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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Crowdfunding platform MyStartr announces 13 successful funding projects in 2020

Shah Alam, Malaysia – MyStartr, a Malaysia-based crowdfunding platform, has announced that it has completed 13 projects in 2020, to which all of them have successfully concluded their fundraising rounds amounting to RM20M.

Among the 13 successful projects in 2020, there were 3 projects successfully raised more than RM2M, namely education smartcard system i-3S (RM3.03M), football court operator FootballHub (RM3.03M) and online auction house BidNow (RM2.1M). 

“Knowledge in relation to the capital market mechanism is essential for startups. However, awareness is still low among startups. Therefore, MyStartr has a mission and objective to assist start-ups, especially the young entrepreneurs who have developed creative and innovative products and services, to grow further. The vision is to assist 5,000 entrepreneurs to be successful over the next 10 years with RM2.5B funded amount,” the company said in a press statement.

They added, “Although the startup scene in Malaysia has been growing tremendously over the last few years, the capital market is still not familiar with the early stage startups. As such, equity crowdfunding platforms such as MyStartr plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between the investors and startups, educating more and more retail investors to invest in a proper way, and assists the startup in scaling faster and bigger.”

In terms of investors, the platform had attracted 1,580 investors participating in equity crowdfunding (ECF) while about 75% of them were retail investors who invested less than RM5,000 in a project. Meanwhile, Malaysia Co-Investment Fund (MyCIF) contributed RM4.09M fund to the platform in 2020, benefiting 8 startups to raise funds successfully and grow their business after the campaign.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

MY-based omnichannel e-commerce Everpeaks launches integrated logistics platform

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – To facilitate the global manufacturer to consumer (M2C) commerce in Southeast Asia, Malaysia-based omnichannel e-commerce solution provider Everpeaks® has launched its new integrated logistics platform called Fulfilment by Everpeaks (FBE).

The solution, generally characterized as a duty-free, e-commerce integrated warehousing and fulfilment solution allows global brands to tap into new markets, specifically in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, FBE integrates marketplaces and websites into the FBE System, connecting brand owners and manufacturers directly to consumers, eliminating layers of traditional retail operations and market barriers. 

The new FBE solution’s launch comes in perfect timing as the Southeast Asia e-commerce sector rapidly grows, where from 2015 to 2019, its value in the region increased nearly 600% from US$5.5B in 2015 to US$38B in 2019, research from Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Co. The same study also showed that the region’s internet economy is valued at US$100B in 2019, with a forecast of it rising to US$300B by 2025.

FBE operates under a technology platform that provides brand owners and manufacturers with an omnichannel inventory management feature, capable of integration with most e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Lazada, Shopee, and eBay, among others. It optimizes a total system solution that centralizes orders, tracks inventory, and automates order fulfilment, enabling sellers to create shipping plans, send shipments to the FBE Warehouse, and track shipments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic overhauled consumer purchasing behaviour across the globe, causing e-commerce to rise and drive a permanent shift in fulfilment and warehouse management technology. FBE simplifies end-to-end fulfilment operations, helping businesses grow without logistical restraints as they expand into new markets,” said Joachim Sebastian, founder and CEO of Everpeaks®.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Telekom Malaysia’s ISP partners with MoEngage for digital-first customer marketing

California, USA – unifi, the internet service provider (ISP) handled by Malaysian-based telco Telekom Malaysia, has partnered with San Francisco-based customer engagement platform, MoEngage, for its first-ever digital customer marketing.

Through the partnership, MoEngage’s platform, which is AI-enabled, will be leveraged to allow seamless, multi-channel engagement for Telekom Malaysia’s customers across the country.

For Safiyya Rusli, head of digital at unifi, the partnership enables them to create personal engagements across various digital platforms.

“Our partnership with MoEngage will help us provide the best experience to our customers through personalized engagement across multiple digital touchpoints. We look forward to serving Malaysians better and helping them make informed decisions about our products and services while continuing to strengthen relationships with our existing customers,” Rusli stated.

Meanwhile, Raviteja Dodda, founder and CEO of MoEngage commented, “We are extremely proud to partner with Telekom Malaysia and assist them with their customer marketing initiatives. Telecom sector across South East Asia is going through digital transformation and we look forward to helping Telekom Malaysia achieve best in class customer marketing.”

MoEngage also operates across Asia, with offices located in India, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

PR agency Mutant appoints new country head for its Malaysian operations

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Public relations and content marketing agency Mutant in Malaysia has appointed branding communications veteran Archana Menon to be the new country head of Mutant Malaysia.

