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Meet the M'sian agritech biz that AEON partnered with to open vertical farms in its malls

There’s a reason why agriculture remains as one of the most important industries in any country.

According to the World Bank, it’s crucial to a nation’s economic growth, accounting for 4% of global gross domestic product (GDP). In some developing countries, it can even go as high as accounting for more than 25% of a country’s GDP.

But putting numbers aside, the local agricultural sector is directly linked to the state of a country’s food security. Without stable food production on a local level, countries would have to rely heavily on importing goods.

And as the pandemic has shown, it’s not a feasible solution in the long run. When travels were halted and international borders were closed, the food supply chain was disrupted and exposed more people to the food crisis.

Realising this, serial entrepreneur Gerard Lim started Agroz Group Sdn Bhd—an agritech company focused on using technologies to ensure food safety, food security, and sustainability in the local agriculture sector.

To improve Malaysian food supply

Speaking candidly to Vulcan Post, Gerard shared that he caught the agritech bug about seven years ago. At the time, he was leading Atilze Digital, an Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics company that implemented solutions for farmers, like smart fertigation systems.

While designing and building solutions for chilli farmers, he saw the need to use technology to improve issues and challenges in the field.

“[I] found that agriculture was using lots of dangerous chemicals, and food was not safe,” he explained. “The situation of food insecurity is worsening across the world. And many traditional farming techniques are not sustainable.”

So he launched Agroz Group in an effort to grow better produce and improve Malaysia’s food supply, using various tools like IoT, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, 5G communication, and more.

Matching demand with supply

That said, Gerard told Digital News Asia back in 2020 that the brand’s aim goes beyond farming. It is also about the best use of technology to disrupt the entire business model to match demand with supply in the food industry.

And one way the brand does this is through its controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) indoor vertical farm.

CEA indoor vertical farming refers to vertical farms that are designed with technology to provide optimal conditions for plants.

This includes the ability to control factors like temperature, lighting, and humidity to allow farmers to grow plants that might not usually be suitable for a location’s climate and weather.

Aside from that, this method of agriculture has little to no need for using pesticides as the controlled environment naturally keeps out pests, thereby making it a safer option for consumers in the long run.

Plus, CEA vertical farms can be flexibly built anywhere because there is no need for arable land. They can be on apartment rooftops, in corporate warehouses, or even inside a mall.

An educational indoor farm

In August 2023, Agroz Group opened the doors to its EduFarm-in-City in AEON Alpha Angle, a CEA indoor vertical farm that doubles as an educational spot for locals.

There, you’ll find weekend workshops and experiential learning sessions where children, students, and families can have hands-on sessions to understand how vegetables are grown from seedlings.

They can also harvest their own vegetables directly from the Agroz grow modules. You can then use these freshly harvested greens to make a bowl of mixed salads or sandwiches on the spot, showcasing the concept of farm to fork.

Some of the greens you can find there are common grocery needs like lettuce, kale, arugula, wild rocket, nai pak, and siew pak choy.

It’s one way the brand creates awareness and teaches how modern and sustainable farming can be achieved in the city. “We wanted to inform especially children and students how quality food, in particular vegetables, are grown fresh and clean without pesticides right in our neighbourhood,” Gerard stated.

At the same time, he shared that the commercial CEA indoor vertical farm also produces approximately 150kg of vegetables daily. Part of that is supplied to and sold at nine AEON supermarkets across the Klang Valley.

An ongoing collaboration with AEON

At 8,000 sq ft, Agroz’s EduFarm-in-City is said to be Malaysia’s largest indoor vertical farm inside a shopping mall. And it’s actually an idea from AEON itself.

Sharing with us, Gerard explained that in late 2021, AEON approached Agroz and several other indoor farming companies seeking proposals on what could be done at Alpha Angle.

It was only in 2022 that a decision was made for a collaboration between AEON and Agroz to design, build, and operate the EduFarm-in-City. Gerard said that having it in this specific AEON outlet made “perfect sense” too.

Located about 15 minutes from the KL city centre, it allows them to be closer to the city’s community. And AEON Alpha Angle was undergoing a physical transformation when the project started. This included the use of solar photovoltaic (solar PV) as a source of renewable energy across the mall.

It’s been about two months since Agroz’s EduFarm-in-City launched and the brand reported that acceptance has been good so far. On a daily basis, they host several dozen visitors and several workshops.

And recently in late October, Agroz introduced its Farm-in-Supermarket at AEON MaxValu Prime at Bangsar South’s The Sphere. So AEON shoppers and visitors can directly harvest their own fresh Agroz vegetables and add it straight into their shopping cart.

There’s still some way to go

With all that said and done, Gerard explained that the main goal of Agroz is to complement traditional farming with high-tech indoor vertical farms while also offering solutions to embrace technology in traditional farms.

Hence, helping them modernise and transform how farming can be conducted in a safer and more sustainable manner.

“Agroz’s mission is to see that traditional farmers adopt technology in their farming practices to improve quality, boost yield and productivity, and ensure consistency,” the founder stated.

Of course, it’s easier said than done as digitalising any industry will take time with adoption rates being the way they are. But on a brighter note, he shared Agroz has successfully raised funding from various strategic investors and institutions.

“This has placed us on a strong footing financially as well as charted our pathway to an IPO on Nasdaq in 2024.”

Learn more about Agroz Group Sdn Bhd here. Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also ReadLearn how to leverage cloud solutions for your biz by joining this free webinar in November

Featured Image Credit: Agroz Group Sdn Bhd

In a challenge to game developers, AI bots design and code Angry Birds clone in just 10 hours

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed below belong solely to the author.

Earlier this year, I covered how ChatGPT designed a simple, producible semiconductor chip, following just natural language instructions in English, and how a group of Chinese and American researchers created an entire software development company by assigning ChatGPT different roles, which was able to complete coding tasks — this would normally take days or weeks, within minutes.

Any such case comes with certain caveats, of course, beginning with the relative simplicity of each job, which is still far from extremely complex projects, involving thousands or millions of lines of code.

However, every new experiment is pushing the boundaries a little bit, suggesting that there are no inherent obstacles to prevent the approach from completing far more sophisticated goals. After all, who’s to say the limit of AI would be 500 and not 500,000 lines of code? Or 5 million? Or why would there be any boundary at all? It’s just a matter of scaling the method.

As the saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. And in the age of technology, these steps can be made even by individuals.

Really Angry Birds

This is surely going to make folks at Rovio (the creators of original Angry Birds franchise) sweat a little.

A few days ago, a designer and programmer, Javi Lopez, revealed his AI pet project, Angry Pumpkins (which clearly looks like a part of the Birds’ family), on X — having done all of the coding and design for it using AI tools — just in time for Halloween.

He started by generating professionally looking visual assets using Dall-E and Midjourney, creating characters, environment for the game’s level and moody backgrounds with a Halloween vibe, matching the pumpkin theme.

Save for a few glitches here and there, I wouldn’t be able to tell these weren’t done by a human at first glance. And let’s be honest, we’re still only at the very beginning of AI’s development, so it’s bound to get even better rather quickly.

The work required to draw all of these pictures by professional designers would take at least a few days — and that is only assuming there wouldn’t be multiple iterations to review and decide on. The associated cost at approximately US$25 to US$50 per hour, could tally up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars very quickly.

