Malaysia FAQ

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  Funding 

  1. We have a great idea for an application, how are we going to find investors to invest in our idea? - Wan Boon Keng

In general, a common advice would be to bootstrap your application (start with one OS first) and see the results. Once you see good traction, get good reviews and customer feedback, you can then concentrate on finding the investors who would invest in this business. The experience shows that an app-first business will rarely attract external funding at an idea stage as investors are looking for market validation. If you can prove that, and show the size of the market you are after, raising money will be so much easier. You can read more here. At the same time, in Malaysia it is a good idea to go to MBAN meetings, you will meet many local investors. Another source is government funding, such as Cradle. In addition, pitching competitions, e27 Echelon satellite events, StartupAsia are two good examples of startup pitching events that can expose your startup to local investors.

  1. How can I get funding for my research? -Kylie

There is an incredible number of sources from which you could get funding for your research. Please take a look at the following list here. In Malaysia, your university should have access to some grants depending on the type of research. MOSTI is the Ministry of Science and Technology and Innovation, this is a good place to search for research grants.

  1. How does registering the IP work and are there funds for that? -Ganesh

The group that handles IP registration is called MyIPO.  The cost varies depending on the complexity of the work. It is best to consult a good law firm (e.g. Kass international). For IP funding, it is best to contact Cradle to get Seed capital and apply for IP related work (there is no specific capital dedicated to IP registration).

  1. How do I look for funding or/and investors? - Philip

Check out Malaysia Startup Wiki's list of investors. Reach out to them. 

  1. How can I get financial and mentoring help in my business? -Haziq

In Malaysia, whatever you do, do NOT pay for a mentor. Mentors who charge are not the right people you want to associate yourself with. 

  1. Where to find sponsorship which is more towards collaboration type? -Jia Lih

Check Malaysia Startup Wiki for startup sponsors.

  1. How to convince investors to fund your startup? -Saad

This is covered on the Malaysia Startup Wiki. Jonathan Lee of Cradle has outlined 10 things on how to convince investors to fund your startup. You can find them here.



Team 

  1. How do you build a company culture that everyone thinks is awesome? -Hakim

Start with what your company stands for. It will be your guide to your startup culture.

  1. What do you need as a non-technical person to lead a technical company? -Yang Yang

Non-technical founders are usually responsible for Business Development, Operations and raising funding for the next round. They usually partner with a CTO who brings in technical know-how to the team. You can either give him equity as a partner or hire him on a salary.  However, it would be much better if you could learn enough technical skills to be dangerous in the technical field.

  1. How do you prove and present yourself as a great non-technical person? -Jia Shun

Find what your leadership strengths are (not technology). Bring your strengths to the table to compliment the team.

  1. How to provide compensation (e.g. pay, incentives, profit sharing) in a startup with minimal capital? -Bang Ming

When a startup founder cannot afford to pay salary, he uses equity to attract partners. Startups normally work longer hours with less people in the team until they raise funding to afford to hire staff.

The most important principle is: Fairness, and the perception of fairness, is much more valuable than owning a large stake. According to  Joel Spolsky, a moderator for the Startups SE beta site, and co-founder of Stack Exchange you should try anything you can do to make it simple, transparent, straightforward, and, above-all, fair, will make your company much more likely to be successful. A 50-50 (no funding,

You set up "stripes" of seniority, where the top stripe took the most risk and the bottom stripe took the least, and each "stripe" shares an equal number of shares, which magically gives employees more shares for joining early.

A slightly different way to use the stripes is for seniority. Your top stripe is the founders, below that you reserve a whole stripe for the fancy CEO that you recruited who insisted on owning 10%, the stripe below that is for the early employees and also the top managers, etc. However you organize the stripes, it should be simple and clear and easy to understand and not prone to arguments.

At the end, The founders should end up with about 50% of the company, total. Each of the next five layers should end up with about 10% of the company, split equally among everyone in the layer.

More information on this article.

  1. How do I find and then know that we have the right person on the team? -Ranjeev

You should look for a business partner who brings something different to the table than you do. You and your partner should be able to discuss critical issues and agree on them. Click here to learn more about the Top 10 Critical Startup Co-Founder Questions by Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot .  

According to Tom Grasty, these are important notes in finding a partner. Click here to learn why.  

1. Deep Industry Knowledge

2. Complimentary Skill Sets

3. Mutual Respect

4. Strong Work Ethic

5. Find a "Friend"

  1. How do you form the best team during Startup Weekend?- Oon 

You should find people who supplement you with your skills. You should look for a business partner who brings something different to the table than you do. You and your partner should be able to discuss critical issues and agree on them. Click here to learn more about the Top 10 Critical Startup Co-Founder Questions by Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot .

  1. How do I form a great team? -Shah

Start with small projects, which you can test with and then move on to bigger projects.

Expansion 

  1. What is a good strategy to make our startup project work as we expected? -Winnie

You need to do your research very well. Understand your market, understand the need of your potential customers, learn about the cost of running your startup, and learn more about your competitors. Find out who are the people who can add value by networking and joining meetups and events. Make sure you are working with the right partners who complement your skills.

  1. I have a product with minimum traction and it's pretty much a one-man show. How do I move forward? -Wah Jan

Build a team and set milestones on your traction.

  1. How do I set the right pricing for my customers? -Ray Looi

Position yourself against existing products and test out different pricing. Go with the one when people are willing to pay the most, with the smallest number of complaints.

  1. What is the best approach to present our solution or application to our target business, without a close contact with our customer? -Choon Yun

Cold calling works, but you need to be able to secure an appointment within 5 mins. Refine your pitch accordingly. Also, pay attention if you are speaking to gatekeepers or decision makers.

  1. How do you persuade the masses that what you are creating is meaningful? -Kedric

When you solve a problem your target market is experiencing, they will find your product valuable. Value is also measured by how much one is willing to pay for a solution to a problem they experience. Once users find your product valuable and reasonable to use, you will gain users.

  1. How to make more sales which will translate into more profits after I have built a company? -Yu Han

Cut cost thus you have more profit! Revenue - Cost = Profit

  1. What are market access programs available in Malaysia? Such as helping the local entrepreneur to set up an office or explore potential retailers abroad? -Aik Keong

Check out SME Corp for the exporting program. Also check out MDeC recently announced Global Accelerator Program.

  1. How to break through in the international market if we are a startup from Malaysia? -Shulhi

Find the closest competitor in your target market.  Find ways to complement with their business. If possible, collaborate with them on the basis that your product could expand and serve different market.s Also, you should think globally/ regionally when you start.  As an example, Piktochart started as a global product from day 1.

Operations

  1. How long should a startup stay in a beta phase prior to launching? How to ensure you have enough funds to sustain your operations in this period? -Jing Yang

There is no single right answer to this question. In the case of Google, many of their products stay in beta for years, whereas Oracle, their first product was not even a v1.0, it was a v2.x, because Larry Ellison wanted it to be perceived as a more mature product. It depends on your customer. In terms of making sure there are enough funds to sustain your operations, that is not a question for the beta period, it is what you should always do.

  1. How to make your prototype presentable? -Shoon Eu

In order to accomplish that, we would recommend following these steps and at the end of it, you will have a presentable prototype:

    1. Get started

    2. Keep it simple

    3. Turn the digital into the physical

    4. Turn the physical into the functional

    5. Refine your prototype

    6. Include instructions

  1. What are good metrics to measure at launch time? -Diego

Depending on the product, the most important metrics to follow are customer engagement numbers. This will range from how much time users spend with your product to what interactions are the most popular and so on. In addition to growth, keep an eye on user-retention numbers to figure out how long they stay, what makes them leave or abandon your product/service. You can read more here.



Others

  1. How can MaGIC assist entrepreneurs in getting funded? What are the criteria? -Mohd

As of now, MaGIC does not  provide funding. The best government source of funding is still Cradle.

  1. Can we make education become a business? Is it possible to create a win-win situation for both students and education institutions? -Muhammad Yusri

Coursera provides education for free, and charges only for certification. It is a win win situation because students get free education and the company gets revenue from those that are in need of certification.

  1. How can the idea of the lean startup be applied to "world changing" ideas that cannot be cheaply prototyped by inexpensive iterations, like SpaceX? -Ben

I guess the question could be phrased to - ‘should it be applied? And why?’. You can further explore what Marc Andreessen says about it here. However, in very specific cases like Malaysia, most of the opportunities are within the realm of a lean startup. There are a lot of low-hanging fruits in this local market, unlike in the US.

  1. Can you share more information about capital vesting procedures? -Hasbullah

Capital, or equity, vesting is used to prevent people leaving the company quickly with a big chunk of shares. In order to prevent this, vesting enables a period of time over which a person gets his shares bit by bit (usually it is 4 years). It is strongly advised to do this every time you start a company with other people and you will most likely be asked to do so once you raise external funding from investors.

  1. May I get a mentor for coding or maybe hacking something? -Najwan

We recommend you  joining developer online user groups. However, you need to know the basics before you can ask for help. The developer user groups will typically organize local monthly meetups, such as KL Ruby Brigade, Python user group, etc. In addition, it is possible to join hackathons and possibly meet good mentors there.

  1. What does a successful entrepreneur look like? -Eric

Just take a look at this image here.

  1. Should we try to convince other people to follow their dream? -Eric

Dreams should not be pushed, they should be realized.