As Malaysia continuously progresses in the 21st century and approaches the ‘Vision 2020’ mark, the local entrepreneurial scene has seen a tremendous boom of startups by the younger generation. These new industrialists, armed with brilliant ideas and a fiery spirit, consistently show unrelenting resilience and innovation in the face of adversities and unfavourable circumstances. However, it is undeniable that there has been no better time to launch startups than now, owing to the vast availability of funding and infrastructure resources. Top 10 of Malaysia takes a look at Malaysia’s most dynamic startups (listed in no particular order) that have been initiated in recent times.
Escape Room Sdn Bhd
The nation’s very first real-life room escape game, aptly named Escape Room was founded by Dato’ Victor Lo, Dato’ Jason Leung and Dato’ Patrick Ong with the aim of promoting a healthy social life for people of all ages, especially the tech-obsessed youth. A unique, intuitive and interactive experience, the game requires teams to find clues based on various storylines to solve puzzles and ultimately escape the room within a time limit. Currently available at E@Curve, SetiaWalk Mall, Berjaya Time Square, Sutera Mall, 1st Avenue Mall, Seremeban Prima and a landed retail space in Klang, Escape Room has already reached international shores with outlets in countries such as Australia, India, Indonesia, Romania, Thailand, UAE, UK and Vietnam.
Founded to address a gap in the market when there was a lack of local online grocery stores, Presto Grocer is the creation of a husband and wife team of Daniel Ruppert and Azrin Zuhdi, who have worked as investment bankers in London prior to returning to Malaysia. Having used to do most of their grocery shopping online, the duo decided to start Presto, first establishing physical outlets in various locations beginning with a modest grocery store in Damansara Perdana to build up their inventory and the brand before going digital. Currently a leader amongst online grocery stores in Malaysia, the company is aiming to make an impact in the regional markets including Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
The idea to form Origene Bakery came to Eagle Chia after realising the difficulties faced by health-conscious consumers and people with other dietary requirements to find bakery products that are not only healthy but also delicious. The bakery was then born with the aim of providing the healthiest and tastiest bread and pastries using the finest organic and natural ingredients. Soon after, the establishment rapidly gained a loyal following via word-of-mouth and social media owing to its scrumptious organic and sugarless products. Currently armed with the aspiration to bring healthy and affordable organic food to everyone beyond Malaysia, Origene Bakery has plans to set up bakeries in other Southeast Asian countries.
MyTeksi Sdn Bhd
The brilliant business venture by two Malaysian Harvard Business School graduates had already won 2nd place in the annual HBS Business Plan competition when it was still an idea. In the short amount of time since then, the startup has revitalised the local taxi industry, improving the safety and efficiency of the taxis by leveraging on advancements in GPS and mobile technology. Providing taxi drivers with smartphones and connecting passengers to drivers with a mobile application, MyTeksi efficiently does away with some of the main problems of public transportation in Malaysia, such as despatch inefficiency and passenger safety. Having expanded regionally, the application currently enables passengers to book taxis in multiple cities in Asia.
A property sale and rent establishment, CBD Properties has amassed numerous prestigious accolades since its humble inception, the latest being the MIEA Real Estate Agency of the Year Award 2014. Formed by entrepreneur Adrian Wang, the firm aims to fill the essential space for a creative and dependable real estate company specialising in the needs of residential, corporate office space, commercial, industrial and land properties in the Klang Valley. Staffed by a strong team of specialists in 13 different branches spread across Malaysia who possess the expertise to provide a full range of real estate services, the company has the strength of a real estate powerhouse yet still prides itself on its neighbourly approach with clients.
The Last Polka
Founded by May Yee and Ee Vee who both left their corporate jobs in pursuit of their dessert dreams, the homegrown ice cream brand began life simply as a website with an order form and deliveries made to customers in shopping malls. Prepared with 100% natural ingredients, The Last Polka combines creamy French-style ice cream with regional Asian flavours, such as Salted Gula Melaka, Pandan Kaya and even Horlicks. This unique premise coupled with their interesting sales technique quickly garnered them a large fanbase in the Klang Valley. Currently retailing at more than 20 cafes, the brand also caters to parties and other festivals.
Operated by Bison Stores Sdn Bhd, one of the leading press retailers in Malaysia, myNEWS.com provides customers with a wide selection of press products at a reasonable price at easily accessible locations. Ranging from popular shopping complexes and supermarket stores to Rapid LRT stations to bus terminals and the PLUS highway, the sophisticated new-age newsstand also carries convenience merchandise such as stationery, phone reloads and tobacco products. There is also a wide variety of beverages, titbits, cough drops, chocolates, toys, greeting cards and other daily items.
Open Kod Sdn Bhd
What began as a small business to explore the vast ocean that is the open source market in Malaysia quickly developed to become Open Kod Sdn Bhd, a leading provider of Malaysian Internet Security to various other international enterprises. The company’s aims include generating growth of the ICT and OSS industry to increase the number of both the user and developer of the Open Source Software to achieve a knowledge-based society. Furthermore, the corporation also runs parallel with the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)’s vision to transform Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy (K-economy).
If the name Giggle Garage hadn’t already given away the startup’s mission of spreading fun and smiles through their content, their motto of “Create. Animate. Giggle” sure will. Since its incorporation in 2010, the MSC status company has created many critically-acclaimed productions, either fully managed or co-produced with partners. Besides continuously creating high-quality original animated content for children and family entertainment, the animation house also provides CGI animation services, commercial works, VFX or content commissioning for multiple digital platforms. Giggle Garage was awarded the Most Admired Animation Company in Malaysia by Top10 Asia Media in December 2014.
The BIG Group
Formed in early 2011, The BIG Group came about as an ideology of how the love for food binds people and experiences together. With the core persuasion of helping build relationships between people and good food, no idea is deemed too crazy or impossible for the BIG team who constantly churn out an eclectic collection of cafes, bars, retail food stores and a concept supermarket. The group is run by like-minded individuals – both veterans and newcomers – who share the same love for food and an insatiable appetite for crafting unforgettable experiences.