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IdeaLab 2015: plugging in a void in the startup ecosystem

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WIEF Foundation will be organising its first ever startup empowerment conference, the IdeaLab 2015, at the Parkroyal Hotel KL, on 11-12 August 2015. IdeaLab brings together some of the most highly fundable ASEAN startups for investment opportunities with investors across the globe. IdeaLab targets ASEAN startups looking for investments within the range of USD15,000 to USD1 million in industries such as consumer goods, clean tech, Halal tech, software/mobile apps, oil and gas, education and fintech.

But why now? And why in Malaysia? In matured ecosystems such as the US and Europe, the startup support infrastructure begins at infancy. From the moment an idea pops out of the head of someone, he is already on a conveyor belt of a support chain; from ideation training, to the incubation of nascent businesses, to accelerator programmes that bring startups to the commercialisation stage, and the seed to serie A jump that brings the startups to scale. And the whole universe seems to be on the bandwagon – the universities, the government agencies, the angels, the VCs and pretty much all the stakeholders that make life beautiful for startups. Hmm…maybe this is a bit too rosy, but guess what, the proof is in the pudding. Facebook, Google, Twitter and those other crazy stuff that dominate our everyday lives, were actually very simple ideas from very ordinary people. What’s extraordinary about it is the entire support chain that brought them into being.

In these countries, they got it. They know that the future is the youth, their ideas; and their task is to bring them to fruition. They have no choice. These countries typically have a higher proportion of ageing adults to young people, which makes it imperative to bring them to the fore as quickly as possible, in order to survive as a nation. In a lot of Asian countries, the youth population can sometimes reach 60-65% of the population, which makes leadership succession for the next generation less urgent. And this translates into a lax ecosystem of building startup ideas into businesses of the future.

That’s the gap that we face in the ASEAN countries, in particular Malaysia. We have the stakeholders, but there doesn’t seem to be a concerted effort in creating a cohesive ecosystem where these players work closely with each other. And that’s where we try to plug in the void.

With the IdeaLab, we hope to bridge that divide, between the different stakeholders in the community, provide the ideation processes that are crucial in the nascent stages of a startup’s life, expose ASEAN startups to their regional counterparts, and plug in the gap between the seed and serie A stages of funding. We believe that this gap can be addressed by international validation. By bringing in foreign VCs who specialise in seed to serie A funding and who can provide validation for these ASEAN startups, we hope that this can encourage our VCs to slowly come into the seed to serie A space too.

So that’s the IdeaLab. A marketplace of a variety of things that will help mend the gaping wound in the startup ecosystem in ASEAN in general, and Malaysia in particular, and help expose ASEAN startups to top class VCs and crucial skill sets that can take their businesses to the next level. The IdeaLab consists of the Ideation Stage by regional business experts, Networking Pods, the IdeaClinic (powered by Ernst & Young), the City Mapping Project, the Startup Fair, and IdeaPad stage where selected startups battle it out live on stage to a panel of investors and industry players. With an impressive list of 23 speakers from the likes of Google, Tedx and the CEOs of 3 of the biggest Islamic banks in Malaysia, and around 18 (and counting!) VCs from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, USA, India, Turkey, Bangladesh and the Philippines, there is no reason why anyone should be anywhere else on 11-12 August but the IdeaLab 2015.

Be there. Register HERE or get in touch with them at said@wief.org and daniel@wief.org.

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