memberikan akses kepada pengusaha di Malaysia kepada jaringan pendanaan global,” katanya.

Setakat ini, sebanyak 10 syarikat pemula telah dipilih dan mendapat akses kepada rangkaian pelabur Draper Venture Network. Program Founders Grindstone ini  akan membuka pendaftaran untuk siri kedua tidak lama lagi. Nantikan maklumat lanjut di laman www.malaysiadigitalhub.my/virtualfunding

oleh Mohd Firdaus Ismail

Father’s Passion To Teach His Kids Future Skills, Sparks Educational Startup, Gets Noticed By VCs

“I have always felt that students shouldn’t be gauged by their academic results alone.”, asserted Manu Menon, parent of two primary school-goers and founder of edtech startup, Youthopia.

“It was worrying to see that my kids, though doing well academically, lacked skills like communication and critical thinking. These and many more foundational skills are not taught explicitly in public schools in Malaysia. Unfortunately, these are the exact skills that are needed in the future”, he said.

Bent upon finding frameworks that highlighted the power of 21st-Century (C21) Skills, his research triggered a desire to then teach these skills in a fun and interactive way. Thus, Youthopia was born with the founder’s vision to equip as many students as possible with C21 Skills so that they become lifelong learners and can adapt to the fast-changing world.

The startup has built an online platform to equip students aged 10-16 with foundational skills like critical thinking and creativity in order to produce the next generation workforce who can adapt to an ever-changing future.

“I saw the announcement [of Founders Grindstone initiative] on MDEC’s Facebook page and the application process was easy to follow”, said Menon, who received an acceptance email to Batch 1 within a few days of submitting his application.

MDEC’s Founders Grindstone programme gives Youthopia a boost in achieving its vision to develop the next-gen workforce.

MDEC’s initiative – Founders Grindstone in July 2020

The Founders Grindstone is a six-month programme, launched by MDEC in July 2020. It consists of three blocks of intensive workshops conducted by global partners from venture capital firms, equity crowdfunding operators, startup-centric media and the legal practice.

It also aims to offer the opportunity to leverage funding platforms of the partners on-board, granting Malaysian entrepreneurs access to investment offerings by the global funding network.

Youthopia was one of the top 10 winning startups of Founders Grindstone’s Pitching Competition that has been onboarded to join Draper Venture Network & get connected to 23 potential VCs. The other 9 are AVANA, HelloFinance, Vechnology, Mobi, Hauz, Senang Insurance, mytruck.my, PanOpthalmics and Homecrowd.

Hauz, Senang Insurance and Youthopia were successfully chosen by the judges as three startups, to be awarded scholarships to participate in the virtual Draper University entrepreneurship programme.

Manu Menon, found MDEC’s Founders Grindstone programme useful as it helped him prepare the company for pitching to investors. Youthopia is at that stage where it is looking for strategic investors to help it scale.

“The ideas shared by the Draper Startup House and Izwan & Partners helped us focus our pitch deck and understand the legal requirements to look out for when pitching to and negotiating with potential investors. We feel this will serve as a boost in helping us raise our seed round,” said Menon.

Commenting on the success of the 10 top performers of the initiative, Surina Shukri, MDEC’s CEO said, “MDEC’s strategic priorities surrounding digitally skilled Malaysians, digitally powered businesses and digital investments, serve to accelerate local companies to become global champions. Through initiatives like the Founders Grindstone, MDEC is well-positioned to help startups like Youthopia, Hauz, Senang Insudance and the other 7 toppers, to become global champions that, together, can propel Malaysia towards being a digital nation and place Malaysia as the heart of Digital ASEAN, as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution to achieve shared prosperity.”

Heads-up to all startups!

Founders Grindstone is an MDEC initiative that empowers tech entrepreneurs to maximise their potential of gaining funding from renowned global investors. Through this programme, entrepreneurs will receive first-hand coaching and tips from the investors themselves before submitting their pitch decks. 

MDEC will open the second batch of Founders Grindstone soon. For more information, stay informed here https://www.malaysiadigitalhub.my/virtualfunding

by Shobha Janardanan

Opportunities in Times of Crisis: Why Malaysia is Still the Best Location for Digital Services

As governments across the globe rally to flatten the curve for the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses are forced to rethink and re-strategise the way they operate. In response, companies in Malaysia have quickly adopted new operational strategies once the Movement Control Order (MCO) was introduced on March 18.

This is largely due to our high-speed broadband infrastructure and mobile broadband capabilities that are in place, various robust digital services that are still operating, and the resilience of the local workforce.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently praised Malaysia for its preparedness and response in managing the COVID-19 crisis. It even selected Malaysia as one of the countries to test the effectiveness of drugs used to treat afflicted patients, a testament to the country’s ability to conduct lab work and research.

Speed Of Response

The speed and scale of how the global pandemic spread caused significant disruptions to organisations across all sectors, forcing an engagement with various digital and technology solutions to streamline their operations and re-evaluate their business priorities.

Nations and corporates are advocating and implementing various measures to stop the spread of the deadly pandemic and keep their citizens and employees safe. This includes imposing unprecedented lockdowns on businesses, schools, and other non-essential services; restricting both domestic and international travels; and forcing millions to practice home quarantine.

As companies activate their remote working capabilities and prepare to streamline it further, employees’ health and safety take vital precedence over balance sheets. What is clear is the global economy is bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and the Global Business Services (GBS)/Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is not spared.

Many service providers are already struggling to continue operations due to logistical and technical limitations. Countries that are heavily reliant on BPO are now negatively impacted as they face significant challenges to arrange and manage remote working for its entire workforce. Beyond developing processes that can be deployed at scale, these businesses need to also consider the quality of infrastructure for broadband connectivity.

