Digi hopes to jumpstart the startup scene in East Malaysia


  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Incub8 incubator programme for East Malaysia is spearheaded by the new Digi-X division led by Praveen (front left) — S.S.KANESAN/The Star

Digi has launched the Incub8 programme to help startups in East Malaysia take their ideas to the next level.

“With the local startup scene very much converged in the peninsular, Incub8 seeks to provide equal opportunities for East Malaysia to nurture early stage startups until they are big enough to leave the nest and make it on their own,” says Digi chief digital officer Praveen Rajan, who heads the newly created Digi-X division.

Incub8 has two phases – Ideation and Incubation. Under the first phase, individuals will undergo a three-day workshop (July 15 to 17) to learn the basics of coming up with business-worthy ideas.

The workshop is aimed at individuals interested in starting a business but have yet to come up with a business idea, or entrepreneurs who want to verify that their idea has what it takes to succeed.

The second phase, which takes place in October, is a six-day bootcamp that will help the startups to validate their ideas, as well as learn product development, business basics and go-to-market strategies.

Among the mentors taking part in the incubation process include the team from 1337 Ventures (Bikesh Lakmichand, Jason Chia and Athi Selvanayagam) and entrepreneurs such as Adlin Yusman from Bemalas and Karl Loo from ServisHero.

The last stage will be a demo day where teams will get to pitch their ideas – the top three will get a funding of up to RM25,000 each. In exchange for the seeding fund, Digi will take up a minor equity in the startups.

“The startups don’t necessarily have to relate to Digi’s core business as we are looking for ideas that appeal to a wider range of audience,” says Praveen.

Among the areas Digi is looking into are financial services, Internet of Things, e-commerce, security and healthcare.

Incub8 joins Digi’s existing programmes such as Challenge for Change which unearths startups supporting social causes and Accelerate which focuses on fast-tracking startup development.

“If I go five years into the future, Digi will not be a telco anymore. It will be a digital service provider and that’s where we are heading to at Telenor,” said Telenor president and CEO Sigve Brekke. Telenor owns 49% of Digi.

“Most of what you do will be digital, as everything is online now including customer service.”

Incub8 will take place in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Digi says it eventually plans to bring the programme to West Malaysia.
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