It is undeniable that the city of Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a land of opportunities. Many people from outside of Klang Valley flock to KL to find a living, and to expatriates in Malaysia, KL is a great city which offers them an amazing lifestyle.
Here is the thing though, some might argue that Klang Valley is too crowded and overpopulated. Instead of setting up their businesses or startup in KL, some people choose to start their venture in Penang. One major reason is because of the free trade zone—now called the Free Industrial Zone located in Bayan Lepas. This was back in 1969, and the years following that saw many multinational corporations (MNCs) pour in, and this includes startup companies.
The self-styled ‘Silicon Valley of the East’ needs some love and attention too especially when we discuss about the current startup scene in Malaysia. That being said, it’s about time to shed some limelight on the startups that started or are based in Penang.
Did you know that one of the most well-known job-seeking sites in Malaysia is a Penang-based venture?
The founder Mark Chang was born in Kampar, Perak, and in 1997 he founded JobStreet in Penang. According to Forbes, currently JobStreet serves approximately 80,000 corporate customers and 11 million job hunters. In 2004, the company became a public listed entity when its parent company was listed on the MESDAQ Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities.
Piktochart was founded in 2012 by Ai Ching Goh and her partner Andrea Zaggia. The platform is an online tool that allows non-designers to easily create visual stories (or infographics).
Piktochart has collected over 10,000 business globally. In this past few years, Piktochart has won a number of awards such as the Best of Startup Companies category at the same APICTA Awards. Besides that Piktochart has also been recommended by Forbes Magazine.
A young couple, Suan Sear Tan and Shir Mein Leong both co-founded DeliverEat in 2012, with a mission to provide reliable food delivery service to Penangites to enjoy a vast variety of food. Currently there are more than 150 restaurants available on DeliverEat. Other than that, their services also cater to some parts of Penang Mainland.
yesHelper was founded by Kenny Chan earlier this year. It is a micro jobs platform that links people who need to get micro jobs (jobs paid by the hour) done with helpers who can do those jobs ranging from home tech support, home cleaning services to home care services.
Based in Bayan Lepas, Penang, Exabytes is a leading web hosting provider and they offers domain registrations, dedicated server Malaysia, cloud hosting in Malaysia, server co-location and many more. They have been around for a while and some of the awards they have won include Top 50 Enterprise Awards Malaysia 2007, Malaysia HR Awards 08-09, The 6th Asia Pacific International Honesty Enterprise and more.
6. The Coding Shophouse
The Coding Shophouse was set up by Douglas Khoo, an investor and serial entrepreneur who founded Qunar.com, which Baidu acquired a major stake (306mi USD) in 2011. Aiming to grow Penang’s tech ecosystem further, he decided to start The Coding Shophouse in Georgetown, Penang, hoping to create a training house to arm deserving youths with enough knowledge to run their own startup or join other startups.
The Coding Shophouse offer courses in multiple programming languages from HTML to RubyOnRails. Founded in 2014, the first batch of graduates consists of 15 students and the course runs for 3 months.
Playme AR is a labour of compassion for founder Alvin Ooi, together with co-founder Iz Ohang and Winson Tan. They came up with the idea back in 2013 and they started the production officially in February 2014.
The platform is a augmented reality creator platform available online for publishers to easily create augmented reality campaigns. Basically their platform targets to bring hard copy content to life. Just point your smartphone or tablet with their mobile app over a paper or leaflet, you would be able to view additional content like video and sound.
yellowElevator is a cloud-based platform which provides HR solutions in the field of talent search recruitment. The platform is created with features to streamline all recruitment activities in the process as well as enabling employers and recruitment agencies with the means to meet, engage, and build strong recruitment partnerships. Founded by Joseph Choo and SC Wong, the platform first started in Penang and currently yellowElevator also operates in KL and Singapore.
StayNest first started in Penang and it was created for travellers who are searching for a place to stay. The platform servces as an online travel and accommodation space booking site which contains something for everyone: from studios, mansions, hotels or even a wooden house. To date, StayNest has covered other states such as Johor, Selangor, and Malacca.
Founder by Patrick Ooi in 2003, Mobile9 is a mobile content marketplace, making it one of the first generation mobile content provider in Malaysia. The platform helps link mobile content providers to a broader audience via its platform. The number of users are over 16 million every month and a total 200 million of mobile content are downloaded. With 255 million pageviews a month, Mobile9 also offers free novels to read online or to download as a PDF or EPUB for reading later.