I have been spending some time reading about the technology ecosystem in Malaysia from many different aspects. It’s fair to say Malaysian tech entrepreneurship ecosystem is still quite nascent compared to other countries.
Historically, we can broadly bucket most of the successful Malaysian entrepreneurs into two categories.
First group of entrepreneurs leveraged on local resources and then looked far beyond the Malaysian market — they were very successful at bringing the Malaysian competitive advantages overseas with product/commodities based businesses. Once the foundation is stable, an aggressive expansion plan will propel the company to become a global giant. Prominent examples are in sectors such as Palm Oil Plantation (IOI Group) and Rubber Glove Manufacturing (Top Glove, Hartalega).
Second group of entrepreneurs looked within the Malaysian market — they started sustainable business activities that generate value for the Malaysian community along as the country develops, by either pioneering them in the Malaysia or bringing in foreign franchise. Once they have established themselves inward, they looked outward for more business activities. Prominent examples are in industry such as leisure/service (Berjaya Corp, AirAsia), utilities (YTL Corporation), banking (Hong Leong and Public Bank) and real estate (Tropicana, Mahsing, Sunway and etc.) businesses in Malaysia.
Grab is definitely a leading example of our generation in the second group so far with its admirable hockey stick growth. I really wish to see Grab to be successful, proving that Growth before Profit is a viable strategy as well for a Malaysian startup, (which has relocated its HQ to Singapore). (Growth or Profit first is another topic I would explore in another post)
To use the 21st century entrepreneurship term, their successes came from product-market fit, top-notch execution and a huge appetite for risk. I believe any aspiring (tech) entrepreneurs in Malaysia will benefit from looking at the market from this perspective at the early ideation stage.
Beyond the border: What is the Total Addressable Market and how far can I grow within and beyond Malaysia? How do I build a meaningful network way in advance in preparation for future cross-border expansion?
Within the border: Does my idea solve an inherent problem in the Malaysian society and does it add value to businesses/consumers? When will I face bottleneck in growth?
It doesn’t hurt to learn from the already successful entrepreneurs, standing on their shoulder and put Malaysia on the global tech map!
Of course, again easier said than done eh? Hang tight, move fast and break things!
[Feel free to comment and feedback, as this is a platform for me to grow]
FYI: this post was originally from my Medium.