Laptop subscription services exist, but this M’sian company added on software and IT support

[This is a sponsored article with Acestar.]

By now, most would have seen the impact that the pandemic has had on businesses nationwide. For starters, around 70% of small medium enterprises (SMEs) experienced a 50% drop in business during the first lockdown. 

Natalie Sit, the CEO of Acestar and an entrepreneur with 22 years of experience in the IT industry saw that businesses are struggling financially. One area she thought to target to help reduce upfront costs? IT procurement.

With irregular and unpredictable lockdowns leading to an uncertain cash flow, companies still had to invest in pricey IT equipment such as laptops and software for their staff, especially with remote working on the rise. 

The costs of equipping an employee with a capable laptop and software could reach up to RM5,000 per unit. If they were hiring multiple staff at a time, or if there was a need to refresh all the company laptops for an entire team or division, the company would be looking at five-figure payments or more.

Thus, the Acestar team came up with TechCare to provide companies with a more flexible package by turning their capital expenditure (CapEx) into operational expenditure (OpEx).

Keeping the customer’s needs in mind

Since Acestar’s inception in 2008, the company has always strived to be the leading local IT provider.

Alongside Natalie is Jason Chin, Acestar’s Director, who also played a crucial role in Acestar’s transformation over the years to the company it is today.

Under his belt, he has over 20 years of experience in Network and Server Infrastructure, along with credentials such as a Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MSCE), Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and more.

As Acestar’s Director, he needed to have a deep understanding of the current tech landscape. Thus, he was able to shift the traditionally expensive IT procurement method into one that is more affordable. He has also lived under Acestar’s motto to put customers first in whatever they do.

The direct result of this customer-centred commitment has led to the company’s crowning achievement of being Malaysia’s only Adobe Platinum Partner. To be classified as a Platinum Partner, the company will need to have an experienced team handling Adobe solutions, while offering top-notch support to their customers.

Acestar is also a partner for brands such as HP (Hewlett Packard) and Microsoft. They can leverage their collaborations to provide competitive pricing for their solutions to the users.

The HP Firefly G8, one of the laptops available under TechCare / Image Credit: HP

Equipping employees with the right tools for increased productivity

In essence, TechCare’s solution is similar to subscription services that you may be familiar with. But instead of just a laptop or IT services, you’ll be getting both starting from RM235 a month.

Note: The RM235 package requires a minimum of 5 users on a 36-month contract. The package price is also affected by the laptop and the software you choose. 

TechCare also comes with a free 3-month Salesfeed subscription,(worth RM1.2k) a lead generation tool with predictive analysis for businesses. It can help you create multiple landing pages with ready-made templates for Facebook Ads, Google Ads and others.

Aside from the laptop and software, you will also be getting IT support from Acestar as well. They have a dedicated team to help you troubleshoot when problems arise, so you will not have to hire an additional IT staff to help your team navigate through computer issues.

Under TechCare, you can get laptops such as the HP Firefly G8 and software such as Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials, Faronics Antivirus Cloud Subscription, and more. 

The effectiveness of TechCare’s service has had proven results too. Brian Law, the Managing Partner of LAW Partnership (a multi-disciplinary law firm) shared that it helped them improve company productivity by 15% and reduce their costs of hiring in-house IT personnel. It was how they powered through the first MCO.

Basically, TechCare can be an end-to-end service for their customer’s IT equipment needs, with Acestar acting as the consolidated point of contact. Companies can also move some of their costs of onboarding new employees to an operational charge that can be paid in fixed monthly instalments instead.

  • For more info on what TechCare offers, click here.

Also Read: 9 facts about personal loans in M’sia you should know to borrow responsibly in a pandemic

Featured Image Credit: Dyla Fadhilah, Sales Consultant for Acestar; Benjamin Yeoh, Senior Manager, Business Development for Acestar and Jason Chin, the Director of Acestar / Acestar

They’ve spent 17 years making jelly mooncakes the same way & have no plans to change that

As someone of Chinese descent, during my childhood, I used to spend a few days in September with my cousins at my grandparents’ house celebrating the mid-autumn festival. We’d play with sparklers, hang tanglungs (paper lanterns), and indulge in lavish family feasts and mooncakes.

But for Kimmy Woon and her family, September would mark the busiest month of the year for them as they prepped and sold their mooncakes to earn extra income. Unlike brands out there that sell traditional mooncakes filled with lotus paste, Kimmy’s family focuses on a delicacy that has grown in popularity over the years: jelly mooncakes.

Kimmy has been working with her mum and aunt on the business since she was 17. Even when she was studying in university, she would spend September nights around the table, helping her family make them by hand.

Now that she’s 34, with almost two decades of experience of making jelly mooncakes under her belt, she believes it is the right time to reinvigorate and rebrand the family business under a new name, Salt & Mould.

A rebrand after almost 2 decades

When we asked Kimmy about the inspiration behind the name, she said that it was actually inspired by the ingredients used in making their jelly mooncake.

“Salt & Mould is quite a catchy phrase and it can catch attention and also portray a modern brand image where we are planning to expand to sell more variety of home-based food instead of jelly mooncake,” said Kimmy, her sister Huey Sze, and friend Mavis, who both joined the team more recently.

The journey from Homemade Jelly Mooncake to Salt & Mould / Image Credit: Salt & Mould

Before the rebrand this year, the business was simply known as Homemade Jelly Mooncake since its inception in 2004. Admittedly, the name didn’t stand out too much, especially in the market filled with other homemade mooncake bakers and the likes.

When the business started, Kimmy’s mum and aunt brought her in to better understand the younger target market and to find ways to expand the business. Naturally, social media turned out to be a fruitful endeavour and it helped them bring in more customers outside of Kepong.

Now, 17 years later, she felt that the business required a new coat of paint, and in line with her visions for the business, Salt & Mould was born.

Far from traditional

Unlike regular and traditional mooncakes, jelly mooncakes are made with jelly and are usually filled with fruits and other common fillings. For Salt & Mould, they specialise in 8 common flavours: yam, kopi grass jelly, mango, red bean, passion fruit, cantaloupe, cendol gula melaka, and dragon fruit.

Currently, the mooncakes retail for RM78 for the “experience package” which includes all 8 flavours. Alternatively, you can opt for the “best seller package” for 6 flavours (without kopi grass jelly and dragon fruit) for RM68.

Mango and kopi grass jelly mooncakes / Image Credit: Salt & Mould

While they have experimented with other flavours such as corn and durian, these flavours can negatively impact a mooncake’s freshness, especially when they’re made without preservatives and fresh fruits. To help maintain their freshness, the mooncakes are individually vacuum-packed and sealed.

But this year, the team went the extra mile and introduced new packaging, replacing traditional mooncake boxes with cooler bags instead.

“It could help keep the freshness of the jelly mooncake, and also serve as an eco-friendly idea—where it’s reusable and people do not need to feel guilty because they’re throwing out mooncake boxes every year,” said the team. With these new changes, she believes their mooncakes can now remain fresh for more than 3 days in the fridge.

As for what goes into their mooncakes, they replied: “The whole mooncake is made purely of jelly and real fruits, but we won’t be sharing the secret recipe nor the process of making them.” To be fair to Kimmy, the recipe has remained in the family for almost two decades now, and she plans to keep it that way.

Making their jelly mooncakes in moulds, and the new cooler bag on the right / Image Credit: Salt & Mould

Coming and going with the season

Salt & Mould is a business that’s largely dormant for most of the year, only coming back to life about a month before the mid-autumn festival so the team can begin preparing orders. Thus, the team shared that it’s treated as a side income business. During the season, it’s a profitable business, but not by much.

Jelly mooncakes were probably once considered out of the ordinary, but now you can find them easily. Dozens of home businesses selling jelly mooncakes crop up each year with increasingly unique renditions.

Most jelly mooncakes in the market tend to use konjac jelly powder or agar powder which have firmer textures. But for Salt & Mould, they’ve stuck to doing what they do best, which is creating their own jelly mooncakes inspired by layered cake, as can be seen in the pictures above.

Kimmy said that her mum and aunty held many rounds of experiments to come up with a differently-textured jelly mooncake that had both a well-balanced flavour and a punchy taste at first bite.

Being that they’ve been operating for so long now, competition may not be the biggest worry on their mind. They’ve likely found a loyal following that returns to them each year, and the demand is more than enough to keep them afloat.

Currently, they’re producing an average of 300 handcrafted mooncakes a day, and they can make around 8,000 pieces in a month.

As mentioned earlier, Kimmy and her team plan to eventually expand Salt & Mould to be more than just a jelly mooncake business, and to cater more to the younger market. However, these are all just still in the planning stage, and for now, they will first continue selling jelly mooncakes.

  • You can check out Salt & Mould here.
  • Read our list of unique Malaysian-made mooncakes in 2021 here.

Also Read: 9 facts about personal loans in M’sia you should know to borrow responsibly in a pandemic

Featured Image Credit: Salt & Mould

Customisable aprons could be the new “in” gift, these M’sians already sell 300/month

When the MCO first started back in March of 2020, we were all stuck at home with nothing to do and plenty of time to kill. Some of us (though not me) picked up new hobbies such as baking, woodworking, and more. My family even had a phase where they simply just baked various types of bread, but that fire burnt out for them soon after.

Meanwhile, others have turned these MCO pastimes into full-blown home businesses. One thing they share in common? These activities usually require you to wear an apron to protect your clothes, whether it’s from food spills or wood shavings.

A good quality one can last you a long time, and typically, it’s not an investment one would consider necessary to make if someone is just creating for fun, or just starting up their new business with other costs to handle. This then opens up a gifting opportunity, and it’s this market that CY Yau, co-founder of The Apron Maker, wants to target with their customisable aprons.

A clear advantage over the competition

CY readily admitted that customisable aprons are not an innovative idea. You can send your design to any clothing printing service, get it printed on an apron, and call it a day. But for hobbyists who find that traditional and regular aprons don’t fit their needs, either through the lack of pockets or customisability, CY sees their product having a clear advantage over the competition.

“We recognise that in the market, many are focusing on custom print, rather than making good quality aprons. That gives us the advantage when customers are looking for better options in making their own aprons or as a gift to friends,” said CY.

Two examples of the team’s custom aprons / Image Credit: crumbs_and_scrumbs and farisyabakes

Depending on your profession, the quality of the apron can be crucial. Imagine if you’re working as a butcher, and all your aprons are hard to clean and stained with blood. Your customers might just walk out once they see that you can’t even manage the cleanliness of your aprons. And if you’re a carpenter, aprons are crucial for storing your handy tools when you’re working.

But the idea to start making customisable aprons was not from CY alone. The other two co-founders, Samantha and Mei Yi brought the idea to the table. Since CY runs a uniform apparel manufacturing company, the team has complete control over the materials and fabrics that go into an apron. This helps them ensure that each and every one of their products lives up to its name.

With CY’s manufacturing background, Samantha’s digital marketing experience, and Mei Yi’s product development prowess, the team leveraged their combined strengths to start the company.

The three co-founders of The Apron Maker, from left to right: Mei Yi, Samantha, and CY / Image Credit: The Apron Maker

Despite running his own manufacturing factory, he remarked that the team raised RM10,000 as capital from their own pockets to start the company. The trio then spent a year researching and understanding the market, and validating their product before finally launching The Apron Maker in January 2021.

During that time, CY revealed that they didn’t take any salary from the company and all the funds were used on product testing and samples. Since then, the company has grown to a team of 7.

Pulling back the stitching

Aside from the year taken to just validate their product, CY disclosed some of the hustle and bustle of running a company that only makes a single product. One of the biggest challenges they still face to this day is ensuring that they can deliver on a customer’s vision in terms of design and look.

With made-to-order aprons, the customers will first contact the team and get a quote. The quote can range from RM99.90 and above, after factoring in the fabric, printing, labour, logistics, and more. Then, the customer will relay their design ideas to the team.

Where the work takes place / Image Credit: The Apron Maker

The team’s in-house designers will then take the design, complete and visualise it for the customer. Once the design is approved by the customer, the team will get to printing, packaging, and delivering the apron. The whole process can be exhausting and time-consuming for the small team.

Additionally, since 80% of The Apron Maker’s customers are from the B2C market who buy the aprons as a gift, the team has to juggle multiple one-off aprons and deadlines to ensure the gifts arrive on time. However, CY said that they have noticed an uptick in orders from B2B customers recently. Overall, they sell about 300 aprons a month.

Adding more notches to their belts

Currently, The Apron Maker only has a few options available, but they’re working on increasing colour and print choices, CY said. At the same time, they’re working on creating an online design configuration to improve the design process for customers and the team.

Come 2022, they want to expand their services to neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Indonesia, as long as there is demand for their aprons. They’ve already ramped up their production capabilities, with the team sharing that they can make up to 100 aprons a day now.

The 3 current pocket styles with a few colours to choose from

Aprons are not the first gift idea that may come to one’s mind, but as mentioned earlier, the MCO has led to many starting creative businesses which could use an apron, and so a customisable one would make a thoughtful gift.

Though the pandemic has increased the pickup of these activities and businesses, these have been around since pre-pandemic times and will remain a thing far into the future. Since it’s not reliant on one particular short-lived trend, it could be concluded that The Apron Maker can enjoy business longevity as long as its growth plans are managed carefully.

  • Find out more about The Apron Maker here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Also Read: Alibaba Cloud was a star player behind the scenes in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, here’s how

Featured Image Credit: The Apron Maker

Alibaba Cloud was a star player behind the scenes in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, here’s how

[This is sponsored content with Alibaba.]

Back in 1964, satellite technology was used for the first time in Olympic broadcasting history, to broadcast the games to a global audience. Since then, tech has come a long way and this year marks yet another milestone in Olympic history.

We managed to witness our nation’s athletes such as Lee Zii Jia, Azizulhasni Awang, Aaron Chia, Pandelele Rinong and others, represent Malaysia in real-time thanks to cloud technology. Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, was one of the key players in building the stepping blocks that shifted the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 into the digital era.

1. Bringing forth an innovative change in Olympic broadcasting

The usage of cloud technology in media and broadcasting is not exactly new. Services like Netflix and Spotify with millions of users have relied on cloud technology ever since their inception. 

By leveraging cloud technology for broadcasting, OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) reduced the footprint of their broadcasting centre by 30%, compared to Rio Olympics in 2016. Especially with the pandemic still ongoing, having fewer employees present on-site can cut down the potential of an outbreak. 

