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MaGIC's GAP is a 3-month long accelerator programme equipping startup founders with skills to pitch and build a sustainable and agile company.

[This is a sponsored article with MaGIC.]

Last week, 39 startups emerged from their eye-opening 3-month journey through the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC)’s Global Accelerator Programme (GAP).

But unlike previous GAP cohorts, this year’s programme was completely virtual and its main focus was to build and equip startups to be more agile, responsive, adaptive and sustainable during uncertain times.

On the GAP Cohort 4 Demo Day, the CEO of MaGIC, Dzuleira Abu Bakar said the revision to GAP’s programme is vital.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the need for innovation. The pandemic has created game-changing opportunities for nations all around the world to bounce back and establish economic resilience via innovation and creativity.”

And at the same time, GAP still maintains its goal of assisting the startups in building a proper network for expansion.

Innovating Where It’s Needed The Most

With an ecosystem value of $15.3 billion (approx. RM62.2 bil), Malaysia is now regarded as a country in its early-globalisation phase by Startup Genome.

YB Khairy Jamaluddin, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation said that startups are key to finding solutions to the country’s challenges.

“This journey towards economic and social recovery is contingent upon collaborative efforts between the government, academic bodies, private sectors, startups, as well as society at large, in finding novel solutions to our challenges.”

YB Khairy Jamaluddin, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation during his keynote on GAP Cohort 4 Demo Day / Image Credit: MaGIC

Coincidentally, the bulk of this year’s startups that joined GAP are focused on delivering innovative tech in e-commerce, education, enterprise solutions and agriculture. 

Dzuleira then said that the emphasis in these industries are crucial because they need the most attention and acceleration due to the pandemic.

GAP Has Built Itself A Name Over The Years

Over the last 3 cohorts, GAP has been known as one of the most stringent accelerator programs locally when it comes to startup selection. Out of the total 3079 applications, only 112 startups were accepted. That means an acceptance rate of just 3.6%.

Many active startups that we know today such as Easy Parcel, Storehub, Petotum and Signature Market were successful alumni of the programme.

With the 39 startups for Cohort 4, the number rose to 151 startups—and to date, the startups who underwent GAP have generated a revenue of more than RM235 million.

Prior to joining GAP earlier this year, the cumulative revenue of the startups was just around RM6.5 million (from Jan 2020 to Aug 2020). During the short 3 months of GAP, the number skyrocketed to approximately RM13 million.

This meant that the startups saw a growth of 53% in revenue throughout their GAP journey, despite the pandemic. Specifically in Cohort 4, GAP has provided the startups with benefits worth over USD500,000 (approximately RM2 million) in industry-specific training, mentorship, marketing credit and so on.

The GAP Cohort 4 Demo Day

On December 1, 2020, 20 startups from the batch were brought to the limelight, to pitch their startup in 3 minutes to His Highness Tengku Amir Shah Ibni Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Al Haj, Crown Prince Of Selangor, Founder and Royal Patron Selangor Youth Community, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, virtual attendees and potential investors.

We managed to catch the Demo Day live where virtual attendees like us could talk to the startups to find out more about their company and chat amongst other attendees.

During the pitches, there were a few startups that caught our attention.

1. Pandai

Khairul, one of the co-founders of Pandai during the pitching session for Pandai / Image Credit: MaGIC

Pandai is an app that helps school students to study, track progress, do quizzes, collect rewards and improve on their academic performance.

We’ve previously written about them back in March too. Pandai also looks to solve issues with expensive studying materials for students as well, a problem that B40 communities would be all too familiar with.

As Dzuleira said earlier, education is one of the key areas that need acceleration and innovation as schools are not allowed to operate—and classes are now done virtually.

During the pitch, Khairul Anwar Bin Mohamad Zaki, the co-founder of Pandai said that their number skyrocketed from just 2,322 in February to a whopping 46,179 users in March 2020. And now, they have over 100k students actively using Pandai for additional studying materials.

2. BoomGrow

Dr Jayanthi Desan, one of the co-founders of BoomGrow which promises customers clean agricultural produce with no chemicals / Image Credit: BoomGrow

BoomGrow utilises precision farming which is driven by data to provide customers with high-quality green produce that the team promises are clean and utilises no chemicals. Instead of open-air traditional farms, BoomGrow farms are located inside shipping container-sized indoor farms. 

There’s a growing demand for fresh organic produce, and BoomGrow’s model doesn’t require the acres of land that traditional farms need. With indoor farms, BoomGrow promises a year-round harvest, undisturbed by climate and uses 95% less water, land and fuel to operate.

If you wish, you could also grab a bundle of clean vegetables from BoomGrow on their website, and they have a subscription package along with it too.

3. DeafTawk

Ali Shabbar and Wamiq Hassan, 2 out of 3 of the co-founders of DeafTawk / Image Credit: MaGIC

DeafTawk is a platform with an aim to bridge the communication gap between the deaf community and the public. Ali Shabbar, the co-founder of DeafkTawk gave an example that many in the deaf community face daily.

“Imagine you visit a doctor but are unable to explain the pain because the doctor doesn’t know your language. That’s half a million in the deaf community facing that particular challenge.”

What DeafTawk does is provide the community with online sign interpretation services through their mobile app and is available on-demand 24/7. DeafTawk originally started in Pakistan and has now scaled into the Singapore market.

In just 2 years of operation, they’ve provided over 94,000 hours of services to more than 18,000 users, and because of that, more than 550 in the deaf community gained employment.

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While the founders might have gotten a lot of support to enhance their skills, Dzuleira said that their journey in assisting the startups is not over.

GAP 2020 was designed to enable the founders’ growth through personal enrichment and personal reflection. I am proud to see the great results. For our GAP Cohort 4 Malaysian startups, set your eyes on the global stage. The true benchmark of success should be the ability to expand and establish in foreign markets.

Dzuleira Abu Bakar, CEO of MaGIC

It is exciting to see the potential of this year’s 39 startups in creating a company that is agile and sustainable while innovating in their industries.

  • Find out more about MaGIC’s GAP here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about MaGIC in the past here.

Featured Image Credit: MaGIC

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