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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Canadian entrepreneur: Malaysia conducive for start-ups

KUALA LUMPUR: Canadian entrepreneur Adam Hirsch, who focuses on tech start-ups, finds Malaysia a conducive place for start-ups, not just because of low operational cost or the English language proficiency of the people, but also the ability to get fast results here.

With a recommendation from a friend in 2012 to start his business here, Hirsch told StarBiz: “We can quickly get feedbacks and easily validate the success or failure of a new idea.”

Citing an example of one of his recent ventures to provide a sales training programme for retail and food and beverages (F&B) personnels, he said after a quick check with potential clients on the ground, his team found out in less than a week that many wanted the course but were not willing to pay for it.

“This idea subsequently metamorphosised to become a digital marketing agency where we help our clients do search engine optimisation (SEO),” he said.

The venture, which is only three months old, has 15 clients comprising small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Hirsch, who founded the Kuala Lumpur-based Mother Goose Venture Developer (MGVD) in early 2013, said he was solely interested in building businesses through his company which he described as a “venture builder platform” that brought people, ideas and resources together to build successful businesses.

The company has six active ventures at the moment, including Hijab2Go and Easy Read. Hijab2go is an e-commerce website specialising in women’s fashion brands, specifically traditional Muslim fashion, while Easy Read is a language education application that helps young adults and professionals learn new languages while reading content that is relevant to them.

“With so much of shared resources, it takes less than RM20,000 to start a new company within MGVD,” he said.
One of MGVD’s ventures, Ticket Hero, has also received a grant from Cradle Fund, an agency under the Ministry of Finance, which promotes early stage funding.

Ticket Hero is an event listing web and mobile application that helps Malaysians discover their city by listing all types of events including arts, cultural, nightlife and sports.

Hirsch, who started two Internet companies in his university days, said there were four categories of assistance available in the start-up community, namely the incubator, accelerator, venture capitalist (VC) and business builder.

“To assist a start-up is not as simple as giving them the funds and a strategy to work on. Hence, you encounter many VCs failing with that strategy. Those VCs that succeed will likely be attributed to the entrepreneurs in the start-up,” he said.

As a business builder, Hirsch, who is keen on the details of building a business, said MGVD used funds to build a business but did not disburse funds like a VC did.

“The No. 1 disease in the start-up community is talking about building companies and yet doing nothing about it. It is more hands-on where we are also involved in marketing and business development, beyond just being a service provider,” he said.

Planning to raise RM1.5mil within the start-up community this year, he said the group would start another 10 ventures within the next two years.

Adding that the group was looking for entrepreneur-in-residence, he said they would do all that was needed to get the business running to become profitable entities.

“We hope to attract more Malaysian entrepreneurs who are ready to lead a project and team. Our goal is to build as many successful businesses as possible and to help entrepreneurs to push themselves towards excellence,” he concluded.

Contributed by  Lim Wing Hooi The Star/Asia News Network

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