Two start-ups win Star Accelerator Fund

PETALING JAYA: The Star Accelerator Fund has identified two local start-ups – Geob International Sdn Bhd and Loanstreet Sdn Bhd – to be the first recipients of its funding, opening doors of opportunity for the local entrepreneurs to continue growing their business ideas.

Geob International has started using the funds to market its healthcare wristband HypoBand, which detects cold sweat during hypoglycemia in diabetic patients.

“The fund has really given us a footing to expand. We have hired a few sales people and administrative staff and finally rented an office space,” founder and chief executive officer Geoffrey Tan said, aside from ordering more raw material for the manufacture of the wristband.

To date, Geob International has secured four distributors in Singapore, the Middle East and Malaysia. It is also in talks with parties from the United Kingdom, India and Asean.

“We have also allocated funds for research and development, to work on a new version of HypoBand that extends to the Apple iOS,” he said. “The remote health monitoring industry is growing, although in Malaysia it is still in its infancy stage,” Tan added, noting that the international sales for the HypoBand was higher.

Geob International has sold 300 units since its first batch of products was ready half a year ago. “We have in the pipeline another 300 on purchase order.”

For Loanstreet, being a recipient meant a boost to the team’s morale to keep pursuing their vision.

Loanstreet managing director Jared Lim said: “Before this, we were looking for validation and now we feel more confident (to move ahead). As an entrepreneur, it’s great to not have to worry about settling bills now.”

Both companies had approached other investors before, but nothing came out of it. The application processes, both agreed, were usually arduous, if not bureaucratic.

“For the Star Accelerator Fund, it was straightforward, it was upfront with what it wanted,” Lim said, recounting Loanstreet’s experience when it first applied for the fund in April.

Lim noted that Loanstreet, an online bank loan aggregator providing comprehensive loan information and detailed comparisons for its users, planned to extend its product offering to more credit facilites beyond mortgages, which it has always focused on.

“We have always been mortgage-focused and now we want to look into personal, car and amanah loans,” he said. Lim added that the company was looking to unveil some tie-ups with other online property portals in the next few months.

Since its website launch last year, the pioneering service has seen a rise in competition. “Well-funded people have started coming in but they are financially a step ahead, as they are backed by international firms,” Lim said.

The team is honoured to be the benchmark for similar online portals and Lim maintained that Loanstreet was not a fly-by-night aggregator. “We have been improving our consumer and bank touch points; some banks have started signing longer-term collaboration contracts with us.”

Star Publications (M) Bhd corporate services group general manager George Chan, who oversees the operations of the fund, hoped more entrepreneurs would tap the smart money to grow their business because the Star Media Group had a wide synergistic portfolio of media assets in the traditional as well as new media space.

“With the release of the first tranche of the fund to the two recipients, we expect to see more entrepreneurs stepping forward and sharing with us their ideas, leveraging our media expertise to contribute positively to the country’s economy.” he said, “The fund is here to stay to help talented entrepreneurs flourish.”

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