Meanwhile, AI can do the job in mere seconds and at a cost of pennies per image. In fact, the most time is still consumed by humans, coming up with and typing in the prompts. We are the bottleneck, not the technology.

Speaking of prompts, here are examples of the ones Javi used, so you can give it a shot yourself:

Human coders can’t compete with AI, but may still be needed

Once the images were ready, the next step was to ask ChatGPT to code the game, which was a more challenging endeavour, even though the final product was only 600 lines long.

While very advanced already, the bot can’t really output a complete program just on the basis of a human request. Instead, you have to take a measured, step-by-step approach, completing milestones on the way and solving problems hand in hand with GPT-4.

You can review the prompts and code in the tweet below:

Some programming knowledge still comes in handy, even for a fairly simple project like this, which may bring some relief to professional coders — for now at least.

It makes things easier when you know what to suggest to the AI bot, instead of leaving it to make a decision. You can guide it better and arrive at the desired result more quickly. It also allows for troubleshooting and, of course, understanding the output code — not something a layman without any know-how could do.

That said, it’s clear that human programmers are no match for AI in the long run. It’s just not physically possible.

There are no limits to the knowledge an intelligent machine can store — and to its understanding. Ultimately, it will be able to master all languages in existence and understand perfectly what can be accomplished using them. It may even begin inventing its own.

This isn’t something we can ever achieve, since we’re limited by our brains, memory, and experience. We can’t connect the dots in such a quick, methodical and accurate way, and we require to have accumulated lots of practical experiences first — which may take years.

Paradoxically, however, it doesn’t mean programming will become obsolete as a skill in humans. We may still require it, even if only to check whether the machines are doing what they were instructed to.

After all, there’s no guarantee that even the most capable AI is going to be faultless at all times. It’s also a good security precaution, just to make sure it’s not going rogue against us.

There’s also some doubt about the limits as to how far natural language communication can take us. After all, there’s a good deal of miscommunication between humans, even though we speak in our own languages.

We’re using the same means to tell machines what to do, but it’s never possible to be absolutely precise about everything we want to get. This is where technical knowledge may come in handy, helping us describe in more specific detail what we’re after.

Quite ironically, then, today’s coders may become tomorrow’s communicators, speaking in languages that machines can understand.

Let’s Play

Returning to Angry Pumpkins, you can play the finished demo here. Yes, it’s a single level and very simple to understand. However, it also lacks sounds and certain animations you would normally see in Angry Birds. It also doesn’t have any customisation settings and doesn’t work on mobile yet.

However, for 10 to 12 hours talking to AI bots, spread across three days, it’s a very impressive achievement — and one that looks close to a shippable product.

After all, adding more content and polishing the experience would really just be repeating many of the steps taken to arrive at this stage. New levels would require new graphics and different obstacle layouts — but it isn’t very different from what has been done so far.

And even if not every single milestone in software development can be achieved by AI today, there’s so much (maybe even most) that can.

That alone is a massive leap in productivity, even if at some point a human has to nail all of the elements together and properly test them before releasing the product to the public.

I expect to see more projects such as this to keep emerging every few weeks, as people push the envelope a little bit each time.

It started with fairly simple prompts, producing basic but functional programs — a proof of concept that AI can do the job. Now we’re seeing more assets being added, as tinkerers around the world are trying to get a step further each time.

It won’t be long — months perhaps, rather than years — before we get a fully functioning software product, generated almost entirely with the help of various AI tools.

Featured Image Credit: Angry Pumpkins / Javi Lopez

Also ReadAI already makes 4 million decisions at OCBC each day, as the bank adds ChatGPT to the mix

GSC launches retro-themed boutique cinema in Mont Kiara, tickets start at RM100 per pax

On November 9, 2023, Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) officially launched its new boutique cinema called Velvet at Retail Park 163, Mont Kiara. 

Created in partnership with Alliance Bank, Velvet reimagines retro cinematic experiences, complete with vibrant F&B and lifestyle offerings.

Drawing inspiration from the 60s, the decor in Velvet is an eclectic combination of retro and modern designs. The space is filled with plush green and orange cushions, and its walls adorned with photos of Hollywood celebrities.

Besides that, Velvet features an in-house bar serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic movie-inspired drinks. As for food, customers can expect this boutique space to be like a restaurant, where you can order light bites and dine at tables.

According to a spokesperson for GSC, some of the treats that you can expect are Loaded Chili Wedges, Fried Chicken Wings, Charbroiled Chicken Tikka, Cajun Chicken Quesadilla, English Trifle, and Green Tea Panna Cotta.

There is also a karaoke machine, where Velvet’s patrons can belt their hearts out to musical tunes from the past and present.

Through this, GSC’s CEO, Ms Koh Mei Lee told Vulcan Post that the brand hopes to create an intimate social space for movie-goers and residents living around the Mont Kiara neighbourhood. 

“My aspiration is that people from the community will come here often. It’s kind of like a cinema where everybody would know your name because you’re a regular,” she expressed.

“We wanted to really bring back the magic of cinema from the yesteryears, but reimagined for today’s audience. It’s a place where you not only come to the cinema to watch movies, but also a place [that] you come to chill and relax.”

With a total of 163 seats over three movie halls, Velvet will showcase a dedicated line-up of Hollywood blockbusters. But what’s more unique to this boutique cinema is its plans to showcase arthouse films, cult classic gems, foreign films, and award-winning Oscar movies that aren’t mass-marketed.

As Mont Kiara is known to boast a rich international and expat community, Ms. Koh believes that such unique offerings will be enjoyed here. “It’s a very niche market but there is a market for this and this is the place for that,” Ms. Koh expressed.

A new space for movie-goers

In partnership with Alliance, bankcard holders will be able to enjoy exclusive benefits at Velvet, including a 50% off deal for Velvet tickets from December 1, 2023 until February 28, 2024.

Based on the press release, you’ll also be treated to a free Velvet movie ticket opening an Alliance Bank SavePlus account or credit card through the allianceonline Mobile app.

“At Alliance Bank, we understand that banking is more than just products, transactions and money matters, it is about serving people’s needs and goals. Through this collaboration, we aim to reward our valued cardholders an array of exclusive benefits and privileges,” Mr. Kellee Kam, Group CEO of Alliance Bank, stated in the press release.

“Together with our like-minded partner, GSC, we will create a future where our customers’ entertainment experiences are seamless, enjoyable, and filled with delightful surprises.”

Upon its grand opening, Velvet will host an opening promotion for customers to enjoy, with differing rates for weekdays and weekends:

RM140 for a pair of tickets (RM70 per pax) on Monday to ThursdayRM180 for a pair of tickets (RM90 per pax) on Friday to Sunday

Once the promotion ends, the standard ticket prices will be at RM200 for a pair of tickets (RM100 per pax). Each ticket includes complimentary snacks and food.

Do note that Velvet’s movie halls only provide plush twin seats. As such, most of the seats are sold in pairs, making it especially suitable for couples or friends who like to cosy up. However, according to the release, there will be a limited number of single seats available if you’re in the mood to treat yourself.

This new boutique cinema by GSC will be open to the public starting the end of November (or early December) this year.

Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also ReadLearn how to leverage cloud solutions for your biz by joining this free webinar in November

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Startup survival guide: Founders reveal strategies to thrive in S'pore's funding winter

After Southeast Asian startups witnessed a funding boom three years ago with venture funding reaching over US$8 billion in the first half of 2020, the startup funding winter has officially set in, with venture funding dwindling to a mere US$2.3 billion.

For the uninitiated, a funding winter refers to a period in the startup and venture capital ecosystem where there is a reduced availability of funding for new and early-stage companies. The number of companies that have raised rounds in excess of US$100 million this year are only six — a stark contrast from 18 companies that achieved this milestone in 2020,

During a panel discussion at theSingapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) 2023 last Tuesday (October 31), Singapore startup founders and CEOs weighed in on the city-state’s funding landscape.

What is causing the funding winter?

Over the past decade, Southeast Asia saw a fairly expansionary business environment, with funding becoming easily accessible due to low interest rates and the macroeconomic environment across the region.

“As long as you managed to spin the right story at the right point of time, it was easy to get funding,” said Alvin Teo, co-founder and Chief Partnerships Officer of Ninja Van.

But with money supply shrinking due to macroeconomic headwinds after the COVID-19 pandemic, investors are tightening their purse strings and becoming more cautious in where they are spending their capital.

While startups can’t pivot their business models overnight just to secure funding in today’s economic landscape, Alvin suggests that they could pivot their proposition and put together a strong pitch that meets the expectations of investors — and this ultimately depends on “who their investors are”.

Building a sustainable business

A strong pitch alone, however, isn’t enoughto gain the trust and confidence of the investors.ShopBack co-founder, Josephine Chow, views that proving a business’ sustainability in today’s macroeconomic landscape is a fundamental key to securing funding opportunities.

“I think [the funding landscape has] changed a lot from when are you going to be doing this project, to why are you doing this project, in the last couple of years,” she said. Although the shopping and rewards company managed to raise a total of US$160 million in its series F round last year, Josephine recalled that “it was a very tough journey” for ShopBack as it struggled to “balance that question”.

While the business has been “rather lucky” in the sense that it has been able to achieve success in a short span across various markets, the co-founder says that it all “comes down to the business plan” of a startup.

One way startups can do this is by focusing on their operational and financial discipline. When patent analytics company PatSnap first brought in a Silicon Valley investor during its Series B funding round back in 2016, the company was consistently pushed to develop critical business metrics such as customer acquisition costs, renewal costs, and conversion rates.

“These conversations [on business metrics] are ingrained into our daily operational discussions, so it did not cause us as much pain during the economic downturn,” shared Guan Dian, the co-founder and APAC General Manager of PatSnap.

Competition vs complexity

With investors becoming more selective of their investments, it’s vital for startups to show “proof points” of their business models prior to raising funds.

“Start with something small that has big value creation, and then convince slowly and build from there,” said Stephen Tan, Group Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Executive Officer of insurance solutions company bolttech.

Startups have two ways of navigating this challenge — by taking on competition, or tackling complexity. When entering a market where your product already exists, a startup’s business model will likely turn out to be successful if it manages to differentiate itself in the saturated market.

On the other hand, if a startup enters a market where there is no competition, it needs to navigate the complexities of educating its stakeholders, including potential customers and investors, on its products and services.

Reflecting on bolttech’s journey of establishing its presence in the insurance industry, Stephen admitted that the startup initially faced a tough beginning as it sought to disrupt the industry.

Despite these obstacles, bolttech managed to raise the largest Series A round for an insurtech company in 2021 by spending time on due diligence and focusing on its niche.

Carousell, on the other hand, faced tremendous competition from startups in the resale space when the company first started out 10 years ago. In order to differentiate itself from the sea of competitors, co-founder Marcus Tan shared it took a similar approach by starting out with “micro-networks”.

“I always believed in “starting small” — you should be free to dream big, but no matter how big your dreams or ideas are, you should always start super small. Carousell started with a group of customers — about 10 of them — who really loved our product, and we grew from there,” said Marcus. This small “proof point” managed to land the startup an investment from Sequoia Capital in its initial stages.

Market presence plays a part in securing investments

The viability and scalability of a startup in global markets beyond Singapore can also play a part in attracting investors. This is especially so for startups that operate in a high growth industry, such as the e-commerce industry.

For instance, if Ninja Van were to position itself as a company with a smaller geographical coverage by just focusing on the Singapore market, the logistics solutions provider would have been a “lot less appealing to investors” given the larger macroeconomic perspective of the industry.

“The growth rates of the e-commerce industry outside of Singapore was going to be so much higher than Singapore itself, so by having a presence across Southeast Asia, we get to expand our pool of addressable investors,” explained Alvin.

Echoing the same sentiments, Marcus shared that when Carousell realised that Singapore was a relatively small market, the startup “learned very quickly that it needed to expand overseas”.

While it was still “securing” its position as “a leader in the Singapore market”, the secondhand marketplace also channeled its efforts into “test launching” its secondhand platform in two other markets.

“We needed capital to continue on this growth trajectory, and that was where Sequoia Capital came in during our Series A fundraising to propel the company further and monetise [the business],” said Marcus. “Investors want to invest into big ideas, so international expansion beyond Singapore’s shores is quite important from an investor’s lens.”

Choosing the right investors

Navigating the funding winter is challenging, but it’s not impossible to secure funding. Nonetheless, it’s still important for startups to choose their investors carefully to steer their companies in the right direction.

As PatSnap focuses on R&D analytics, the company wanted to onboard a variety of experienced investors who could scale the company further. Given that the biggest R&D expanding countries were the United States, China, Japan, and Germany, the company had to cast its net internationally to attract the right investors.

Today, PatSnap’s investor portfolio consists of a mix of financial investors and former entrepreneurs that both have their “own networks” and “own values” to bring to the company.

The invaluable experiences investors bring onboard a company can also fuel a startup’s growth beyond borders, such as ShopBack’s expansion into the German market. When looking at international expansions, success heavily depends on localisation and the ability of a business to understand the requirements of new markets.

Ultimately, through these strategies, startups can not only successfully navigate the funding winter, but also weather the challenges of macroeconomic headwinds and achieve growth with support from the right investors.

ANEXT Bank, a Singapore-based digital bank regulated by MAS, empowers startups with easy and accessible financing to fuel their business growth and expansion.

Feature Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Also Read“Cash is no longer king”: Google, Bain & Company execs on the growth of SEA’s digital economy

Oppo Find N3 Flip is the 1st flagship triple-cam flip phone with a telephoto lens, so what?

After using the Oppo Find N3, switching over to the clamshell foldable, Oppo Find N3 Flip, was quite a big change. After all, I was going from a phone that featured an expansive 7.82-inch screen (diagonal, when unfolded) to one with a 3.26-inch cover display.

Clearly, each foldable has its own strength and thus provides a unique experience. So, here’s my experience with the Oppo Find N3 Flip.

The design

Our review unit came in the beautiful Misty Pink colourway, complete with lavender metallic embellishments. The phone also comes in Sleek Black and Cream Gold.

In terms of size, the Find N3 Flip hasn’t seemed to change much from its predecessor, the Find N2 Flip. Although slightly bigger and about 7 grams weightier, the actual display of both the cover screen and the main screen is the same.