That said, the move to broadcasting via cloud was not a pandemic knee-jerk reaction by OBS. They’ve partnered with Alibaba Cloud to create OBS Cloud back in 2018, and have tested its capability in previous Youth Olympic Games.

Yiannis Exarchos, the CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, said this partnership with Alibaba Cloud had transformed how they broadcast the games. He emphasised that “this [cloud-based broadcasting] is perhaps the biggest technological change in the broadcasting industry for more than half a century since the introduction of satellite transmission.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opK92LajFM8

With OBS Cloud, the broadcasting committee created, stored and managed nearly 9,000 short-form content clips on their platform. The RHBs (Rights-Holding Broadcasters), who have signed on for specific services, could then retrieve the clips instantly from any of their global facilities through the internet.

The subscribed RHBs will then have access to all the clips recorded and stored on Content+, an online platform supported by cloud infrastructure. They could then post them immediately on their own media platform, or mark them for post-production just as the games happen in real-time.

Note: In Malaysia, Astro, RTM and Unifi TV are the official broadcasters for Tokyo Olympics 2020.

2. Sensor-less tracking capability for athletes

Aside from just recording the games, cameras play an important role during the Olympics too. Cameras can be called to capture the precise moment when an athlete crosses the line, in what the industry calls a “photo-finish”.

However, 4 of the cameras pointed at the athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were doing something completely different. They were tasked to track the athletes’ motion and form, all without the athletes wearing sensors or trackers.

3DAT (3D Athlete Tracking) was a technology born from a partnership between Intel and Alibaba Cloud. 3DAT cameras will then gather biomechanical data of the athletes and through Intel computing technology, the data will be analysed and transformed into overlay visualisations shown during replays.

An example of the overlay / Image Credit: Intel

3. Protecting the on-the-ground staff members

While most of us enjoyed the games from the comfort of our homes, the athletes, coaches and staff members had to withstand one of the hottest Olympics in history.

The months of July and August were predicted to be the hottest for the nation, going as high as 35-degrees. It was so hot and humid during the event that one of the archers collapsed while checking their final score.

But the athletes were not the only party subject to the heat, as staff members had to endure the blazing temperatures too. To help prevent the staff members from heatstroke, Alibaba Cloud created and equipped them with an in-ear device that could track their body temperature and heart rate.

The in-ear device, along with the mobile app showing the other stats / Image Credit: Alibaba Cloud

The body temperature and heart rate gathered from the device will then be sent to the cloud, and if the staff is at risk, they will then receive an alert along with precautionary measures to reduce the chance of them falling victim to the heat.

4. A safer method of enamel pin trading

On top of the shiny medals, tiny and colourful enamel pins were also worn as badges of honour at the Olympics. Pin trading was seen as a long tradition that dates all the way back to 1896. Sadly, because of the pandemic, pin enthusiasts might have to see their tradition wither away.

Olympics pin trading back London 2012 Summer Olympics / Image Credit: Samantha Brough on Wikimedia Commons

With this in mind, Alibaba Cloud believes they can keep the tradition alive for the media professionals who are working hard on-site. Thus, they came up with a solution that allows for pin trading while keeping a safe distance. They introduced the Alibaba Cloud Pin which doubles up as a name tag device and a social device in one.

When two user’s devices are tapped together at arm’s length, the users’ contact details will be exchanged automatically. Both users will then be able to exchange daily updates, compare step counts, among other social features.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZUN_ahxUbY

Users could also customise their Cloud Pin to feature different artworks and so on, to make it their own unique identification device.

Chris Tung, the CMO of Alibaba Group believes cloud technology will play a major role in the next few Olympic Games to come, to create a level playing field through technology and a better experience for broadcasters, partners, fans and athletes. And they’ll be able to continue supporting the Digital Transformation journey of the Olympic Games, having signed on a 12-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee back in 2017.

  • For more info on Alibaba Cloud, click here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about Alibaba Group in the past here.

Also Read: 9 facts about personal loans in M’sia you should know to borrow responsibly in a pandemic

Featured Image Credit: International Olympic Committee (IOC) / Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS)

Calling all jobseekers: Over 100 companies are looking to fill 5,000+ vacancies this month

[This is sponsored content with MDEC.]

This August, MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation) is hosting Malaysia Tech Month 2021 (MTM 2021) for the second time since 2020. The event will also mark the corporation’s 25th year as the government’s appointed agency to cultivate a digitally capable nation.

MTM featured keynotes, discussions and talks from key figures in the digital tech industry such as Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (CEO of AirAsia Group), Eric Cheng (co-founder and Group CEO of Carsome), and Professor Dr Michio Kaku (Renowned Futurist and best-selling author).

Talks aside, MTM 2021 is also home to MyDigitalWorkforce Week (MDWW), the anchor digital skills event at MTM, and tailor-made for local job seekers.

Providing upskilling opportunities for jobseekers

MDWW will have webinars and upskilling classes which runs from August 16 to 20. There will also be a Digital Jobs Expo and Satellite events, running throughout the whole event from August 16 to 30.

Editor’s Note: The MyDigitalWorkforce Week portal is now extended to September 30. You can still look and apply for jobs on the site until then.

Some of the webinars, for example Let’s Learn Digital, offer free online digital marketing courses with certification by Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. There are also classes on how they can bolster their LinkedIn presence and how they can stand out in a competitive job market.

Hiring companies will also be giving talks on their industry, so potential employees can get a better grasp of the company’s working environment, benefits and growth opportunities.

That said, the main draw of the event for job seekers will be the Digital Jobs Expo. The job expo will promote more than 5,000 jobs listed by local companies. Here are some of the companies that are hiring during MDWW:

1. Dell Technologies

Dell Technologies is one of the global technologies leaders in digital transformation, providing technology solutions, products and services to businesses worldwide. Locally, the company has established 3 sites across the country in Bukit Minyak (APCC2), Penang (SWTC) and Cyberjaya.

One of the roles they’re on the lookout for is a Senior Advisor for their Cybersecurity Penetration Testing Team in Cyberjaya. The candidate should possess at least 8+ years of Information Security experience, and 5+ years of direct experience in areas of penetration testing, exploiting development, and more.

TS Koay, the General Manager of Dell Technologies in Cyberjaya said that Dell has adopted remote working throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so in the future through its Connected Workplace programme. He hopes to see passionate candidates who can thrive and achieve career aspirations in Dell Technologies.

Dell’s Cyberjaya site / Image Credit: CyberjayaCity

2. Hitachi eBworx Sdn Bhd

Hitachi eBworx is a financial solutions specialist, providing digital solutions to the financial services industry. Their client list includes Maybank, CIMB Group, and other notable banks in Malaysia. While the company was originally founded as eBworx in 1998, it was bought over by Hitachi in 2012.

The company is now present in 5 countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Singapore and Thailand. Prospective employees must also be willing to travel at least regionally and accept overseas assignments.

In MDWW, they’re recruiting a Technical Lead in Java/Microservices. Once hired, you’ll be tasked to design, implement and test banking solutions for clients while leading and executing team projects.

3. Karuna (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd

Karuna is a local company providing web design and development, graphic design and software development services to companies. They’ve serviced clients from Maldives, Hong Kong and even Singapore.

Melvin Ong, the CEO of Karuna, believes new graduates are good with Javascript and Framework such as React Native, React JS and Flutter. However, they ‘lack the understanding of .NET or PHP’, which are languages widely used in the industry.

“Usually these [understanding of programming languages] comes with working experience. One of the ways to improve that is to take up an internship with an IT company that focuses on software or mobile app development,” Melvin continued. 

They’re looking to hire a Full Stack Developer and your daily tasks will be to design UI for websites, develop servers and databases for clients.

4. Petronas Digital Sdn Bhd

Heads of PETRONAS Digital receiving awards for PETRONAS Digital during Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards in May 2021 / Image Credit: PETRONAS

PETRONAS Digital Sdn Bhd is the digital and IT delivery arm that enables PETRONAS to be a progressive energy and solutions partner to enrich lives for a sustainable future.

The company understands that ‘data is the new oil’ so they are heavily focusing on hiring more personnel to undergo this transition. One role that needs to be filled is a Data Scientist. Under PETRONAS, you will be designing, planning, coordinating and implementing Data Science activities that support the company’s Digital Agenda.

Phuah Aik Chong, the Head of Digital Engineering of PETRONAS Digital Sdn Bhd said “customer-centricity and sustainability are at the heart of everything we do”. They wish to hire talents that are self-driven and ultimately not afraid to take risks and to try new things in their industry.

5. Shopee Mobile Malaysia Sdn Bhd

Most of us relate Shopee to the regular 9.9, 11.11 and 12.12 sales. Shopee is also one of the companies that heavily prioritises their employee’s growth, allowing them to take on positions that can influence change within the company and digital economy even as a newcomer.

They’re currently looking for a Business Intelligence Analyst who will be tasked to develop commercial strategies and projects to help drive high-impact business changes.

As for those who are more Fintech inclined and enjoy problem solving for the team, you can consider joining their ShopeePay Project Management team. You will be working closely with different stakeholders within the company and execute the ShopeePay product roadmap in Malaysia.

The Shopee Malaysia office / Image Credit: Shopee Malaysia

-//-

If none of the companies above has roles that fit your skillset, there are 100 other companies on the site that are on the lookout for talents. Alternatively, you can join one of the upskilling sessions offered throughout the event. 

  • For more information on MyDigitalWorkforce Week, click here.
  • MyDigitalWorkforce Week starts on August 16 and ends on August 30, 2021.
  • MyDigitalWorkforce Week portal is now extended to September 30, 2021.
  • Read what we’ve written about MDEC here.

Also Read: 9 facts about personal loans in M’sia you should know to borrow responsibly in a pandemic

Featured Image Credit: 123rf

4 more M’sian-made games to bond together as a family during the pandemic to #sapotlokal

[This is sponsored content with Celcom.]

With the pandemic still raging on, many of us are staying put at home, whether it’s to work, study, or play. Some families have found this as an opportune time to bond together through activities and games.

If you’re on the lookout for games to play together with your kids or friends, we have compiled a few that are locally made, so you can #sapotlokal while having fun at home.

A Note From The Sponsor: To help with gaming smoothly together and to #StayConnected, users under the Celcom MEGA™ Family Line can get Unlimited mobile internet, or 30GB of Lightning mobile internet for RM40 a month. Find out more about the plan at the end of the article.

1. Claw Stars (iOS, Android – Free)

In Claw Stars, you play as a sentient hamster on a quest to save some of your fellow animals. As you can guess from the screenshots, it operates similar to other claw games you see in the arcade. Move the claw left or right, and click a button to grab the prizes below.

But instead of stuffed toys, what you get from the prizes are gems, coins, animals and so on. The coins can be used to build better habitats for the animals you save from the claw (think of yourself as the claw saving the aliens from Toy Story). Once you finish building a habitat, you’ll then move on to a new planet, saving a host of other animals.

However, that’s not the only interesting gameplay. Some of the prizes from the claw allow you to kidnap animals or block the habitats of other players. A kidnapped animal will give you coins, and the player whose animals are kidnapped will need to pay a ransom to release them.

So if you have a few friends or family added to the game, you can play against each other and see who can be the better space hamster. The game is developed by AppXplore, and we’ve reviewed some of their games in the past too.

2. Ejen Ali: Agents’ Arena (iOS, Android – Free)

In Ejen Ali: Agents’ Arena, you can play as your favourite agent from the animated series in a 3v3 MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), similar to games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor and Vainglory.

https://youtu.be/-WjD3iZw2g0
Gameplay of Alicia: Video Credit: Rio Favian on Youtube

Every agent has their own skills and attributes too. Like other MOBAs, your goal is to fight against the other team and hold control points. The more control points you hold, the more score you get. The game ends when a team scores a 100, or when the timer runs out.

If you’re a fan of Ejen Ali and have played MOBAs in the past, it’s a no-fuss game that can be played with or against friends and family. The game is developed by Common Extract, and published by Media Prima.

3. Eximius: Seize The Frontline (PC/Steam – RM51)

For families with slightly older children, Eximius: Seize The Frontline is a mixed genre PC game, combining both elements of RTS (Real-time strategy) and FPS (first-person shooter) in a single game. It is developed by Ammobox Studios, another local game studio.

In Eximius, you play as one of the Officers of the two military factions in the game. The Officer mainly experiences the game in FPS: running, gunning and securing control points. The RTS genre of the game only comes in when you’re selected as the Commander for that round, allowing you to place buildings, build units and call for help to assist your team to victory.

Multiplayer-wise, you can create your own lobby to play with family or friends, or fight against bots and other players. You can read our review here for a more in-depth look on the game.

4. Rhythm Doctor (PC/Steam – RM33)

Unlike most games in this list where it’s all just non-stop action, Rhythm Doctor puts you in the shoes of a hospital intern, in charge of a new medical process. As the name suggests, Rhythm Doctor is a rhythm game, and can be played with just a click of a button. But don’t be deceived. The game can get hard so don’t expect it to be a cakewalk.

https://youtu.be/PDyAZEyd7SU
One of the songs from the game, you need to tap the button on the 7th beat / Video Credit: BluPen

There’s a wide variety of music genres in the game, ranging from fast-paced EDM to chill beats. Multiplayer-wise, the game allows you to tackle the stories together in co-op mode, or challenge each other via multiplayer battle. The game is developed by 7th Beat Games.

Honourable Mentions

While these games are not made locally or new, we’re including them here as potential suggestions for family-friendly fun. Your children are probably already obsessed with Roblox, but here are other alternatives that you can enjoy with them.

  1. Active Arcade: While most of the games listed are ones you can play sitting down, Active Arcade gamifies the exercise experience. You’ll do things like hop and reach for boxes, use your arms for Whack-A-Mole, and squats, without the need for extra equipment—just make sure you have space to move. The game also has a 2-player mode where you and your friends and family can play beside each other.

You’ll have to move around quite a lot / Image Credit: NEX Lab

2. Butter Royale: Butter Royale is a Battle Royale game, but with a kitchen-y twist added to it. The game is only available on Apple Arcade, but if you’ve subscribed to it, this is worth picking up. The characters are cute, it’s full of puns, and even comes with a fan-favourite announcer aptly named Cesar Salads who makes corny jokes. The gameplay is fast-paced too, and for parents concerned about safety, there isn’t any voice or text chat so your children won’t be exposed to unwanted commentary from outsiders.

