At this week’s One Million by One Million roundtable, we announced a very important partnership with MAD Incubator, Malaysia for entrepreneurship development in the region. This is our first major partnership with an incubator whereby MAD will adopt the 1M/1M methodology to foster Silicon Valley–style technopreneurship in Malaysia. Andrew Wong, CEO of MAD, has been working with us for almost a year, and we have made a mutual choice to deepen the partnership by making MAD a premiere value-added reseller partner of the 1M/1M program.
At today’s session, therefore, all our entrepreneurs were pitching from Malaysia. First up, Alvin Yuen from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, presented ISA Innovation, a company providing a hosted IT asset and inventory management solution. At present, ISA has a set of pilot clients and is toying with the idea of going global. Well, you can’t really go ‘global’ without a go-to-market strategy that evaluates different markets, and assesses the competitive positioning in each of them. This strategy needs to be developed for ISA, and they have to pick a specific market to go after, rather than going global.
Next, also from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mohd Hezri Amir Abdul Latiff with HezMedia Interactive pitched maths-Quest, an edutainment company focusing on maths learning games for kids aged nine to 12. One of the primary pieces missing from this presentation is a thorough competitive analysis of what other maths games are in this market, and that will drive maths-Quest’s go-to-market strategy. Also, the business is primarily on CD-ROMs right now, but the good news is that the CD-ROM product is selling and generating revenue. It could be a good business to bootstrap the social/mobile edutainment business with.
Then, Yong Wai Ming, from Bukit Jalil, Selangor, Malaysia, discussed I-Gamer, a gaming platform that connects gamers in cybercafés. I-Gamer wants third-party game developers to develop games on its platform. Today, the company has about 15,000 cybercafés paying subscription fees to be connected through their platform to play certain traditional games. The good news, again, is that this business is generating revenues. The company has ambitions of working with more cutting-edge gaming companies, but I don’t know enough about their platform to see why developers would choose to work with their platform as opposed to others like Facebook.
Another entrepreneur from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Darren Panag with Convep Mobilogy, pitched AppsAsia, a mobile platform for business apps on various mobile devices such as iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and so on. The company sells to the marketing departments of corporations, has 50 customers, and is already profitable. Fantastic! We discussed their growth strategy, and my advice is to build the ad agency and interactive marketing channels as the primary growth driver. The entrepreneur seems obsessed with building his own brand and selling directly to end customers. A mistake, in my opinion.
Last up, Alvin Yuen from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pitched Techsailor, a services company that provides online community engagement to major brands. Alvin seems perturbed by the fact that his business is largely services and not as much products. I don’t see a problem with this, especially since the services model generates cash early on, and he can practice our tried-and-true model of bootstrapping using services! This is also a business that has substantial revenue, which is wonderful. The entrepreneur is exploring ways to turn it into more of a product company as opposed to a pure services company. This is something we can certainly help him with, using our methodology.
Based on my assessment of the Malaysian entrepreneurs – we have seen a good sample of them over the past year – I think this is a group that would do well to go through the 1M/1M premium program as soon as possible, and internalize the curriculum. There are numerous basics that are missing from their business strategies right now, which are gaps that can be easily and efficiently plugged by adopting the 1M/1M methodology.
In addition, for several of the companies above, we have channel relationships that we can bring them into as soon as they are ready. As you know, we strongly believe in trying to get to customers and channel partners as early as possible and even using that as alternative financing, rather than beating the pavement looking for equity capital without adequate validation – a path that yields a 99% rejection rate.
Over time, if the Malaysian entrepreneurship ecosystem can groom several thousand technology entrepreneurs using the 1M/1M program, we envision an immense economic impact on the regional economy. We can also provide a subset of these entrepreneurs who are looking to penetrate the U.S./global market a strong channel through Silicon Valley.
This is an extremely important experiment that we are running in Malaysia. If successful, it can be replicated all over the world – throughout cities and towns in the United States, throughout the emerging markets, throughout every region that wants to efficiently groom a large number of technology entrepreneurs and unleash their power on the global economy. I am truly excited to welcome the Malaysian entrepreneurs and the visionaries in their ecosystem who are leading this movement, and every member of the 1M/1M team greets our friends in Malaysia with enormous enthusiasm. We fully grasp the potential of what you are embarking upon, and we look forward to our journey together.
I also have a message for all the various ecosystem players in Malaysia (and elsewhere): 1M/1M is not here to compete with any of you. We’re here to supplement your efforts and provide a base level of entrepreneurship education to a large number of entrepreneurs in your communities in a scalable manner through a virtual program. This, we believe, will create a strong downstream deal flow for all of you – incubators, angel investors, and VCs.
I will be travelling in India over the next several days and doing live roundtables in three cities: Chennai (April 9), Mumbai (April 16), and Pune (April 17). There will be no online roundtable next Thursday, but our usual schedule will resume on April 21 and focus on the northeastern part of the United States. You can register for the upcoming roundtables here.
You can also listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here and select the business you like best through a poll on the 1M/1M Facebook page. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here.