Entrepreneur

He Started A Niche Crowdfunding Site That Caters To Mandarin-Speaking Creatives In M’sia

MyStartr is a Malaysian site for both reward based crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding (ECF), the latter of which has become a favoured form of crowdfunding.

However, according to its founder, Goh Boon Peng, MyStartr’s beginnings in 2012 actually “weren’t that sexy”.

Boon Peng simply saw that the Kickstarter model was working well in the US, and he believed that creating something similar but more localised would be a good tool for supporting Malaysians.

“On Kickstarter, some of the most successful projects (in terms of volume) are in the Music, Dance, Art, and Performing Art categories,” he told Vulcan Post.

Most other crowdfunding platforms in Malaysia do not specifically cater to creatives, and even less cater to Mandarin-speaking ones, so that was the gap that Boon Peng sought to address with MyStartr.

Creativity As Malaysia’s Core Value

“We believe that creativity is the core value of Malaysia,” Boon Peng told us when we asked why it was necessary to have such a platform dedicated specifically to creatives, especially when there were various other local crowdfunding sites already up and running.

“We also believe creativity brings solutions to address pain points, and it is a characteristic that many startups have.”

Founder and CEO of MyStartr, Goh Boon Peng / Image Credit: MyStartr

In order to further set themselves apart from the other sites, MyStartr actually focuses on educating investors on how to invest in ECF as well, through an investor community called ‘Dream Factory Investor Club’.

They also provide copywriting, video and marketing services to issuers (the term MyStartr uses for people who post projects to be crowdfunded on the website), and even offer a coaching program after issuers get funded.

“The purpose is to coach issuers to ‘survive longer’ and also gather KPI from them to report to investors,” Boon Peng shared.

“MyStartr issuers not only reward company shares to investors—they give away their products and turn their investors into customers too.”

Curating A Pool Of Creative Projects

When it comes to curating the types of projects displayed on the site, the team runs through the standard due diligence process to ensure that the company and the people running the business are genuine.

The due diligence process is quite comprehensive, according to Boon Peng, so the team is usually confident that fake projects have almost no chance of being put up.

Some projects currently being funded on MyStartr

However, in the event that the company ends up burning through the funding unwisely or fails, MyStartr considers that a risk on the investor’s part, and do not compensate that.

“But [the due diligence process is] not enough, so we still have to make sure these projects have the potential to be funded,” Boon Peng said.

To do that, MyStartr has been running a startup competition since 2017 called Dream Factory Startup Competition where they end up with more than 30 finalist teams each year.

It was the only Chinese startup competition in Malaysia back then too, according to Boon Peng.

3 years down the road, and they now have had more than 100 finalist teams. The competition also acts as a training camp or accelerator program, and this has helped both the team and the startups get to know each other well.

Apparently, this is also one of the pools where projects can come from.

ECF For Malaysia’s Economic Future

To date, MyStartr has over 1,000 projects on its platform. For reward based crowdfunding projects, they’ve raised more than RM4 million.

However, Boon Peng shared that crowdfunding as a business is one that still results in them losing money as MyStartr mostly monetises through a 10% service charge on projects, but he sees ECF as one of the solutions that may bring in more income.

For example, they only launched their ECF service in December 2019, but by January 2020, they already had their first success story through Biztory, a cloud accounting software company that managed to raise RM1,039,860.

Biztory’s project on MyStartr

In total, MyStartr has raised RM1.4 million through ECF.

Boon Peng believes that more people are now willing to invest in ECF, as despite it being a high-risk investment, it can also bring high returns.

“There are 3 successful exit stories that happened in 2019, so this is very encouraging news,” he excitedly shared.

Then he gave some advice for investors:

We always strongly suggest diversifying your investments with small amounts in ECF. For example, if you plan to invest RM50,000/year in ECF, please try to invest in 10 deals worth RM5,000 each. This not only diversifies the risks of investors, but helps more startups too.

Goh Boon Peng, CEO & Founder, MyStartr

He’s got high hopes for ECF too, as he sees it as more than just an investment activity. To him, it’s an important campaign for Malaysia’s economy, particularly within the young entrepreneur circles and MSMEs.

“ECF doing well means that our startups and MSMEs are getting their funding for expanding their business, which means that Malaysia’s economy will grow eventually,” he said.

Dream Big And Achieve It

To the MyStartr team, the biggest challenge has been increasing the awareness of crowdfunding as well as gathering online marketing talent in Malaysia.

Image Credit: MyStartr

“For awareness, we did a lot of events and conducted classes to educate the market, but that burned money!” Boon Peng exclaimed.

Thankfully, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has been regularly promoting crowdfunding, which he believes has helped with the pickup of the concept.

As for talent, on the other hand, he stated that it’s a long-term issue and the only way they’ve been able to tackle it is by continuously recruiting talent to filter out the best from the pool.

He remains hopeful for 2020, and plans for MyStartr to get at least 20 new projects onboard that average about RM500,000 per project.

In total, he’d like to achieve a fundraising target of RM10 million, and go even higher come 2021 with 50 projects onboard and a projected target of RM25 million in funds raised.

Lastly, Boon Peng shared, “Our vision is that in 10 years’ time, we’ll have supported 5,000 startups and MSMEs in getting funding, bringing the total to about RM2.5 billion.”

  • You can read more about what we’ve written on crowdfunding here.

 

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