Good news for Malaysian startups seeking a boost and some respite in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has assured that Cohort 4 of their Global Accelerator Program (GAP) 2020 will be proceeding as planned. Applications close on Fri, 26 June.
According to MaGIC, two research surveys were done within the startup ecosystem, which reflected the need for it to provide strong assistance for their startups. Acknowledging the economic condition and the severe impact of the pandemic, MaGIC has decided to proceed with Cohort 4, only this time it will be going virtual.
MaGIC states that they have “extensively revised” the GAP curriculum to virtually cater to startups that are impacted by Covid-19, and will be focusing on specific outcomes such as becoming more adaptive and sustainable during times of crisis.
Cohort 4’s content has been refined to address the potential future challenges and risks posed by the pandemic, at the same time leveraging existing and opportunistic trends. The programme has been maintained and expanded to not just focus on building internal business resilience, but to really look at how MaGIC can help participants build a network within the venture capital space and better position themselves to secure seed funding or other forms of investor commitments.
The aim here is to create a sustainable ecosystem which growth will be driven from within. MaGIC observed that while Covid-19 has impacted various levels of society and economy, among those that survived are the ones leveraging existing technology and quickly adapted their business model to new norms.
MaGIC’s GAP is a three month programme running out of the MaGIC Campus in Cyberjaya, with the goal of equipping local and global startups keen on expanding in Southeast Asia with the necessary skills, tools and network to be sustainable and ready for ASEAN expansion.
The program will provide selected startups with a head start to break into the SEA market. During the programme, MaGIC will be equipping participants with benefits worth over US$500,000 from various benefit partners.
These include Amazon Web Services, MacroKiosk, Striple and many others; not to mention industry-specific training and opportunities to learn from world-class technical and business mentors.
Participants also get a stronger route-to-market focus with extensive corporate support, plus partnerships in place with private sector household names like Intel, Aerodyne and Petronas. In addition, MaGIC provides a monthly stipend per startup, marketing credit (which can be subscribed only from GAP benefit partners), access to pre-recorded curriculum content throughout the programme, and potential funding opportunity via the GAP Partner Programme.
Startups accepted into these programmes are selected based on their readiness for mid-to-late stage regional deal flows, plus their potential to expand into ASEAN markets. How GAP stands apart is by providing startups with the opportunity to foster relationships as well as achieve a regional outlook, access regional resources and peer knowledge within the ASEAN community.
MaGIC has also built relationships with equivalent government bodies in all ASEAN countries, not to mention partnerships with other accelerator programmes, co-working spaces, and ecosystem hubs across the region. Graduating startups thus have access to the entire region through these partnerships.
GAP is one of the biggest accelerator programmes in SEA, receiving large numbers of applications that include global startups in America, Europe, Australia and East-Asia looking to expand to Malaysia and ASEAN. The programme generally has less than a 6% acceptance rate – equivalent, if not lower, than some of the top Ivy League schools. In fact, GAP Cohort 3 has a 2.5% acceptance rate.
As of 1 June 2020, MaGIC has impacted nearly 115,461 entrepreneurs through more than 1,227 entrepreneurship development programmes and events. Over 108 startups has graduated from GAP spanning three years, with total revenue generated at US$51.9 (RM221.9 million) and total investments raised at US$27.17 million (RM116.2 million).
MaGIC itself does not disburse any funding amount as they are not a funding agency. However, the do facilitate access to funding via their investment partners.
MaGIC’s GAP programme has seen some major successes, including the likes of Easy Parcel, Katsana, Supplycart, Storehub and AllizHealth.
One of such successes is Vechnology, a startup specialising in cashless vending machines that can accept various e-payments. Vechnology was part GAP’s Cohort 3. Its co-founder and chief operating officer Evelyn Foo says that GAP has been invaluable, especially the networking opportunities.
“For me, the best thing during and after GAP is the networking. Sharing advises and experiences within startups are very important. Even now, as alumni, we are still engaging with each other through social media and sometimes we call each other to share our situation and advise,” she says.
She recalls the camaraderie of the accelerator program, such as receiving advice from fellow GAP startups on a particular event in Jakarta, which led to them meeting investors in Jakarta. They also sought advice from another founder regarding an investor’s offer. “He is considered as one of our peer-mentors where we know we can always seek valuable opinion from. These connections are significant for us to grow as a startup.”
Her experience in GAP has allowed her to grow. “I considered myself as just a businesswoman before going through GAP Cohort 03. After 4 months of GAP training, I am able to learn to be an entrepreneur – to change our conventional thinking and open our insights for this entrepreneurship journey.”