1337 Ventures (1337 is pronounced ‘leet’, in case you were wondering) might be known to most of us for having their own idea validation programme known as Alpha Startups, whose function is to help local Malaysian startup companies achieve their goals and business expansion objectives. They help startups by providing them with the resources, funding, and tech support they need, while nuturing them with business knowledge and decision making skills. In short, they transform a startup’s early raw ideas into ‘minimal viable products’ (MVP).
In just the first year of its launch last year, 1337 Ventures worked with a staggering 92 startups and 200 Malaysian entrepreneurs that had enrolled for the Alpha Startups programme. Since then, 9 startups have successfully raised pre-seed funding to develop their products, 7 have been chosen to join various accelerator programmes (an accelerator programme is basically an enrollment programme where startups are given provisions and resources to “accelerate or speed up” their development phase), and more than a dozen are in the process of raising funds from the government.
And now, Alpha Startups is working with Singapore to help meet their objective of creating more tech startups with high growth over the next 5 years. The programme will provide startups with the opportunities and provisions to help them find out if their ideas are marketable.
Their CEO, Bikesh Lakhmichand, shared his thoughts on their expansion into Singapore: “Singapore, with its robust industries, good governance, world class infrastructure and talented cosmopolitan population, has been ranked as one of the best places to do businesses in Asia and around the world.
“The strategic location of Singapore, as well as its connectivity, will help new local startups achieve vertical progress at an accelerated pace. We are looking at a timely strategic roll out of Alpha Startups at major ASEAN cities within the next 18 months.”
The pre-accelerator programme has been a primary pipeline for 1337 Ventures’ investments; 6 of the recent 8 investments in Malaysia stemmed from it. And the upcoming Singapore programme will be 1337’s first initiatives in the country, with investments being in the plan for the third quarter of 2015. In addition, the Alpha Startups programme will contribute to Singaporean investment players by increasing the volume of deal flows for investment purposes.
Startups will be exposed to a 5-day intensive bootcamp from the 16th-20th of March 2015, where 20 selected teams will get to test their ideas through customer and product development, marketing, and learn about the art of pitching. Startups registering for the pre-accelerator programme in March will have to submit a one-minute video pitch as an entry point. Think Hunger-Games meets The Internship.
Ahead of the start of the programme, we asked Bikesh a couple of questions on his company’s move, and here are his thoughts:
1. Why did 1337 Ventures choose Singapore to hold the Alpha Startups programme, instead of other countries?
We’re looking at expanding our programme to the whole of SEA. Singapore is our first step after KL, and it will be followed by Indonesia.
2. How’s the start up scene in Singapore, and why was it appealing to 1337 Ventures?
We found that Singapore had much more tech-oriented startups compared to Malaysia, which is predominantly service-based. Also, we found that SG-based startups had better hustling skills. Hence, we’d like to see how we can quickly start bridging these gaps between the SEA countries.
For instance, we could have an SG-based founder team up with another early-stage startup in KL with more technical capabilities. That’s the beauty of the Alpha Startups programme — the ever-growing alumni helps startups in the various locales expand faster via such connections and collaborations.
3. What are your future plans for Singapore? Will there be any collaborations between Malaysia and Singapore, should the opportunities arise?
We’re definitely looking at an SEA-based fund in Singapore in the near future, and we’ll also be bringing in our iTrain division to Singapore to ramp up technical talent — it’s what we did in Malaysia, and are currently doing in Indonesia.
For more details on registering your startup for this accelator programme, you can visit the Alpha Startups Website.