A screenshot of Butter Royale / Image Credit: Mighty Bear Games

3. Pokemon Go: I’m sure you’ve walked in a mall or even passed a street corner before the pandemic hit and see people grouped around key spots holding their phones tossing pokeballs. Despite being a relatively “old” game released in 2016, many still play it to this day. With the update that allows players to play from home, the whole family can still work together, catch ‘em all, and fight raids. And once we can go out safely again, this game can encourage some extra exercise to track down gym locations.

Keep the whole family connected on 1 bill

As many of these games are mobile games, having an unlimited mobile internet plan will keep you gaming, streaming, staying safe and talking with your friends and loved ones without any worries. 

With the Celcom MEGA™ Family Line, you can keep up to 3 of your subsidiary lines connected and be on the same Unlimited mobile internet plan for RM40 a month.

Note: To be eligible for the RM40 a month Celcom MEGA™ Family Line, the primary line will need to be on a Celcom MEGA™ plan from at least M Pass at RM98 and above.

With RM98/month, the primary line can get Unlimited or Lightning mobile internet, and 3 family lines are eligible for the RM40 Celcom MEGA™ Family Line.

The Unlimited Family Line will grant the subsidiary lines unlimited mobile internet with up to 5GB of monthly hotspot. So if you’re having spotty home internet, just use your hotspot for uninterrupted gaming or streaming. 

As for the LIGHTNING Family Line, the mobile internet does cap at 30GB per month, but you will have a fast, uninterrupted connection, which is perfect for mobile gamers.

Unlimited Family Line LIGHTNING Family Line
Unlimited internet 30GB of monthly LIGHTNING internet
Free monthly hotspot of 5GB
Unlimited calls to all networks Unlimited calls to all networks
RM 0.20 per SMS to all networks RM 0.20 per SMS to all networks
Monthly commitment of RM40 per line Monthly commitment of RM40 per line
What the subsidiary lines can get. Note that the unlimited internet under the family line is capped at 6Mbps.

The Celcom MEGA™ Family Line is customisable too. So if one of the family members needs a LIGHTNING Pass instead, you can opt to do so, while the rest continue on with the Unlimited Pass for their Netflix binges. 

If everyone is on the Unlimited Family Line, then no one has to worry about running out of data in the middle of the week.

At the end of the month, the primary line with 3 subsidiary lines will only have to pay RM98 + RM40 + RM40 + RM40 = RM218. You can get unlimited mobile internet, unlimited calls to all networks and more. This can be a more affordable deal compared to getting everyone on their own line.

  • For more information on Celcom MEGA™ Family Line click here.
  • Read up on the FAQs of the plan here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about Celcom in the past here.

Also Read: Under the new Cyberjaya masterplan, they’re looking for demand-led startups

Featured Image Credit: Media Prima / AppXplore / 7th Beat Games

With RM18.5mil funding secured, MoneyMatch sets sights on SG & HK expansion by end 2021

In 2019, we wrote an update piece on MoneyMatch, a local fintech startup on their pivot from a P2P platform to a digital platform that allowed customers to send their funds abroad without the need of a middleman. Adrian Yap, CEO of MoneyMatch said the pivot was a necessary move because people needed a faster and more efficient way to send money overseas.

Back then, one of the milestones of the company was to hit RM1 billion in transacted value on the platform. And fast forward to today, the team revealed that they’ve helped customers transact over RM2.3 billion since its inception in 2017. 

While that is a feat on its own, it’s not the only achievement the team is celebrating in 2021.

MoneyMatch recently announced that they’ve successfully closed their Series A Funding, raising RM18.5 million in two rounds, initially led by Cradle Seed Ventures in 2019 and KAF Investment Bank earlier this year.

With the pandemic supercharging the demand for faster and safer low-touch solutions, e-commerce and fintech players such as MoneyMatch knew they had to step up and offer more solutions for their customers.

In a press release, MoneyMatch revealed their plans to expand into Singapore and Hong Kong by the end of 2021, after already expanding to Australia and Brunei thus far. To further understand the ambitions and the goals of the company, we spoke with Naysan Munusamy, one of its co-founders.

Building the brand in other nations

“Singapore and Hong Kong actually represent two of our top ten business destination corridors, so it’s natural for us to progress, to gain our own licensing and foothold in these countries to optimise connectivity and expand our offerings,” said Naysan.

With 80% of their transactions being B2B through clients from a wide range of industries like trade importers and technology businesses, the expansion into these popular trade centres only made sense. Once they’ve built up their presence there, Naysan said they can then expand further and cover a larger addressable market beyond Asia.

But despite all the talk of servicing larger trade economies, he said their heart still puts Malaysia first, to help facilitate local SMEs which they feel are underserved in the fintech circle.

Serving the underserved

With many traditional SMEs now wanting to pivot, MoneyMatch wants to assist them in reducing their cost and optimising their processes with digital services.

However, they’re not the only players in fintech or remittance. It is a sector rife with competition and constant innovation. That said, Naysan believes that MoneyMatch still holds a candle against the rest, especially with technological advantages such as their cross-border blockchain connectivity to countries such as India and South Korea.

To answer the call of SMEs in need of better business solutions, Naysan said they’ve hired new personnel in areas such as Penang and JB. And once restrictions lift and businesses return to normal, they will be hiring more and opening up more branches to further extend their reach locally.

Looking further down the line

As the first graduate of the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) regulatory sandbox, Naysan feels MoneyMatch is well-positioned to deliver financial technology innovations across the nation. On top of that, the startup is also part of a consortium that’s bidding for a local digital banking license.

When asked if he could share more on what they would be offering to Malaysians should they get the license, Naysan politely declined, saying, “We will leave that to our digital banking consortium’s lead to announce when they are ready on their plans and vision.” However, he did say that they are “strongly diversified to handle numerous challenges and take on the market aggressively”.

We also asked Naysan whether he had any advice for other fintech startups who are seeking funding, to which he chirped: “No excuses! I know this sounds a bit mean, but unfortunately, times are bad and investors are very wary.”

“However, just as some businesses are suffering, there are also many sectors which are flourishing such as e-commerce and logistics so at the end of the day, even in bad times like this right now, investors still have options to invest in strong healthy startups.”

Fully focus on your critical success factors—whether that’s net revenues, user base or site traffic, and impress investors with your growth and strength even during these tough times.

Naysan Munusamy, co-founder of MoneyMatch

  • You can learn more about MoneyMatch here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about fintech in the past here.

Also Read: What large M’sian corporations with data-driven approaches know that others may not

Featured Image Credit: MoneyMatch

Don’t brush off this M’sian game as a first-person shooter clone, it’s got more to offer

Ever since I was introduced to the world of gaming at an early age, I’ve been spending most of my time trying various games. However, the current gaming scene has left me feeling a little disappointed and jaded, or maybe I’m just getting old.

But to be more specific, I’m talking about games from Triple-A developers who continuously release games that feel the same, retelling and rehashing stories as old as time. For those unfamiliar with gaming lingo: Triple-A is a term coined by the community, referring to developers with a large budget for marketing and development.

So, I began finding more enjoyment in indie games, made by smaller teams with smaller budgets. Phasmophobia, a game about ghost hunting, is a stellar example of an indie one. At one point, the game peaked at over 112k players too. It was made by a single developer and I’ve invested over 87 hours into the game (and I’m not planning to stop yet).

The point is, while Triple-A games push out repetitive games, indie developers set out to break the mould. And that is what I believe Ammobox Studios, a Malaysian game studio, wanted to do with Eximius: Seize The Frontline.

The same cake with a new ingredient

While the full name of Eximius might be a mouthful, the gameplay is pretty straightforward.

You play as a soldier in one of two opposing army factions in the game who are fighting to be the dominating military power in the game’s universe. And that’s about it for the story.

But, what makes the game interesting to me is its choice of genre. Instead of going for the standard-fare FPS shooting game, the devs opted to create a multi-genre game, by adding RTS into the mix.

The More You Know: FPS stands for First Person Shooter. FPS games are gun-based combat simulators from a first-person perspective. Games such as Call of Duty, Valorant and Counter-Strike are popular examples of FPS games.

Meanwhile, RTS stands for Real-Time Strategy. RTS games usually require the player to manage resources in real-time and command armies to win battles. Games like Starcraft, Command & Conquer and Age of Empires are examples of RTS games.

Age of Empires 2 / Image Credit: Xtremecole on Steam

Basically, the gameplay of Eximius is separated into two different genres. When getting into a game, be it with real players or AI, you get a choice between playing as an Officer or a Commander in a 5V5 PVP (player VS player) mode. 4 players from each team will play as an Officer, and 1 player will be nominated as the Commander.

Not just a soldier on the battlefield

Both roles play the game a little differently. As an Officer, your task is to shoot enemies and hold objective spots. Holding more spots will give your team more points and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

You have access to a variety of guns and weaponry that might skew the battle in your favour. But even if you’re the best gunner in the world, if you don’t have the proper backup, you might find yourself surrounded during a firefight. This is where the Commander comes in to save the day.

If you start a game versus the AI, you can choose to be the Commander

As the Commander, only you can assign AI-controlled soldiers to Officers on the ground. Officers can then command these AI soldiers to hold a spot or storm the enemy’s base together. Aside from assigning soldiers to Officers, the Commander also has access to the RTS elements of the game in base building, calling in air support and so on, while juggling resources.

For example, if you expend all your resources on building a Barrack for foot soldiers to take an objective, you might lack the firepower to take out tanks that the opponent Commander might have called in.

The game won’t let you build in peace either. You have to make decisions quickly, debating between building a barracks or a power generator while your Officers are being shot at. But when you’re not building up the base, you double up as an Officer on the ground.

Like other Officers, you can command your own soldiers, upgrade your guns and take objective spots. But with just a click of a button (Q), you can transition into RTS mode to build up the base whenever.

So this makes playing the Commander a stressful job. Will you storm in with your Officers, or stay back to build a proper base to support them?

Far from being the best shooter out there, but it has its appeal

When it comes to gunplay which makes up 90% of the game, the guns sadly felt a little lacking. There are not many gun varieties and the guns lack that extra oomph that makes shooting fun and impactful, the way other FPS games out there do.

Not to mention, at the moment of writing, the game lacks a proper player base that’ll help it prosper. But to be fair to the developers, they’re making a game of a highly competitive genre, vying for the attention usually given to the big boys in the FPS scene.

If you can’t find actual players to play with, the game will fill the slots with enemy AI, which can be tough to beat on higher difficulties.

On the brighter side of things, the game can be beautiful at times too. If you take a look at the behind-the-scenes posts by the devs, you can see that they’ve poured a lot of effort into their designs.

A character design of the game shared by Ammobox Studios / Image Credit: Ammobox Studios

If you’re a fan of both genres and have a penchant for trying new games, Eximius: Seize The Frontline can be a fun game to play with friends. And its price tag of RM50 isn’t too much to ask for, particularly if it goes to supporting local devs who can continuously upskill.

For a game that’s made in Malaysia, I’m glad that our gaming dev scene can push out a game something as polished as this (despite its minor flaws), and I look forward to Ammobox Studios’ next game, hopefully with improved gunplay.

  • You can check out Eximius: Seize The Frontline on Steam here.
  • For more game reviews, head here.

Also Read: 43% of this accelerator’s alumni received funding, sign ups are open now

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post

HSBC launches EZInvest in M’sia, allows users to invest in unit trusts via mobile app

[This is a sponsored article with HSBC Malaysia.]

As someone who’s entering their 30s with limited investment experience, it is both relieving and alarming to learn that I’m not alone. Turns out, roughly 43% of local millennials have not dabbled in investments at all, and have no plans to.

Taking a closer look at the financial habits of millennials, another recent report found that 40% of millennials actually spend beyond their means too. This means that a large number of the young workforce is not saving or investing.

The ongoing pandemic is likely their very first economic crisis where they are managing their own finances. It’s not all bad news though, experts believe that the Movement Control Order (MCO) is a good training period for the youngsters to reflect and adjust their spending and lifestyle.

Investing can be a good starting point to potentially grow your wealth. But that said, there are risks involved in investments, so make sure to do your own research and due diligence before making any financial decisions.

One investment option available to Malaysians are Unit Trusts.

What exactly are unit trusts?

Unit Trusts (UT) act just like normal investments, where we exchange funds for assets. However, there are a few key things to note about how UT works.

When first investing in UT, your money is pooled alongside other investors. The money is then managed by a financial professional who will invest the pooled money to fulfil the investment objective and approach agreed beforehand.

Example Scenario: Alan wants to invest RM1,000 into UT. He talks to a financial professional and they set a goal for how much Alan wants to profit. Alan wants to get out with a RM300 profit. The investment amount of RM1,000 is then channeled to the financial professional.

The financial professional also manages other investors like Alan. With a combined pool of money from different investors, they can invest more into different assets

A year later, the market favoured Alan’s investments and reached his goal profit. He then decides to sell off the investment. Of course, other factors such as market volatility, risks and management fees are still at play even in UT. And depending on the UT, some might pay out yearly dividends.

Since the funds are managed by a financial professional, the unit holders (the investors) have limited control of the assets they’re investing into. In terms of profit, unit holders might also get less profit as they have to pay management fees to the financial professional.

Benefits-wise, unit owners will have a large portfolio list, as the financial professional will often diversify into different assets, in line with the age-old saying of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.

Dipping your toes into UT investment

HSBC’s investment platform on the HSBC Malaysia Mobile Banking App, EZInvest, is now available in Malaysia to give users convenient access to UT investing. 

Compared to conventional UT investing where you need to talk to a financial professional, EZInvest provides you with the flexibility to invest in UT through a secured platform right on your mobile phone. To start, you’ll need a HSBC Unit Trust Investment account or a HSBC Amanah Unit Trust Investment Account.

With EZInvest, you can start investing from RM500.

Aside from the low entry point, HSBC allows investors to get access to different assets ranging from local, Asian and global markets. HSBC EZInvest is designed to be easy to use. Here are the steps to access its services:

1. Open up the HSBC Malaysia Mobile Banking App (download the app on Apple App Store or Google Play Store) and login via Biometrics or your account details.

2. Tap on EZInvest, which can be found under the “Products and Services” tab.

The Welcome Screen for new investors, EZInvest can be found under Products and Services / Image Credit: HSBC

3. If you’re a first-time investor, you’ll be prompted with a welcome screen, showing the features of UT. If you’ve invested via the app, you can tap on “My Holdings” to view all your current assets, their market value, and the potential gain or loss of the asset. If you wish to buy more, you can do so in this section as well.

