Driven by the growth of high Internet usage and the disposable income in recent years, e-commerce is becoming a hot topic among all the nations. Furthermore, supported by hitherto unexploited and favourable business environments, the Southeast Asian region is attracting thousands of international companies to set up branches in order to offset the slowdown in their growth revenue.
However, it seems that most of the local e-commerce players in countries, except in Singapore, did not catch the first waves to expand and become stronger. The numbers were not comparable to those from western countries or Japan (See : 10 Facts You Should Know Before Starting Business In Southeast Asia) and, truth to be told, their performances were also not outstanding.
Although these startups are lagging behind fiercer competitors, governments can help them catch up. They have launched several projects aimed at developing a full fledged e-commerce environment. This include incubators attracting promising startup-teams to boost national competitiveness– and more importantly, assisting local business to compete on the global stage.
In Malaysia, there are several prestigious institutes that help grow young startups and grow the e-commerce space. Notable ones include “Selangor Information Technology and E-Commerce Council” (SITEC) and “Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre” (MaGIC) in Malaysia, focussing on e-commerce and startups respectively.
“We aim to boost the development of e-commerce ecosystem of in Selangor and we know Selangor has the potential,” said Teng Chang Khim, member of Selangor state legislative assembly, Malaysia
Launched at July 2015, SITEC has always strived to make local business, bricks-and-mortar stores in particular, flourishing with the adoption of e-commerce, facilitating the growth of revenue and increase in brand exposure.
SITEC also provides several programs for freshman entrants in e-commerce scope since most of local business lacks the knowledge of operating online business. The program consists of “Online 100”, “App 100”, ”E-Commerce Education”, “Top ECM 2016” and mutually-related events.
For “Online 100” and “App 100”, SITEC helps small or medium enterprise build websites and mobile apps under three popular marketplaces, Youbeli, 11street and , Logon,my, dedicated to assisting over 100 enterprises. SITEC also organizes a competition, “Top ECM 2016”, to augment the motivation of entering into e-commerce and design classes with different levels to acquaint more people with the concept of e-commerce.
The free photo booth Photo Studio @ SDCC allows one to create videos and photos to be used for their website materials. SITEC also offers a place called Maker Studio for teams to make prototypes and a co-working space.
“We have reached the goal of Online 100 and are preparing ourselves to reach another 100. We are very honored and surprised to see the number goes up continuously. But we are not satisfied with the number. We have to keep progressing”, said Bryan Lau, a digital marketing expert told me.
MaGIC, founded by the central government in April 2015, is a bigger organisation seeking to build a vibrant community from every region of Malaysia and endow entrepreneurs with the ability to create something sustainable and to take pride in.
Furthermore, MaGIC aims to catalyse entrepreneurship and help startups grow globally by matching venture capitalists with those startups. It even collaborated with Stanford University, one of the best and prestigious universities in the world, to experience world-class courses and some companies in Silicon Valley to inspire creativity and entrepreneurship.
Currently, MaGIC has nurtured numerous excellent startups shinning across the Southeast Asian region and even the globe. RecomN and FlexiRoam are two of the publicly known examples. The former one provides guaranteed service to helps users find service providers by using algorithms to match users with providers and personal interviews before dispatching. The latter one, on the other hand, is an app designed for travelers with free calls and texting worldwide. Right now, this app has served people across over 55 countries and is available on both Android and IOS.
MaGIC, from my perspective, is quite a strong startup enabler in Malaysia even though it’s not as good as those in developed countries. The resources a startups team can use ranges from co-working spaces, training rooms with proper hardware and software, and even 3D Printers, plus valuable connections one can potentially make. All of them are critical to the survival of startups and, obviously, Malaysian government has made efforts to its commitment to the public — make Malaysia the startup capital of Asia.
In a nutshell, the support from governments may seem indispensable but that’s not always the case. Their roles are merely assistants at most but not the scorers. Regardless of the company’s classification, the core lies in the product it offers or the service it provides. Only when the product and services are improved can one truly win the trust from customers and sustain his business in a long term.
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