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These 9 M'sian startups bagged over RM1 million funding in 2023, here's what they do

Before 2023 comes to an end, we decided to take a look back to see which Malaysian startups have earned the confidence of investors. Specifically, here are those that have raised more than RM1 million in the past year.

Aside from reading our business predictions for 2024, we hope this list of startups can inspire other Malaysian entrepreneurs in the coming year.

So here is a non-exhaustive list that we’ve compiled, arranged alphabetically.

1. Biogenes Technologies Sdn Bhd

Back in January, Biogenes Technologies Sdn Bhd (Biogenes), a local biotech (biotechnology) startup, bagged US$5.7 million during its Series A funding from Pembangunan Ekuiti Sdn Bhd (PESB).

Established in 2015, Biogenes is a biotech company specialising in molecular diagnostics and genomics.

Some examples of its primary technologies include the computer-aided design of synthetic antibodies (referred to as aptamers) and rapid point-of-care diagnostic solutions for infectious diseases and screening cancer biomarkers.

At the time, its press release shared that the funds will go towards expanding Biogenes’ proprietary technology platforms across Southeast Asia. Namely, this includes the Philippines and Indonesia where Biogenes has signed collaboration agreements.

With the invested funds, the company aims to build on its capacity to produce 10 million test kits per year and further develop aptamer-based diagnostic solutions.

2. Ejen2u

In early October, Malaysian agent management platform Ejen2u International Sdn Bhd (Ejen2u) raised RM7 million in its Pre-Series A funding round.

According to its website, Ejen2u is a homegrown cloud-based platform for managing agents. As a tech startup focused on the reseller industry, the brand’s goal is to provide a complete reseller ecosystem for the local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) community where they’re able to oversee their reseller networks and businesses.

With the funds raised from Gobi Partners and Artem Ventures, Ejen2u aimed to diversify their customer base and expand into new markets like Indonesia.

At the same time, the brand also plans to expand its product catalogue to different segments of the direct-to-consumer (D2C) industry. Specifically in the pipelines include:

EjenStore, a new online storefront and affiliate platform for agentsEjenCare, an income protection plan that’s similar to Malaysia’s Social Security Organisation (SOCSO)EjenCapital, a solution to assist merchants and agents with inventory financing

As of this year, Ejen2u has supported over 340,000 resellers across the country and are serving more than 500 clients, the press release stated.

3. iMotorbike

iMotorbike, an ecommerce platform for buying and selling pre-loved motorcycles secured RM12 million in its Series A funding round.

The fundraising was led by Gobi Partners and Ondine Capital, and was backed by a slew of investors like Penjana Kapital, The Hive Southeast Asia, 500 Global, Goodwater Capital and Seedstars International Ventures.

One of the few local second hand marketplaces for two-wheelers, the 6-year-old brand told us that the funds would help supercharge their business growth. This is particularly in terms of scaling operations, expanding its team and offerings, and penetrating new regional markets.

At the time of our interview with them, they believed that 2023 is the “Year of the Bike” as it’s more financially efficient to own a bike than a car.

4. Involve Asia

Involve Asia, a Malaysian affiliate marketing platform, raised over US$10 million in a funding round back in February.

It was led by Bintang Capital Partners Berhad, the private equity arm of Affin Hwang Asset Management Berhad. Other investors include notable local and international names like 500 Global, Orbit Capital Malaysia, OSK Technology Ventures, and Cradle Seed Ventures.

As an affiliate marketing platform, Involve Asia enables brands, affiliates, and influencers to expand their earnings through successful online collaborations. Besides that, the brand also allows advertisers to assess, oversee, and scale their marketing partnerships through its solutions.

In the press release, it was shared that Involve Asia will be using the funds to invest in companies that complement its business and leverage its network of clients and partners. In line with that move, the affiliate marketing company is also growing its team to keep up with this.

5. Kiddocare

Malaysian caregiving platform, Kiddocare, closed its Pre-Series A round of funding in late September.

Although the amount was not disclosed, the brand told Vulcan Post that it had raised seven-figure funds from notable investors. This included Gobi Partners, MSW Ventures Asia Fund X, and ScaleUp Malaysia.

Launched in 2019, Kiddocare is a childcare service platform founded by two working mums. “Central to our mission is the professionalisation of caregivers,” Nadira, the CEO, stated in its press release.

“This investment reinforces our resolve to elevate caregiving as a respected and professionalised career of choice.”

