The so-called “new normal” of today calls for new and innovative solutions. This is the goal of Hong Leong Bank (HLB)’s upcoming HLB Launchpad 2020 mentorship platform, which is calling for startups in the technology and fintech space to take on the challenge of co-creating innovative solutions for the Covid-19 world we’re residing in.
Now in its third edition, HLB Launchpad 2020 is a collaborative partnership that brings HLB together with MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation), Cradle Fund, MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre), Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN) and crowdfunding platform pitchIN under a common vision to cultivate a vibrant and competitive startup community.
This year’s HLB Launchpad, which is open to any startup who has a presence in the Malaysian market, will be carrying the theme of “Reboot: Thriving Together in the New Normal”. It will focus on three themes: Being Digital, Adaptable and Sustainable.
HLB has identified over 15 problem statements, and will invite applicants to address them with solutions, from digitalising and simplify customer journeys, creating new experiences in financial services to helping business customers find new ways to grow digitally.
The third pillar in particular (Sustainable) is squarely aligned with HLB’s emphasis on integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) elements and best practices into the bank’s operations.
As such, startups keen to apply for the 2020 HLB Launchpad are required to have at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as an essence of their solution(s) as well as practices in place to manage and mitigate ESG risks identified in their operations.
Taking startups to the next level
“2020 was going to be a continuation of Southeast Asia’s thriving startup ecosystem, instead it took an extraordinary turn where the Covid-19 health and economic crisis grabbed the headlines. However, it did highlight the need for digital options in everything we do,” says Domenic Fuda, HLB CEO and group managing director.
He adds that the crisis has brought about many opportunities for innovation, and validates the importance of HLB’s digital-at-the-core strategy and the need to continue to reimagine financial services.
At the same time, many businesses also pivoted towards a digital business model to remain in operations during this challenging period.
“The HLB Launchpad platform enables us to identify and work with the best breed of fintech startups in the country, proven through the track record established from our two previous editions in which 80% of the firms we worked with received private and public funding. At the same time, 20% of the finalists are working closely with or are in partnership with the bank today where most are part of our SME Digital Business Solutions that we provide to clients,” Fuda notes.
HLB Launchpad 2020 will see 40 participants shortlisted to join a pitching round. From there, 12 will be shortlisted again to be part of a one-month programme where they are allowed to pilot and explore their solutions with the bank.
The outcome of the pilot programme will be presented in the final pitching session. The winner of HLB Launchpad 2020 will win a cash prize of US$12,055 (RM50,000), whereas the top two runner-ups will each earn a cash prize of US$6,027 (RM25,000).
Startups gain a few perks by being part of the programme. For one, they have the opportunity to tap into Hong Leong Group’s regional businesses across various industries, as well as Jumpstart@65, a state-of-the-art community space.
Startups also gain access to iStart, a programme that provides the tools in banking facilities, such as a business current account and micro-financing, as well as digital solutions to enhance their business; and networking opportunities between HLB, its clients and partners.
Previous HLB Launchpad winners include Dropee and SalesCandy, with former finalists being the likes of Kakitangan and Biztory who are not only part of HLB’s SME Digital Business Solutions, but have also expanded their business to others within and outside the financial industry.
“Corporations like HLB possess market knowledge, resources, established networks and the validation that startups aspire to attain; startups possess the agility, grit and novel ideas that corporations value,” chimes Gopi Ganesalingam, MDEC’s VP of Global Growth Acceleration.
“Together, it creates a symbiotic force that propels MNCs and SMEs to take a digital leap and to sustainably resolve pressing business, environmental and social issues via inventive tech solutions.”