It was a crowded room for just a launch of an accelerator program. That’s because the program is one of the largest accelerator programs in Southeast Asia—with 77 startups including a total of 166 participants.
The accelerator program, called MaGIC Accelerator Program (MAP), was launched by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) at their campus in Cyberjaya. MAP consists of two parallel tracks—the ASEAN Startup track which has 52 startups; and the Social Enterprise (SE) track which has 25 startups. Here are 7 reasons to prove that MaGIC has carefully planned their program to be one of the top in the whole Southeast Asia region.
1. The application process is extremely stringent.
The 77 startups which were selected for MAP were from a pool of over 1000 applications from 26 countries (goes to show how sought after the program is), which brings the acceptance rate to only 7%. The startups were selected by a panel of judges from the industry based on 3 criteria:
a) The potential of a high scalable product targeting the ASEAN market.
b) Its readiness for early stage regional deal flows.
c) Their potential to expand into ASEAN and global markets.
2. MAP’s SE track makes it one-of-a-kind.
MAP’s SE track is the first social enterprise program in the country that aims to accelerate and develop bold new ideas that will help address social or environmental issues, improve lives and build a sustainable environment. Startups that are in the SE track focus on developing a community of social entrepreneurs who will be the catalyst to lead the growth of social entrepreneurship within the country and beyond.
3. MaGIC has got valuable perks in store for the startups.
Each startup in MAP will be given access to perks worth over USD400,000 from big names such as Google Developers Launchpad, Microsoft, Microsoft BizSpark, Evernote, Elance oDesk, Piktochart, Exabytes, and so many more. For the startups in the ASEAN track, they will have the opportunity to be linked to market partners such as Axiata, Tune Talk, Digi, Accenture, Maybank, Netccentric, among others.
4. Experienced mentors in their respective fields are on board.
The line up of mentors (over 70 of them) for both the ASEAN and SE track are exceptional. Top guns from giant brands like Mindvalley, KFit, Zalora, Grabtaxi, Christyng.com and more have committed their time to the ASEAN track; whereas for the SE track, they have names from Air Asia Foundation, Tune Hotels, Ambank, and Impact Hub Singapore.
Other than that, on Demo Day during the final month, there will be a potential crowd of 500 local, regional and global investors listening to the startups’ pitch, thereby giving them high exposure and increase their chances of getting funding.
5. MAP is modelled after Startup Chile for very legit reasons.
Cheryl Yeoh shared that when she and her team spent time at Chile to analyse what makes Startup Chile successful, she noticed that they opened their doors to anyone in the world to come to Chile for 6 months to start a company.
“The culture and mindset change of the locals wouldn’t have been accomplished if it wasn’t for the diversity of people coming to Chile to start a company. So what would have taken them 10 years to change, only took them 3 years,” Cheryl said. And that is why MaGIC chose to open their MAP to the ASEAN community, because as Cheryl said, “It’s not all about being cocooned in our own world and not knowing what’s beyond that.”
“We’re not trying to be the next Silicon Valley here, we’re trying to get elements that works in Silicon Valley and get the mindset here,” Cheryl added.
6. The curriculum is flexible, but it’s also comprehensive and has accountability measures.
Every Monday and Tuesday there will be mentor programs which startups can opt to participate in; and from Wednesday to Friday, startups will have free time focus on their respective businesses. Every once in two weeks, startups will meet up with their platoon (a set group of 7-8 startups) for peer-to-peer learning and each platoon will be accompanied by MaGIC Account Managers, 1 investor mentor, and 1 startup mentor.
Cheryl believes that this program is not meant to be structured as just a classroom and that the participants are not students, instead, she said that participants are adults and they are expected to use their time wisely to work on their startup.
“Mentors are there to share their relevant experience, what worked and what didn’t work, but they are not there to give you answers. So use your mentors very wisely and pick a few that you can go deep with,” Cheryl advised the startups present.
Startups will be held accountable to one metric that will be tracked—whether it’s revenue, users pageviews—and as long as they are growing that number month after month, at the end of the program, that startup will be successful because it’s all about traction over time.
Within the 4 months, the startups are also required to “give back” to the local community by teaching a MaGIC Academy workshop or share their startup experience at a local university.
7. MAP wants to focus not just on your startup growth, but also your personal growth.
Cheryl explained that they chose to mix ASEAN and SE because they liken people who are in the SE track to Mother Theresa and they want to infuse Richard Branson’s brain into the heart of Mother Theresa. “We’re hoping that the ASEAN startups who are high growth startups will also get the elements of being a responsible and sustainable business,” she shared.
Of all the elements, benefits and characteristics of the program, one thing that’s for sure is that to the 77 startups that have just embarked on this experience, MAP is not just a program, it’s a potential life changer.
MAP is a government-funded accelerator program which will operate out of the MaGIC campus in Cuberjaya for 4 months, from 27th July to 28th November 2015.