It does have a curvier body compared to the last phone, though, which helps provide a more comfortable grip.

Encircled by the Cosmos Ring design, the new camera array does look like it’s a bit tight, pressing up against the cover screen and the edge of the phone.

Moving on to the hinges, you’ll find aircraft-grade steel that has this swirly pattern to it that makes it look quite cool. The phone is said to be durable even after a million folds. Of course, I haven’t been able to test that, but I will say it feels very secure and smooth.

Another thing to highlight about the Find N3 Flip is that it has an IPX4 splash resistance, which isn’t the best, but is certainly better than the larger Oppo Find N3, which I couldn’t find an IP rating for.

Vertical & versatile cover screen

Now, let’s talk about the cover screen in earnest.

The AMOLED cover display provides a fairly nice viewing experience for what it is. It offers a typical 500 nits and 800 nits in the sunlight, which is decent, but nothing worth shouting about, especially when Oppo itself has released the Oppo Find X6 Pro, which boasts 2,500 nits.

Like the main screen, it offers adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, supporting a low of 10Hz. This makes for a smooth performance and viewing experience.

The cover screen utilises the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, dubbed the toughest Gorilla Glass yet, while the main screen inside uses SCHOTT UTG, which is often used in foldable displays due to its touted strength and versatility.

There’s quite a number of supported apps for the cover screen, including the more practical ones such as the audio recorder, alarms, email, and messages. YouTube and TikTok are also supported. Some of these apps are labelled with a “Labs” icon, meaning they’re still considered experimental.

Other apps you can use on the cover screen include WhatsApp, Telegram, and Google Pay.

If you like mobile gaming, the cover screen also features an app called GameSnacks where you can play adorable little games like Comfy Farm, Fullspeed Racing, Gold Adventures, and more.

Of course, there are third-party apps you can download to transform the screen into more of a mini phone, but I find that the basic offerings are already pretty good.

Another highlighted cover screen function is the interactive pet wallpaper that honestly isn’t that interactive. I thought it would be like a Tamagotchi thing where you can feed and pet the animals, but all I could do was cycle through videos of the animals. Does that really count as interactive?

A flippin’ good camera

With a 50MP main camera, 32MP telephoto camera, and a 48MP ultra-wide-angle camera, the Oppo Find N3 Flip (like the Oppo Find N3) certainly wowed me with its specs.

This is especially true for this phone, considering that it’s a clamshell foldable phone, which sometimes don’t even feature a three-camera system.

According to a press release found online, Oppo claims that this is the first flip foldable phone with a telephoto camera.

To my knowledge, this is true. The other flip foldable I know of with a three-camera setup is the Huawei P50 Pocket, which comprises a 40MP True-Chroma Camera, a 13MP Ultra-Wide Angle Camera, and a 32MP Ultra Spectrum Camera.

But is it actually a good camera?

I would say that it’s a formidable camera, even as regular phones go. It’s particularly good considering that it’s a flip foldable, providing crisp images with vibrant colours.

A downside is that images tend to veer on the blurry side, like with the Oppo Find N3, even after post-processing, and I promise my hands are usually pretty steady. It could be that the shutter speed is quite slow on these phones.

One of the best features of any flip foldable is that it can work as a tripod (monopod? Bipod?) on the go by just partly unfolding the phone.

Oppo calls this form the FlexForm Mode, and claims that the hinges can support between 45 to 120 degrees.

This is perfect for moments when you want to take pictures of yourself with no cameraperson or group shots with your friends.

Performance time

Under the hood, the Oppo Find N3 Flip is fitted with the MediaTek Dimensity 9200, a powerful and consistent octacore chipset in its own right, but reported to be beaten by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (which is used in the Oppo Find N3) in benchmark tests.

But tests are tests, and in actual use, gaming on this phone is very smooth and quite comparable to my experience on the larger Oppo foldable, albeit on a smaller screen this time.

The verdict

From what we can see, the Oppo Find N3 Flip is one of the pricier flip foldables on the market currently at RM4,399 (given, there aren’t that many clamshell foldables available, especially in Malaysia). But I believe you do get what you pay for.

The Oppo Find N3 Flip is a quality, premium, and portable phone with excellent cameras. With that in mind, I believe it makes for a good daily driver, even more so than its Find N3 counterpart.

The 4,300mAh battery is also decent, promising a full day’s worth of usage, and it supports super-fast charging that brings the phone to 50% in 23 minutes.

Learn more about the Oppo Find N3 Flip here. Read other gadget and product reviews we’ve written here.

VP Verdictis a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.

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Planning to expand your business? Intellectual property can be the silent driver for global success

In 2022, soaring inflation rates, supply chain disruptions and wars brought about unprecedented challenges for businesses in Singapore. In fact, as many as 205 companies were forced to cease operations in 2022 – a figure higher than the number of compulsory wind ups in 2021 and 2020, where 191 and 202 companies, respectively, were forced to shut down for good.

As the economy recovers, however, more local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are optimistic about their growth prospects in 2023. Forming 99 per cent of all enterprises here, SMEs have historically driven over half of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With recovery on the horizon, these resilient businesses are now looking to scale overseas. According to DBS’ annual SME Pulse Check survey, over 60 per cent listed first-time overseas expansion and the exploration of new markets as key business priorities for this year. This is in stark contrast to the 75 per cent who ranked these as their lowest priority last year.

The most common reasons cited for expansion were to source new customers (61 per cent), establish new partnerships (59 per cent), expand marketing activities (55 per cent), and source new suppliers (51 per cent).

Most businesses do not understand their IP and IA needs

In order to successfully achieve these expansion goals in global markets, it is crucial for businesses to integrate comprehensive strategies to protect their intangible assets (IA) and intellectual property (IP).

The protection of IA and IP plays a vital role in securing business advantages like innovations, brands, and technologies in the global market. Yet, many businesses tend to underestimate the importance of this crucial aspect.

IA are non-physical assets owned by you or your business that hold economic value, as they grant rights and/or benefits to their owner. These include registrable IP such as patents, trade marks, and registered designs, as well as non-registrable assets such as brand recognition and employee know-how.

The staggering rise of IA cannot be overlooked. With an annual increase of 11 per cent since 1996, its global value now stands at an astounding US$74 trillion. This surpasses the value of tangible assets, which may depreciate over time.

This notable significance of IA requires businesses to reevaluate their strategies and prioritise this facet in their expansion plans. Equipping themselves with the knowledge and tools to protect these valuable IA is crucial.

However, most SMEs often do not understand what their IA/IP needs are from a business perspective. Many seek to protect their IP assets, but often lack a clear understanding of the specific IA/IP support they require.

This can lead to situations where businesses seek protection for only certain types of IP that they are more familiar with, without grasping their suitability or how these assets function synergistically to support the business plan. Such misalignment results in wasted investments and growing frustration.

This lack of understanding also makes it challenging for SMEs to identify suitable providers to meet these needs, or even determine where to start.

As such, a new government resource has been launched to support companies’ business growth efforts and strengthen their readiness for international expansion. Called GoBusiness IP Grow, it is Singapore’s newest online marketplace for SMEs to access services relating to IA and IP.

