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Startup Ecosystem Done Right.

In 2 weeks time, we will be celebrating one of the biggest web tech events to reach the shores of KL. The sea.openwebasia.com conference will draw to Kuala Lumpur startups, investors, developers, evangelists and a whole lot more from all over the world.

So i was thinking right. What have we done so far? What kind of message will they bring back with them? Guy Kawasaki made a visit 2 years back. He talked about visiting Batu Caves and chicken wings in Jln Alor. haha As a Malaysian, I’m really proud of these things, but heres my question, when do people start talking about the companies and startups of Malaysia?

How do we compare against our neighbours to the South? I attended Unconference in 2009, and Echelon in 2010, and story is consistent. That Singapore produces startups of quality, with innovative ideas, refined products & potential for scalability. Wait a minute, so do we. BUT – They support this (and this part is really important) – with a network of human relationships stretching from Singapore to Shanghai to Silicon Valley and back .

This network provides Singapore with a not so obvious but huge advantage.
1) The ability to bring their startups global in the shortest time possible
2) bring investors to their shores, and not have their startups move away.
3) exposure to the world and vice versa, in terms of how they execute startups, following the lessons and learning from mistakes of not just Singaporeans but global level startups.

This didnt happen overnight, Singapore made investments years ago planting young interns in Silicon Valley (the folks at E27.sg remembers this, and Echelon happened 6 years later)
Now theres alot more that makes up a startup ecosystem but for the purpose of this post, i wanted to draw attention to this.

The last couple of years, Malaysia has been investing in the tangible. Financing via Preseed and Cradle, training and workshops via the same entities. I don’t think we pay enough attention to human relationships. Just because there is no obvious ROI to it, doesn’t mean its not part of the ecosystem, which I suspect is the way we operate today.

This is a call to action, that when Open Web Asia happens, we make an effort to build relationship with our international guests, to work on simple projects together, collaborate, co-invest, and etc. To be honest I dont exactly know what to do, but i do know something has to be done, and the timing is right. hence tagging all of you guys, whom I consider leaders and visionaries here and elsewhere.

3 thoughts on “Startup Ecosystem Done Right.”

  1. Thanks for the excellent insight, Keng Yew. The chief reason of what you mentioned happening in SG of established relationship, attracting start-up, exposing scholar to Silicon Valley and sending thousand of PhD to top tertiary institution, we need look no further than Philip Yeo bio (http://bit.ly/aSOFME) and whose ears he has got in pushing their next long term economic initiative.

    Therefore, SG model in selling and attracting their next economic activities (e.g tech, bio-science, digital content) is almost equivalent of having a centralized diplomatic corp for foreign mission rather for economic mission. Do we have this model in Malaysia? should we even try to emulate their model? or would our environment allow this model? Just like you, I know something has to be done but I have no answer.

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