Through her new role, Menon will be responsible for overseeing and growing Mutant’s business in Malaysia, offering specialist services in branding, content development, PR, and digital marketing to both existing and new clients and driving results that boost sales, leads, and customer retention. 

Prior to her recent appointment, she was formerly the country head for the Malaysian arm of communications company Ruder Finn. She has accumulated more than 14 years of experience in integrated communications, media planning, and branding to the agency. 

She has also worked across a variety of sectors, including property, healthcare, technology, and telecommunications, and also includes a diverse track record that includes strategic counsel and crisis management for local and regional SMEs, startups, and government bodies.

“Mutant’s ability to pair strong storytelling with public relations has helped clients successfully navigate the transformation we’re seeing in the media landscape. I’m excited to now take things a step further by combining content, PR, branding, and digital marketing to attract a strong roster of clients, and help them stand out and drive business goals,” Menon commented regarding her appointment.

Her recent appointment comes as Mutant plans to expand regionally in Asia, including its goal of becoming a full-service, integrated agency, with new digital marketing and branding offerings. 

Menon will report directly to Joseph Barratt, founder and CEO of Mutant.

Barratt said, “Mutant is redefining how PR, content, digital marketing, and branding come together to help businesses succeed, and I’m excited to see how Archana will take her depth of knowledge, strong leadership, and passion for the job to solidify and grow Mutant in Malaysia.”

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Main Feature Technology Southeast Asia

Entropia and UMW’s Virtual Museum gets a nod at International VR Awards

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Entropia Extended Reality (EXR) and UMW’s interactive virtual museum has captured the judges’ attention at the Fourth International VR Awards 2020, where they were announced as a finalist in the VR Social Impact Award category – granted to companies or individuals that produce and execute either an experience, product and or service which has rendered a significant social impact on the world around them. 

The virtual awards ceremony will be held in November 2020, and EXR’s GALERIKU – A VR MUSEUM LIKE NO OTHER will compete with three other finalists in the category: Washington-based AARP Innovation Labs’ Alcove; Russian TV’s VR film by school students, Lessons of Auschwitz; and the UK’s East City Films & Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s VR documentary, Some Inattention On The Left. 

Ramakrishnan CN, partner at Entropia and head of EXR, commented: “A nod from the Global VR Awards is a tremendous honor for us, and as one of only a few Asian finalists in the nominees’ list, we are truly overwhelmed to be named among renowned players like Accenture, Oculus, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.” 

VR has revolutionized our online experiences in the last few years – from browsing to playing, shopping, and learning, and the technology keeps evolving. 

Ramakrishnan CN, partner at Entropia and head of EXR

“EXR is in a perfect position to illustrate challenging concepts to lay-persons and experts alike, and the Galeriku project presented us with an exciting opportunity to reimagine the UMW Group’s history in a VR experience like no other and educating the future generations.”, said, Ramakrishnan.

The immersive experience offers users the six degrees of freedom to move through UMW’s memories by flipping through the founder’s diary and teleport from one scenario to the next. Amongst other things, it showcases many artifacts from his days starting out, including the first Toyota Corolla KE 10 assembled by UMW in 1968, and the first Komatsu bulldozer. It is topped with a fully immersive education about the Rolls Royce engine casing manufacturing and assembly by UMW right here in Malaysia. 

Badrul Rahman, General Manager, Group Corporate Communications at UMW, added: “We are elated to receive this acknowledgment from the VR Awards. We’ve built the UMW brand for over a century, so there’s an incredible amount of history here, and EXR has helped us to preserve our most important achievements for future generations. Utilizing the barrier-breaking technologies of XR, our collaboration has injected new life into the brand’s journey, through an immersive VR experience that is both educational and informative.” 

EXR is an accredited member of AIXR (The Academy of International Extended Reality), the independent not-for-profit trade body for the immersive industry, and hosts of the VR Awards, which recognizes and celebrates outstanding achievement in the global VR industry.

UMW’s Galeriku- A VR Museum like no other 
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SME Southeast Asia

Introducing CiaoChow, the first virtual gourmet food court in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As Malaysia has stepped into the recovery stage of the Movement Control Order (MCO), more service industries have shifted stronger focus to gear up their digital avenue to increase their revenues that were badly affected since the nationwide lockdown earlier in March.

While other restaurants and food operators turn to online food delivery partnership to make up for the cutback faced due to Social Distancing and limited operational hours that the government has outlined, Tamarind Restaurants decided to take another turn by launching CiaoChow, Malaysia’s first virtual gourmet food court that allows food lovers to order a variety of cuisines from the different virtual kiosks within the CiaoChow food court.  

