Entrepreneur

Startup Funding Isn't Just For Tech Anymore, Just Look At 1337 Ventures' Newest Investees

  • 1337 Ventures has selected 10 Malaysian startups to invest into and accept into their accelerator. This comes as part of the Khazanah Nasional Entrepreneurship Outreach (KNEO) programme.
  • Many of the teams selected are social enterprises and non-tech startups.
  • 1337 Ventures CEO Bikesh Lakhmichand attributed the selections to a focus on solving real-world problems, and noted plans to integrate this more into their other programmes.

As part of the Khazanah Nasional Entrepreneurship Outreach (KNEO) programme, early stage venture capital firm 1337 Ventures announced last week their decision to accelerate and invest into 10 local startups.

The 10 startups selected by 1337 Ventures were part of a group of 30 finalists filtered down from a pool of nearly a thousand applicants in the KNEO programme. They are comprised of BESC, CTHhelp, GrubCycle, Foodbike, Resermy, Save4DreamMalaysian Aquaponics Research Center, Sync, Unwrappd, and Kravve.co.

Joining the accelerator programme, these startups will receive a cash investment of RM20,000, US$15,000 in Amazon Web Services credits, $20,000 worth of Google Cloud and Firebase credits, and US$120,000 in Microsoft Azure credits on top of the support and mentoring provided by the 1337 Ventures team.

Each team will go through a mentorship programme with 1337 Ventures that will last 12 weeks. The programme will then culminate in a demo day where the teams will be presented with the opportunity to present their concepts to a panel of judges and investors for the chance to win an additional amount of funding from both Khazanah and 1337 Ventures.

“We’re really excited to be working with this batch of diverse companies, ranging from tech, non-tech, and social enterprises. The level of startups we see in Malaysia is significantly improving,” said Bikesh Lakhmichand, CEO and founding partner of 1337 Ventures.

“It’s great that the social enterprises we are investing in have the same vision as the other companies on being sustainable and focusing on their business models to achieve that goal.”

Image Credit: 1337 Ventures

It’s worth noting that among the 10 selected startups, many were social enterprises and non-tech startups—a deviation of sorts from the past trend of tech-focused venture funding. Explaining this, Bikesh cited 1337 Ventures’ focus on working with companies to develop solutions to real world problems as one of the key factors that influenced the selection process.

“We are always keen to work primarily with ideas that solve real problems and many of the social enterprises and non-tech startups had this close to their heart,” he said.

“It was hard to not find these startups as attractive investments. What more when the ones we picked had thought hard on their business models to ensure their sustainability.”

He explained that in the current startup landscape, utilising tech as a supporting component to the execution of an idea is vital.

“We were keen to bring our technical expertise to the table and work with these startups to see what we could produce together.”

Bikesh also identified the common trait that distinguished the 10 selected startups from the rest of the pack.

“Apart from the typical size of the problem, the main selection criterion for the early stage comes down to the team and their ability to execute,” he said. “Having someone focus on the technical aspects while another member focuses on sales and business development is key.”

“The teams we picked proved that they could hit the ground running.”

Speaking on the growth of the startup scene in Malaysia, Bikesh observed how more private sector players were making their way into the scene.

“More and more corporates are trying to transform and become more ‘digital’, and one of the common reactions to this is to launch an innovation department or accelerator programmes of their own to seek out startups to invest, co-create, or even acquire,” he explained.

“These new forms of corporate involvement, if implemented correctly by ingraining it into their core business, can truly help startups short-circuit their customer acquisition plans.”

As for their next port of call, Bikesh said that 1337 Ventures is actively pursuing ways to scale, with a particular focus placed on funding and upgrading their Alpha Startup pre-accelerator programme.

“After speaking with people in the industry, we’ve been toying with the idea of launching Social Enterprise batch of our Alpha Startups programme,” he said. “This current batch lets us experiment with the option of running a dedicated batch.”

“We have been working on digitising the programme so that anyone would be able to undergo the five days worth of content at their own pace and then apply for our early stage funding,” he said.

“More of these will be announced in the second quarter of this year.”

Feature Image Credit: 1337 Ventures

 

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