Uber to boost presence


  • Business
  • Saturday, 02 Jan 2016

Win-win deal: Foong (left) and Johnson.

DESPITE the current brouhaha on Uber car services in the country, the US-based private car service start-up is bent on further stamping its mark in the Malaysian market.

Although its operations in the country is still being questioned by some quarters, Uber is unperturbed and aims to beef up its position in the domestic car services business with its recent #MyUberPitch campaign in partnership with INTI International University and Colleges, and in collaboration with YTL Communications. This initiative is the first of its kind in Malaysia after rolling out successfully in various major cities in the United States, Australia, Russia and other countries in Asia.

Some industry observers view this move as one of the strategies Uber is looking to strengthen its foothold in the domestic market after hitting the global one billionth ride mark December last year. Besides providing a win-win situation for Uber and its partner under this campaign, the primary objective is to boost the entrepreneurship spirit amongst Malaysians in a bid to help the country become a high income nation.

Commenting on the campaign, Uber Malaysia general manager Leon Foong in an interview tells StarBizWeek that the company realised that there are economic opportunities in the country and there is hunger among the budding entrepreneurs to succeed in their ventures. What a better way than to participate in this campaign, he stresses. The campaign was held on Dec 4 last year in the Klang Valley,

Under this campaign, aspiring entrepreneurs were invited to participate through the Uber campaign app and are allocated 15 minutes to pitch their business ideas with various industry captains while riding on a Uber car in the Klang Valley. The three winners will be offered full scholarships for an MBA programme at INTI.

According to Foong, the responses was overwhelming as more than 4,000 people tried to book the #MyUberPitch ride but only about 100 business ideas were pitched to over 20 Malaysian business leaders and entrepreneurs on campaign day.

At the moment, he adds that there are no plans to tie-up with other institutions to launch similar campaigns as he feels INTI and Uber shares the same vision and values which, among others, centres on boosting entrepreneurship.

Foong says part of its business model surrounds three key “stakeholders”, which he describes as pro-city (provides a city with car services), pro-rider (provides passenger with safety and affordability) and pro-partners ( boost entrepreneurship and create better opportunities for its partners).

Meanwhile, INTI marketing vice-president Timothy Johnson says the #MyUberPitch campaign is part of the higher learning institution’s #rethinkEDU initiative, which aims to reinvent learning and development platforms by providing out-of-classroom experiences beyond the textbooks for students to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. This will help them gain valuable experience and skills when go to the employment market after finishing their courses, he notes.

Johnson adds that one of the reasons why INTI is keen to work with Uber is because of the spirit of hustle. “You got to hustle to get things done. This is the spirit which we intend to inculcate to our students for them to follow their passion or take a non-traditional route to go places and succeed,” he explains.

More than 100,000 votes were received from the public through Says.com, Malaysia’s social news network, who voted for their favourite top 20 business pitches. These successful pitches were selected by each of the participating business leaders.

Among the participating business leaders for the campaign were Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Irwan Serigar Abdullah and AirAsia CEO and founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes. The others leaders and entrepreneurs were Jacob Yeoh (deputy CEO of YTL Communications), Bryan Loo (Chatime CEO; Deborah Priya Henry (founder of Fugee School), Timothy Johnson (INTI International University & Colleges vice-president, marketing) as well as “couple-preneurs” such as Roen Cian (The Group) and Carey Ng (Miss Universe Malaysia national director) as well as Vivy Yusof and Fadza Anuar from FashionValet.

There were three winners for the campaign and they will be eligible for a full scholarship for the INTI MBA – Learning Simplified Programme, customised for busy working professionals wishing to upskill to stay relevant in the workplace and enhance their career prospects.

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