Malaysia's first Digital Accelerator programme, the Alpha Startup Digital Accelerator (ASDA), successfully concluded on 5 May 2020, whittling down 15 finalists to three chosen startups; BlueDuck, Internspoon and Nanobar. Each received US$4,600 (RM20,000) to fulfil their business ideas. The programme was a collaboration between 1337 Ventures and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), which launched on 6 April 2020.
[Ed: An earlier version gave an incorrect amount each winner received.]
It was supported by entrepreneurial experts from Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), Kumpulan Modal Perdana, Digi Telecommunications, Airtable, AltHR, Found8, and iTrain. ASDA culminated in a Demo Day, where 15 shortlisted finalists showcased their newly polished ideas to 230 online viewers and experienced judges/ potential investors; Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of MDEC; Razif Abdul Aziz, acting Group CEO of Cradle Fund; Rajen Doriraj, Senior Manager of Partnerships, MaGIC; Rustam Ku Azmi, Senior VP of Kumpulan Modal Perdana and Syafiq Shamsudin, Investment Manager of Malaysian Venture Capital Management (Mavcap).
The chosen winners were BlueDuck , Nanobar and Internspoon selected for their great ideas, strong founders and sound growth strategies. BlueDuck is a prop-tech startup designed to save property investors time and money by automating expensive manual processes with inexpensive cloud-based solutions and flat fee services. Nanobar is a vending machine, small enough for any hotel room countertop, to help online brands have a physical store through spot in-room purchasing. Internspoon is an internship platform that matches interns to employers, bridging the gap between young talent and HR.
The innovative ASDA programme highlights how creativity comes from limitations. At a time of economic and social uncertainty during the Movement Control Order (MCO), the 1337 Ventures team hustled to attract over 250 applications to the Digital Accelerator in just one week after the MCO announcement. 156 startup teams were accepted to the program.
“We watched as our startups’ portfolios became greatly affected by the pandemic and MCO,” said Bikesh Lakmichand, CEO of 1337 Ventures. “But we also watched some businesses pivot and blossom, making the new technologically-driven environment work for them.” This sparked the idea of a fully online accelerator to aid startups further any stage of their growth, at their own pace.
Bikesh also took the opportunity to announce Leet Academy’s new VC school for those interested in starting a venture capital firm. The school will provide training in financing, investing and entrepreneurship. Those interested can seek more information here.
Meanwhile, Gopi expressed MDEC’s wholehearted support to grow more Malaysian entrepreneurs. “I am a staunch believer that Malaysia produces not only top-notch talent but also prolific entrepreneurs too. My belief is reinforced yet again by the recent cohort of AlphaStartups Online - all 15 finalists were victorious in my eyes.”