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[This is a sponsored article with MDEC.]

Fundraising is a key aspect for many startups to accelerate their growth efforts.

However, pitching for funding isn’t a walk in a park. Despite having good fundamentals or even if they are profitable, clinching the much-needed boost for their business sometimes seems to elude them. 

It also boils down to the entrepreneurs not understanding what the venture capital (VC) or funding platform wants to hear during the pitch.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) Founders Grindstone programme aims to fix that issue. 

By providing first-hand coaching through intensive workshops conducted by professional partners, investors, venture capital, equity crowdfunding platforms and legal firms—MDEC intends to equip Malaysian startups with the knowledge and know-how that will assist them to successfully navigate their fund-raising journey.

“Through our engagement with the participating companies, we believe that Malaysia has the potential to produce impactful global startups that will shape the future of ASEAN. As a business which seeks to enable one million entrepreneurs by 2030, we at Draper Startup House are proud to partner with MDEC for this imperative initiative and assist in elevating the Malaysian tech scene, locally and globally.”

Nick Martin of Draper Startup House

Robin Lee, the founder of HelloGold shared, “The workshop (Founders Grindstone) was good regardless of what stage your startup is at. For those at the same stage as us, it was a great way to re-test/kick the tyres on what we have done to date. The practical advice offered were helpful affirmations of what we have done so far.”

We had the opportunity to speak with Robin and others participants who actually went through the first batch of workshops.

1. Widening Your Investor Network Beyond What You Could Achieve Organically

Out of a group of 20, the top 10 winning pitches of the first batch had the opportunity to be connected to Draper Startup House Ventures (DSH), one part of the world’s largest network of VCs under Draper Venture Network, with connections to 24 global funds.

Understandably, a lot of the founders are excited about this. 

The founders and MDEC team at a workshop / Image Credit: MDEC

Senang Insurance provides on-demand and one-off insurance at an affordable rate to get companies covered when they need it. Throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) and beyond, they’ve been fairly active. 

They’ve launched new products such as insurance for travel companies, to prevent heavy loss of business due to COVID-19.

Sharian Raj, Senang’s co-founder, told us, “The VC network in Malaysia is limited for early stage startups that are looking to raise post seed funding. With DSH, we are excited to extend our reach.”

Dave Chew of HomeCrowd, a crowdlending platform that connects homebuyers with potential investors, had a similar observation and shared, “It’s good that we can have more access to global VCs via Draper’s Network.” 

“I am looking forward to establishing bold relationships with potential investors from the network and eventually, (get into the) closing of funding rounds,” said Wai Yan Htun, the co-founder of Vechnology

As part of their future growth, Vechnology wants to bring their improved vending machine technology to the broader market in the APAC region.

The Vechnology team / Image Credit: Vechnology

2. Learning Or Brushing Up On Your Basics For Pitching

Basics matter, and Di-Yan Ho the founder of HAUZ, a remote management portal that aims to simplify a company’s timesheet and scheduling for increased productivity, deep-dived into the lessons of creating an effective pitch deck and why persuasive story-telling, backed with facts and stats is necessary.

“First; it has to be straight to the point and second; you need to know your financial facts and projected growth. Third; the importance of showing business traction and validation. And lastly, creating clear problem statements and solutions for investors and readers to understand your business,” said Di-Yan.

Sharon Vaswani, the CEO of PanOphthalmics Enterprise also shared what she learned from Founders Grindstone. 

PanOphthalmics Enterprise sources affordable surgical instruments and consumables required by ophthalmologists (a doctor who diagnoses and treats eye diseases).

In the past, she didn’t really see her business as a startup and wondered how helpful Founders Grindstone could even be for her.

“Having gained a pulse of the market and investment mood, I feel that the Founders Grindstone helped elevate my startup’s proficiency in meeting and speaking with investors,” she said. “It was also molding me to become a more competent business woman, confident enough to share my ideas with potential investors and ask for help.”

3. Getting Your Legal Side Right, Before It Becomes A Problem

One component of the workshops was actually about the legalities of the funding process. This was conducted by Izwan & Partners, a local law firm which specialises in startups.

Through this session, the founders gained insight into the statutory requirements of fundraising, venture capital financing, knowing how much to raise and the rate equity that can be given.

Most of the founders appreciated this, especially if they are not from legal backgrounds.

“Now I do have a clearer vision of a good legal structure within the company as well as many great tips and tricks when we deal with external parties,” said Wai Yan, the co-founder of Vechnology.

4. Focusing On The Finer Details That Can Make Or Break Your Pitch

There are times you can make a great impression in your pitch and presentation, but closer scrutiny of your outdated facts and figures could turn off potential investors.

That’s something Manu Menon is keeping close to heart after participating in Founders Grindstone. He highlighted the need to keep his share cap table up-to-date as it is one of the critical takeaways. 

His startup Youthtopia, a platform that focuses on improving a child’s fundamental skills to prepare them for the 21st century, has launched a successful closed beta. 

So he’s looking to raise funds and accelerate to the next milestone as quickly as possible.

The Youthopia Team during one of their panel discussions on education / Image Credit: Youthopia

Besides the names we’ve mentioned so far, there were many others who participated. Joining Founders Grindstone is seamless and, in doing so, you’ll be among the ranks of successful businesses, like:

  • mytruck.my, one of the largest online marketplaces for new and used trucks, with a database of  7200+ trucks and over 250 truck dealers and supply of commercial vehicles,
  • Avana, an end-to-end commerce platform that helps businesses automate their online selling processes,
  • mobi, a cashless payment processing platform that serves thousands of businesses.

Why did we list the rest of the 10 winners of the first batch? Simply to show you that no matter the field or industry you’re in, you can still find value in Founders Grindstone.

“Founders Grindstone will up the ante in our post-seed startup landscape. As we focus on scaling digitally-powered business, we are thrilled to draw on the collective experience of Draper Startup House and top-echelon partners to provide stewardship and tactical advice to our tech entrepreneurs. The exchange of such rich knowledge will thrust Malaysian tech entrepreneurs beyond current pastures, ready to earn global recognition.”

Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC, during the launch in July

If you’re keen on learning more about the startup scene in Malaysia or simply discover why Malaysia is a hotbed of activity for digital sector investments, you can check out the upcoming Malaysia Tech Month 2020.

The event starts from November 10 until November 30. This month-long event will look to curate the very best in tech and digital sectors with seminars and discussions. 

  • Sign up to join Malaysia Tech Month 2020 here.
  • Register for the next batch of workshops here.
  • Read more about MDEC here

Featured Image Credit: HelloGold, HAUZ, Vechnology, HomeCrowd

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)