When I decided to return to Malaysia to lead MaGIC after 12 years abroad, I did it because I’ve always wanted to contribute to my country where my skills and experience could be leveraged. So, I took a leap of faith as I wanted to make a real difference, and the one-year journey so far has been exciting and rewarding to say the least.
For our first anniversary, we decided to publish a year-in-review for the benefit of our community and partners, to reflect on MaGIC’s mission, values and core activities. We’ve certainly learned a lot in serving our mandate.
Our approach has always been to first connect the dots with other existing agencies and communities to reduce overlap, then collaborate with partners where it makes sense, and finally create sustainable programs to fill in the gaps. We believe that an entrepreneurial ecosystem links different cohorts of people by vision, commitment and passion around the pursuit of a common goal - to help entrepreneurs succeed.
There’s no magic formula (pun intended) to build a vibrant startup ecosystem that leverages the strengths of our country, and we’re certainly not trying to emulate Silicon Valley. Rather, just like a startup itself, a healthy and sustainable ecosystem in a developing nation can only be created through a series of informed experiments, (some of which may fail and some of which succeed) that leads to eventual success. The ability to produce a critical mass of Malaysian startups that have achieved product-market-fit at a regional or global level will be a yardstick that our organization’s success will be measured upon.
As technology startups become the primary growth engine of the new economy, recent development of startup ecosystems all around the world will have an inevitable impact on the global market and hence the future of Malaysia’s own.
The message is important and urgent: technology is making the world borderless and advancing rapidly; if Malaysian entrepreneurs don’t leverage it to grow and scale their ventures quickly, global competitors will take our market share away. We have the talent, resources and public/private support to do this. There is no reason why Malaysia cannot rise above and put ourselves on the global map.
In fact, in the past year, we have seen Malaysians companies Jobstreet being acquired by Seek.com for USD523.5mil, GrabTaxi raising a total of USD340mil, a handful of 2 year-old startups raising USD2-4mil, a regional startup featured on TechCrunch, and a formidable startup ecosystem emerging out of Malaysia.
Admittedly, MaGIC is still in its early days. We have mapped out the ecosystem and the existing resources available. We have continuous conversations with entrepreneurs to understand the challenges they face and brainstorm ways we can help them succeed.
Within this report, you will gain insights into some of the challenges faced by Malaysian entrepreneurs, and how MaGIC’s programs, partnerships and collaborative efforts have addressed these roadblocks and created impact.
Every month since Employee #2 in May 2014, new passionate faces have joined the team, hitting the ground running to achieve what we set out to do. I’m proud of the foundations we’ve built within the first year, despite the many challenges we faced and the ambitious goals we’ve set for MaGIC.
We are encouraged by the many stories from the community of how they have benefited from MaGIC’s programs, how their lives have been changed, and the constructive feedback they have provided us.
Our team has worked hard to deliver on our goals, for the belief in the mission of enhancing the Malaysian startup ecosystem - that one day in the near future, we’ll be recognized as the startup capital of Asia. 28% of our team have returned to Malaysia from abroad to work at MaGIC for this purpose.
We know that our work has just begun and we cannot do this alone. A united ecosystem can only exist if all parties embrace their differences and combine our strengths to collectively grow the ecosystem together. For the sake of our nation’s current and future generation of entrepreneurs, and for Malaysia.