In an effort to help the Malaysian economy and local startups through this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Pan-Asian venture capital firm Gobi Partners and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) have jointly announced a pitching competition for Malaysian startups. 

Winning companies will get the opportunity to secure equity investment from the firm under their Malaysia SuperSeed Fund II vehicle, a fund jointly announced last year by Gobi, MAVCAP and Sunway, as well as be a potential MDEC grant recipient. Additional prizes include the chance to attend an entrepreneurship program organized by Alibaba Business School and the iLabs Accelerator Program by the Sunway Group.

“Great adversity forges great entrepreneurs,” said Thomas G. Tsao, Chairman and Founding Partner of Gobi. “For those who believe in their dreams and have the mettle to succeed, entering this competition could change your life.”

“The SuperSeed II Championship resonates with MDEC’s #DIGITALvsCOVID movement, which aims to harness digital technologies to help our people, entrepreneurs and businesses surmount economic challenges caused by the pandemic. As we navigate life and work in the new norm, there will be an extraordinary demand for novel tech solutions – a gap that can be capably fulfilled by prolific and innovative startups. As such, we will passionately support the successful startups in this competition with their tech endeavours, giving them an edge as choice prospects of our MDEC grant if all requirements are met,” said Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC.

Gobi’s Managing Director for Malaysia, Jamaludin Bujang, added, “The Malaysian startup ecosystem is teeming with talent. Startups want to solve the country’s problems in new and innovative ways, and this will be one way for them to realize their aspirations. We, as a venture capital firm, also believe that we need to keep investing as the world goes through these kinds of cycles; in order for the ecosystem to survive, the show must go on.”

Aside from capital, the winners will also be automatically eligible to attend a suitable entrepreneurship program organized by Alibaba Business School, while finalists will be placed in a priority channel to be selected for the program. The event will be held in Hangzhou in 2021 and provides startups with first-hand exposure to E-commerce and digital innovations, access to business leaders across Alibaba and China, as well as an opportunity to connect with like-minded, leading entrepreneurs in the region.

“The spirit of tenacity and resilience has played a key role in shaping Alibaba’s own development, whether it be SARS in 2003 or the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing today,” said Brian A. Wong, Vice President of Alibaba Global Initiatives, a unit of the Alibaba Business School. “Amidst chaos and uncertainty, entrepreneurs who are mission and vision-focused are most adept at making decisive and deliberate choices for both their businesses’ short-term survival and long-term success. We hope that this competition can recognize those individuals and ventures which exhibit these exceptional traits.”

As an added bonus, Sunway will be offering the top three finalists for the competition a wild card to enter their iLabs Accelerator program, which is in collaboration with Gobi Partners. The program will begin in September of this year.

Evan Cheah, Executive Vice President of President’s Office, Sunway Group said, “We are confident this unique public-private partnership between Gobi, MDEC, MAVCAP and Sunway will contribute positively to Malaysia’s startup scene, especially during these trying times. In addition, the Sunway iLabs Accelerator programme provides startups with access to Sunway’s resources across 13 business divisions as well as the township of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, which is a living lab that continuously fosters a thriving innovation ecosystem. This means that startups will have a wide market as a potential test bed, access to Sunway University’s labs, researchers, and potential interns".

The criteria for the SuperSeed II Championship are as follows: 1) the company is incorporated in Malaysia or; 2) the founder is Malaysian or there is a Malaysian shareholder or; 3) the company has substantial operations in Malaysia or; 4) the company has concrete plans to expand their business into Malaysia.

Startups in the following (but not limited to) key verticals will be considered for the competition:

  1. Retail & Enterprise (i.e. AI, B2B, B2C, Big Data, e-commerce, and logistics);
  2. FinTech (i.e. crowdfunding, InsureTech, mobile payments, P2P lending, and robo-advisors);
  3. Smart Cities & Circular Economy (i.e. construction solutions, e-hailing, environment solutions, IoT, mobility solutions, and public transport solutions);
  4. TaqwaTech (i.e. companies providing products and services to Muslim consumers and communities).

The SuperSeed II Championship will see startups being added to Gobi’s portfolio for Malaysia SuperSeed Fund II, a fund that was launched together with Malaysia’s largest venture capital company MAVCAP, and local conglomerate Sunway Group. The Fund is focused on financing early-stage startups in Malaysia. There will be 20 - 25 startups in the Fund’s portfolio, and the median ticket size will be between RM 1.5 – 2 million.

MAVCAP’s Acting CEO Shahril Anas Hasan Aziz, said, “Supportive of the Government’s initiatives to support tech startups through this pandemic, with this fund, MAVCAP, together with Gobi, MDEC and Sunway, will be providing a viable and complementary alternative to startups that need the help.”

To enter the competition and for more detailed information, interested startups can visit here. The deadline for entries is 12 AM (Midnight), June 16, 2020. The preliminary round is scheduled to take place at the end of June, while the qualifying rounds and final round is set to be held in July and August.

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