Entrepreneur

The Migrant Who Left Home & Founded A Fintech Startup That Represents M'sia Globally

MyCash Online is a startup based in Malaysia that focuses on providing end-to-end online services specially for migrants.

After running the business for a year, they currently house 550 independent Mobile Sales Personal (MSP) who’re in charge of selling their services to the migrant community. In total, MyCash Online has served more than 60,000 unique migrant workers and managed over 250,000 transactions.

The startup has also gained international recognition, being part of global events such as Seedstars World and Four Years From Now where they managed to further validate their idea.

We talked to the CEO and co-founder of MyCash Online, Mehedi Hasan Sumon, about his journey building the business from scratch in Malaysia after leaving Bangladesh 10 years ago.

Moving To New Lands

Mehedi first came to Malaysia in 2007 to complete his Bachelors degree. It wasn’t an easy transition; the food, culture and people were very different compared to what he was used to back home.

Meeting good friends helped him assimilate until eventually, he grew accustomed to our country. After he finished his studies, he began working as a software developer from 2009 and till today, he continues to live in Malaysia with his family.

“I’m quite comfortable with Malaysian culture and the startup life. Here, I’ve made many awesome friends and met well-wishers. So leaving them all and moving to a new environment is not in my list for now,” said Mehedi.

The Drive To Start Something New

After staying in Malaysia for 10 years, Mehedi had become habituated with Malaysia and its culture.

Since he had begun to see it as his home ground, he decided to test out his abilities. He identifies himself as part of the immigrant community and has a few years of working experience with them. He believed that he understood their needs better than anyone to provide the right service and help them.

Image Credit: MyCash Online Facebook

Thus, he created MyCash Online.

Starting a business in any country as a foreigner has its own set of obstacles. While handling his own, Mehedi found some gaps when it came to regulations and actually doing real business on the ground.

“For example, any foreigner can open a company in Malaysia but it is not possible for them to operate alone. Even opening a company bank account or applying for loans or credit cards is quite impossible for foreign entrepreneurs. In my case, I am a signatory of our Singapore company bank account but I can’t say the same for our Malaysian bank account,” said Mehedi.

Studies have been done and results have shown how this in itself poses a big problem for foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses here. There have not been any statements from local banks stating they plan on shifting their regulations and policies to be more inclusive of foreign entrepreneurs.

But despite this obstacle, Mehedi still managed to start his business thanks to his team. He also highlighted that throughout the entire process, there was no point where he faced discrimination from any party. In fact, he was very encouraged by all the support he received.

“I appreciate that it’s the same for everyone. We have enjoyed tremendous support from different government agencies, including MDEC and Cradle Fund. There is no discrimination here for the foreigners, at least, not for me. We got MSC status from MDEC very easily and also got government grant through Cradle for LYL Technology, a company my wife and I jointly own,” said Mehedi.

Comparing Two Scenes

Over the past decade of being in Malaysia, Mehedi noted minimal differences between running a startup here compared to his hometown but added that every country has their unique culture.

“I think startups in Malaysia are very lucky to have many government agencies, funds and accelerators for support. There is also a huge community of angel and corporate investors, which is missing in Bangladesh,” said Mehedi.

When asked what he thought the best part was about the Malaysian startup scene, he described it as a true vibrant and multi-culture environment. The different race and religion of startup founders, mentors, investors intrigues him because the unique mix creates an ideal environment to build cool startups here.

“I believe in the future, more and more foreign startups will be coming here. The good thing is Malaysian Global Innovation & Creative Centre (MaGIC) have already began getting more foreign startups through their Global Accelerator Program (GAP) but I believe we still need more exposure. We really need to promote Malaysia to the world as an startup capital so more great talents will come,” said Mehedi.

Image Credit: MyCash Online

His advice to fellow foreigners wanting to run a business in Malaysia is to research and look into the various opportunities he has received to run MyCash Online.

“For fellow foreign startups, it’s really a great place to run your enterprise. The process is quite easy and Malaysia is a beautiful country with very rich culture and awesome food. Apart from that, it has 25 million citizens with almost everyone owning a smart phone and a Facebook account. The people here can speak English so it will be always good to do your R&D and pilot run here before going to expensive markets like Singapore,” shared Mehedi.

Even for MyCash Online, Mehedi conducted a year’s test run before getting a sizable user base. Now they’re planning to open operations in Singapore with a small sales team while the rest of the back office and support team will be in Malaysia.

“This year, I managed to attend a few large startup events, Four Years from Now in Barcelona and Seedstars World Summit at Switzerland. What I saw there was how most foreign startups aren’t aware of the Malaysian startup scene. Same goes to the investors and mentors. We need to bring some of them to Malaysia and present to them why it’s a great idea to start in Malaysia,” said Mehedi.

Feature Image Credit: thestar.com.my

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