An example of what you’ll see if you have investments under HSBC EZInvest, can be found under “My Holdings” / Image Credit: HSBC

4. To begin investing, tap on “What Can I Invest” and you’ll be brought to a page where you can see all the details of a fund that you can invest in. It’ll show you detailed information about the fund’s price, performance, allocation, fees and charges. If you’re interested in investing in that specific fund, tap on “Invest Now”.

The full details of the what you’ll be investing into, along with the performance chart and the product risk level / Image Credit: HSBC

5. Fill in the necessary details as prompted, verify the details of the transaction, and you’re set. If you wish, you can save the transaction details by clicking on the share button.

The screen where you’ll double check the details along with the charges before confirming the investment / Image Credit: HSBC

With EZInvest, you won’t have to talk to any financial professionals or the likes to make an investment since you can buy, sell and manage your investment through the platform. And you will have access to your UT portfolios under HSBC and HSBC Amanah.

-//-

It is worth noting that gaining a profit from investing is not a sure thing. So make sure you study up what investment you are buying into to see if it suits your lifestyle, spending habits, and financial goals. Investments are usually tied to long-term profits, so it makes sense to start as early as you can.

  • For more info on HSBC EZInvest, click here.
  • Read up on our past HSBC articles here.

The usage of EZInvest (app) is governed by the HSBC Bank Terms and Conditions for Online and Mobile Banking, End User License Agreement, and Important Notes available in the HSBC Malaysia Mobile Banking app. In order to perform transaction in this app, a sole Unit Trust investment account needs to firstly be opened. Please visit HSBC Bank or HSBC Amanah branch or contact us by phone to open a Unit Trust investment account to perform transaction on this app. The services provided through this app involve no recommendation of, or advice on, any product from us. All transactions that you enter into through this app are conducted on an execution-only basis and based on your own judgement. The value of investments, unit prices, income distribution and impact of exchange rate movement may go down or up, and the investor may not get back the original sum invested. Past performance of a unit trusts should not be taken as indicative of its future performance. Investors are advised to read carefully and understand the contents of the prospectus and consider the general risk factors associated with investing in unit trusts in addition to other specific risks uniquely associated with the unit trusts. All the relevant risk factors are set out in the relevant prospectus for the unit trusts. The list of Unit Trust funds provided through this app is not reflective of the full fund list offered by HSBC Bank and HSBC Amanah via the branch channel. If you’re looking for the full list of Unit Trust funds, you may visit our HSBC website or our branch for more information. The scope of available transactions are lump sum investment, Monthly Investment Plan (MIP) and redemption. To perform switching, transfer or exercise of cooling-off right in relation to unit trusts, please visit the nearest HSBC Bank or HSBC Amanah branches. If you would like to enquire of such procedure, please contact HSBC Bank Malaysia via the channels specified in https://www.hsbc.com.my/contact/. Unit trust schemes and units in such schemes are not protected by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (“PIDM”); and any money withdrawn from an insured deposit for the purpose of purchasing any units in a unit trust scheme is no longer protected by PIDM. This material has not been reviewed by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC).

Also Read: A gap in the saturated sweet market led this hiker to make a sports candy

Featured Image Credit: HSBC

A gap in the saturated sweet market led this hiker to make a sports candy

[This is a sponsored article with HSBC.]

There are many reasons to start a business. For Mr Kenny Low, his journey into the candy industry was all about passion, continuing the family business, and fulfilling what the market lacked at that time.

Kenny has always been fond of candy growing up, but unlike other sweet-loving kids, Kenny had a closer connection to toothsome treats—his family ran a candy wholesale business. He then decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and founded his own business called Nicko Jeep Manufacture Sdn Bhd.

Fun Fact: Nicko Jeep as a name does not have any meaning behind it. Kenny said that when he created the company, little jeep toys were popular and the name stuck.

The old Nicko Jeep logo with one of their most popular brands, Big Foot / Image Credit: Big Foot

Transitioning from distributor to manufacturer

When Nicko Jeep first started, they were just a distributor, selling candies in small stores next to schools. But Kenny was not satisfied with the status quo. He had big dreams of producing his own candy, but lacked the capabilities to do so earlier on.

To realise that dream, the company invested in equipment, facilities and hired staff with the right skills and experience to create Nicko Jeep’s own line of candies. The company also had to pour money into creating attractive packaging as they needed to stand out.

They succeeded in creating quite a few iconic treats. If you’re a candy-lover, you might have encountered Big Foot Lollipop and Big Foot Plum candies.

Some of the other candies from Nicko Jeep under their Big Foot brand / Image Credit: Big Foot

Kenny noted that the candy market is really competitive and the consumers are never short of options. He wanted the company to shine not just locally, but internationally. Thus, the business started to export their candies to other countries. They also started working on a truly unique product.

Creating a new candy category

When he’s not thinking about candy, Kenny fills his free time with hiking. As someone who hikes often and sweats a lot, he needed an easier way to keep his sodium levels in check. While sodium-containing sports drinks may help, they have more water than sodium.

This was when he realised he could marry both of his passions to create a solution for his fellow hikers and athletes. Thus, the Himalaya Salt Sports Candy was born. While Kenny thought he had a good idea in mind, the company encountered issues during production.

Firstly, Kenny knew the product had to be healthy, as consumers have the preconception of candies being unhealthy and contain a lot of sugar. The end product only contained two or three grams of sugar per serving.

In addition, Nicko Jeep needed to find a sweet spot, balancing sodium and sugar. After testing different types of salt, the team found that natural rock salt was the perfect ingredient for their candy. In 2018 when Himalaya Salt Sports Candy hit shelves, it was well-received across the Asia Pacific. The candy is now consumed by millions across 10 different countries.

Looking for the right treat

On top of the 10 countries where Himalaya Salt Sports Candy is distributed, Nicko Jeep also supplies candy to a total of 16 countries. 

In the course of their international expansion, they ran into issues with customers paying using a letter of credit. This payment method could take a few days for banks to process, affecting the business’s cash flow.

This proved to be an issue until Nicko Jeep used HSBC as their bank of choice. Besides a quick processing time, Kenny recalled an instance when HSBC got back to him on the same day, prompting him to change the details on a letter of credit. If the letter had gone through, it would have taken him days to fix the potentially costly error.

Before using HSBC, Kenny and his team also used to go into the bank a few days a week to submit documents and perform transactions.

Through HSBCnet, HSBC’s online portal, Kenny no longer had to drop by or call the bank for submissions or transactions as he could perform it all on his desktop or on his phone.

He can view and control all his companies’ financials (local or international) through a single log-in too.

HSBCnet can act as a consolidated interface, providing business with a suite of flexible online financial solutions. It is designed to help businesses increase productivity and better manage their cash flow. 

Handling hedging requirements all through HSBCnet

As a business that handles international exports, Nicko Jeep has to deal with different currencies and this is where HSBC Evolve comes in. 

An example of the HSBC Evolve dashboard / Image Credit: HSBC

HSBC Evolve allows Kenny to lock in FX rates for his settlements too. For example, the current forex rate stands at RM1 = 7.55 Thai Baht. Kenny wishes to make his settlement on a later date but he likes the current rate offered. He can lock in the rate and won’t have to worry if the rates fluctuate on a later date and negatively affect his bottom line.

HSBC Evolve is designed to ensure that a user can better manage and execute their FX exposure effectively through real-time live pricing. The service can also provide SMEs with access to 460 currency pairs.

In the past, getting an updated FX rate would require Kenny to drop by or call a bank and look for a dealer to obtain special rates, which takes out a lot of his time. And if he didn’t like the rate he would then need to call the bank again to check and monitor the rates. But with HSBC Evolve, he can monitor the FX movement right in front of his computer and execute the trade within a minute, without even calling the bank.

Growing the business through digitalisation

“With the efficiency gained from these digital tools, it is easier to manage our business growth,” said Kenny, the Managing Director of Nicko Jeep.

Nicko Jeep got to where they are because they understood the importance of digitalisation to improve business processes. With 70% of the business focusing on exporting, they would be stuck in the deep end if they failed to digitalise their processes earlier on.

For companies who are still using traditional business models, Kenny said by adapting to trends and digitising processes, it can help your business keep up and stay relevant. With access to 16 countries and counting, he still has plans to develop new products and extend his reach further.

  • Check out Nicko Jeep’s line of products here.
  • For more info on HSBC solutions such as HSBCnet and HSBC Evolve, click here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about HSBC in the past here.

Also Read: 43% of this accelerator’s alumni received funding, sign ups are open now

Featured Image Credit: HSBC

Under the new Cyberjaya masterplan, they’re looking for demand-led startups

[This is a sponsored article with Cyberview.]

In 2020, the pandemic threw a wrench into the workings of the world, disrupting global economies. Locally, 89.9% of SMEs encountered a drop in sales during the first Movement Control Order (MCO).

The demand for e-commerce and digital services skyrocketed overnight; the nation prioritised from-home solutions, shoving brick-and-mortar shops into an unfavourable position. And if they didn’t adapt to meet the changed demands of consumers, they faced closure.

To support businesses that are pivoting to be demand-focused, accelerators like the Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator (CLLA) found themselves needing to change as well.

Note: Cyberview is a Tech Hub Developer, spearheading the development of Cyberjaya.

Previously, CLLA operated in a Venture-Building Accelerator model, helping startups to be investment-ready, providing networking opportunities, and more. But now, they’ve pivoted to a Demand-Led Accelerator model instead.

Do accelerators even need to evolve?

The Cyberview team detailed the change as a flipped accelerator model, where approved startups tackle specific problems such as infrastructure, transportation and others in Cyberjaya. Basically, CLLA used to help startups solve issues. Now, they’re recruiting startups that can solve the city’s issues instead.

This shift is part of Cyberjaya’s new masterplan, mandated by the government to supercharge the development of the smart city into a Global Technology Hub. 

Shafinaz Salim, the Head of the Technology Hub Development Division for Cyberview said the new accelerator model is a response to the ever-changing consumer demands.

Five of the hand-picked startups from the latest 15th CLLA cohort / Image Credit: CLLA

Testing products in real-life conditions

Cyberview wants to foster and build up startups that excel in these specific areas: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Fintech, Internet of Things (IoT), Retail Tech, Smart Mobility, Smart Healthcare and Digital Creative.

They hope these startups will come up with disruptive technologies that can bring change to the industry and propel the growth and development of the sector. The end goal is to improve the nation’s digital capability and the livelihoods of Malaysians.

One of the alums of CLLA, MedKad, shares the same vision—to create a solution that is of good quality, affordable and convenient for the community. MedKad is a medical benefit management platform that helps employers and companies to automate the process.

The MedKad team / Image Credit: MedKad

Ezuan Yaacob, the CEO of MedKad said that Cyberjaya’s accepting community is one of the key benefits of the programme. Testing their solutions in real-life situations helped the team to get invaluable experience, which can then translate into better end products for the general public.

To date, MedKad has successfully onboarded 90% of the medical clinics in Cyberjaya, consisting of GP clinics, hospitals, dental and optical centres.

Ezuan shared 2 key traits that demand-led startups should have: to be always aware of current market trends, and also to look out for strategic collaborations.

Going further together

Darween Reza, the CEO of My Conceptual Robotics (MyCRO), another alumni of CLLA, takes collaborations very seriously too. MyCRO is a startup that focuses on R&D solutions, particularly in deep tech and robotics.

“It’s not always a competition. Even for those within the same industry, it’s not about who can do it better or faster all the time,” said Darween.

Giving further context, Shafinaz explained that at CLLA, they value the power of teamwork and collaboration in tackling challenges. After managing 85 startups across 15 cohorts, their programmes are designed to prepare and help the startups build relevant connections that can help them face challenges head-on.

Darween (on the right) with his team / Image Credit: MyCRO

Through CLLA, MyCRO collaborated with several public universities in Cyberjaya to test out one of their projects. They built a cloud-based dashboard that allows a factory owner to track a building’s usage of power, water, and more, without being there physically.

As a startup hand-picked by CLLA, MyCRO is adaptable as well.

To assist Malaysians with the daily routine during the pandemic, they teamed up with  University of Malaya to build an IoT smart thermometer that allows users to track their body temperature using an app.

Darween shared that the journey to be a demand-led startup is a difficult one, and they’re still working their way towards that goal. He believes that a company can prosper if there’s demand and support, but what remains the same is that businesses need to be agile and adapt to the current situation.

“I like the idea of fail fast, recover fast. A good entrepreneur must always be on his toes,” said Darween.

Pacing yourself to match your capabilities

A demand-led startup is not built in a day. Nik Muhammad Amin, the CEO of Moovby, believes that any demand-led startup faces a chicken and egg problem. If there’s no demand, there’s no solution—and vice versa.

The Moovby team / Image Credit: Moovby

He said that persistence is key, but you have to start small first. “Over-engineering can be poisonous and can even potentially kill a startup.”

As another player in the smart city, Moovby is a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform with a goal to integrate into the regional transportation system. Nik mentioned a few key benefits of car-sharing: to reduce the environmental impact of commuting, reduce the demand for parking, and increase regional economic activity.

CLLA has taught his team to build a product that fits the market, to better understand acquisition strategies and the importance of marketing and branding for a demand-led startup.

Nik believes that startups should not rush into things just because they want to succeed. “It’s not easy to get users. Make sure you build a strong brand presence and gain trust first.”

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If these sharings from CLLA alumni have caught your interest here are some criteria that you’ll need to fulfil to join the programme:

  1. Must have a Minimal Viable Product (MVP),
  2. Be current, relevant, and adaptable to the post-pandemic era,
  3. Be at a stage that can be sustainable,
  4. Strong proponents of digitalisation and aligns with Cyberview’s new tech focus areas,
  5. Have a solid team with strong founders or co-founders.

  • For more information on the Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator (CLLA) programme, click here.
  • Find out what we’ve written about Cyberview in the past here.

Also Read: AIA’s digital ambition is so massive that they need 500+ tech talents to realise it

Featured Image Credit: Nik Muhammad Amin, CEO of Moovby / Darween Reza, CEO of MyCRO and Ezuan Yaacob, the CEO of MedKad, from Cyberview

43% of this accelerator’s alumni received funding, sign ups are open now

[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.”

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https://www.facebook.com/sidecmy/posts/2628607550617794

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.

