e27 started its annual Satellite tour for Echelon 2014 this Monday, March 10. First up was Southeast Asian country Malaysia. We saw 20 exemplary startups, five esteemed judges, two awards presented, and over 300 attentive attendees seated in a ballroom at CyberView Resort and Spa, CyberJaya, a town situated 50 kms south of capital city Kuala Lumpur.
The two awards presented were the Echelon Satellite Malaysia 2014 Winner, who will get a chance to fly to Singapore and pitch at e27′s flagship main conference with exhibiting opportunities, and the People’s Choice award.
Welcome, welcome and welcome!
The evening began with Thaddeus Koh, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, e27, speaking about what these startups could look forward to during the company’s flagship tech conference Echelon this June. He then passed the microphone to Nazrin Hassan, CEO, Cradle Fund, who took the opportunity to round everyone up in a minute of silence for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. He then threw light on how Malaysia’s startup scene is evolving.
Hakim Karim, CEO, GridMarkets, an Echelon alumnus, shared insights on how startups should approach conferences such as Echelon. He cited an example: when a prospective investor asks ‘how much you’re trying to raise’, always counter-ask ‘how much are you willing to put in’?
The event was graced by the Chairman of Cyberview Sdn Bhd, Secretary General (Ministry of Finance, Malaysia), YBhg. Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar bin Abdullah, who talked about the government’s initiative to boost entrepreneurs, MaGIC.
Winner and People’s Choice
This year, we are trying something new. Instead of only delivering one award to the official winner, we are conducting an online poll which gives attendees the chance to vote for their favourite pitch.
Out of 250 votes, Mother Goose Venture Developers’s educational app EasyRead won the hearts of the attendees with 46 votes at Echelon Malaysia Satellite 2014 and bagged the People’s Choice award. Based in Malaysian co-working space The Nest, the startup’s service has yet to launch its beta version.
Mobile banking solution TootPay, on the other hand, grabbed the judges’ attention and was declared the winner. The judges panel included Thaddeus Koh, e27; Khailee Ng, 500Startups; Kelvin Goh, Crystal Horse Investments; Chieh Suang Khor, Digital Media Partners; and Bikesh Lakhmichand, 1337 Ventures.
Even though TootPay was the last startup to present that night as it had to use a special emulator to highlight its value proposition, its Founder Balvinder Singh showed that the solution can make a dent in this world. Essentially, it allowed consumers to make secure transactions via mobile phones without an internet connection.
[UPDATE] Lakhmichand told e27 that he was impressed with the quality of startups that pitched this year, “It’s definitely the shape of things to come out of Malaysia.” He further said that one could clearly see the focus on customer development in the pitches. Additionally, what stood out was that the startups are targetting a regional base of users if not global, rather than just local users.
He added that TootPay’s idea had come at the right time. Its product, which falls in the banking and payment industry, tackles challenges that Malaysia and its neighbours have been struggling with, said Lakhmichand, adding, “TootPay has a healthy base of customers and it has a huge potential market. It pretty much scored well on every judging criteria. It’s hard to not have it emerge as the winner.”
Photo Credits: Cradle Fund’s Facebook Page