Malaysia – renowned for its offshoring capabilities, placing within the Top 3 for AT Kearney’s Best Offshoring Locations, and being first choice as the preferred business continuity hub for the world – has now emerged as a more attractive alternative for these hard-hit economies.

Competitive Digital Infrastructure

“Reliable and affordable high-speed broadband connectivity is a key catalyst to bringing in direct investments into Malaysia’s digital economy. The government is committed to ensure the implementation of the National Fiberization and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) to improve the country’s digital connectivity, with plans to roll out 5G in Q3 2020 still firmly in place. This is despite the economic uncertainties that the global pandemic brought about. One of the direct beneficiaries of this connectivity initiative is the GBS industry in Malaysia. This has undoubtedly empowered their employees to work-from-home and allowed the industry to continue to operate,” assures Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister, YB Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Under the People-centric Economic Stimulus Package that the Malaysian government recently announced in the wake of COVID-19, RM600 million was allocated to provide free internet data usage to all Malaysians throughout the MCO period. An additional RM400 million was also invested in improving network coverage and capacity to provide high availability and quality telecommunications networks.

Other aspects of the stimulus will also help companies reduce operating costs. This includes tiered discount for electricity rates – ranging from 15% to 50% for April until September 2020, reduced rate of employer contribution to the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and wage subsidy programmes.

Malaysia, home to over 600 Global Business Services (GBS) companies, has proven its mettle in rising to the challenge of transitioning organisations into remote working arrangements. For example, contact centres – one of the main components of the nation’s GBS industry, have moved from business as usual to work-from-home mode within a short span of time.

“The key here is our high-quality digital connectivity in Malaysia.  With the internet user penetration in Malaysia now at over 85% and having already deployed the fibre network across urban and sub-urban areas, the contact centre industry has been able to quickly integrate work and home domains,” Raymond Devadass, President, Contact Centre Association of Malaysia (CCAM), remarks.

This, in many ways, reinforced the notion that the availability of high-quality digital connectivity to homes is very crucial. For Raymond, that enabled the global customer support industry to start and expand its current transformative evolution with the use of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), has also stepped up its efforts to drive these capabilities forward for businesses. Its ongoing endeavours focus on providing leadership and critical support to various companies and industry ecosystems, enabling them to continue operations during the MCO.

“Besides ensuring communication channels are open between industry players and the government during MCO, MDEC is also rallying local and foreign tech players in Malaysia to extend their digital solutions and services to both businesses and citizens. All these come under our recently launched #DigitalVsCovid Movement – a digital platform that is wholly dedicated to mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19,” shares Surina Shukri, CEO, MDEC.

The movement already garnered support from hundreds of tech companies. This includes global tech giants that have offered free video conferencing tools to help business owners and management to maximise their work-from-home capabilities.

Readying Future Workforce Talent

For organisations that want to activate their remote working capability, it requires quality digital infrastructure and a prevalent culture of working from home at both micro (companies) and macro (country) levels.

Malaysia is ahead in Southeast Asia as one of the early adopters for remote working arrangements.  A 2013 research report from Regus found that 53% of the country’s workforce were already on flexible working arrangement, well ahead of the global average of 48%.

Malaysia’s young, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and digitally savvy talent pool is no stranger to gig economy. Over the last few years, MDEC has been running an initiative called Global Online Workforce (GLOW). Designed to create a community of full-time high-quality freelance workers among Malaysians, it generally helps these talents generate income through digital work via crowdsourcing.

Targeting university students and young professionals, as well as latent talent such as retirees, persons with disabilities and housewives, the programme provides training on in-demand digital skills, mentoring and coaching. This also includes providing tips and tricks to compete with other global freelancers.

Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON), in its 2019 State of Shared Services Market Report for Malaysia, revealed how more than half of the GBS centres in the country are working with various global Centres of Excellence. The arrangement was to focus on continuous improvement, engaging data analytics and understanding robotic process and intelligent automation to deliver higher value processes for its clients.

All these point to Malaysian digital talent’s agility and readiness for the future of work, all of which is shaped with digitalisation and the willingness to adapt to remote working capabilities.

Best Destination for Work-Life Balance

Strategically located at the heart of Southeast Asian region, Malaysia is renowned for being a top location for digital global services. Among its accolades is being ranked first in INSEAD Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2020 in the upper middle-income group and second in ASEAN for ease of doing business by the World Bank.

It’s quality of healthcare is also first-class, as evidenced by its first ranking globally in 2019 International Living Annual Global Retirement Index.

Cheah Kok Hoong, Chairman of OM, a chapter of the National Tech Association of Malaysia (PIKOM) that focuses on GBS, sums it well: “Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia is still considered as an ideal and strategic location for investments. It is indeed a strong choice for companies looking at business continuity and resilient plans, ease of doing business, talent development, high availability for fibre bandwidth connectivity. OM members who support functional capabilities are weathering though this current MCO period, working from home and serving their clients seamlessly with the availability of efficient technology infrastructure and uninterrupted bandwidth connectivity.”

Malaysia, Heart of Digital ASEAN

“As Malaysia aspires to become the Heart of Digital ASEAN, MDEC – in playing the role of specialised investment promotion agency for digital economy, invites companies to consider this country as a prime investment destination for digital services, including global business services,” says Hew Wee Choong, Vice President, Investment Development of MDEC.

MDEC has long been working closely with industry stakeholders such as OM and CCAM, along with various GBS companies to put Malaysia on the map as a top destination for this industry. “As we continue to support the world’s GBS industry, we also will face the global crisis together. Having the support from our business-friendly government, combined with our strong digital infrastructure and talent ecosystem, we welcome you to make Malaysia your digital home,” he concludes.  

© 2020 Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn Bhd (389346-D). All rights reserved.