Uncertain outlook for local start-ups

Many companies are suffering from the economic downturn despite relief efforts provided by the govt


OVER 60% of Malaysian start-ups experienced more than a 50% drop in sales or revenue, during the Movement Control Order (MCO), according to the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre.

At present, many of the companies are suffering from the economic downturn despite relief efforts provided by the government.

Sunway Group president Tan Sri Chew Chee Kin (picture) recently said the pandemic has threatened the existence of many start-ups.

“I foresee this will continue to affect a number of start-up communities and related industries in the coming year.

“Start-ups are either experiencing difficult times as they try to survive amid the pandemic, or are thriving in new, borderless online markets due to their agility and flexibility in adapting through modern digitisation,” he said.

Regional venture capital firm Gobi Partners co-founder and chairman Thomas G Tsao said the pandemic has hit the global economy hard but maintained that investment in Malaysia has plenty of returns potential due to its reach for major markets.

“Malaysia has a great reach as they have China-related businesses, and being a country with halal business means they have access to the global Muslim market, and with everyone speaking excellent English here, that means the outreach for the Western market is also possible,” he said.

The firm has invested RM200 million in Malaysia since 2015, and another RM40 million funds are expected to be disbursed within the next two to three years.

Gobi Partners and Sunway Group presented the four winners of the Superseed II Champion, all bagged by Malaysian companies.

“Together with our esteemed partners, Sunway and Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd wanted to give early-stage companies in Malaysia a fighting chance to win funding that would help them navigate through these tough times.

“We were amazed by the overwhelming response — over 200 start-ups from 10 countries, operating in a variety of industries entered the competition,” Tsao said at the announcement of the four final winners recently.

The four winners of the virtual pitching competition are Speedhome, a property transactional platform that allows renting without a deposit; MyCashOnline, a digital wallet for unbanked migrant workers to purchase financial products and services; Lokein, an e-commerce marketplace which allows users to purchase and sell pre-owned and vintage items; and StixFresh, a safe sticker which increases the shelf life of fruits up to 14 days.

The competition itself would only consider start-ups within the retail and enterprise, financial technology, smart cities and circular economy as well as taqwa technology verticals.

The prizes include up to RM15 million in funding from SuperSeed Fund II and a potential grant from Malaysia Digital Economy Corp, a chance to attend an exclusive entrepreneurship programme curated by Alibaba Business School, a wildcard entry to Sunway Group’s iLab Accelerator Programme which begins next year and cloud credits and customer experience officer club membership.

Similarly, winners will be provided access to Sunway’s resources across 13 business divisions as well as Sunway City Kuala Lumpur.