MDEC to entrepreneurs: Grow fast and go global!

Tan Sri Sidek Hassan and Datuk Yasmin Mahmood (centre) with panelists giving the thumbs-up for a highly successful event!

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Chairman Tan Sri Sidek Hassan recently welcomed a full house in Kuala Lumpur for the GRAND [GAIN Re-connect & Networking Dinner] event, an initiative designed to further encourage local companies to “grow fast and go global”.

Together with his New Year wishes, Tan Sri Sidek also noted success stories during 2017 and congratulated the guests, comprising senior executives, founders and CEOs, 160 of which came from 110 companies on the GAIN platform, designed to grow companies into the Asean and global markets.

In her welcome note, MDEC CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood pointed to key conversations in the coming year, which includes growing more young talent and inspiring youths to contribute to innovation and the growth of the nation.

Speaking of the importance of public-private collaboration, Datuk Yasmin added: “We want to create wealth for Malaysians, to become a net exporter of technology: this requires a strong ecosystem to foster rapid growth.”

Radio BFM’s Freda Liu moderated the panel discussion, where Datuk Yasmin – together with some Malaysian shakers and movers, Patrick Grove (Catcha Group), Joel Neoh (Co-founder of Groupon and Fave), CC Puan (Founder of Green Packets), Andrew Tiang (Founder & MD N2N), and Vishen Lakhiani, (Founder & CEO of Mindvalley) – delved further into the 2018 theme – Grow Fast and Go Global.

Among the strategic issues discussed, panel comments – some are summarised below – touched on wide-ranging concerns and achievements to accelerate growth such as transforming mindsets linked to business culture.

“It’s nice to see that Silicon Valley [SV] culture and mindset is rubbing off on our companies due to MDEC’s previous three SV immersion programs. We are now seeing ‘larger and bigger’ entrepreneurs who are coaching upcoming entrepreneurs and guiding them to greater success. Mentors include Dato Larry Gan, Datuk Khairol, Raj Lorenz, Andrew Tiang, KL Chan, Ganesh Bangah – who are helping the newer companies enhance their businesses.”

Catcha’s Patrick Grove noted: “We probably have more government support than any other country. Our goal with iflix is to build a global company headquartered right here in Malaysia. We can build great companies right here.”

The importance of visibility ensures that our tech companies are getting the right exposure to fuel growth. Commenting on digital marketing, Datuk Yasmin pointed out that “people talking about the digital economy is increasing daily. We must now focus on telling our stories on the global stage.”

“Humble bragging is a skill we all need to develop in Malaysia,” she added. “The practice of Show and Tell should start at preschool level – like in the US.”

For 2018, some takeaways included the need for Malaysian business leaders to transform their self perceptions to a greater realism: it is possible for enterprises to be created and based from Malaysia and still take on the global stage – to become global icons equal to or better than the best American digital giants.

Other takeaways included:

  • “Malaysia has a unique advantage. The government is open to talent from overseas and at home“ – Vishen Lakhiani.
  • “Companies in Malaysia are in a unique position with ASEAN market at fingertips” – CC Puan
  • “There is great potential to be a trading hub here. Allowing companies to first go Asean and then go global” – Andrew Tiang

Datuk Yasmin agreed and commented: “Our KPIs are about helping to build your success. MDEC will continue to grow and work as a beacon this year to guide and support the digital transformation of the economy and light pathways to global expansion.”

MDEC’s Global Acceleration & Innovation Network (GAIN) initiative was established in 2015 to identify and partner with progressive technology companies that were growing its headquarters in Malaysia. Since then, the GAIN team has engaged with more than 150 entrepreneurs and embarked on a fact-finding mission to understand what areas would be meaningful. To find out more, click here.

Meanwhile, MDEC Vice President (Enterprise Development) Gopi Ganesalingam said: “It was was wonderful to see Malaysia’s own Silicon Valley level conversations at a GAIN get-together. There is now a definite story emerging of local champions and companies – eyeing rapid growth opportunities and helping to put Malaysia firmly on the global tech scene.”

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