Calling startups to tap into Asean market

By Patricia Hului
[email protected]


Saiful Rizal Zainuddin speaking during the MAP ASEAN Roadshow Tour.


Last year MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre) organised its first MAP (MaGIC Accelerator Programme), a government-funded accelerator programme.

MAP ran on two parallel tracks out of MaGIC Campus in Cyberjaya; the ASEAN Startup (AS) Track and the Social Enterprise (SE) Track.

As for MAP AS, it is  aimed to accelerate 50 startups to be investment-ready in four months targeting the Asean market. Additionally, it is planned to build a strong Asean Startup community.

For this coming May intake (Cohort 2), MaGIC is opening its doors again for registration.

But first: why Asean?

Speaking during MAP AS Track Roadshow Tour at iCube Innovation on Jan 18, Saiful Rizal Zainuddin from MaGIC explained that Asean had a huge market size and high growth potential.

He cited the fact Asean is the seventh largest economy in the world and expected to post an average annual gross domestic product (GDP) into the trillions.

“In total GDP for all Asean countries is USD 3.7 tri.”

According to Saiful, 31 per cent of the Asean population has access to Internet compared to 45 per cent of the population of China.

“And 35 per cent of Asean’s population has adopted the smartphone,” he said to some 60 interested participants.

Tapping on this ever growing customer market in this region, MAP AS Track is looking to accelerate 30 Malaysians and 20 foreign startups.

Fret not if you do not have a registered company, applicants do not need to have a registered company to join.

Detailing what they are looking for, the MaGIC representative said they wanted startups that have validated their ideas or launched a product or prototype with some traction and have the potential to scale in the region.

The ideal startup would be less than 3 years old and focusing on the Asean market.

In 2015, 641 applications from 27 countries were received and only 52 startups were accepted into the first cohort in which 60 per cent were Malaysian startups.

Some of the startups joined for MAP AS first cohort were SkolaFund (Singapore), a web platform that enables undergraduates across Asia to crowdfund their scholarships; Qtix (Malaysia), a mobile queue management system to help enterprise be more efficient and vLance (Vietnam), an online crowdsourcing marketplace for small and medium businesses to find, hire, work online with talents around the world.

Future MAP AS participants can expect four months on the road to be investment ready.

At first, they would spend the first part of their training period to identify the target market and building the right product.

In the second month, participants will learn about measuring the right metrics to drive the required outcomes while the third month is all about positioning for local expansion and Asean growth.

The final month these startups will be getting ready Demo Day and Investors.

Plus, there will be weekly platoon sessions for peer to peer learning, weekly pitching opportunity, social outreach activities and regular check-ins with mentors and investors.

“As at Jan 12, 2015 approximately one week since applications opened, we have received more than applications from 27 countries.”

Majority of them were from Malaysia, followed by Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Bangladesh, US, Singapore, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Egypt, Cambodia and other for this cohort 2 in May.

The deadline for second cohort will end this Jan 31.

“If you have not completed your products, you are encouraged to apply for Cohort 3 August intake in which the applications are expected to open this April.”

For more information, visit


Participants listening during the roadshow at iCube Innovation.


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