Through the free one-stop platform, enterprises can access:

The e-Adviser for IP Service to help them understand their IP needs based on their business activitiesThe e-Adviser for IP Service Provider to match them to suitable IP service providers that can address their diverse needsA comprehensive range of 20 IA/IP service directories that covers a spectrum of legal and non-legal commercial services

IP can protect proprietary technologies from competitors in foreign markets

Businesses should align their IP strategy with their business strategy when entering a new market. Without a well-defined IP strategy in place, businesses could become more vulnerable to various risks associated with IP violations, such as counterfeiting and trade mark infringements.

For businesses in tech or innovation-driven industries, an effective IP strategy can protect their proprietary technologies and innovations from being copied in foreign markets without their permission.

For instance, homegrown smart Internet of Things (IoT) start up, Crown Digital, has employed a combination of IP protection measures to protect the technologies underlying their innovation, Ella.

Dubbed Singapore’s first fully autonomous robot barista, Ella is four times faster than a human barista and can prepare up to 200 cups of coffee per hour. With Crown Digital’s proprietary IoT technology, the company can manage Ella’s system remotely, offering them huge scalability in terms of production.

Crown Digital first embarked on its IP journey in 2018 by registering its cafe name as a trade mark. In 2021, the start-up successfully secured utility model protection in China for its invention, Ella.

Additionally, Crown Digital implemented trade secret protection to preserve the confidential processes that enable them to replicate barista-level experiences in an automated fashion. This has helped the company stand out and maintain its competitive advantages in Japan’s bustling vending machine industry.

At present, a total of seven Ella machines are operating across Singapore. Crown Digital is also in the works of scaling its robot barista to 800 locations across Japan, after clinching a significant strategic cross-border investment from the East Japan Railway Company (JRE).

With a strong IP protection in place, Crown Digital can expand abroad with the assurance that it can secure its competitive advantage in new markets. They can also take legal action against those who attempt to launch copycat products or ride on their good brand reputation.

Businesses are more likely to secure investments and partnerships with a robust IP portfolio

When expanding overseas, securing investments or forming strategic partnerships is often crucial for business success in the foreign market. A robust IP portfolio can instil potential investors and partners’ confidence, signalling that a business’s IP is secure.

In fact, angel investors and private equity funds tend to place great value on the number of trade marks, patents and intangible assets in an enterprise’s portfolio. These assets provide them with greater certainty of a firm’s product value proposition in the global market and its prospects for expansion.

This enhances the likelihood of a business securing investments and partnerships to facilitate its growth.

For energy artificial intelligence (AI) start-up EverComm, having an IP strategy helps the business effectively communicate its vision and commercial value to its collaboration partners.

“Over the years, we have partnered with R&D players globally to develop cutting-edge energy services and products. We have experienced firsthand how a good IA strategy enables us to plan our resources more efficiently, protect new IA created in the collaboration, and generate additional revenue streams,” said Ted Chen, the CEO of EverComm.

This was especially important when it came to aligning EverComm’s market expansion and customer acquisition strategies with its partners, such as setting up joint ventures or new product brands in new markets.

Some of EverComm’s partners eventually became investors to leverage the company’s IA strategy and further co-create value for the business.

It is important to choose a business expansion plan that fits your IP portfolio

As a business grows and transforms, IP protection plays an instrumental role in helping to maintain ownership of key IA, such as its brand and processes. Furthermore, it serves as a means of ensuring quality control.

In the F&B industry, this often involves the safeguarding of recipes for most companies. However, for homegrown company Awfully Chocolate, this extends to all aspects of its business model, including its chocolate mixes, baking methods, store concept, and brand packaging.

Over time, these protected assets evolve into the cornerstone of their business structure, opening doors to franchising opportunities and sustainable growth.

When considering franchising opportunities, it is important to tailor franchise contracts to align with the business’s objectives. Additionally, it is crucial to select export markets with caution, requiring a comprehensive understanding of the legal protection available in those markets before expanding the business.

For instance, when Awfully Chocolate decided to franchise its brand abroad, founder John Yap noted that a lot of franchise agreements conflicted with the company’s intention to retain all rights and the goodwill in them.

Awfully Chocolate also came close to signing a franchise contract, only to discover that the franchising laws in that country stipulated that the agreement could only be terminated with the consent of the franchisee.

By agreeing to these terms, Awfully Chocolate would have handed significant control to the hands of the franchisee. This would have severely restricted their ability to terminate or alter the agreement even if there were any issues or disputes.

Identifying IP needs at an early stage can change the course of a business

In the competitive F&B landscape, IP protection has allowed Crown Digital to ensure a competitive advantage over other businesses by safeguarding its trade secrets.

On the other hand, Awfully Chocolate was able to choose the right franchise model for expansion into overseas market, allowing them to retain control over their quality and IA.

Beyond these benefits, an IP strategy can also attract investments and partnerships, enhancing a business’s expansion prospects. This is why EverComm intends to fine-tune its IA strategy, ensuring that the value of its technology is accurately captured as it looks to expand into different markets and sectors. 

“IA will also continue to be vital to increasing our market position in terms of valuation and improving our business model over time,” said Ted.

As such, identifying your IP needs at an early stage is vital to ensuring the success of your business on a global stage. One way businesses can do this is by leveraging the GoBusiness IP Grow platform.

Through the platform’s e-Adviser for IP Service, you can get personalised recommendations on the IA/IP services your business might need. You can also utilise the e-Adviser for IP Service Provider to get matched with the best service providers in just a few clicks.

Beyond identifying IA and IP needs, the GoBusiness IP Grow platform also lets businesses compare and review eligible IA/IP service providers that can meet their needs, across 20 specialised services. The comprehensive suite of IA/IP services provided through the platform range from trade mark agents and branding strategy, to contract drafting and tax advisory.

Additionally, the platform lists detailed information on these IA/IP service providers on their profile pages. This includes their experience in a particular service area, hourly rates, and minimal project fee – metrics that are typically not available in other directory listings.

You can also access various IA/IP-related resources via the platform, designed for every aspect of your innovation journey.

Get started on your IA/IP journey with GoBusiness IP Grow today and receive a S$10 eCapitaVoucher when you utilise the platform’s e-Adviser tools, from now until 31 March 2024.

All you need to do is fill up your contact details under the “Stay Connected” question after utilising the e-Adviser for IP Service or the e-Adviser for IP Service Provider, and don’t forget to enter the promo code ‘VP IP Grow’.

This article was written in collaboration with IPOS.

Featured Image Credit: metamorworks via iStock / Vulcan Post

Also ReadIdeas to assets: We ask S’pore firms why Intellectual Property is important to their business

Here’s how this newly-launched tech in M'sia for early breast cancer screening works

On November 5, 2023, the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) announced a new milestone in its fight against breast cancer.

Coinciding with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, NCSM launched the Pink Unity 6600 Campaign, a mission to transform the landscape of breast cancer prevention and early detection in Malaysia.

This is done by disseminating crucial information about the importance of regular screenings, raising awareness regarding risk factors, and extending support to breast cancer patients.

Held from October 4 to November 4, 2023, the campaign successfully facilitated 6,600 breast cancer screenings within a month. The significance of the number 6,600 was chosen to commemorate 66 years of Malaysia’s independence, symbolising a chance for early detection and the preservation of countless lives.