“We always pride ourselves on our brand values, high standards, and quality of products and services long before the lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Hence, we decided to launch CiaoChow to ensure our loyal customers will continue to enjoy our food at the comfort of their own home, while practicing safety protocols. Furthermore, the food varieties featured in the CiaoChow platform are not available in our group of physical restaurants, all menus from CiaoChow are specially crafted with delivery durability in mind,” said Federico Asaro, Founder of Tamarind Restaurants (pictured). “By running end-to-end online orders in-house, we can ensure the high quality of our food in our environmentally-friendly packaging is well-maintained while promoting our brands to new and existing customers”. 

“Our clientele comes from a group of people who appreciate the finer things in life and they are conscious about ethical food business, generally those of the middle to high-income bracket aged 30 and above. We work directly with fishermen who supply our fresh seafood. Our vegetables are primarily organic and sourced from a lowland and highland farm in Malaysia. Our meat comes from cage-free poultry and grass-fed cattle farms that apply humane sustainable practices. Therefore, it is important for us to maintain the quality of our online order service just like we do at physical restaurants,” Asaro added. 

Speaking further on CiaoChow, Asaro had hoped that the success of the online platform will allow their group of companies to sustain their business and operations to continue to retain their manpower as many from similar industries have gone either downsized or discontinued operations permanently. CiaoChow also receives orders from its official Facebook and Instagram channel to cater to the more social media savvy demography. 

“These kitchens do not operate as physical restaurants for walk-in customers. We hope by setting up these kitchens, we will be able to ensure the quality of our food and the efficiency of our delivery service within a 6km radius from each kitchen. 

There are further plans to add other brands within Ciaochow’s food court, one is to serve a diet-focused clientele by allowing customers to plan their weekly dietary needs for delivery to multiple addresses, work, home, and anywhere in between. Asaro is currently making plans to bring the brand to the Middle East in the near future. 

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Marketing Southeast Asia

BEST further expands its express delivery services in Southeast Asia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – BEST Inc. has announced its further expansion into Southeast Asia. 

BEST’s launch of express delivery services in Malaysia, Cambodia and Singapore follows its entry into Thailand and Vietnam last year and marks another significant step forward in the Company’s ambitions to build an efficient logistics network with extensive coverage in Southeast Asia. 

The Company also announced to elevate its international logistics solutions by launching cross-border services between China and the five markets in Southeast Asia this month. 

Johnny Chou, Founder, Chairman and CEO of BEST Inc., said, “We are excited to develop our logistics networks in Southeast Asia, a key focus area of our global strategy. The outbreak of COVID-19 accelerated and amplified consumers’ reliance on e-commerce and created even larger potential opportunities in the region. We are confident that our technology-enabled logistics services and high-quality express delivery options will be a critical service component for both merchants and consumers, during both this difficult period and beyond it.”

By leveraging its asset-light model and successful experience in Thailand and Vietnam, BEST plans to be operating a total of twelve sortation centers and around 400 service stations across Malaysia, Cambodia and Singapore over the next three years. In Malaysia alone, BEST plans to be operating a total of seven sortation centers and 270 service stations across West and East Malaysia all within three years. This includes two customized flagship sortation centers in Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh that will be equipped with cutting-edge automation equipment, such as high-speed automatic sorting lines and dimension-weight-scanning systems. 

According to joint research by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, with 360 million mobile-savvy Internet users, Southeast Asia’s e-commerce sector is on track to reach US$150 billion by 2025 from US$38 billion in 2019. In order to meet rising e-commerce demands and evolving customer needs, BEST is offering next-day delivery options for major areas of Thailand and same-day deliveries in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam. The Company’s total parcel volume from Southeast Asia reached 8.8 million parcels in the first quart

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Alphaus makes Malaysia its Global Development Centre

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — The importance of adopting Cloud infrastructure, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, is more critical than before. In 2019, worldwide Cloud infrastructure spending reached 107B USD and is growing at a rapid rate of around 40% annually.

However, as Cloud spending continues to grow, so is Cloud waste. There is no doubt that a shift towards the Cloud brings about many benefits, but when left without proper management, organizations may end up spending for idle and over-provisioned resources unnecessarily. Businesses globally should be looking to leverage IT to help reduce business expenses instead of merely slashing IT budget as was done in previous recessions.

