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Friday, 5 December 2014

Endeavouring to give back to startups - part 8

Successful entrepreneurs join forces to fund and support businesses

Malaysia has seen quite a number of successful entrepreneurs coming into the market over the last two decades or so. They have established strong businesses and built up significant wealth and experience.

While any normal person would likely retire and enjoy the fruits of their labour, entrepreneurs have a knack for staying in their jobs.

Not only do they move on to bigger ventures, they also relish the opportunity to invest in other passionate entrepreneurs who have ambitious visions.

Many of these early entrepreneurs have come full circle.

They recall their early days of struggle to get their ideas off the ground, their first successful rounds of funding and remembering how they persevered to grow their startups to become successful companies.

Most of them understand the importance of giving back to the ecosystem.

Angel investors are valuable to the ecosystem not just because they have capital to back startups, but also other experiences that will help to nurture budding entrepreneurs.

sssssss: Afzal Abdul Rahim, Chief Executive Officer - TIME dotComBerhadSome of these entrepreneurs, including Time dotCom Bhd chief executive officer Afzal Abdul Rahim (left picture), Terato Tech founder Reza Fahmi Razali and JobStreet Corp Bhd founder Mark Chang.

After establishing their businesses, they remain actively involved in investing in other people.

Afzal started his entrepreneurial journey in 2006 after he and his partner successfully raised RM20mil to execute a management buyout of AIMS Group.

In 2008, he took over Time and grew it from a penny stock company to a formidable telco solutions provider.

But Afzal is far from done.

Today, he is an active angel investor and currently leads Endeavour Malaysia, the local affiliate of the global non-profit organisation Endeavour.

Under Endeavour Malaysia, Afzal, along with the other board members and partners, provide funds, mentorship and access to networks to help startups scale up and expand.

“As an entrepreneur, I know how important mentorship can be,” Afzal said at the launch of Endeavour Malaysia.

He added that the mentoring network of Endeavour would provide valuable support to Malaysia’s next generation of high-impact entrepreneurs.

Likewise, UnrealMind Interactive Bhd founder Tan Swee Yong sees much value in providing support to the new wave of up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

“I enjoy a startup environment more than a corporate environment. There are plenty of ideas and talent out there.

“It is all about giving them a helping hand,” Tan had said in an earlier interview.

Tan started UnrealMind, a mobile content company, in 2001 with a personal investment of RM300,000.

The company grew regionally, was listed and subsequently privatised by a British company in 2005.

Not one to sit on his profits, Tan has been actively looking out for other startups to invest in and participated in events such as Echelon Malaysia.

Like other angel investors, Tan believes in investing more than just finances into his investee companies and takes an active role in guiding them as well.

There are many other entrepreneurs who are willing to grow other startups.

And most of them are accessible through various angel investor networks, including Malaysian Business Angels Network (MBAN) and through organisations such as MaGiC.

It takes every party to keep the investment and nurturing cycle going in order to establish a strong startup ecosystem.

And successful entrepreneurs who have come full circle certainly have a lot to offer in terms of guiding new startups to greater heights.

This is the eighth instalment of MetroBiz’s tie-up with Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to explore startup ecosystems.

By Joy Lee The Star/Asia News Network

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