This also earned recognition from the Malaysia Book of Records. Specifically, the record for Conduction the Most Breast Cancer Screenings in a Campaign.

Conducted across various locations in Malaysia, the breast cancer screening methods included Clinical Breast Examination (CBE), mammogram, breast ultrasound, and iBreastExam—an FDA-cleared handheld portable device that allows health workers to identify breast lumps early. This is done in a few minutes, without any pain or radiation.

For those unaware, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Malaysia and it has deeply affected countless lives.

According to Gleneagles Hospital Malaysia, almost half of the breast cancer patients are diagnosed at late stages (stages three and four). At which point, the survival rate greatly decreases to about 23%.

This was corroborated by NCSM’s Managing Director, Dr Murallitharan Munisamy during thePink Unity 6600 Campaign’s closing ceremony. In his speech, he stated, “Over 50% of Malaysian cancer patients are detected after it has reached stage three or four, which is too late for treatment in some cases.”

“This is because Malaysians are notoriously hard to convince, even more so when it comes to spending money on voluntary full health screenings at hospitals. But with iBreastExam, detecting breast cancer will not only be cheaper but more convenient for the women as they can get themselves screened for breast cancer at local clinics.”

The iBreastExam device was introduced into several clinics earlier in August, which he deemed crucial for giving Malaysians an early warning indicator.

A new life-changing medical device for Malaysians

Although the iBreastExam device was only recently introduced to the Malaysian medical industry, it originates from the USA and was launched a few years prior. Invented at Drexel University, Philadelphia, iBreastExam is a more cost-effective breast cancer screening method.

How it works is the device assesses and identifies tissue elasticity differences between hard and stiff breast tumours versus normal breast tissue in real-time.

The explanation shared by Ari D. Brooks (Director of the Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery department at Pennsylvania Hospital) described the device as using basic principles of tactile examination.

“Just like your fingers have pads and feel things, this [iBreastExam] device does the same thing. It does it electronically,” he stated in a video. “The device has very similar characteristics to a well-trained clinical breast exam. It can be learnt without being a radiologist and it can be applied by healthcare workers, so that really lowers the barrier to access.”

In terms of its accuracy and effectiveness as a medical device, several independent studies were conducted. One of them was a study published in 2019, where 936 women at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore were recruited to test the efficacy of the iBreastExam device.

Each woman was examined for breast cancer using three methods: iBreastExam, CBE, and Breast Imaging (either mammography or breast ultrasound). The results found that iBreastExam performed 19% better in terms of sensitivity than the CBE to detect breast lesions.

Another study published in 2022 concluded that the iBreastExam device can overcome issues of a shortage of specialists for early detection of breast cancer in Nigerian communities. Thus, showing potential to reduce incidence of advanced stage breast cancer and might lead to improvement in survival.

The study further deduced that with minimal training, inexperienced healthcare providers can use the iBreastExam device successfully.

Currently, the iBreastExam device is being commercialised and distributed to local clinics in Malaysia by local pharmaceutical company, Duopharma Biotech Bhd.

Wan-Amir Jeffery, the commercial CEO of Duopharma Biotech Bhd shared during the Pink Unity 6600 Campaign’s closing ceremony that the device is available in 48 clinics now. But they’re hoping to expand the list to over 100 clinics in the country by July next year.

Aside from Duopharma Biotech Bhd, The Pink Unity 6600 Campaign was organised together with Estee Lauder Companies (Malaysia), Pink Unity, College of Radiology Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, Malaysia Medical Association Public Health Society, Ministry of Health Malaysia (KKM), and Malaysia’s Social Security Organisation (SOCSO).

Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also ReadLearn how to leverage cloud solutions for your biz by joining this free webinar in November

Featured Image Credit: iBreastExam

foodpanda M’sia has created a new bag for riders that doubles as mobile digital billboards

In September 2022, foodpanda had ventured into the adtech (advertising technology) space by launching panda ads in 11 markets across Asia, including Malaysia.

Now, foodpanda Malaysia is taking panda ads one step further with the launch of its new Smart Rider Bags, a November 9 release stated.

Essentially, Smart Rider Bags serve as transient Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising platforms. They feature an IoT-enabled LED screen that can display various ads on the back of the usual foodpanda rider’s bag.

This initiative has been rolled out in Johor Bahru as part of the panda ads’ pilot programme which started on November 7.

Said by foodpanda to be the first of its kind in Malaysia as well as a first for the company, these advertisements aim to go beyond the limitations of traditional, stationery billboards.

A new solution for advertisers

To track the ads’ effectiveness, foodpanda has integrated its DOOH network with customer intelligence platform LUMOS Intelligence’s proprietary audience analytics engines.

Using this technology, advertisers can gain in-depth insights into the performance of their ads in real-time through a live dashboard. They can even view the routes taken by riders at each point in time and access a heat map showing the demographics of the ad viewers.

LUMOS’ technology also allows for agile optimisation strategies that can help advertisers identify customer profiles and retarget ads on their smartphones through online channels within the delivery partners’ vicinity.

That means, if you’re near a delivery partner’s Smart Rider Bag, you might get the same ad on your phone as the one on their bag.

According to the press release, by Q1 2024, the Smart Bags will also include capabilities for precise geo-targeting.

“Our capability to offer real-time targeting and audience measurement is poised to be a game-changer, not only for foodpanda but also for advertisers seeking to reach increasingly diverse and segmented audiences,” said Eric Fan, the CEO and founder of LUMOS.

The press release stated that brands can advertise on the Smart Rider Bags with a monthly rate starting from RM600 per day.

Incentivising riders

In an interview with Vulcan Post, Santiago de la Torre, the Head of Advertising and Partnerships at foodpanda Malaysia, shared that Johor Bahru was selected for this pilot project as it is one of foodpanda’s top cities in the country with the most active foodpanda users. Moreover, the city is compact geographically.

“We wanted to ensure that the riders carrying the Smart Rider Bags would only deliver orders in a verysmall and specific area, which we found was typical of a rider in Johor Bahru as compared to other areas such as Klang Valley and Penang,” he explained.

He also claimed that Johor Bahru does not have a wide presence of digital screens on the road compared to some other cities. This means the Smart Rider Bags’ impact can be further maximised there.

Currently in the proof of concept stage, there are currently only 50 Smart Rider Bags in circulation.

According to Santiago, the Smart Rider Bags are only marginally heavier compared to the regular deliverybags.

He also shared that riders who join the Smart Rider Bags programme will get the opportunity to earn supplementary income, though the programme will only be available to top-performing riders based on their performance metrics.

These metrics include number of online hours, cancellation rates, and non-compliance incidents.

“This will incentivise them to earn a spot in the programme,” Santiago said.

Although the programme is now only available in Johor Bahru, he assured that the goal is to eventually introduce it in all major cities in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur.

Learn more about panda ads here. Read other articles we’ve written about foodpanda here.

Also ReadLearn how to leverage cloud solutions for your biz by joining this free webinar in November

Featured Image Credit: foodpanda Malaysia

Over 150 outlets and counting: Fore Coffee CEO on expanding to S'pore, the "CBD of SEA"

Since its launch in 2018, Fore Coffee has emerged as a prominent player in Indonesia’s coffee scene, marked by its dedication to both quality and innovation.

