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[Written in partnership with Digital Penang but the editorial team had full control over the content.]

Where do you build your network, when do you pitch your ideas, and how do you raise funds?

These are all nagging questions that every budding entrepreneur would have had before. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to them though, as solutions can vary depending on what you and your startup need.

That’s a whole other thing to navigate. Understanding this, Digital Penang, a government-linked company (GLC) owned by the state of Penang for digitalisation efforts, wants to help bridge that knowledge gap with these five upcoming events.

1. To build up budding entrepreneurs – IdeaPesta 2023

Image Credit: Digital Penang

Open to universities and colleges in the northern region, this programme allows participants to collaborate with corporate entities and Digital Penang. 

The goal is to encourage technological ideation and innovation at the university level and build up budding entrepreneurs with the support of private companies. 

There are several cohorts within a year, where participants will undergo two stages—ideation development, and pitch day.

Each challenge winner is then shortlisted for the Founders’ Grit Seed Programme and has the chance to intern with corporate partners. This helps with talent and network building that can be useful in future endeavours. 

Universities and colleges that partner with Digital Penang for this programme will also receive RM10,000 sponsorship funds. 

Participation criteria:

  • Student or lecturer
  • Be currently in the field of engineering, IT, computer science, or business administration

Registration details: This programme is free of charge for participants. 

Registration timeline: The deadline for the programme will be arranged by the participating universities. It will be based on the selected semester that the programme is launched internally on campus. 

Image Credit: Digital Penang

2. To help entrepreneurs build an MVP – TechStarsStartup Weekend Penang

Image Credit: Digital Penang

Digital Penang is also collaborating with Techstars, one of the largest international pre-seed investors, to bring the first ever TechStarsStartup Weekend in Penang. 

This bootcamp programme will allow participants to match with potential technical or business co-founders to build a venture together in 54 hours. 

Participants will get the chance to be closer with experienced mentors from the tech industry and receive coaching. 

You can expect to see well-known names in the tech scene like Daniel Cerventus Lim at the event, who also recently hosted at the BIZ Gear UP! business conference last month. 

On the other hand, Techstars has produced resilient startups like DigitalOcean, Zipline, and SendGrid. 

This programme’s goal is to aid entrepreneurs in creating a minimum viable product (MVP). They’re also planning to reach out to other organisations connected to youth entrepreneurship.

Participation criteria:

  • Young adults (preferably students from universities, colleges, and vocational institutions) who aspire to be the next generation tech entrepreneurs
  • Be dedicated, passionate, and enthusiastic about building a startup in the tech industry

Registration details: N/A 

Registration timeline: At the moment, this programme is still a work in progress. There will be more information shared closer to its launch date at the end of May 2023.

3. To help founders find mentors – Founder Institute FI Core

Image Credit: Digital Penang

This is another programme that helps Penang-based tech startups and entrepreneurs develop their ventures while receiving experienced mentoring. 

In collaboration with Founder Institute, this programme aims to help Malaysian tech startups grow on a global scale. It can be quite challenging as participants will be working with local and international mentors, as well as Silicon Valley experts. 

The partnering company has a proven track record of building up aspiring entrepreneurs in terms of skills and funding. This includes startups like Udemy, Involve.AI, and Malaysia’s own Aonic (formerly known as Poladrone), which raised USD4.29 million in October 2021.

This is not to say that the programme comes with guaranteed funding. Rather, it assists startups in preparing to get funding. 

However, unlike TechStarsStartup Weekend Penang, the commitment period is much longer. The Founder Institute FI Core is a virtual programme that lasts for 14 weeks and will have two stages—launch and growth. 

Participation criteria:

  • Tech startups based in Penang
  • Participants will have to go through two assessments to qualify. First a psychometric test, then an assessment by the programme’s directors. Only those who pass both will be enrolled into the programme. 

Registration details: 

  • Early bird registration ends on March 19, 2023 is fixed at US$399
  • Normal registration past March 19, 2023 is fixed at US$499  

Registration timeline: The programme is already open for registrations and will officially close on April 16, 2023

Image Credit: Digital Penang

4. To match young startups with angel investors – Pitch Island

Image Credit: Digital Penang

In this programme, young startups in the early stages of raising funds (between RM50,000 to RM350,000) will have the opportunity to match up with angel investors from Penang. 

The pitch session will be based on tech verticals on the following dates:

DatesTech verticals
April 29, 2023Creative Content, Web3, and Blockchain
June 17, 2023EduTech Startups
August 26, 2023IoT, HardTech and DeepTech
October 28, 2023Cloud, SAAS and E-Commerce Startups
December 16, 2023SMEs and Micro SMEs

This pilot programme aims to address the early-stage funding gap for startups in Penang, as well as to build the angel investment landscape in the state.

Participants can expect to gain quality feedback from established angel investors to further grow their startups, improve pitching skills, and hopefully secure an investment interest.

Participation criteria:

  • Tech startups based in Penang
  • Have a minimum of two founders in the venture
  • Revenue is below RM150,000 as of FYE2022
  • Venture must be on the specific technology vertical based on the event session vertical being held (e.g., If that particular session is about EdTech, then only EdTech companies can pitch)

Registration details: This programme is free of charge for participants. However, do note that there will be a deadline for startups to submit their pitch deck.

Registration timeline: At the moment, this programme is still a work in progress. There will be more information shared closer to its launch date which is yet to be determined.

Image Credit: Digital Penang

5. To get stakeholders to mingle – Founders’ Meetup

Image Credit: Digital Penang

Previously known as the Coffee and Curry Puff event, this monthly meeting has been gathering  experienced founders, investors, mentors, and other stakeholders to share their experiences. 

This year, Digital Penang will be running a Ramadhan Special with two events. 

The first is titled “Technology Empowerment” and will happen on March 30, 2023, starring CC Leong from My.minda and William from Twilight Foundry. The second on April 27, 2023, is titled “From Dropout to Startup Founder” and stars Thiruvengadam from Buidl Studio.

The programme is open to startup founders and the public alike, with just one catch: you should be keen about tech entrepreneurship. 

It’s essentially another networking/sharing session that touches on best practices, basic skills, raising funds, and overcoming challenges. This helps shape the right perspective of budding entrepreneurs about the reality of tech entrepreneurism in Malaysia.

Participation criteria:

  • Anyone interested in tech startups and entrepreneurship

Registration details: This programme is free of charge for participants. 

Registration timeline: This programme happens on a monthly basis. Interested participants can find more information about upcoming events here.

Image Credit: Digital Penang


If you’re a newcomer to the scene, joining such programmes may appear intimidating, but if it’s of any comfort to you, many of the other participants might also be in the same boat.

Plus, with so many of them being free to join, there’s no harm in finding the programme that best suits you and going for it. After all, where opportunity presents itself, will you regret taking it up, or will you regret not taking it up? 

  • Learn more about Digital Penang here.
  • Read articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Digital Penang

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

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