Working her MaGIC

The new captain steering the ship at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre is on a mission: to create local entrepreneurs savvy enough to ride on the waves of technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

SHE calls herself an “old soul” in the world of startups and entrepreneurship.

But Dzuleira Abu Bakar is about to embark on a new voyage.

As the new CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), she will be opening fresh doors for Malaysian entrepreneurs to face the future.

Or to be exact, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), that will bring with it emerging techno­logies like robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence – all set to further blur the lines between our physical life and the digital world.

While the world embraces such rapid developments, MaGIC wants to ensure we have a legion of Malaysian entrepreneurs who will flourish through the evolving times.

“There will be an increasingly competitive market which the

ecosystem needs to be ready for.

“At MaGIC, we believe in crea­ting the next generation of resilient entrepreneurs, better equipped and agile to thrive in IR4.0.

“We want to enable the growth of entrepreneurs ready to face the future, ready to play an important part in the ecosystem building,” says Dzuleira, who took over the reins at MaGIC about a month ago.

Prior to this, Dzuleira was the CEO of Cradle Seed Ventures, a growth stage venture capital fund, and was on several boards of technology startups as well as a council member of the National ICT Association of Malaysia.

Excited and ready to blaze trails, she says MaGIC wants to aid in the nation’s preparation for an innovation-led economy in the future.

For MaGIC to conjure up a new breed of savvy entrepreneurs, it wants to ramp up efforts to provide budding talents with entrepreneurship education and avenues to experiment with new ideas through its outreach programmes for youths at universities.

“Our efforts include having innovation and entrepreneurship programmes via partnerships with local and international universities, such as bootcamps, hackathons and pre-accelerator programmes,” she says.

Under its SPARK movement, MaGIC also aims to create citizens of the future by inspiring Malaysians to alter attitudes, shift mindsets and have the necessary skill sets for IR4.0.

“This is done by educating the youth to view problems as opportunities while injecting the spirit of innovation collectively through inspiring talks, creative and innovative workshops, exhibitions from startups, fun activities and more,” Dzuleira says.

MaGIC is also focused on building a pool of entrepreneurs armed in the latest technological trends like Big Data, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.

They should also know how to tap into psychological tools (innovative business models) and the power of the crowd (crowdfunding and community building).

Not forgetting, such entrepreneurs must also have access to funding which includes venture capital, market access and a business environment that links to relevant industry mentors, other enterprises and corporations.

“With all this in place, an entrepreneur will be able to churn new innovative products and services,” she explains.

With vast experience in the local tech sector under her belt, Dzuleira has plans for Malaysia to be the gateway for international players to this part of the world.

“My ultimate goal really is for Malaysia to be on the global map of innovation, where this country will continue to produce and develop innovative startups and entrepreneurs.

“MaGIC will serve as a launch pad for local entrepreneurs to gain access to regional and global players, and ecosystems to not just learn, but to also spread their products, services and capabilities to the world and vice versa.

“Startups from all over the globe should see MaGIC as a gateway to the Asean market,” she says.

Dzuleira reveals that MaGIC plans to achieve this by creating new programmes that allow entrepreneurs access to Asean and global players.

Currently, MaGIC’s Global Accelerator Programme provides entrepreneurs with the necessary skills, knowledge, and network to become investment-ready in four months and break into the Asean market.

But MaGIC will soon introduce its Asean Expansion Week, where partners from around the region will share growth strategies and resources that participants can leverage on.

The effort to prepare Malaysian talents to face IR4.0 is just the latest addition in MaGIC’s endeavours to drive creativity and innovation in the country.

Dzuleira shares that since MaGIC’s inception in 2014, over 80,000 students, aspiring entrepreneurs and enterprises have benefited from its programmes, workshops and events.

“This includes home-grown entrepreneurs and those from beyond our borders.

“We have also groomed over 980 startups with over 200 of them having female founders,” she says, adding that such startups are from various industries including e-commerce, education, food and beve­rage, lifestyle and fashion, travel, medical, health and wellness, among others.

While developing innovation in the country can be challenging, Dzuleira believes that “if we are deemed to be playing catch up, then so be it, as long as we are seen to be moving the needle from where we started”.

“I strongly believe in the pursuit of quality.

“I would rather us have 20 solution-driven thinkers than 100 me-too copycat entrepreneurs,” she expresses.

In other words, creativity is

paramount in driving innovation.

“But the key difference between creativity and innovation is execution: the capacity to turn an idea into a successful service, product or venture.

“Innovation also requires the development, production and implementation of an idea.

“This is why the number of ‘latent’ innovators is far larger than the number of actual innovations,” she says.

Another challenge which local entrepreneurs today face is difficulty to connect with mentors who best understand their scope of business, says Dzuleira.

“MaGIC Mentorship is a service provided by MaGIC to fast track an entrepreneur’s journey by allowing them to gain fresh perspective, advice and tips from mentors and skilled entrepreneurs.

“It allows mentors to act as trusted confidantes while providing mentees the opportunity to tap the minds of subject matter experts at zero cost,” she says.

But while MaGIC can work its way to aid entrepreneurs, success ultimately falls back on individuals themselves.

To be an entrepreneur, Dzuleira says one needs to be creative and innovative, willing to take risks, not afraid to fail and tenacious.

“My message to budding entrepreneurs is to think global. Think big from the get go.

“It helps in forming your direction.

“Think about building a business that will stand the test of time.

“It is time that we started inculcating a mindset of creating solutions that fit the world and not just for a specific country,” she says.

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