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Telltales and Lessons Building Up Around “Starting Up” and Malaysia


January 12, 2012Startups3 Comments

When Facebook acquired Malaysian startup Octazen, the limelight shifted temporarily to Malaysian startup talents. As reported in February 2010, the move was “purely a talent acquisition,” with both founders of Octazen now employees of Facebook. It came to no surprises as the Company previously develops solutions allowing social network users to import contacts from other services.

Already in Malaysia there was a thriving startup scene. A couple months into the Octazen acquisition, last April’s Echelon 2011 Malaysia Satellite saw some promising startups ranging from gourmet to style. Alphapod’s product WootFood brings in a system of displaying highest rated food that is sorted by distance from users. There was also matching algorithm, aimed to provide unused event tickets a second chance if their buyers are not able to make it to the event.

There are also many other tech startups grown in this country among them, Flvrd and SocialShout just to name a few.

Some golden rules of thumb apply regardless of nationality and regionalism, of course, locality matters. When starting up, one should always study the industry by identifying and anticipating problems, along with the existing solutions that are already out there. Lest we reinvent the wheel. Most companies fail not because of their product but because they misunderstood market requirements. This only underlines the crucial aspect of correctly interpreting data, rather than having tons of statistical data.

Identify the players, bloggers, ready mentors and incentives. Any aspiring startup technopreneur in Malaysia should be readily aware of the Malaysian government’s recent zeal to spur the local tech scene.  The program,, aims to inspire, identify and incubate startup in preparation for a “Silicon Valley immersion trip.” Yet caution, as Singaporean Elisha Tan, founder of Learnemy points out, “Always understand the tech, but don’t attempt to be a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) .” Certainly, this is meant for aspiring tech startup founders with no prior programming knowledge (Thanks, Elisha).

As a startup entrepreneur, it’s always imperative to list at least a co-founder, to maintain a system of checks and balances within the organization. Expect to overcome organizational and financial hurdles on a frequent basis, hence simple, direct, straightforward decisions are important to keep both employer and employees constantly engaged.

Particularly important is the execution of ideas, by moving fast, building quick prototypes, get feedbacks, rework again and move on. Referring to TechCocktail’s Julissa Arce, one should never stop pitching and discussing ideas to anyone who is available and ready, simply to get a glimpse of the one’s own understanding and identify rooms for improvements. It’s also advisable to pick up something from someone who can teach you personally.

Finally, one almost always needs to equip oneself with some basic programming and scripting skills be it Python, PHP or any other computer languages. It’s also useful to refer to existing layouts and styles for reference. Leanremy’s Tan suggested Firebug as a “great tool” to achieve quick and presentable sites, but be wise, as 30% of all codes are typically wasted on unnecessary features.

We cannot go far without adequate funding. Joash Wee of e27 notes, in order to foster a strong startup community, there must be available capital to sustain these activities. Often, strong startups ride more on private equity rather than public funding.

Much like the Singaporean government’s effort in hosting a climate that favors the attention foreign investment, budding Malaysian technopreneurs can look towards events such as Silicon Valley Comes to Malaysia as positive indications of domestic and foreign cash incentives. Somehow, equity will be scarce, so use it wisely.

Related at Evan Hugh:

  1. [SVC2M] Will Malaysia be the Silicon Valley of Southeast Asia? – Part 1
  2. Silicon Valley comes to Malaysia: A call to Malaysian technopreneurs
  3. [Invitation Updates] Silicon Valley Comes to Malaysia: The excitement is here!
  4. Malaysia’s Online Fashion Entrepreneurs’ Weekend (MOFEW) 2011: Taking fashion to a new level
  5. SVC2M: SocialShout! tapping into social commerce exchange [startup]
  • Elisha Tan

    Just to clarify, “Always understand the tech, but don’t attempt to be a CTO (Chief Technology Officer)” is for aspiring tech startup founders with no prior programming knowledge

    To help you learn programming, check out these free resources that I’ve compiled:

  • Anonymous

    Great article! Thanks.

    A quick tip from us…Build Benefits, not Features. 

    At SocialShout! we always thought it would be cool to create Leaderboards where users could compete for top spot on the boards of brands they love. Everyone liked the idea.  When we spoke to some brands they said it’s cool & it will help them identify key users/fans/customers, but what would really help them would be a way to contact those key people at the top of their Leaderboards. So now, we’re building in a private message board tool that will let brands talk directly to key users/fans/customers.The Leaderboard itself is really just a feature. The private message board is a real benefit (for the brand and the user because the user can now get closer to the brands they love – and maybe get some even sweeter deals!?!?)


    Great!! Hope to see more StartUps in Malaysia! – Team