Business WYN

Bursting with ideas

by Samar Al-Montser

While many startup business ideas are great, how they’re tweaked to enable their entry into the market can be a tricky learning process. Enter WIEF IdeaLab 2017, an annual boutique startup conference. The most recent one took place on 2 – 3 August in Kuala Lumpur. It’s a platform where startups can meet with and pitch to investors.

Being committed to a business idea enough to launch it into the market is one of the biggest commitments one can make in life. Even though a startup idea may seem to have reached a crippling point, the winning type of mentality is, it’s not too late to fix it and make it work.

IdeaLab’s panel of judges.

Under its tagline Building Ecosystems, this year’s WIEF IdeaLab, a boutique startup conference, in partnership with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), AllChat World and Alibab Cloud, offered participants an exhilarating jam-packed programme filled with a range of the finest startups in ASEAN. It happened on 2 – 3 August at Parkroyal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and it also gave startups the chance to a 90-second pitch to a panel of judges.

A pitch’s not just a pitch

‘I’m in the zone. I’m trying to think of nothing and not to talk. It’s not our first time but I’ve to do this every time,’

Its pitching platform was the highlight of the 2-day WIEF IdeaLab 2017. 30 selected startups from various industries were given the chance to pitch. So, in front of a panel of judges and investors during a private preliminary pitch on day one, they aired their business ideas. 10 of which were then selected for the final pitch on day two.

IdeaLab 2017 gathered around 400 participants from 39 countries, 45 per cent of which were startups. Other participants included investors, ecosystem players, students and others who came together to collaborate, share experiences, validate their business ideas and much more.

On the first day, excited and anxious startups were lined-up for their scheduled preliminary pitch. Even though some startups have had previous pitching experience, it didn’t change the way they prepared for their pitch. ‘How are you feeling?’, one startup founder was asked. He laughed. ‘I’m in the zone. I’m trying to think of nothing and not to talk. It’s not our first time but I’ve to do this every time,’ he explained. And this was the common tone among those who were pitching.

What, when, where
The event was officiated by WIEF’s secretary general Tan Sri Dato’ Ahmad Fuzi Haji Abdul Razak along with CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood and Ebrahim Patel, Chairman of WIEF’s Young Leaders Network. Mahmood gave a promising outlook on the future of the ASEAN startup ecosystem and the support given by government initiatives. That was followed by a tour around the Startup Ecosystem Fair which showcased 39 unique and innovative startups and ecosystem players’ products and services to the public.

Part of the programmes or sessions during IdeaLab 2017 were:
Startup Ecosystem Fair: This exhibition allowed startups to gain exposure, confidence and collaborative opportunities with other interested parties. Booths were setup and the public was welcomed to walk-in. Added to this, parallel sessions were organised.

Networking Pods: Here was where participants who required casual meetings with each other or investors to discuss further business plans and partnerships were provided with an online matching suite to arrange specified meetings. Interested parties met at a times fitted to them during the event at convenient, comfortable networking pods.

IdeaClinic: Throughout the first day, law firm Chooi & Co, the first legal incubator for startups in Malaysia, offered legal advice during this session. An alumnus of WIEF’s IdeaLab explained how advice from Chooi & Co’s really helped her get to where she is today. The IdeaClinic session on the second day was facilitated by Alphacap who provided a dreamcatcher session with a hands-on approach to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into a reality.

Ken Ly from Alibaba Cloud.

Ideation Stage:  Ken Ly, cloud architect of Alibaba Cloud, explained how their calculated risk measures and big data analysis will drastically transform the world today and shape the future we can’t yet imagine. Ly shared the novel approach of big data analysis and its focus on innovators that predict market trends. ‘On a smart city project in China, one of the projects we’re working on right now is in Hangzhou city. It uses the Smart City Brain to help them solve the problem of traffic jams and traffic control,’ he elaborated. Other topics were addressed in a series of panel discussions at IdeaLab’s ideation stage platform such as the pressing issues affecting present-day startups.

The presentations and workshops offered insight into a range of subject matters such as the key ecosystem players in Malaysia; their strengths, what they offer, what they are specifically looking for and what the next big thing is.

War Stories: Tales of startup failures were shared by venture capitalists Andrew Tan from Tinkbig Venture Ltd, Hassan Alsagoff of Mountain partner and James Digby of Global Startup Awards. They also showed how some of the startups bounced back again to become successful and the steps taken to jump from seed to post seed. On day two, CEOs and head of well-established startups such as Daniel Andrew from theLorry.com, Malaysia, Riel Temasya from Muslimmarket.com, Malaysia and Tomas Laboutka from HotelQuickly, Thailand tell their war stories.

Business Anonymous: These sessions on how to build and sustain a great team and dissect market needs were held by Ebrahim Patel. Startup founders were also able to meet with marketing experts to see how they could improve their marketing outreach.

Opportunity Marketplace: Axiata Malaysia took the stage with the demands for industry solutions during this session. They focused on startup and corporate linkages and gave clear directions of what products startups can or should develop.

Fiona Kirubi receiving prize from Ebrahim Patel.

Elevator Pitch: For startups who wanted to work on polishing their ideas and pitching performance, Elain Lockman, co-founder of Ata Plus, Malaysia gave a workshop on how to work on the elevator pitch. This session was followed by a 90-second elevator pitch platform open to startups for a chance to win cash prizes. The winner of the cash prize of RM1000 was Fiona Kirubi from Kenya, for her startup Piga Duty, an online platform to match home owners to home service providers.

Final words
As the second evening hit, it marked the moment everyone was waiting for. After a good nights’ rest from the first hectic day at IdeaLab 2017, 10 out of the 30 selected startups were chosen to pitch to potential investors. The finalists were ZapZapMath, Pointland, Wahdah, Glueck, BolehCompare, MoneyMatch, MoneyBay, Moovby, CheQQme and CXS. Each startup had a 10-minute slot to pitch. After the final pitch, the judges and investors took some time to make their decisions before signalling to the public whether they were interested to invest, or want to further discuss the idea. The six startups that received interest from judges were ZapZapMath, Glueck, BolehCompare, MoneyBay, Moovby, and CheQQme. What will happen next is yet to be seen.

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4 Aug 2017
Last modified: 29 Aug 2017
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