Alphaus is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner and the first company outside the North America region providing solutions to address Cloud wastage. It’s solutions help AWS, Azure and Google Cloud partners and user enterprises to understand complicated Cloud spend. Alphaus’ products, Ripple and Wave, automates and simplifies complicated Cloud billing processes, allowing us to offer insights in regards to Cloud usage with historical information and recommending cost-saving measures. With cloud adoption happening at such a rapid rate, the introduction of Alphaus and our service couldn’t be more timely and will immensely benefit businesses in the local and regional tech scene.

Backed by highly reputable investors such as DNX Ventures, NTT Docomo Ventures Inc, MUFG, Archetype, Accord Ventures, and 500 US, Alphaus recently decided to establish its Global Development Center & SEA Regional Office in Kuala Lumpur. Alphaus is led by experienced professionals, Hajime Hirose, Shungo Arai, and Mohd Atasha, collectively bagging over 30 years of tech entrepreneurial and mentorship experience. While the pandemic has resulted in many people losing their jobs, Alphaus will continue to hire local and foreign talents as it continues to establish a presence in Kuala Lumpur and as businesses continue to adopt Cloud infrastructure rapidly.

The launch of MSC Malaysia powered by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) in 1996 has attracted many highly reputable foreign businesses into the country, including NTT, a Japanese telecommunications company. NTT MSC was the first foreign-company awarded MSC Status. NTT Docomo and NTT Data, are investors and clients of Alphaus respectively. The decision to make Malaysia as its Global Development Centre appealed to Alphaus due to its world-class infrastructure at designated MSC locations, warm people, reasonable cost of living as well as access to the skilled and multilingual talents. Malaysia has been ranked the 3rd Best Global Services Location for several years in a study done by A.T. Kearney. The government’s initiative to boost the local tech industry makes it an ideal place for startups and SMEs alike.

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Main Feature Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Entropia and Etika use AR to keep Malaysians safe and entertained

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Amid the lockdown this year, it would be an understatement to say that people have had a drastic shift in their perception of reality. Staying apart became an act of love and hugging became an act of foolishness. Birthday and Raya celebrations via video calls and no entertainment outside home became the new reality.  

Anticipating the consumer need for safe entertainment and physical distancing,  Entropia’s Extended Reality arm, EXR, recently partnered with milk brand, Goodday Milk to launch the first-ever web-based Augmented Reality (webAR) celebrity home visits during Hari Raya in Malaysia and with Wonda Coffee to launch a safe distance visual filter guide using webAR technology, again a first-ever of its kind. 

Goodday’s ‘Selamat Selebraya’ allows consumers to teleport three top celebrities virtually into their home, by just clicking a link on their mobile. With this innovation, Malaysians got a unique opportunity to celebrate Raya this year with singer Andi Bernadee, Mark Adam, and artist Elfira Loy right in their own houses. Better yet, the user can walk around the celebrity, take pictures, make the celebrity perform a song, and personally wish them and their family for Raya, all without the need of downloading an app. 

Goodday’s ‘Selamat Selebraya’

Meanwhile, WONDA’s Gap-puccino is a first-ever social distancing guide that helps you keep a safe social gap using webAR. Coffee brings people together, but WONDA Gap-puccino encourages Malaysians to keep a safe physical distance by a visual guide using their phone camera. Easy to comprehend, WONDA’s Gap-puccino social distancing guide highlights areas around the user as either ‘caution’ or ‘danger’ as indicators for measuring safe distance between people. Users simply have to open the link on their smartphone browser.

“While we may not have been able to visit as many members of our families and friends this year, with the WebAR technology, consumers are able to celebrate Raya with national celebrities, thus adding a creative and personal touch to their celebrations through ‘Goodday’s Selamat Selebraya’ house visits,” said Santharuban T. Sundaram (pictured right), Senior Vice President of Marketing and Alternate Business at Etika Sdn Bhd.

“Since the beginning of the MCO, WONDA Coffee has been proactively involved in community activities and efforts to strengthen our fight against COVID-19. Whether it is showcasing support to front-liners or creating economic opportunities for local businesses, WONDA Coffee has stood by the community in these trying times.

To stay ahead by reacting with relevant and purposeful marketing efforts from time to time is the core principle of the Brand, this allows the Brand continues to create a meaningful brand connection with consumer.

Santharuban T. Sundaram,Senior Vice President of Marketing and Alternate Business at Etika Sdn Bhd.