Moving forward, the brand seeks to kickstart The Kiddocare Academy to upskill local talents on family-related services, such as children’s enrichment and education, and aged care services. The latter is something which we predict will grow even more in the coming years.

6. MADCash

In early October, fintech startup MADCash raised RM5 million in its Pre-Series A funding round. The investment was led by Artem Ventures and supported by MSW Ventures and Scaleup Founders Fund.

MADCash stands for Multiply, Assist, Donate, which reflects the brand’s goal of supporting unbanked and underbanked women entrepreneurs. The idea stemmed from MADCash’s team who saw women entrepreneurs struggling to restart their micro businesses after the first lockdown.

According to its press release at the time, the funds will be used for a few upgrades in the company. Namely:

to enhance the company’s online platform using AI technologyto cover operational and marketing expensesto explore expansion opportunities in the Southeast Asia regionto launch the MADCash Academy to educate more women entrepreneurs on financial literacy

Tunku Omar Asraf, the principal of Artem Ventures, explained the decision to invest in MADCash by saying, “MADCash recognises the importance of financial inclusion for closing the gap of poverty and gender inequality, which can lead to better economic growth in the SEA region.”

7. PolicyStreet

Less than two years after its Series A funding round, insurtech (insurance technology) startup PolicyStreet obtained US$15.4 million (RM67 million) during its Series B fundraising.

Led by Khazanah Nasional’s Dana Impak mandate, this investment in PolicyStreet complements Khazanah Nasional’s Future Malaysia Programme which aims to support the local startup ecosystem.

For context, the Future Malaysia Programme supports investments into companies with sustainable business models that deliver socioeconomic impact to the local communities.

Yen Ming Lee, PolicyStreet’s CEO and co-founder, explained that the insurtech startup is committed to empowering underinsured businesses and consumers by providing accessible insurance solutions.

This funding round specifically will be used to strengthen its technology and underwriting capabilities. By doing so, the team will be able to better tap into underserved and underinsured audience segments in the country and the region.

8. Qarbotech

Qarbotech, a Malaysian agritech startup, closed US$700,000 (approximately RM3,264,450 at the time) in seed funding and grants earlier in December.  

The seed round was led by 500 Global and included grants from Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional and Singaporean government-linked Temasek Foundation. Both were won through challenges, specifically the Temasek Foundation’s Climate Impact Innovations Challenge and the Khazanah Impact Innovation Challenge 2023

Launched in 2018, Qarbotech develops a biocompatible solution that increases the photosynthesis rate of leafy plants. This helps in shortening the crop cycle and increasing crop yields by 60%.

According to its press release, the funds will allow the agritech startup to strengthen their R&D efforts. Along with that, they’ll also be able to expand manufacturing facilities to produce up to 50 times its current capacity.

“As the industry’s most accessible photosynthesis enhancer, we are pioneering a new and disruptive solution that will reshape conventional approaches to farming,” said the CEO and co-founder of Qarbotech, Choe Chee Hoe.

9. Soft Space Sdn Bhd

Earlier in the year, B2B fintech company Soft Space Sdn Bhd bagged US$31.5 million in investments after closing its Series B1 funding round. 

It was led by Southern Capital Group (SCG) Pte. Ltd, with participation from investors like Japanese companies transcosmos inc and JCB, and South Korea’s KB Investment.

Founded in 2012, Soft Space aims to streamline financial infrastructures and facilitate seamless payments for customers in a simple and economically efficient manner.

At the time of the news in April, Soft Space was reportedly focusing on expanding into omnichannel payments, including the adoption of artificial intelligence, QR code payments, e-wallet systems, and money lending schemes.

Hence, with that in mind, the funds acquired from this round will be used to expand the brand’s global footprint, accelerate the innovation of its full-stack payments platform, and to expand into next-generation technological solutions.

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While some of the industries listed are quite niche, it helps to take note of what investors are investing in due to its potential to grow further.

This provides insights into which fields will be growing in the near future, so others in the market can better themselves too. For example, you could find ways to leverage the growth of certain industries to your advantage.

Either way, we thought we’d take this opportunity to wish these Malaysian startups a hearty congratulations once again on their funding rounds!

We look forward to seeing more Malaysian startups making such achievements in the next year.

Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.Read articles we’ve written about funding here.

Also ReadSick of mistakenly buying fake products online? TikTok Shop has a solution for M’sians.

Featured Image Credit: Nadira Yusoff, founder and CEO of Kiddocare / Jimmy How, CEO of Involve Asia / Sharmeen Looi, co-founder of iMotorbike

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