The name “Fore”, derived from the word “forest”, reflects the coffee chain’s aspiration to grow rapidly and reach new heights. True to its name, Fore Coffee has made its international debut in Singapore with the opening of its first outlet at Bugis Junction today (November 9).

In an interview with Vulcan Post, the CEO and co-founder of the company, Vico Lomar, shares insights into the journey of Fore Coffee and its dedication to providing an unparalleled coffee experience from Indonesia to Singapore.

Breaking into Singapore’s mature coffee landscape

“Singapore is considered as the Central Business District (CBD) of Southeast Asia,” said Vico, when asked about his motivation to establish Fore Coffee’s first international outlet in Singapore.

Its position as a major financial and trading hub, coupled with one of the highest GDP per capita figures in the world, renders the city-state as an appealing market for international coffee chains seeking to establish a presence in the region.

Furthermore, with Singapore’s coffee market projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of five per cent to reach US$1,286 million by 2027, the CEO emphasised that the market presents a “compelling opportunity” for Fore Coffee’s entry.

The city-state’s robust coffee scene is driven by the strong affinity of Singaporeans’ for coffee. On average, Singaporean residents consume an average of six to seven cups of coffee per week, or about 2.6kg of coffee per capita a year.

Sustainability is the brand’s main edge over competitors

While the surging demand for coffee remains evident in Singapore, the coffee industry has also witnessed an influx of both international players, including Luckin Coffee and Kopi Kenangan, as well as local contenders like Huggs.

The crowded playing field sets the stage for fierce competition as companies vie for market share. Nevertheless, the CEO highlights that Fore Coffee’s main edge over its counterparts, whether domestic or international, lies in its sustainability-focused business model.

Fore Coffee not only sustainably sources its Arabica beans from selected farms throughout Indonesia, including those in the heartlands of Java, Aceh Gayo, Toraja, and Bali, but it also maintains a philosophy of “sustainable coffee lifestyle” by incorporating recycled materials within each of its coffee shops.

The brand uses upcycled materials for its tables, chairs, and even trash bins, as well as eco-friendly packaging for its cups and merchandise, which are all procured domestically to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint. 

In fact, the interior of one of its stores based in Jakarta, including its tables, chairs and counters were made from 450 kgs of recycled material.

It was forced to shutter half its outlets during COVID-19

Vico hasn’t always held the reigns to the business though. Prior to assuming the role of CEO and co-founder back in 2020, the company was initially helmed by Elisa Sujeta, who had founded the company alongside two other co-founders.

Although the coffee chain has seen rapid growth since its inception, the pandemic proved to be a challenging time for F&B businesses in Indonesia, with a staggering 92 per cent of them reporting losses — and Fore Coffee was no exception.

After launching over 100 locations in its first year back in 2018 — with plans to operate 1,000 locations across Indonesia the next year — the company was forced to shutter its outlets in several locations due to the pandemic. When Vico joined the firm, only 66 of the coffee chain’s initial 133 locations remained.

In order to regain Fore Coffee’s footing in the competitive coffee market, Vico spearheaded a fresh growth strategy by leveraging his extensive career experience in the F&B industry, which spans over two decades.

He pulled the brakes on the coffee chain’s aggressive expansion and instead, gave top priority to consumer research. The company’s offerings were then adapted based on the data collected through these research efforts.

Fore Coffee also pivoted its focus to second- and third-tier cities in Indonesia, as these cities are increasing in economic importance and are growing faster than first-tier cities like Jakarta, where the majority of its outlets were located prior to the pandemic.

Creating coffee that matters

Less than a year into Vico’s tenure with Fore Coffee, the coffee-chain recorded a positive EBITDA in the third quarter of 2021. The brand has achieved significant success by diversifying its offerings and doubling down on its R&D processes in the Indonesian market, and now boasts over 150 outlets across the country.

By expanding into Singapore, the brand seeks to redefine the local coffee landscape through “Indonesian lens” and position itself as an ambassador of Indonesian coffee culture.

For the launch of its first outlet here, Fore Coffee meticulously crafted a selection of 16 products to resonate with local preferences. These products start from S$4.50 and includes the brand’s best-selling offerings from Indonesia, such as the Gula Aren Latte, Pandan Oat Latte, and the Butterscotch Sea Salt Latte.

Looking forward, Vico shares that the coffee-chain is taking a measured approach to assess how they can adapt and fine-tune their business model for further expansion into international locations. “We are still a developing brand, and there are still a lot more opportunities for us,” he said.

It looks to add about 50 more outlets in Indonesia so that it can operate a total of around 200 outlets by the end of 2023. 

Ultimately, Fore Coffee aims to “create coffee that matters” and build a brand that is both “loved and trusted” by its consumers.

“Our goal may seem simple, but it requires extraordinary commitment from the company. By incorporating openness and transparency as well as innovating for customer satisfaction, we will undoubtedly achieve these goals,” sums up Vico.

Embark on your startup journey with MAS-regulatedANEXTBank, one of Singapore’s first digital banks for SMEs.

Featured Image Credit: Fore Coffee

Also ReadAI in Kindergarten? How Ednovation ‘future-proofs’ the next gen with AI teaching programs

Michelin has added 14 new KL & Penang spots to its Bib Gourmand list, here's who they are

If you’re a food connoisseur or someone who just loves to indulge in good meals, chances are you probably look for new haunts by browsing the Michelin Guide.

Known globally as a prestigious honour, receiving the nod of approval from Michelin tends to elevate one’s status in the culinary world. Not only does it showcase a seal of approval on the food’s quality, but it’s also an acknowledgement of the chef’s skills and the curated dining experience.

Earlier this year, the Michelin Guide finally landed in Malaysia, specifically Kuala Lumpur and Penang.Four restaurants were recognised with one Michelin Star, while 32 establishments received a Bib Gourmand.

For context, Michelin Stars are given to fine dining restaurants for their high-quality cooking. On the other hand, Bib Gourmands are given to food establishments for offering good food at moderate prices.

Considering that we have more local eateries than fine dining houses in Malaysia, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are more Bib Gourmands awarded.

And this list has just expanded, with the Michelin Guide’s announcement of 14 new establishments receiving a Bib Gourmand, thereby bringing the total number to 46 eateries. 

Here’s a quick rundown of who they are and what they serve:

Kuala Lumpur

1. Hor Poh Cuisine

Tucked away in a KL neighbourhood is Hor Poh Cuisine that has been selling authentic Hakkanese food for over 20 years.

Some of its must-try dishes include Hor Poh lui cha, which is a vegetal soup served with steamed rice. Made with ground sesame seeds, peanuts and mint leaves, the soup is nutty and aromatic. Its Hor Poh dumpling is also popular amongst locals.

Opening hours: Every day except Tuesdays, 11AM to 2.45PM and 5PM to 8.45PM

Address: 36 Jalan 6/38D, Taman Sri Sinar, Segambut, Kuala Lumpur, 52100, Malaysia

2. Jalan Ipoh Claypot Chicken Rice

For the past 30 years, Jalan Ipoh Claypot Chicken Rice has been selling cooked-to-order chicken rice over charcoal in claypots. The dish comes with Cantonese pork sausage and ginger, and has a crispy crust at the bottom.

