KUALA LUMPUR: Among the sea of impeccable blazers, cuffed shirts and smart office dresses, there were also t-shirts, jeans and folded-up sleeves.
It was a diverse crowd of lawyers and young entrepreneurs, which gathered at a Bangsar legal firm in the very first networking event between the legal profession and startups.
Hosted by Chooi & Company, the legal firm aims to provide a platform for the startup community to build a successful ecosystem and to offer it guidance.
“We want to gather the startup community and create a forum where we can talk about their issues,” said Chooi & Company partner Raphael Tay.
“But the angle that we have, and our expertise, is of course in legal issues. So we want to use that to bring awareness to the community,” he told The Star during the Thursday evening event.
Tay said that startups with their innovative ideas and new technology are necessary for any economy to develop.
“These are the trends and ideas of tomorrow. So we really need to support these ideas, no matter how crazy as it sounds,” he said.
“We are here to support them, nudge them and challenge them.
“For example, who would have thought that there would be a system to replace taxis? There are lots of things that are happening today that we never saw 10 years ago and it’s so critical to support that initiative.
“These new ideas will drive society in years to come, and if we don’t support them today, we will never be able develop,” said Tay.
Tay added that the company would discuss legal issues surrounding startups in a series of upcoming networking sessions and events in the year ahead.
“It’s about exchanging ideas in this legal environment to support the startup ecosystem,” he said.
Tay said that some of the common issues are whether the start-ups are legally established, the difference between a partnership and company, intellectual property rights, licensing agreements and registering trademarks.
“Our point is to support that ecosystem and bring legal awareness on things that they really need to think about,” he said.
Tay said that good legal framework is important as ideas can get stolen or feuds can happen.
“We want to help ensure the continuity of these young businesses and help them succeed,” said Tay.
Some of the guests at the Thursday event included coaching facility The Honey Badgers, services marketplace Kao Dim, financial business marketplace MHub, Ken’s Foodtruck, software company Ocean Nuxus, genetic testing service Biogene Technologies, MaGIC, Techstars, Startup Malaysia, Infinite Ventures, and Southern Capital.
“This kind of networking is really good and long overdue,” said Techstars regional manager Lalitha Wemel.
“Law firms see these startups as potential that need some guidance, and it’s nice to see them stepping up to the plate,” she said.
Infinite Ventures business relations head Lennise Ng said that it is important for startups to get legal advice on what it takes to kick-start a company.
“We welcome more law firms to jump into this, as well as more startups,” said Ng.
Kao Dim co-founder Jeffri Cheong said that he was a lawyer before and knows that legal knowledge and information is lacking among startups.
“That is why an event like this is important. It is also really important to start building this ecosystem to help startups as they are going to be the companies of the future,” said Cheong.