[This is a sponsored article with Sidec.]
It’s been more than a year since the pandemic broke out locally and we’re still dealing with its effects on our lives and businesses.
Companies had to shift to be more tech-focused or introduce low-touch engagement models, enabling them to deal with customers without the need for face-to-face interaction. This new model helped companies within the e-commerce, agritech and fintech industries to blossom during the pandemic.
While the demand exists, not all startups within that circle knew how to respond to the rapidly growing market.
Thus, the Selangor Information Technology & Digital Economy Corporation (Sidec) decided to step up its efforts to help businesses realise their potential through the fourth cohort of the Selangor Accelerator Programme (SAP).
One major change to SAP 2021 is a reinvigorated focus on agritech, greentech, smart city, fintech and e-commerce solutions. Sidec believes these verticals are key to the recovery of the local economy through digital transformation, increased adoption of tech in business and enhanced food security.
SAP has successfully nurtured 90 startups in their previous cohorts and 43% of them received funding after too. To get a better insight into the benefits of the programme, we spoke to two alumni of SAP 2020, HeyAlfred and Kapitani.
Fostering a community for their startups
HeyAlfred is a budgeting app to help users keep track and manage their finances. It also comes with a built-in AI chatbot known as Alfie, which will provide you with additional insights and tips on financial management based on your spending behaviour.
Adam Helmi, one of the co-founders and CFO of HeyAlfred, said that one of the most rewarding aspects of SAP was the sense of community built during the programme.
Despite the programme being conducted virtually, Adam still felt Sidec’s attentiveness to building crucial networking relationships for the startups, which was a major draw to him. It even led to HeyAlfred collaborating with other companies from the same cohort after graduating.
But collaborations aren’t the only benefits of the programme—Adam cheekily revealed that the team originally joined SAP for the “lucrative RM30k cash prize”. Jokes aside, he said SAP was a good platform to seek further validation on their product, have a better grasp on business direction and improve internal processes.
When joining SAP, you will be given mentors that’ll guide you throughout the process. The mentors chosen by Sidec will be experts in their respective fields as well, acting as a reference point for the startups to work towards.
Adam lauded the mentors assigned to them by Sidec saying: “The resident mentors will be there to help you from inception, right through to the visiting mentors guiding you in formulating effective go-to-market strategies.”
Helping startups to realise their vision
The team behind Kapitani wholeheartedly agreed with Adam’s statement on networking too. Kapitani is an agri-fintech startup that provides small local farmers with access to knowledge, capital and additional resources.
As an early-stage startup, they believed that the process of building networking relationships is a vital step, leading to more exposure, potential partnerships, collaboration and even funding opportunities in the future. Nazrul Hazeri Nazirmuddin, the CEO of Kapitani said SAP provided them with an unprecedented opportunity, especially for a startup without Series A funding. It helped them polish not just their product and business, but the skills of their core team as well.
Within SAP’s 3-month journey, Nazrul and his team were groomed to be investment-ready and obtained a solid understanding of business operations which they previously lacked.
As a startup in the agriculture sector, Nazrul understood they needed to have the support of the players in the industry and the policymakers to make the most impact.
Through Sidec’s connections to state agencies, Kapitani was given an opportunity to pitch their ideas to policymakers and get first-hand feedback from the government’s perspective of their product. To him, this was the most valuable benefit they’ve gained from the programme.
He continued: “SAP is one of the most well-run (if not the best) and structured startup accelerators in Malaysia organised by a startup-friendly, helpful and dedicated staff. Don’t think twice, just go for it as soon as the application is open.”
With that said, if you’re a startup within the agritech, fintech, greentech, e-commerce and smart city solutions, registration for SAP 2021 is now open.
Note: If you’re not within the verticals but have an innovative and disruptive solution, you can still apply for SAP 2021.
However, this year’s SAP comes with a new twist of a higher cash prize pool, thanks to a collaboration with AFFIN BANK, the first-ever bank to be the main sponsor of SAP, raising the cash prize pool of the winners to RM50,000.
In Adam’s words: “This is the perfect opportunity to turn your concepts into a business, rather than just telling all your friends about your next big idea. Just do it already lah!”
- For more information on SAP 2021, click here.
- Registration for SAP 2021 closes on July 14, 2021.
- Check out what we’ve written about accelerators in the past here.
Featured Image Credit: HeyAlfred