Also Read: AIA’s digital ambition is so massive that they need 500+ tech talents to realise it

Featured Image Credit: HeyAlfred

We created a virtual, interactive office and now we may never be satisfied IRL

Just a while back, we wrote a piece on Lark, a collaborative platform with a plethora of tools to share documents with your team and edit them in real-time, complete with powerful messenger chat functions, crystal clear voice calls, and many more.

As convenient as the platform is, we still missed the physical connection we took for granted when we were working out of a shared space. Our office has been closed for over a year and I personally miss being able to just walk to a colleague’s room and share ideas immediately.

This was when we stumbled onto a website called Gather.town (Gather) which allowed us to do just that, and more.

Bringing a touch of realism 

Gather’s concept is simple. It acts as a virtual space for friends, colleagues and families to gather in a place and socialise with video or voice calls. But what makes Gather unique is its avatar and space function that allows users to virtually meet up and talk, unlike any other collaborative platforms we’ve tried in the past.

Its free version can accommodate up to 25 online users in a space, and with different pricing tiers, it can accommodate over 100 users.

“But Rikco, what is the use of Gather when you can just fire up a video call and talk to each other without the hassle?” said the reader reading this right now.

In times like these, being able to talk to someone who’s not just a floating head but a moving avatar almost emulates face-to-face conversations. And to me, that’s a comforting feeling after being away from others during the pandemic. I could even leave Gather running in the background, simulating the environment of a lively office space.

Some of us in the company managed to find avatars that look similar to how we look in real life too, which lent an extra touch of realness to the whole experience. At the moment, you can’t customise from scratch, but you can change the colour scheme of your chosen avatar.

You can only choose from several preset avatars now, but the devs said they’re adding more

A playground for creativity

Gather offers 70 preset spaces with different themes from your everyday office to a dungeon escape room and even an otherworldly space called Moonpond. This makes setup easy, and you can still further decorate your chosen space to your liking.

If you have your own vision though, you can start with a blank space and make it as elaborate as you’d like. To add, you have the option letting your collaborators decorate the space as they see fit. 

Our boss flexed her artistic licence when creating our office from a preset model in the Mapmaker, which is what you would primarily use to create walls, flooring, and set down tiles, and more. Different types of tiles change how an avatar interacts with them, such as:

  • Impassible tile (for objects like tables, fireplaces, etc., so avatars don’t walk through them)
  • Private spaces (for different rooms or stations, so conversation within these spaces is contained and not overheard by everyone)
  • Spotlight tiles (the opposite of private spaces, where you’ll be broadcasted to everyone, regardless of where they are)

Our zen garden is complete with ducks, ducklings and Sakura trees, with the editorial team’s workspace (indoors) on the right

She changed room sizes, replaced furnishings, and later added an outdoor space. When she revealed it to us the next day, she then let us decorate the space to our hearts’ content using the Build and Erase function. What we ended up with included:

  1. Private tables for everyone in the company, where colleagues can freely walk into your space for a discussion as they would in real life,
  2. A meeting room with interactive whiteboards so teams can collaborate in real-time,
  3. An outdoor Sakura garden with a flowing fountain (yes, you can hear it),
  4. A dining hall where we have our weekly Friday lunches together (on video).

Taken during one of our video lunch calls

While inspired by our real-life office, we’d say we took a lot of creative liberties and exaggerated some features of it. (Hey, this is the only way we can have our dream office without worrying about exorbitant costs, okay?)

There’s quite a variety of objects you can place, and the few limitations in items we found weren’t much to complain about. If the objects available are not to your liking, you could simply upload your own images, like what our in-house batman fanatic did. 

Some examples of the custom uploads we did: Xingqiu from Genshin Impact, a Ponyta and Gengar from Pokemon, along with Batman

Interactivity isn’t just limited to between avatars either; specific objects can be interacted with. The loudspeakers, fountains, and fire pits have their own ambient sounds that lend some life to the 2D space. 

Meanwhile, the TVs and gramophone can be linked to YouTube videos that play in the background when you’re nearby, once you’ve interacted with them.

And because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, Gather has made sure to include some fun items. These include preset games (One Night Werewolf, Codenames, Draw Battle, etc.) you can place on tables, an arcade machine you can put Tetris in, a generic game box you can link to any other online games, Sudoku, and even poker.

An example of just how creative you can get, made by Reddit user Javahello

A full walkthrough of the rooms we have in Gather, complete with the Party Room

A short but sweet virtual time

While some of us used Gather diligently for a week and enjoyed the virtual interaction it offered, not everyone could be found online all day, every day like in a real office.

For one, both the browser version and app can be taxing on older/less powerful computers, and keeping Gather open throughout the day could overheat your PC. 

Personally, my nosy self was also constantly glued to the site, lurking to see what my co-workers were doing (which wasn’t productive at all, oops). You’d need better self-control than I do to not get easily distracted.

Lurking away as my colleagues were talking, but I can’t hear them from this distance

Another drawback of Gather as a workplace collaboration tool is that it requires the user to adopt an always-online persona. You may leave Gather open while you’ve gone to the toilet or are busy dealing with a client, but without announcing so, your colleagues may simply assume you’re actually at your PC and walk over for a chat, only to be talking to themselves. 

Whereas in real life, they would be able to clearly see if you’re present at your desk or open for a chat. Perhaps a way to circumvent awkward encounters on Gather would be to let your colleagues know to ping you elsewhere first that they’d like to chat before coming right on over.

An impromptu avatar dancing session

With that said, we still use Gather on and off as a space to spice up team meetings, for our communal reading sessions, weekly lunches, and celebrations. 

It cannot fully replace existing workplace collaboration tools like Teams, Lark, or Slack since it lacks proper document-sharing, search, and detailed chat functions, to name a few. 

But at a time when video calls have to make up for our lack of office interaction, Gather is a much welcome (and more fun) improvement to our options out there.

  • Learn more about Gather.town here.
  • Read up on our other reviews here.

Also Read: AIA’s digital ambition is so massive that they need 500+ tech talents to realise it

Credit for all images unless stated otherwise: Vulcan Post

MOG offers healthcare frontliners a RM400 subsidy for lenses that can kill 99.9% of viruses

 [This is a sponsored article with MOG.]

As a four-eyed person who can barely make out words an arm’s length away without my glasses, the pandemic highlighted an unexpected issue.

When wearing an ill-fitting face mask, my glasses might fog up. I am forced to make a decision there and then: do I remove my glasses and wipe the fog away with my shirt, or stand there like a dummy, waiting for the fog to clear away?

Both predicaments present a tricky scenario.

Touching my spectacles will mean that I am potentially contaminating them with my hands or my shirt and vice versa, while the latter means that I’m wasting time unnecessarily. Like many others, I sometimes forget that exposed eyes can be a source of infection too.

While I’m sure other bespectacled buddies can relate, there’s a group that is at a higher risk, the healthcare frontliners. They don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from head to toe for a full workday. I can’t even begin to imagine the hassle they have to go through if their glasses fog up, or even worse, handling a contaminated pair of glasses while assisting those in need. 

Doctors in full PPE gear / Image Credit: KKM on Facebook

And as the cases continue to fluctuate in the thousands, Metro Optical Group (MOG), an established local optical brand, decided to step in and offer a helping hand in one way they can⁠—by providing additional protection and peace of mind to the healthcare frontliners, through their newly-introduced antiviral lenses from ZEISS.

Did you know: MOG was founded in 1996 by two brothers, Dato’ Frankie Ng & Dato’ Henry Ng. The duo built up the company with a simple vision. “To Help The World See Better”. Later on, Datin Bernice Low joined the duo and in just 25 years, the company mushroomed to over 95 outlets across Peninsular Malaysia to deliver quality eye care and modern eyewear shopping experience to the masses. 

Dato’ Frankie Ng, the Chairman of Metro Optical Group said: “While the past year has been particularly challenging for many, it is our unspoken principle to continue delivering exemplary eye care experience through continuous innovation in both products and services.”

From L to R: Datin Bernice Low, Dato’ Frankie Ng and Dato’ Henry Ng / Image Credit: MOG

Through a collaboration with ZEISS, a world-leading optical manufacturer with 175 years of pioneering optical innovation, MOG introduces the ZEISS AntiVirus Lens, one of the latest creations in the optical industry. These lenses are unique because they are created with a special coating that can deactivate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

The science behind the AntiVirus lens

According to ZEISS, the AntiVirus lenses are coated using a special process that introduces antimicrobial silver ions that are deposited onto the surface of the lens at high temperatures. 

When droplets of water that carry bacteria and viruses land on the lens surface, the silver ions (Ag+) will then directly and indirectly interact with the contaminants, deactivating 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

Note: External institutes validated and tested ZEISS AntiVirus lenses according to ISO 21702:2019(E) “Measurement of antiviral activities of enveloped viruses on plastic and non-porous surfaces” and ISO 22196:2011 “Measurement of antibacterial activity on plastics and other non-porous surfaces”.

Silver nanoparticles have been studied extensively previously for their antimicrobial properties and have been proven to be effective growth inhibitors in various microorganisms. Some wound dressings contain silver as well for improved wound healing.

While it is still better to clean everything thoroughly, wear proper protection and maintain personal hygiene, the ZEISS Antivirus Lenses provide an additional measure of protection and peace of mind. 

In addition to the DuraVision Antivirus Platinum coating, the lens comes with full UV protection, anti-reflection and dirt-resistant capabilities.

Adding a layer of protection for the frontliners

If you’re a healthcare frontliner with a valid medical practitioner ID, MOG’s latest iCare4U programme will see 10,000 frontliners obtain a RM400 subsidy for the ZEISS AntiVirus Lens.

Here’s the full list of what the healthcare frontliners can receive from the programme:

  1. A RM400 ZEISS AntiVirus Lens Subsidy
  2. A complimentary ZEISS Anti-Fog Kit + 12 pieces of ZEISS Lens Wipes (worth RM46)
  3. A comprehensive eye test (worth up to RM180)

Image Credit: MOG

As for how you can redeem your subsidy, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Register your interest in the ZEISS AntiVirus Lens Subsidy here
  2. Visit your preferred MOG Store within 1 month of registration. Click here for all MOG outlet locations
  3. Show your Medical ID card in-store for verification
  4. Claim your subsidy and care pack in-store, with full professional consultation in a safe and regularly sanitised environment 

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While having the lenses might not completely mitigate your risk of contamination, MOG still wishes to alleviate the fears of COVID-19 while you battle on. Having them and the anti-fog kit will give you a bit more peace of mind because it’s one less worry and that’s what MOG wants to offer.

Even if you’re not a healthcare frontliner, you can still purchase the antiviral lens from MOG outlets for that extra layer of protection. 

  • Sign up for MOG’s iCare4U programme here.
  • If you’re not a frontliner but wish to have the antiviral lens, you can book your appointment in advance here.
  • If you are vaccinated, you can redeem your free lens or free frame from MOG here.

Also Read: Lark is the new ultimate workplace platform on steroids that Gen Ys and Zs will stan

Featured Image Credit: MOG

Going Under combines hard truths about tech startups with similarly hard gameplay

As I was browsing a recent Steam Sale, a game called Going Under caught my eye. Its premise combines both my current interests in life: roguelikes and startups.

Fun Fact: Roguelikes are games that are predominantly difficult to play. They are heavily reliant on RNG (Random Number Generator), meaning no two rounds of gameplay are the same. Players usually have to go through the game repeatedly, and in some games, character deaths are permanent.

While this genre might be tedious for some, I enjoy it because it offers more replayability. With every new playthrough, I’ll encounter new ways to fight enemies or find new power-ups. And this experience was exactly what I found with Going Under.

Unpaid interns FTW! (Not IRL though)

Unlike most games where you play a hero who saves the world or at least the princess in a castle, you play as Jackie Fiasco, a new marketing intern at Fizzle Beverages. Fizzle Beverages was recently obtained by Cubicle, the parent company of countless other startups.

Your tasks are simple: fetch coffee and file boring documents. Typical intern jobs.

Oh, and by the way, your superior wants you to fight some enemies that crawled out from the company’s dungeon. Turns out, the enemies were previous ex-employees of failed startups under Cubicle. This is where you’ll actually be spending most of your time in Fizzle Beverages. Despite being the new hire, you’re somehow expected to be the one who destroys the enemies.

No big deal, just murder some goblins on your first day

The bad news for Jackie, however, is that the enemies will not be fighting her with just their fists. They’ll be wielding the equipment they stole such as pens, keyboards, potted plants, massive thumbtacks and swords. You know, your typical office equipment. 

The enemies are no pushovers either, on par with most roguelike games. Some of them will drive cars to run you over and they’ll knock you down, giving others a chance to gang up on you.

In the first few levels, I fumbled a lot as I was struggling to find good power ups that would complement my playstyle. Power ups can give benefits such as more critical hit chance, holding two weapons in a single hand and so on. These power ups are crucial in improving your chances of survival.

Free Hand, one of the skills you can pick up in the game to help you swing two-handed weapons with just one hand

These skills are down to RNG as well and this means you may not come across the same skill in one run but not the next. The same goes for the enemies, map layouts and weapons (which also have limited durability), so you can’t rely on a previous strategy to carry you through the game again.

Before each run, you can also assign a coworker as your mentor and they’ll provide you with unique skills such as cheaper shop prices or more skill pickups.

A few more deaths later and after familiarising myself with the enemy’s patterns, I finally reached the boss level… where my ass was easily handed back to the lobby. With a few more tries and through sheer luck on good pickups though, I managed to beat the boss.

Colourful visuals throughout the game

The game is bright, colourful and vibrant. It easily caught my attention.

Enemies typically stand out, but sometimes they can be sneaky, blending in with the colour scheme of the level as they wear the company’s apparel. In each level, especially the first dungeon, you’ll be greeted with a lot of office equipment to get you used to the weapons in the game.

With one of the latest updates to the game, there are now jiggle physics on some of the weapons. Enemies and yourself have rag-doll physics, which is just the cherry on top, making you want to send everything flying around just for that satisfying feeling.

https://giphy.com/gifs/wSoac948drQHb6H9j6
Image Credit: Aggro Crab

Credit where credit’s due though, the developers were quite creative in making each stage distinct and unique to show off different colour schemes, themes and layout, so that no stage looks the same. 

Inside jokes that only startups will relate to

One of my favourite aspects of the game is its satirical take on tech startups. The game doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to making fun of the working environment of a tech startup, which kept me hooked through all the dialogues and character interactions in-game.

