I’ve been to Malaysia a few times and have been wowed by the level of entrepreneurial activity there (it was enough to make me question my nationality, haha). If you are there for the first time or just want to get involved in the community, here’s a primer to the Malaysia ecosystem players.
(This is by no means an exhaustive list, just sharing what I know!)
People You Should Meet
There are plenty of folks to meet in Malaysia. Some are very prominent and hence difficult to get an audience with, some are…hmmm let’s just say that you shouldn’t focus time on them. Here are 3 of my favorite community-minded folks in Malaysia.
Laís de Oliveira
Lais is the founder of 8spaces, director of StartupGrind Malaysia and all-around awesome lady. Her love for the Malaysian tech startup community is so prevalent that she has become one of the must-meet folks if you visit Malaysia in a short 2 years she’s been in town. What I really respect Lais for is how she puts her money where her mouth is – sometimes having to pay from her own pocket for community events.
Kah Lee, or Curry, is the founder of TE4P and the community builder down in Penang. He may come across as a brash, loud and inappropriate guy to some, but hang out with him enough and you’ll know that this guy really has his heart at the right place. Just listening to his plans for The Coding Shophouse, a project to let anyone to learn to code, and Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, an IoT-focused accelerator and you see what I mean. This guy’s passion for the Penang community is so strong that it got me really pumped up for Penang, and I’m not even Malaysian. 😅
Heislyc founded StartupMamak, a 4000-member community for technology start-up entrepreneurs. He is also the Co-Director of the Malaysian chapter of Founder Institute and the Brand Ambassador for AngelHack, a global hackathon movement. Heislyc struck me as a very humble guy who’s passionate about bringing the tech community together.
If you want to be an entrepreneur in Malaysia, make MaGIC your first stop to finding out everything you need. MaGIC, short for Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, is a government-related organization set out to make Malaysia the startup capital of Asia. They run many events, workshops, overseas trips for startups, and an accelerator program. Some of their programs are open to foreigners too. I really like the team at MaGIC, those folks are passionate about what they do, are making an impact, and are very friendly people.
The Founder Institute
The Founder Institute is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 50 countries, the Founder Institute has chapters in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
The 1337 Accelerator (pronounced leet accelerator) was formed to fund aspiring new and existing startups in the app development space. Apart from the seed funding up to RM50,000, teams also receive mentoring from our panel of industry experts and office space during the 3 month program.
WatchTower and Friends (WTF) accelerator, an initiative by Cyberview, is a company that has a vision of building a startup ecosystem that will raise an ever growing number of successful startups. (The name WatchTower and Friends is inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s song ‘All Along The Watchtower’.) Their portfolio startup includes The Lorry, an Uber for lorries platform, and Scholar Deck, a platform for students to discover scholarships in Malaysia.
500 Startups/500 Durians
Probably needs no introduction (but I will include one anyway), 500 Startups is a seed fund and startup accelerator program that focuses on helping startups succeed w/ usable design, customer-focused metrics, and scalable distribution. 500 Durians is 500 Startups’ micro fund for investing in SEA. So far, they have invested in 40 startups in this region.
Catcha Group is an investment firm that not only provides capital to a few of the most promising technology companies in Southeast Asia, but also helps them grow and flourish. They also add value to their portfolio companies by providing a structured platform that transmits knowledge of strategy, management, and operations. Their prominent portfolio companies include iProperty Group, Ensogo, iflix, and iCarAsia.
Short for Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad, MAVCAP supports seed, start-up early stage to late stage companies in the ICT industry as well as other high-growth industries. They recently establish a MYR 100 million ($30 million) venture capital fund named Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (ADIF) with Axiata Group Berhad.
DrinkEntrepreneurs is a laid back monthly event where entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs come together to meet and have a great time.
Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to inspire and connect entrepreneurs through outstanding meetups. Their next meetup is happening on 26th Oct and will feature Derek Anderson, founder of Startup Grind.
This community aims to level up technical, design, creative, social, and entrepreneurial skills in the Klang Valley. Each meetup focuses on a different topic, including Edutech, VR, and IoT.
StartupMamak is a community for tech startup explorers, talents and founders to exchange knowledge and connections. We usually meet once a quarter and provide exclusive discounts to startup-related events.
The Co – 8 Lengkok Abdullah, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Community oriented coworking spaces with meeting rooms and office suites located at The Row in KL and Bangsar.
Fluent Space – A-10-03, Plaza Taragon Kelana, No 3, Jalan SS 6/6, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Coworking space for independents, freelancers and small teams.
The Nest – 7 Jalan Derumun, Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur
The Nest is a coworking space for passionate entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to build amazing companies in an inspiring environment.
Nook – 9, Jalan Riong, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nook is an open plan space located atop a hill, overlooking lush green surroundings – the perfect setting for collaboration, creativity and all the other things you need to get your mojo going (including free flow of coffee and tea).
To find more co-working spaces, such as this cat cafe, check out 8spaces! 8spaces is a community-driven platform where you can discover, choose and book amazing spaces in Kuala Lumpur. (I’m not paid to write this. I just really like what Lais, the founder of 8spaces, is doing :))
Picture credits to Cheryl Yeoh and MaGIC.
Elisha Tan is passionate about helping people make a living doing what they love. Currently working at Facebook as a Marketing Associate, Elisha is also the organizer of TechLadies, an initiative teaching women how to code.
Prior to working at Facebook, she founded Learnemy, an online marketplace where you can find in-person classes taught by local experts and enthusiasts.