If you’re feeling like having more flavour combinations, you can request to add salted fish.

Opening hours: Every day except Wednesdays, 10AM to 5.30PM

Address: Lot 1224, 7 Jalan Batu Ambar, Taman Kok Lian, Kuala Lumpur, 51200, Malaysia

3. Roti by d’Tandoor

Founded in 1990, Roti by d’Tandoor is a North Indian restaurant that has since expanded to other countries around the world.

Located in a residential area, the eatery offers a hearty range of fine Indian cuisine, including well-seasoned butter chicken masala and soft, chewy naan bread. To stave off the heat, customers can also treat themselves to some of the brand’s kulfi.

Opening hours:

Monday to Thursday, 11AM to 3PM and 6PM to 10.30PMFriday to Sunday, 11AM to 10.30PM

Address: 82 Jalan Damai, Kampung Datuk Keramat, Off Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, 55000, Malaysia

4. Sek Yuen

Serving mostly traditional Cantonese cuisine, Sek Yuen has been in the local F&B scene since 1948. The brand currently takes up three shops on the same street, so depending on where the clients are seated, the room may feel vintage and nostalgic, or simple and bright.

Its menu includes dishes like eight-treasure duck and roast suckling pig, which require a two-day advanced pre-order beforehand.

Opening hours: Every day, 11AM to 2.30PM and 5PM to 9.30PM

Address: 313 Jalan Pudu, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, 55100, Malaysia

5. Sri Nirwana Maju

A popular spot for banana leaf lovers, Sri Nirwana Maju moved from being a Michelin Selected eatery to receiving a Bib Gourmand.

Located in Bangsar Village, customers can opt to top up their meals with some crowd favourite sides, whether that be fish, chicken, or lamb. The restaurant’s chicken biryani is also said to boast tender meat and balanced flavours.

Opening hours: Every day, 11.30AM to 11PM

Address: 43 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur, 59100, Malaysia


6. Ah Boy Koay Teow Th’ng

A George Town-based family-run shop, Ah Boy Koay Teow Th’ng is now currently managed by the second generation. They specialise in kuay teow th’ng, which is another way of saying kuay teow soup.

According to Michelin, the broth is made from chicken and pork bones. The meal also pairs nicely with the food stall’s braised chicken with bean sprouts.

Opening hours: Every day except Tuesdays, 7AM to 2PM

Address: 1 Lebuh Clarke, George Town, 10050, Malaysia

7. BM Cathay Pancake

A humble cart outside Cathay Food Court, BM Cathay Pancake has been serving one dish and one dish only since 1962—apam balik.

Operating opposite Bukit Mertajam Jit Sin Independent High School, the cart seems to be a local favourite. Some customers on Google Review even describe the simple treat as tasting more traditional with its less-sweet filling.

Opening hours: Every day except Fridays, 12PM to 5PM

Address: 8 Jalan Aston, Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Perai, 14000, Malaysia

8. Ghee Lian

Located in a food dining complex, Ghee Lian only serves three noodle dishes—its signature green tom yum, noodle soup, and fried noodles.

According to Michelin, the fresh green tom yum hits the right balance of sour and spicy. The fried fish topping has a crispy outer layer and a succulent centre, while the large prawns have a moreish umami flavour.

Opening hours: Every day except Wednesdays, 6PM to 10PM

Address: Lot No. 39, MBPP Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong Padang Kota Lama, 4 Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakhbah, George Town, 10200, Malaysia

9. Hot Bowl White Curry Mee

A small shop in George Town, Hot Bowl White Curry Mee offers one of the best curry in Penang (according to Michelin).

The noodles are served in a coconut milk-based broth with a bowl of curry paste on the side, so you can adjust the heat to your liking. Optionally, you could also pair your noodles with deboned steamed chicken, spiced loh bak or Teochew guang jiang.

Opening hours: Every day except Mondays, 8AM to 2.30PM

Address: 58C Jalan Rangoon, George Town, 10400, Malaysia

10. My Own Café

A charming family-run shop, My Own Café serves local classics like Penang asam laksa, Nyonya laksa, and fried spring rolls.

According to Michelin, the light and refreshing red soup of its signature asam laksa strikes the right balance of sour and spicy and is nicely topped off with mint and pineapple. On the other hand, the spring rolls are stuffed with vegetable fillings and taste equally good.

Opening hours: Every day except Wednesdays, 9.30AM to 5PM

Address: 2 Lebuh Cannon, George Town, 10200, Malaysia

11. Penang Road Famous Jin Kor Char Kuey Teow

With almost 40 years of experience, Penang Road Famous Jin Kor Char Kuey Teow has been cooking made-to-order kuey teow filled with wok hei.

The dish is topped with shrimps, blood clams, pork sausage, and bean sprouts. But if that’s not enough, you can add duck eggs and extra chilli sauce too.

Opening hours: Every day, 9.30AM to 5.30PM

Address: Joo Hooi Cafe, 475 Jalan Penang, George Town, 10000, Malaysia

12. Siam Road Char Koay Teow

Small but mighty, Siam Road Char Koay Teow is a store that draws long queues of tourists and young customers.

With a Google ranking of 4.2 stars (from over 1,700 reviewers), the store is currently being run by the second generation. If you’re looking for some protein to pair with your char kuay teow, the place also serves fried chicken wings.

Opening hours: Every day except Sundays and Mondays, 12PM to 6.30PM

Address: 82 Jalan Siam, George Town, 10400, Malaysia

13. Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak

Run by three sisters who inherited their father’s life’s work, Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak has been making char kuay kak, since 1963.

If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, char kuay kak is a snack from the family’s Teochew ancestral home. The rice cakes are fried with a nice wok hei aroma and the right amount of soya sauce, bean sprouts, egg, and spiciness.

Opening hours: Every day except Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7AM to 12PM

Address: 96 Lorong Macalister, George Town, 11400, Malaysia

14. Bibik’s Kitchen

Bibik’s Kitchen pays homage to the owner’s Peranakan background, with its space aptly decorated with Nyonya motifs and its menu showcasing heirloom recipes. According to Michelin, the food served is slightly less spicy than Nyonya dishes found elsewhere.

The guide recommends trying Bibik’s Kitchen’s jiu hu char (stir-fried yam bean with shredded cuttlefish), and loh bak (deep-fried five-spice pork rolls). On weekends, diners can also find laksa available.

Opening hours: Every day except Mondays, 11.30AM to 3PM and 6PM to 9PM

Address: 73 Jalan Sri Bahari, George Town, 10050, Malaysia

But wait, there are more accolades to be given out soon

The 2024 Michelin Guide Ceremony is set to take place on Friday (November 17, 2023) at the Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

The Vulcan Post team will be in attendance to celebrate and report the announcement of fine dining establishments from Kuala Lumpur and Penang who earned their Michelin Stars, so stay tuned for more details.

But in the meantime, our heartiest congratulations to the Malaysian restaurants and eateries that proudly made a name for themselves in the culinary world with the latest Bib Gourmand awards!

Learn more about Michelin Stars & Bib Gourmand here. Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also ReadLearn how to leverage cloud solutions for your biz by joining this free webinar in November

Featured Image Credit: Michelin Guide / Sharon Cher / Roger “RABBIT” Oh / Larry Louie