For example, Ray, the CEO of Fizzle Beverages is your typical “cool” boss who ignores everything the accountant says, which reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office.

And you’ll be able to witness it through Jackie’s eyes, who is a fresh grad looking for experience in the marketing world. Her boss in the company is Avie, a cutting-edge marketing AI tool. So aside from having to do tasks outside of her job scope, she might not even get any experience in marketing as it is handled by an AI.

If you’re in the startup world yourself, I’m sure you’ll find moments that’ll make you chuckle from how accurately the game makes jokes out of the misrepresented culture of tech startups. (However, there is some truth to them based on articles on the net.)

Even if you save the day, you don’t get paid

If you’re judging Going Under purely as a roguelike, it’s fairly simple and not super punishing. The graphics, the inside jokes, and the roguelike replayability kept me playing for hours.

Sadly, there are not many levels in the game. So if you’re expecting a story that’ll make you cry or a progression in difficulty that’ll kick your butt, you might be better off getting a different game.

As for who would get a better kick out of this game, we’d have to say startup employees would. I mean, you’re literally playing as one. All we’d say about the employers would be, we hope to never meet one like them. Thank goodness we don’t actually have any goblins in the IRL startup world… right?

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post

What large M’sian corporations with data-driven approaches know that others may not

[This is a sponsored article with MDEC.]

As the country surges forward to tackle the effects of COVID-19, the government outlined a Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL) to transform the nation into one that is digitally capable and inclusive, to be a regional leader in digital economy.

The blueprint also calls for industry players to innovate and adopt new business models which will build a digital ecosystem, allowing society to embrace the digital economy. But to do so, companies need to understand the importance of big data.

Being data-driven is not just a technological buzzword. It is based on empirical analysis and evidence, leading to tangible results. From decreasing labour required by 75 percent to achieve the same output, to increasing customer engagement, the data-driven route has helped some of the biggest corporations in Malaysia to optimise their operations.

With the assistance of the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), these corporations have successfully integrated data technology into their operations.

Improving manufacturing output through data

Hartalega is one of the world’s largest nitrile glove manufacturers. But, to get where they are today, they had to strategically invest in digital technologies.

Kuan Mun Leong, the CEO of Hartalega Holdings Bhd said that when they first started, they needed 10 employees to produce 1 million gloves a month. But with the investment they’ve made in digital capabilities, they now only need 2.5 workers to produce 1 million gloves a month.

Kuan Mun Leong, the CEO of Hartalega Holdings Bhd / Image Credit: MDEC

To reach their current output, the company had to adopt tech in the workplace but he noted that it can be an exhausting and expensive process. Firstly, to improve their manufacturing capabilities, the company took a detailed look at the pain points of their employees on the production floor.

Once they understood the challenges the employees face daily, they hired a team of data analysts and developers who created an algorithm capable of detecting quality issues or production losses even before they happen. This helped the production floor to be more productive and effective.

Through that understanding of data on their processes, it allowed the company to build a manufacturing plant that is fully digital and automated. Especially with the demand for gloves tripling due to the pandemic, Hartalega can tweak their glove output to match the needs of their customers.

Build a data-driven work culture

If you’ve been property searching in Malaysia, one of the names you’d encounter is Mah Sing. The company has been in property development since 1994 and has over 52 projects under their belt across the nation.

But with ever-changing customer expectations, Mah Sing knew they had to improve themselves technologically and digitally to keep up with the demand of customers and be a mainstay in the industry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBNnaS_KBzA

It proved to be an uphill battle—the property industry is averse to changes as they are heavily reliant on legacy services. This was when Mah Sing understood that they have to transform their culture first before they could even focus on their customers.

The company embraced a high-performance work culture through a top-down approach, where every result and outcome is measurable. The company utilised tech to give them key metrics such as how fast tickets are resolved, how quick employees respond to customers, and even the effectiveness of their digital marketing.

Through the data they’ve collected, the company could then tweak their processes, and in doing so, provide their customers with better offerings. In an interview with MDEC, Mah Sing revealed that customer engagement has been increasing year on year, with a 75% increase in customer engagement last year

Their understanding of their customers also led to effective marketing strategies, with 50% of their in-house sales brought in through digital marketing channels alone.

Providing customers with more value-added services

A better understanding of data can also provide a better experience for the customers. Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) has over 14 million unit holder accounts under their belt, and 12.6 million of them are actively investing with PNB.

Like Mah Sing, PNB wanted to give their customers a better experience and with customer expectations evolving to demand faster, better and more digital offerings, the company underwent a data-driven change.

Through the data PNB obtained, they knew that 30% of their customers are iOS users and 70% of them are using Android devices. Their data also reveals what devices the customers use too. And this helps their in-house app developers to create an app that’ll work for the devices that their customers are using.

Muzaffar Othman, the CTO of PNB on what PNB needs to do to support their customers / Image Credit: MDEC

In terms of improving their offerings, data also allowed the company to understand and predict the customers’ actions. With data, they can provide advice to different customers at different points in life. For example, if you’re a young adult who has never invested, they’ll advise investing in fixed price products, whereas a retired investor might get a different investment approach.

They now have over 1.6 million users (12%) of their unit holders engaging digitally through their mobile app.

Helping Malaysian businesses to understand data

With all the talk on data, if you don’t have the capability or the trained personnel, you’ll be working at a loss. To help businesses understand the benefits of data, MDEC brought the Data Driven Enterprise (DDE) programme to life.

MDEC’s DDE programme aims to provide a structured and accelerated approach in assisting business enterprises to gain value from their digital transformation efforts and rapidly shift towards becoming more productive, innovative and resilient.

Recently, MDEC has launched a complimentary Data, Analytics and AI readiness assessment that will enable organisations to understand their data, analytics and AI readiness. Once the assessment is completed, the organisations will receive a personalised report that will assist them in their journey towards being 4IR ready.

Here’s what MDEC’s DDE programme offers:

  1. A complimentary data assessment to gauge your business’ data-driven readiness,
  2. 2 hours of complimentary consultation sessions with MDEC’s data & analytics experts,
  3. Data knowledge workshops/webinars with more than 50 data technology partners in the industry,
  4. Access to training, upskilling and talent facilitation,
  5. Access to case studies, solution-sharing and references from industry experts,
  6. Business facilitation, matching your business needs with MDEC’s Data Technology Partners.

The DDE programme is in line with MDEC’s vision of Malaysia 5.0, enabling a nation that is deeply integrated with tech, to provide equitable digital opportunities to the people and businesses.

  • Find out more about MDEC’s DDE programme here.
  • Take the complimentary data assessment here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about MDEC in the past here.

Featured Image Credit: MDEC

Lark is the new ultimate workplace platform on steroids that Gen Ys and Zs will stan

[This is a sponsored article with Lark.]

Since the pandemic hit, the importance of workplace collaboration tools has never been greater.

At Vulcan Post, we’ve used our fair share of digital collaboration platforms but we migrated because the previous platforms changed to a paid subscription model that we personally felt wasn’t worth its price.

We were approached by Lark, who provided us with an opportunity to test and review their collaboration platform. To get a full experience of what Lark has to offer, we moved our team onto the platform.

What is Lark?

At first glance, Lark Suite or Lark for short, is similar to other collaboration platforms we’ve used in the past. But the team behind Lark defines it as ‘a tool to change the way people work’. While that is an ambitious claim, the team believes they can back it up.

On the Lark platform, users have access to Lark versions of Calendar, Docs, Messenger, Meetings, Cloud Storage, Email and other features. While these features are present in other platforms, Lark has many tricks up its sleeves to stand out from the rest.

The main Lark screen

Instead of navigating out from the application and switching to a browser, for example, Lark tries to get everything integrated into a single platform, without needing to switch apps or tabs.

Pricing-wise, you can use Lark for free. The only advantage that paid enterprise users get is access to unlimited storage and priority support. The free version of Lark still comes with unlimited video conferencing minutes for up to 350 participants, a shared 200GB cloud storage and 500GB email storage between the entire company.

The app is extremely functional and versatile. Great design and intuitive user interface for most of the features. I love that my basic work communication, planning, and tasks are all-in-one with the Lark app. – Sarah, Managing Director of GRVTY Media

Currently the app does not have Dark mode available, and I’m not the only one in the company requesting this feature. So we have escalated this request to the Lark team and they have included it in their internal product feedback.

Lark can also be used on different devices. If you don’t wish to download an app, you can use it via your desktop. Alternatively, Lark is available on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. In our 2 weeks of testing, the platform remained intuitive and snappy, even for us who are not on the latest devices.

Lark Messenger

Integrated chat features

When you launch Lark, the first screen you’ll be on is Lark Messenger. Here, you’ll have access to a myriad of tools at your disposal. You can set up a meeting, check a colleague’s calendar, highlight and pin important messages, set announcements, search messages and more.

You have access to Calendar, Pinned Items, Search history and so on from the right of the messenger

Lark video conferencing

Through Lark, you can also host video conferences of up to 350 participants with unlimited minutes. This can be beneficial for those who want to host calls with external members or the community they manage without having to pay extra.

Along with that, you also have access to Magic Share, which allows for users to collaborate on a single document without needing to exit out of the video conference.

Through Magic Share, you can choose the document you wish to edit during the call, or create a new document.

Additional privacy with secret chats

When creating a chat with your colleagues, you have an option to create a Secret Chat. This feature can be useful to send one-time company passwords or sensitive company documents. The timer on the messages can be set to a minute, an hour, one day or one week to clear after reading.

https://giphy.com/gifs/hWoUrM7ySmm1F9rxiD

Screenshots with annotation

In chat, you have access to a screenshot tool. It includes annotation features and even mosaic if you need to blur out certain details. Screenshots come with an automatic watermark tool that will show who created it.

The screenshot tool on Lark, you can add arrows and even mosaic through it

Automatic speech to text

One of the features we found useful was the ability to turn voice notes into text automatically. After the user records the audio note, they will be prompted with the option to automatically translate your audio into text for the chat. Or, you can select this feature from the start when recording the audio.

This helps when you’re glancing over the chat to see its contents, and the transcription is also searchable, which is very useful for teams who have the habit of leaving long voice notes to each other for work.

An example of an audio note sent with automatic transcription

Auto-translation

In each chat, you can enable a setting to auto-translate all incoming messages to your system language. This can be beneficial to those who are working with international colleagues. There are currently over 100+ languages available, and the Lark team is working to add more. We generally only use English in our company, but it was funny to see our colleagues try some of their broken Mandarin to test this feature out.

An example translated through the chat

Lark Docs

Lark Docs is similar to most online word processors. You have access to docs, sheets and a recently added Bitable. Bitable allows for easier project management through features such as Kanban and Gantt Charts. You could use the predesigned templates to speed up your document creating process as well.

An example of a Bitable on Lark

Lark Docs offers one of our favourite collaboration features, which is the ability to edit a Lark Document straight out of chat, without going into a different tab.

When in a video meeting on Lark, you can also generate a meeting agenda directly into the video call, and edit it live using Magic Share, whether on the mobile app or on the web platform. The document remains in the Lark chat even after the call and it’s easy to access again without switching platforms. The search function in the chat can also be used to search Docs.

Third-party apps

Like most collaboration platforms, you can also add additional tools to improve your workflow. In Lark, you can connect other apps such as Asana, Trello, Google Drive and more. If you have programming knowledge, you can also create and code your own app to suit your needs. We’ve added a GIPHY bot into our chat for GIF reactions, but I’m not sure if we’ll be using it since we saw this tweet.

https://twitter.com/jennygzhang/status/1377331908258897921

If you use Trello for work or for personal management, you can link Trello to Lark. This will allow you to easily edit, create or add cards onto Trello without going out of Lark. So far, the 3rd party apps we’ve used integrated into Lark smoothly and didn’t overload the platform.

I can add a new card onto Trello right from Lark

Calendar

Lark allows users to sync up their Google Calendars into Lark. Since we primarily used Google Calendar to schedule our work, transferring our to-dos into Lark was fairly easy. We ran into some syncing issues because of the calendar permissions, but after changing some of the settings, it worked fine.

Our Google Calendar linked into Lark, you can see the G icon for agendas synced from Google

Video meetings set on Lark are accessible through the Calendar as well, and you can view the meetings notes here too.

Verdict

https://youtu.be/ciqbZ466XSQ
This is a short video on the features that are available through Lark

Overall, Lark is a powerful collaboration platform that we believe many will like. It’s fast and video chats are stable in our experience too, even for colleagues with slower Wi-Fi connection.

We only have a few minor quibbles, chief being that there is no dedicated dark mode for Lark yet. Besides that, there are smaller UI changes we would request, such as having a “currently typing” status when someone is writing out a message, and also being able to see our total unread message count on the web and desktop app. But its benefits currently far outweigh the disadvantages.

There are a lot of features that we’ve yet to explore for ourselves too. You can even get trained and certified as a Lark user or administrator through SaaS University.

We can see a lot of companies, both SMEs and large corporations, being able to take advantage of Lark—not only to increase productivity, but also make collaboration more enjoyable, especially as we continue to work remotely. As for us, it seems our trial period is almost over, but we’re not going anywhere.

A resounding yes from a poll in the chat for us to continue using Lark

  • For more info on Lark, click here.
  • If you wish to use the Paid Enterprise Lark version for unlimited storage, reach out to the Lark team here.

Also Read: If you’re unemployed or a fresh grad, MDEC’s MYWiT initiative aims to get 6,000 M’sians hired

If you’re unemployed or a fresh grad, MDEC’s MYWiT initiative aims to get 6,000 M’sians hired

[This is a sponsored article with MDEC.]

COVID-19 has upended our ‘normal’ ways of living, changing how we spend our money and how we work. It has also affected Malaysia’s unemployment rate, which rose to 4.8% in 2020, compared to 3.3% in 2019.

As an active counter to this, MyDigitalWorkforce Work in Tech (MYWiT) aims to assist both parties in the workforce ecosystem. It will provide jobs and upskill unemployed Malaysians while supporting hiring employers through salary and training incentives.

The Goals Of MYWiT

Surina Shukri, the CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) believes the MYWiT initiative will spur companies to hire, upskill, and adequately compensate the Malaysian workforce while cushioning the impact of unemployment due to COVID-19.

Ultimately, the initiative will address the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDigital)’s goal of nurturing a strong digital economy by creating 500,000 jobs for Malaysians by 2025.

