Entrepreneur

We Talk To 6 “Babies” From Cradle's Nursery Of Entrepreneurs—And They're All Grown Up Now

As an early stage startup influencer in Malaysia, Cradle has seen over 700 “baby” startups pass through its doors to eventually grow up into the movers and shakers of the ecosystem today.

Now that they’re all grown up, we reached out to some of the businesses who got their kickstart through some of Cradle’s programmes.

It’s been an interesting journey for all of them, and here’s what they’re doing now.

1) Kakitangan.com

Image Credit: Kakitangan.com

Kakitangan.com today have more than 9,000 companies and 40,000 employees running on the platform. They provide an online payroll, expense claims and leave system to empower the management and business owners handling their companies.

Before Cradle, Kakitangan.com were a leading leave application system in Malaysia, but without revenue. They received the CIP Catalyst fund that kickstarted the development of a payroll software to better serve Kakitangan.com users.

Today the payroll software is their biggest revenue generator.

They were also nurtured in the 12 month Cradle Coach & Growth Program where they received a lot of guidance from many industry mentors.

“Our revenue model was pivoted with the help of the mentors,” explained Effon Khoo, CEO of Kakitangan.com.

“We were pushed to the limit to fiercely look at the revenue growth and make it a valid business. We were previously too fanatic in the investment-driven mode and didn’t validate our revenue model.”
– Effon

2) Touristly Travel Sdn Bhd

Image Credit: Touristly

 

A travel-planning startup, Touristly made headlines when AirAsia acquired a 50% stake in their company April this year.

They are currently working to monetise AirAsia’s base of 70 million travellers with their travel activity content. They also powered the launch of travel3sixty.com, the digital platform for AirAsia’s award winning in-flight magazine.

Touristly joined Cradle’s Coach and Grow programme in 2015, around the same time as their official launch in June 2015.

A little less than a year later, they applied for and received CIP500, which was for RM500k for the purpose of commercialisation.

“We had just signed a commercial deal with AirAsia and we shared how Cradle could help our little startup scale along with such a significant strategic partner,” said Aaron Sarma, CEO of Touristly.

This deal would eventually lead to AirAsia’s interest in acquiring a stake in the company.

“From our experience with the CIP500 and CGP we learnt the value of being able to leverage the ecosystem Cradle has put together over the years—from its network of investors, mentors and industry experts to the alumni of recipients.”

Aaron doesn’t take what he’s been given lightly.

“We have received excellent advice and guidance from our coaches. I am such a believer in the program that I have volunteered to come back to coach in this year’s CGP intake.”
– Aaron

3) Christy Ng

Image Credit: shopcoupons.my

A shoe brand that has moved beyond just physical stores, Christy Ng has major plans for her business. She’s currently working on improving their web store by enhancing their shoe design engine with more features and adding customisation options and colours to serve the needs of her customers.

The team’s also gearing up to open their flagship store in Mid Valley soon in early 2018.

And she still thanks Cradle to this day for the growth that has happened.

“Before I met Cradle, I was less ambitious. Cradle has groomed me to dream bigger and do better. While doing milestones setting for my CIP500 grant, our fund manager pushed us to double our revenue in 1 year. At first, I thought it was impossible but with his encouragement and support, we made it possible,” said Christy.

Since they received Cradle’s help, they’ve managed to grow their top line & bottom line by at least 5 folds.

“We’re thankful to Cradle for building a community of amazing entrepreneurs which Cradle has put together which makes our startup ecosystem in Malaysia a truly amazing one.”
– Christy

4) Alfa And Friends Sdn Bhd

Image Credit: Alfa and Friends

One of the oldest startups we spoke to (having launched in 2005), Alfa and Friends started out as a solution for pre-schoolers to be more hands-on with their learning. They offer science projects for children to get a better understanding of what they’re learning.

It was all in physical form, until they met Cradle and were offered the CIP Catalyst fund to develop their prototype of an online platform.

“We enhanced it further by creating a software with animations and e-books to make the learning process even better. With Cradle’s help, we managed do that and were finally able to build our e-learning platform,” said Cheng Heng Yow, CEO of Alfa and Friends.

While building their prototype, they constantly asked Cradle for feedback on products they wanted to see in the program.

“We then got more help from Cradle to develop it further to suit our customers’ request,” said Cheng.

Next, they got the CIP500, which helped them further their commercialisation and access different markets. They expanded to China, Singapore and are currently in the talks of moving into the Indonesian market too.

“Getting the CIP500 was the push we needed. The money allowed us to do a lot of commercialisation.”

“Besides the monetary help, Cradle gave us the confidence level we needed. They helped give us the opportunity to showcase our idea and from there, people noticed us and let us know we’re in the right direction.”
– Cheng

5) HealthMetrics

Image Credit: HealthMetrics

HealthMetric’s goal? To help employers simplify and manage the complexities of employee healthcare plans. They do this by combining their web-based software with employee productivity analytics and an extensive network of healthcare providers.

They signed up for CIP500 when they were at the growth stage, about 4 months in after launching their product.

Alvin Yuan, the Managing Director of HealthMetrics believes that Cradle has been instrumental to what they have today.

“The experience our investment manager from Cradle imparted to us was useful in a lot of areas such as business positioning and pitching. He thoroughly guided us through the CIP500 application process. Nothing like the first person to ever believe in you when we had so little to show for.”

It’s been exactly a year since they first received their grant. Alvin shared that they had a 1400% growth in revenue compared to last year, grew the team from 4 people to 22, and were the first startup from Malaysia to join the Google Developers Launchpad Accelerator programme.

“Our clients love us, our team is strong and we are receiving great support and acknowledgement from both local and international players. Definitely our best year yet.”
– Alvin

6) Supahands

Image Credit: Supahands

An outsourcing service that helps businesses increase productivity by taking care of tasks and back-end operational processes, Supahands now has of over 2,000 people around SEA within their SupaAgent workforce.

“The number of SupaAgents working through the platform have grown by over 350% YoY. This means that we’re providing more jobs to more people around Southeast Asia, giving them the opportunity to earn remotely and flexibly,” said Mark Koh, CEO of Supahands.

They joined Cradle’s product, CIP500 back when they had just launched their beta platform and were looking at commercialising it.

One key thing Mark picked up was to be extremely analytical in his approach towards the business.

“I learnt how important forecasting and documentation of growth metrics and budgets were. And this has also made me more disciplined in preparing and reporting the numbers as we were all accountable for the information that it carried.”

Since then, he shared that the Supahands brand presence has definitely strengthened across the tech community across Malaysia and Singapore.

“Our network of clients expanded to include fast growing companies that are making waves across the tech scene such as 123RF, Uber and iCarAsia.”

“For companies that want to scale within SEA, we have the local support and knowhow to provide easy accessibility.”
– Mark

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The CIP Catalyst Fund and the CIP500 mentioned throughout the article have been revamped now to form The Cradle Investment Programme 300 (CIP300).

Together with their Direct Equity 800 (DEQ800), Cradle is continuing to take more steps to wean entrepreneurs off grants and take our startups to greater heights.

As the ecosystem matures, Cradle remains on the lookout for fresh new ideas and key players, and continues to evolve alongside them to serve their needs.

This article was written in collaboration with Cradle. 

Feature Image Credit: Cradle

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