The late former CEO of Cradle, Nazrin Hassan, once said, “The problem of startups here in Malaysia is never funding. It’s the inability to expand.”
Indeed the failure rate among startups globally is at an appalling rate of 90%. One of the main factors identified? The startup ecosystem today is very elitist and favours only the urban well-to-dos in a tight ecosystem of startup entrepreneurs and their investors.
Startups learn the hard way that to succeed, they need more than just funding from investors. They need the community.
Starting Up A Community
With this in mind, The World Startup Festival (WSF) was founded on the belief that startups need a self-sustaining community comprising startups, investors, corporations, government and civil society into one single platform.
World Startup Festival (WSF) is a global non-profit organisation based in California that brings together startup ecosystems across the globe through training and mentorship, cross-border collaborations, funding, media exposure and market expansion of startups at different levels of growth.
WSF believes that this community is the perfect incubator and that the key to success of every startup is cross-border market expansion,” said the WSF team.
On the 7th of August, WSF chose Malaysia as the Asian hub of its global entrepreneurship programme by partnering up with Webe Digital, a company of Telekom Malaysia.
Udesh Chaskar, WSF Regional Director for Asia, said, “In order for us to truly help startups, WSF will be providing free co-working space for startups, both local and foreign, to help them grow”.
What’s The Catch And Why Here?
WSF’s team stated that they chose Malaysia as it is a very important gateway to all the key markets in Asia.
“It also has a very conducive business climate and a positive outlook for business. The government of Malaysia has always been very supportive in the development of startups.”
“Even with the change of government, entrepreneurship especially of the young, is one of the main issues that the government is looking at. The startup ecosystem has a lot of room to grow, and we are excited to be a part of it,” said the WSF team.
If you are a startup and want to work in their co-working space, you won’t need to pay a single cent. Although the space is free, the printing facilities run on credit, and they have personal lockers which startups can rent monthly.
“Since we are offering the space for free, it is in our interest to make sure startups grow into a successful business. When they grow, we grow. As such, we do need to take careful measures to ensure that startups under our wing steadily improve their business.”
“The space will be given free for 3 months, and upon satisfactory progress of the startup, the tenure will be continued for another 3 months, and more when startups progress further in their business,” the WSF team added.
Future Of Startups In Southeast Asia
Based on data recorded last year, Southeast Asia’s internet user base has grown rapidly and will grow further. There will be 330 million monthly active internet users by year-end 2017, adding over 70 million new users since 2015 at 13%.
In Southeast Asia, mobile is the internet, as more than 90% of Southeast Asia’s internet users are on smartphones. It is hard to overestimate the absolute prominence of mobile as the access point and driver of Southeast Asia’s internet economy.
Users in Southeast Asia are incredibly engaged, spending an average of 3.6 hours per day on mobile internet,1 more than in any other region in the world.
“This means that increasingly, more and more people will get connected to startup services and the market will only grow bigger and bigger. But in order to achieve great leaps for startups, we need more cross-border collaboration between startups in the region and we will be a very strong startup powerhouse in no time.”
They envision more startups from Europe and Africa to come over to Asia to collaborate with their Asian counterparts.
WSF Labs is in midst of positioning to be a central hub for the cross-border movement of startups around the world, focusing on tech industries such as blockchain, AI, and IoT. It will also be open to small businesses keen to adopt digital technology.
Freda Miriklis, President of WSF said, “We are confident that WSF Labs will grow to become one of the biggest generators of innovation and successful businesses in the world, through our partnership with 5 core stakeholders consisting of startups, corporations, governments, investors and civil society.”
Feature Image Credit: World Startup Festival