Under MYWiT, there are two separate programmes named Digital Business Services (DBS) and Digital Tech Apprenticeship (DTA). Both programmes have their own requirements and offerings.

Providing The Right Skills & Work Opportunities

Current labour requirements have taken a shift in favour of jobs that can be done remotely. If you’re a fresh graduate without the skills or the means to work remotely, you’re already starting off at a disadvantage.

The DBS programme addresses this by guiding fresh grads to gain digital knowledge and capabilities, while being employed in relevant fields. You can refer to this link for more info of job roles available under DBS.

To get hired, search for the job on MYWiT’s site and apply

Retrenched workers are also found to be lacking in digital capabilities in the modern workplace. DTA helps them by breathing new life into their current skillset and helping reskill themselves to get jobs under sectors such as Software Development, Data Science and Cyber Security. 

Example: A software developer from the hospitality industry may be hired by a healthtech startup to develop medical software instead.

Requirements For Employees

If you’re interested in joining MYWiT either through DBS or DTA, here are some of the requirements:

  • Unemployed for at least 2 months, or a fresh grad (DBS) OR unemployed or retrenched for at least two months (DTA),
  • A Malaysian citizen,
  • Not a current/past beneficiary of MYWiT incentives in any company,
  • Not part of PenjanaKerjaya 2.0 and Penjana KPT-CAP programmes,
  • Not a close family member of a director/shareholder/top management of a hiring company,
  • Employment letter offer issued after the online qualifying application date.

Incentives For Prospective Employers

As for the employers who join up to MYWiT to look for potential talents, here are some of the incentives that will be reimbursed to you through the programme.

1. DBS Programme Incentive Structure

  • RM9,800 to RM20,600 maximum incentive per person, depending on the salary offered (which will be reimbursed accordingly),
  • Salary incentive of 40% of employee’s monthly salary for 6 months (salary range of RM2,000 to RM6,500),
  • Up to RM5,000 for training per pax (in-house or through Work and Learn course on MDEC’s Digital Skills Training Directory).

2. DTA Programme Incentive Structure

  • A maximum incentive of RM15,200 per pax (which will be reimbursed accordingly),
  • RM1,200/month salary for 6 months (minimum salary of RM3,000 starting from 4th month onwards),
  • Up to RM8,000 for training per pax (must be enrolled through Career Upgrade course on MDEC’s Digital Skills Training Directory).

There are two stages of the application process. Qualifying (Stage 1) and Approval (Stage 2). After the company submits the application for Stage 1, the company has two months to find the candidate for training. Once a candidate is selected, the company can then submit their application for Stage 2.

During Stage 1, companies can apply any time. However, for Stage 2, the table below indicates the closing dates, as the approval will be done in batches.

The deadlines for Stage 2

Do note that for both programmes, employers will need to offer a minimum of 12-month employment/contract for the job seekers. For more of the terms and conditions for employers, click here.

There are specific criteria for employers who wish to sign up to MYWiT as well.

  • Incorporated in Malaysia,
  • Minimum capital of RM20,000,
  • Not subject to liquidation/winding-up order,
  • Not a dormant company,
  • Not a public-sector, federal, state statutory body or legal authority,
  • No relations to a board director, shareholder or employee of MDEC.

-//-

Thus far, initiatives introduced by MDEC in the digital jobs and skill segment have impacted the lives of two million Malaysians from 2016 to Q3 of 2020. 

MDEC hopes that this initiative, in line with MyDigital’s goals, will spur on 300 companies to create more than 6,000 job opportunities and 1,000 new tech professionals in the industry. 

  • For more information on MYWiT, click here.
  • Do note that the requirements or criteria are subject to change. Please refer to MDEC’s list for accurate information.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about MDEC in the past here.

Also Read: [REVIEW] One Couch Potato, One Pair Of Airy Comfy Pants, Four Fitness Challenges

Featured Image Credit: Baim Hanif on Unsplash

SMEs can get their hands on transparent, real-time rates via HSBC’s digital forex solution

[This is a sponsored article with HSBC.]

SMEs make up 98.5% of the total 921K businesses in the nation. With SMEs in mind, HSBC Malaysia continues in their facilitation of local businesses, providing tools for pandemic recovery, growth, and international expansion.

Despite the projected difficulties in 2021, Malaysian businesses remain positive about international trade, with 74% of the local businesses planning to expand into Asia Pacific within the next 3 to 5 years, according to HSBC’s Navigator Survey 2020. For companies looking to expand internationally, one of the key aspects for consideration is foreign exchange (FX).

The Issues With Traditional FX Transactions

FX is the process of buying and selling one currency for another currency in a forex market. Whether it is to pay suppliers in another country or to receive sales proceeds from an international customer, each trade will involve FX dealings.

Usually, for an SME to conduct such a transaction, they will have to call their dealer in the bank to request for special rates, or to walk into the branch to execute the FX transaction over the counter. Because of the current work from home (WFH) arrangements, there might be limited resources in banks to assist you directly, and this might delay your transactions.

Imagine if an SME were to pay different suppliers worldwide on a single day,  they will have to repeat the tedious process several times. There may even be a minimum value required for each FX transaction, which may restrict the flexibility needed by SMEs.

While there are other services that can enable FX transactions without going through Telegraphic Transfer (TT) from non-bank institutions, it comes with the additional costs for handling fees to transfer money from your bank to the service provider.

Bypassing Manual In-Person Processes

Instead of having to deal with the manual FX processes, HSBC introduces Get Rate, a tool for SMEs to get a real-time view on FX rates without the hassle of calling a dealer.

As a HSBC customer, you’ll gain price transparency when you book the rate via Get Rate, as the bank’s margin will be displayed prominently on your bank statement.

Through Get Rate, SMEs can complete transactions immediately at the current live special rate. However, there is a 10 to 20 second window for the final approval to lock in the rate for Get Rate.

Book Forex Rates In Advance

As the FX market can be volatile, it is vital for SMEs to reduce their FX risks through currency hedging. One way of doing this is through HSBC Evolve, which gives them the ability to lock FX rates today for a future transaction.

HSBC Evolve is designed specifically to ensure businesses have a full view and execute end-to-end FX transactions including hedging. HSBC Evolve provides SMEs access to 460 currency pairs for sophisticated hedging requirements.

Example Scenario: SH Trading, a local SME wants to pay their supplier in Europe for spare parts required for their manufacturing business.

There are 2 key HSBC services that can be used:
– Get Rate: SH Trading obtains the latest forex rates online, which is 1 Euro = RM4.92, and proceeds to pay its supplier by booking this rate when it executes the transaction .

– Evolve: For its future payments to their supplier, SH Trading is worried about the possibility of Euro strengthening, so they proceed to lock in the current rate of 1 Euro = RM4.92, but only executing the transaction next month.

Even if the FX market next month changes to 1 Euro = RM5.10, the company will not be affected. Thus, they have successfully hedged any future currency risk by ensuring its profit margin remains the same without being affected by FX volatility.

In the example scenarios above, SMEs gain convenience with Get Rate as transactions can be done anywhere via laptop or mobile. Whereas for SMEs with hedging needs, they can gain more control over their FX exposure with Evolve as almost all major currencies are covered.

As an added value service, HSBC provides access to FX research and reports for SMEs to gain further insights into the FX market.

The HSBC Evolve Trading Canvas / Image Credit: HSBC

Track Payments And Have Full View Of Your Financial Position

When making payments internationally or domestically, the ability to track the transactions are essential. However, transactions made through Telegraphic Transfers (TT) usually do not come with tracking tools. 

The payees are usually left in the dark and they do not know if the payment goes through.

HSBCnet’s answer to this is the HSBCnet Track Payment feature, where SMEs can obtain real-time status of their collections, credit and payments through desktop or mobile devices.

The HSBC Track Payment dashboard / Image Credit: HSBC

The tool also informs you if there are any actions you need to take, whether a transaction is rejected, pending, or requires additional documentation to be processed.

Through HSBC, SMEs can elevate their digital banking experience by viewing the financial position of their business across different markets and currencies in one place through the Liquidity Management Dashboard.

The dashboard allows businesses to see what was transferred and when, with a transparent audit trail. Not only that, it also has a tool to help SMEs to forecast cash flow for better working capital management.

If you’re interested in getting access to any of the HSBC FX or payment solutions, you can submit an enquiry form on this page.

  • Find out more about HSBC Business Banking Solutions here.
  • Read on what we’ve written about HSBC in the past here.

Also Read: This Chair Has A Smart Fitness Band For Real-Time Health Updates To Plan My Massages

Featured Image Credit: HSBC

7 familiar family situations from Watsons’ Raya video that’ll make you feel awks IRL

[This is a sponsored post with Watsons.]

Family gatherings can sometimes test the limits of our endurance. There’s the constant barrage of deeply personal questions from family such as: “When are you getting married?”, “Where’s your bf/gf?”, or even “How much is your company paying you now?“.

But at the end, family is still family, and love or hate them, we can’t help but relate to these following family interactions, brought to life in Watsons’ Raya video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVqgiSHLk3M

1) Greeting A Relative Cooking In The Kitchen—And Getting Chased Out

Picture this: the main chef is cooking in the kitchen and we go to greet them, only to be chased out of the kitchen as we’re in the way.

Already getting chased out the kitchen the minute they greet him

2) Sitting In Awkward Silence

Some relatives, we only meet once a year. Cue the awkward silence and cricket sounds in the living room, until someone breaks the ice.

All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces

3) Judging & Rating Our Relatives’ Outfits

As someone who never really dresses for the occasion, I often get the brunt of my family’s judging looks. To keep things fair, I also do my own share of internal judging.

Judgy looks all around

4) Having Embarrassing Past Stories Dug Up Again & Again

Most relatives are experts at pulling out those old stories from days past, complete with each embarrassing detail I still try to forget on sleepless nights.

Reminiscing about the past

5) Acting Too Cool For The Family Home

There’s always one person who’s trying to rebrand and refresh their image. We’re not ashamed to admit we’ve tried it too. At least Loca B legit looks cool here.

Not everyone can pull this off, not me for sure

6) Calling Everyone To Eat Way Too Many Times

Though we love our food, sometimes we get too caught up in the catching up, leaving the poor cook from scenario one to demand that everyone gets up to go and eat the meal they painstakingly worked on.

Calling the family to dinner as they were busy dancing

7) Having A Family Pet As The Favourite Child

Not as awkward as the rest because we’re also guilty of the same behaviour. This was just an excuse for us to put another gif of the adorable cat.

The cat getting more love than I have in a long time

Watsons’ Raya Promotions & Deals

Aside from Watsons’ Raya video, the brand is running a few promotions so you can shop for skincare, makeup, and daily essentials deals during Raya, with added bonuses if you are a Watsons member.

1) Spend & Win

By spending a minimum RM80 in any Watsons physical store on a single receipt and paid with a MyDebit ATM Card (a debit card that displays the MyDebit logo) you stand a chance to win one of the following prizes: 10x Grand Prize of a 75-inch Android TV, 10x 2nd Prize of a 2-in-1 Front Load Washer Dryer, 20x 3rd Prize of a Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, and more.

There’s plenty of Watsons vouchers up for grabs too.

Note: You get 1 entry if you’re a non-Watsons member, spending more than RM80 on a single receipt. If you are a Watsons member and spend more than RM80 on a single receipt, you get 2 entries into the contest.

The prizes that can be won from the contest / Image Credit: Watsons

2) Grab RM10 Promo

While the first contest is only for in-store customers, this promotion is available to both online and in-store shoppers. By using GrabPay for your transaction of at least RM100, you can get a RM10 instant discount which is applied immediately.

Image Credit: Watsons

3) Watsons Raya Ikonik Sale

To celebrate Raya in style, Watsons is having a sale with up to 50% off for both their online and in-store products.

Some of the products on discount from Watsons / Image Credit: Watsons

4) More Vouchers For You To Spend

On top of the discounts you get from the products in-store, you can also use these vouchers to get more off your purchases.

Some of the vouchers available to Watsons members / Image Credit: Watsons

5) Watsons E-Bazaar

If a 50% sale is not enticing enough for you, Watsons is also running their E-Bazaar this year, with discounts of up to 75% on a wide range of products. If you are using GrabPay, you are also entitled to the RM10 discount when you checkout with a cart worth more than RM100.

Image Credit: Watsons

But if you’re not sure what to buy, Watsons has got you covered. Watch the videos below for more information:

  • For more info on Watsons’ Raya Promotions, click here.
  • Watch the Watsons Raya video again here.
  • Do note that you’ll need to be a Watsons Member to enjoy the most out of the promotions. Click here to register as a Watsons member.

Also Read: This Chair Has A Smart Fitness Band For Real-Time Health Updates To Plan My Massages

[REVIEW] One Couch Potato, One Pair Of Airy Comfy Pants, Four Fitness Challenges

[This is a sponsored article with Thousand Miles.]

As someone who’s been a couch potato for most of his XL life, the first step of getting out and exercising has always been a pain. I’ve tried to make it a habit, but the wishy-washy Malaysian weather and my general laziness made it difficult.

Thousand Miles, a performance-wear brand that focuses on function, comfort and style, approached us to review their shorts and pants, so my colleagues gave me a challenge—to rise above being a couch potato and truly test the pants as how they should be used.

First Impressions

I was sent the All Day Shorts (Omniflex) in Midnight Blue, the All Day Shorts (Elite) in Ash Grey, and the All Day Chino Pants in Slate Grey.

Right out of the package, the shorts and pants resembled regular chinos, but with a soft and stretchy fabric. Unlike the shorts that I usually own and pretend are for exercise, they definitely look more presentable and would suit different occasions.

https://thumbs.gfycat.com/HopefulSneakyLacewing-mobile.mp4
Me packing the shorts into its back pocket

Interestingly, the shorts are packable into its own back pocket. As in, you can fold it neatly, invert it into the back pocket, and zip it up.

While packing the shorts took longer compared to just throwing them into my bag, I can see its advantage for travellers, and office people who want to pack a change of after-work clothes.

The shorts did show some creases, but they were gone after wearing them for a while

First Challenge: Jogging / Speed-Walking

While I may be living a sedentary lifestyle, I do go for a jog once in a blue moon. So I donned the All Day Shorts (Elite) in Ash Grey, put on a trusty podcast and jogged around my apartment.