Ramakrishnan (pictured left), Partner at Entropia and Head of EXR, shared, “We are extremely proud to partner with the challenger mindset of Goodday Milk and WONDA Coffee, who have constantly demonstrated that they are way ahead in the innovation curve in the industry. The future of experience is based on a seamless blend of immersive technology and human emotions, as demonstrated by both the campaign where consumers can get their favorite celebrities to wish them Raya in their own homes and help the masses maintain a safe distance using just their phones.

Technology can help in getting through these tough times and WONDA’s Gap-puccino and Goodday’s Selamat Seleb-raya is our small contribution towards that bigger goal of putting a smile on everyone’s faces and be of help too”

Ramakrishnan, Partner at Entropia and Head of EXR

 “WebAR is a fast evolving tech and it marks the evolution from App based generation to ubiquitous web based one, thereby opening tremendous opportunities for Marketers to add a layer of personalized augmented information over every conceivable touchpoint. It is evident that the future of brand experience is immersive and at EXR, we provide strategic XR transformation solutions, that includes AR, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality solutions to our clients” added Ramakrishnan.

Both these campaigns have been very well received and with more than 10 million Malaysian consumers reached, as on date and counting.

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Main Feature Platforms SME Southeast Asia

SwitzGo enters food and groceries delivery business in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As Malaysia sees demand surging for food and groceries delivery service during the movement control order (MCO) due to Covid-19 outbreak, SwitzGo, a new player in the industry, steps up to fill in the gap to meet customers’ needs. The startup company aims to fulfill the demands in food delivery service by introducing a much safer delivery option- the NanoSeptic stickers in the delivery bags that have been used worldwide in various industries, the first delivery company in Malaysia to introduce the NanoSeptic technology.

Commenting on the launch, Amir Latiff, Chief Marketing Officer of SwitzGo, said, “The NanoSeptic surface has been used widely in industries such as healthcare, hospitality, travel, education and businesses to ensure common touchpoints such as door handles, elevators, common areas and bathroom remain visibly clean and free from bacteria and virus. So, we adopt the same technology to line our delivery bags and ensure the safety and cleanliness of the food,” 

Amir Latiff, Chief Marketing Officer of SwitzGo
Amir Latiff, Chief Marketing Officer of SwitzGo

“This unique feature puts us forward ahead of the rest and will enable us to grab a portion of the existing market share as customers realize the need for extra safety precautions”. 

Amir Latiff, Chief Marketing Officer of SwitzGo

Explaining further about advanced technology, Amir Latiff said, the NanoSeptic surface is powered by light and utilizes mineral nano-crystals which create a powerful oxidation reaction. It continues to oxidize organic contaminants 24/7 and does not leave any poisonous, chemical or heavy metal residues that harm consumers.

As the brand has officially launched for the public to use, SwitzGo is creating more job opportunities for Malaysians especially those who have lost their source of income to join the company in their continuous expansion plan. As a precaution, each rider will have to go through strict health screening daily and is provided with 3 face masks daily and sufficient amount of hand sanitizers before riding for delivery.

In the first quarter of 2020, SwitzGo estimated around 20% of food orders were made online as Malaysians still preferred to enjoy their food served piping hot from the kitchen. However, after MCO was announced, the government encouraged its people to turn to online shopping and food delivery to reduce risks of Covid-19 infection, the recently launched food and grocery delivery company saw that online transactions tripled and the demand for online food delivery soared higher than before.

“However, can the existing players meet the expectations of customers who rely heavily on online food order? We have already seen comments trending on social media on customers’ frustrations with online food delivery – order not received, delay in delivery, delay in refund, food prices are becoming substantially more expensive compared to dine-in, and so on. This scenario easily shows that there are more opportunities in our food delivery industry,” he added.

Currently, SwitzGo offers food delivery within Bangsar and Petaling Jaya areas promising 40 minute-delivery without extra fees, making their food selection more affordable compared to its competitors. Working with more than 100 restaurants presently, vendors and hawkers around the area, SwitzGo aimed to penetrate other areas in the Klang Valley and other state capitals within the next 3 months by getting at least 10 new restaurants and eateries onboard every week. As an incentive for food businesses to start partnering with SwitzGo, the brand waives any commissions until 31 August 2020 to ensure high profit margins as their restaurants can only accommodate 50% of the full capacity at one time due to the social distancing standard operating procedures announced by the government.

In the near future, SwitzGo plans to work with local farmers to bring fresh fruits and vegetables from farm to table, removing all middlemen to ensure fair prices to Malaysian consumers. The brand will also expand the business in parcel and documents delivery to support high demand in online shopping, business transactions and many more.

Featured Image Credit: SwitzGo