Surprisingly, even on a sunny day, the pants were breathable and I found that they weren’t complete sweat magnets, even after 20 minutes of speed-walking with a few rounds of jogging.

However I can’t say if the shorts will stay sweat-free after intense workouts like a 1-hour futsal match or a hike, because I’m not even at that fitness level yet.

My sweat soaked shirt (darker spots on the black shirt) vs the Thousand Miles shorts

Second Challenge: One Punch Man (OPM) Challenge

In OPM, the main character, Saitama said his daily routine of a 10KM run, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 squats contributed to his superhuman powers.

Not wanting to be super buff and one punch everything in life, I decided to go for a tweaked version of the challenge recommended by Sean Seah, a Singaporean who tried it back in 2019 with impressive results.

Sean split the challenge into different difficulty levels too. Level 1 starts out with a 1KM run, 10-push ups, 10-sit ups and 10 squats, and this increases all the way up to Level 10, which was Saitama’s daily routine.

Crying in pain after 4 push-ups 

While the first level sounded simple enough, the 10 push-ups did knock the wind out of me. The shorts served me well through level 1, though I don’t see myself going to Level 10 any time soon.

Third Challenge: Nintendo Ring Fit

I purchased the Ring Fit at the start of the second MCO, thinking that an ‘exercise game’ would prod me to work out more. But half a year later, Ring Fit is just gathering dust at my desk.

So, I strapped one of the Switch controllers onto my left thigh, grabbed the Ring Fit controller and started from the beginner level. I even enabled the game in ‘Silent Mode’ which uses squats to move the character in-game.

Gotta get all the way low

I completed the first level in 9 minutes, burning 54 calories along the way. For comparison, a McChicken is about 418 calories, and I consumed that burger on the same day in under a minute.

At the end of the exercise, my heart rate clocked in at 140bpm, which is a normal heart rate for a 30-year old but I sure didn’t feel normal. The shorts remained sweat-free throughout and the stretchability helped to keep my movements flexible while squatting.

Fourth Challenge: Fitness Marshall Workout

As someone who doesn’t have a single groovy bone, this challenge sounded difficult for me. Luckily, The Fitness Marshall’s routines are separated into different difficulty levels, and I went for the easy routines.

The All Day Chino Pants in Slate Grey, stretchable and comfy

The Fitness Marshall was wearing long pants in the video, so I put on the All Day Chino pants, and danced along to his routine. Fortunately, my family wasn’t around to witness me ugly dancing to this easy song that still made me break a sweat.

My dogs were my only judgey audience

The pants are quite comfortable to wear too, just like their shorts. Their pants can fit most social gatherings too, as they look like normal chinos, but I do wish their cuffs are a little tighter. Thousand Miles also claims that the pants are water resistant. So we did a little water test on the pants.

Surprisingly, most of the water did not soak through the pants, and when they did, they did dry up fairly quickly.

Testing the pants’ water resistance

The pants dried up quickly after the test

-//-

The four challenges I’ve done left my legs aching (and at the moment of writing this, they still hurt) but as they say: No pain, no gain. 

Overall, I’m quite impressed with the pants and shorts from Thousand Miles. They may not look like they’re meant for exercise, because they’re not made of the typical thin polyester/spandex blend in most sports shorts. But turns out they’re breathable, comfortable and stretchable for all the movements in the challenges.

And if you’re someone that lives a fast-paced lifestyle, they should tick a lot of your boxes for shorts and pants that fit various activities or just for daily wear. Thousand Miles will soon launch a female collection in the very near future, so keep an eye out on their socials.

  • Check out Thousand Miles here.
  • Read up on our other reviews here.

Also Read: 9 Smart & Cool Products To Automate Your Home For Under RM400 Each

9 Smart & Cool Products To Automate Your Home For Under RM400 Each

[This is a sponsored article with Celcom.]

As our appliances get smarter and more interconnected, it no longer costs a bomb to automate and simplify our daily lives with these smart appliances.

Here are some cool devices for under RM400 that should have a place in any tech-savvy home. We were not sponsored by brands to include or exclude them from the list. The prices of the products are subject to change, but are under RM400 at the point of writing.

A Note From The Sponsor: The new Celcom MAX™ plan puts both your mobile data and home internet on a single bill, at a lower price. It offers lifetime savings, a pair of free Mesh Wi-Fi, and discounts on Microsoft Surface LTE products and Sharp Android TV. Find out more details at the end of this article.

1. Khind VC9X6A Robotic Vacuum (RM388)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxHz0iYAMhg
The Khind VC9X6A, it even comes with a mopping function / Source: Khind

The Khind VC9X6A Robotic Vacuum has a few cleaning modes that can be set to clean specific areas, or go around the house cleaning the edges. Coupled with anti-fall and anti-collision features, the bot should have a lower chance of getting itself stuck at tight spots.

The vacuum also features a mopping function so families can focus on what matters more to them instead of doing chores.

Alternative: The ECOVACS DEEBOT OZMO T8+ is a pricier, but comes with more features such as setting priority cleaning areas via mobile, a larger battery and stronger suction power.

2. Google Nest Mini (RM169.99)

The Google Nest Mini is a smart speaker and voice assistant rolled into one. So imagine if you have your hands full when baking a cake, but you want some music on. Say: ‘Hey Google, Play Blinding Lights’, and you’ll have music playing right out of the Google Nest Mini. 

The Google Nest Mini / Image Credit: BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

Besides that, if your TV connected to the voice assistant, you could voice command it to change the channel or YouTube video your child is watching. If your home is fully connected to the voice assistant, it can be the central point of contact, controlling the other devices through voice commands.

Alternative: The Apple HomePod mini is Apple’s take on voice assistants, but it is not readily available in Malaysia.

3. Tuya Curtain Motor (RM382.91)

The Tuya Curtain Motor is a smart 3.2m curtain motor and rail that allows you to use your phone or voice to close and open the curtains. It comes with a time control function in the app that you can set to wake your children up for school even if you’re not in that room.

Plus you can choose the speed of the curtain movement too. There are other track lengths available, but the longer they are, the higher the price.

The Tuya Curtain Motor in action / Image Credit: wallacexxx on Shopee

Alternative: If you’d like a fully tailored solution made for your home, Smart Curtain Malaysia does custom fittings.

4. Townew Smart Dustbin (RM238.88)

The Townew Smart Dustbin comes equipped with a sensor to automatically detect your hand movement to open the lid. Alternatively, a light tap or nudge to the sides would work too.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=602475657367001
The Townew Smart Dustbin / Image Credit: IGadgets

That’s not all, press the button on the bin and it will help to seal the trash bag inside. Once sealed, the lid will automatically open for you to remove the trash. To utilise this auto-seal function, you’ll need to buy the right trash bags that complement this feature.

5. Yeelight Smart Bulb (RM59.98)

Change the atmosphere of the room using your phone / Image Credit: Yeelight

You can change the colour and brightness of the WiFi-enabled Yeelight Smart Bulb through mobile or voice, which is perfect for a touch of romantic lighting during date nights, or to turn off the light when you’re cozied up in bed.

The bulbs can also be grouped together to provide synchronised lighting for an entire room. They can be programmed according to a set family schedule to brighten or dim according to your activities.

Alternative: The Philips Hue lighting ecosystem comes with different lighting types such as downlights, lightstrips and motion sensors to smarten all your lights at home.

6. 6L Automatic Pet Feeder with Wi-Fi (RM299)

The 6L Automatic Pet Feeder with Wi-Fi can be configured to feed your pets on a timer, or manually via the mobile app. The feeder is powered via power supply and external batteries. So if the power goes out, your pets can still be fed if the timer is set.

Video captured through the pet feeder / Image Credit: hanizara on Shopee

The feeder also comes with a two-way audio system, so you can talk to your pets via your phone and see them on video. Alternatively, it can play a recording of your voice to call them for mealtimes.

Alternative: This SKYMEE Owl Robot can be an interactive toy and a treat dispenser in one, controlled via mobile.

7. Smart Frog Electric Hanger Dryer (RM168)

The Smart Frog Electric Hanger Dryer can withstand up to 5KG and it can dry the clothes within 1 to 3 hours. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC3-Sw9RBPY
Source: Smart Frog

It also has a switch to change between hot and cold air, so if you need it to dry quickly, use the hot air function. The cold air can then cool the warm clothes down before you put them on.

It is small and portable too, so you can pack it for your office meetings or travel.

8. EZVIZ C3W 256GB Variant (RM399)

As a HD wall-mounted outdoor Wi-Fi camera, the EZVIZ C3W comes with some extra smart features such as a two-way audio, allowing you to speak to anyone the camera has eyes on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Afdn5YvWUz4
Source: EZVIZ

If you’re not home, you can set its motion sensors to activate a loud siren and strobe light to scare off intruders upon detection. This trigger will also send a notification to your phone through its app.

The memory capacity allows it to save video history that you can view remotely. The camera has 3 night vision modes, and AI-powered person detection, which reduces the amount of false alarms triggered by animals.

9. Samsung Ezon SHS-1321 Smart Digital Door Lock (RM389)

Other than unlocking your door with a passcode (or an RFID card key), the Samsung Ezon SHS-1321 has additional safety features. For example, 2 random numbers will appear for you to press before entering your pin. This prevents strangers from guessing your passcode since finger marks are spread out across the lock screen. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uoch9bgyUB0
The Samsung Ezon SHS-1321 / Source: Samsung

If you’re leaving for a few days, you can also set an Away mode which will automatically ring the alarm if the lock is operated within the house.

Its thermal sensor can detect high temperatures inside the house and activate its alarm in case of a fire. The door will also auto-unlock for swift evacuation.

Alternative: igloohome Smart Deadbolt 2S has features such as time-sensitive codes, and unlocking via Bluetooth. If you’re expecting visitors, you can generate unique PIN codes to send to your guests so they can let themselves in.

A Stable, Secure Connection For Your Smart Devices

A stable internet connection would optimise the use of most of these smart devices above. With the new Celcom MAX™ plan, you get both mobile data and home internet on a single bill, at a lower price. Here’s what you can get from the plan.

The prices vary based on download/upload speed.

Additional details for Celcom MAX™ subscribers:

  1. Lifetime savings of RM21/month when subscribed to Celcom Max™. This means that even after your 24-month contract is over, Celcom will honour the price as long as you continue the subscription.
  2. Get the Celcom Mesh Wi-Fi which extends the range of your Wi-Fi connection that regular routers have difficulty reaching.

Note: Subscribers of the 500Mbps Celcom MAX™ package will be entitled to 1 free set of Celcom Mesh Wi-Fi, while subscribers below the package will need to pay RM25 per month for it.

  1. Subscribers to the 300Mbps package or above are entitled to a free 6-month subscription to either iQIYI or iflix for their entertainment needs.
  2. Always Stay connected with the Microsoft Surface Go 2 LTE 128GB + Surface Go Signature Type Cover for RM3,400 (RRP: RM4,033) or a Microsoft Surface Pro X LTE 256GB + Surface Pro X Type Cover for RM5,800 (RRP: RM6,438).
  3. Get the 60-inch Sharp Android TV (4TC60CK1X) and the 42-inch Sharp Android TV (2TC42BG1X), priced at RM2,400 (RRP: RM4,999) and RM1,200 (RRP: RM1,749) respectively. Be entitled to a RM500 or a RM100 discount voucher depending on which TV is purchased.
  4. The first 100 subscribers will get their first month’s bill waived.

  • Find out more about Celcom MAX™ here.
  • Get the precise FAQs about Celcom MAX™ here.
  • Read up on what we’ve written about Celcom in the past here.

Featured Image Credit: EZVIZ/ Samsungdigitallife Singapore & Malaysia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xngbs2JRopk

The Grads Of MaGIC’s SEtia Program Have Vast Impact That’s Hard To Refute, Here’s The Proof

[This is a sponsored article with MaGIC.]

Social entrepreneurship is an ever-growing sector, and the role it plays economically and socially is not to be understated

With Malaysia’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 of building a sustainable nation, social entrepreneurs are one of the keys to unlocking a prosperous nation. 

While many of them have brilliant ideas that’ll shape Malaysia, they lack the knowledge in building a self-sustaining social enterprise. Enter Social Entrepreneurs – Transformation, Innovation & Acceleration (SEtia), a 6-month long programme with a tailored syllabus to help social entrepreneurs develop a better understanding of the operations of a social enterprise.

The programme was brought to life by the partnership between Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MaGIC) and Standard Chartered Bank, who contributed RM200,000 to cover the costs of the 50 social entrepreneurs joining the programme.

Now that the programme has ended, we caught up with 4 of the social enterprises on the nature of their work and the impact they’ve had on their beneficiaries.

Building A Steady Stream Of Income For Small Farmers

Phytopia is one of the social enterprises (SE) from the programme. Its mission is to empower small farmers, planters and marginalised communities through urban farming. 

Modern agriculture can be complex as the farmers have to deal with climate change, soil erosion, food trends, and more. In a nutshell, Phytopia provides farmers with the knowledge and capabilities for a sustainable farm through their modular hydroponic system. This system allows the farmers to grow clean, sustainable and healthy produce without the need for pesticides.

Once the produce is ready for harvest, Phytopia buys them from the farmers at a fair price. The produce is then cooked and packaged into affordable meals and sold to the local community through Salad Bar, Phytopia’s own cafe, located in Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK).

The sales made from the cafe will then be used to purchase products from the farmers, creating a sustainable cycle.

Phytopia reaches 4 main beneficiaries: the farmers, the campus community, B40 students, and most recently OKU groups.

The farmers and OKU groups get a steady source of income, the campus community of students and teachers can get an affordable yet healthy meal—and they hire B40 students as their part-time crew.

Giving A Helping Hand To Struggling Fishers

Like Phytopia, #DemiLaut, one of the solutions under Brique Engineering, also tackles the issue of poverty and food security, but for small, artisan fishers.

Haaziq Ibrahim, the Managing Director of DemiLaut said that there are roughly 130,000 fishers in Malaysia who are at the brink of poverty, as they’re heavily affected by climate change and lack of demand due to overfishing by industrial fishers.

Haji Idin, one of their beneficiaries, struggles with the long hours and backbreaking workload. He goes out to sea as early as 4AM and he only gets back by midnight or later. A lot of his livelihood depends on luck; will his fishing equipment stay intact to last the day? Will the weather stay fine? It takes only 1 thing going wrong, and he’s left without an income for the day.

Fishers like Haji Idin toil away, but even the quality of their catches suffer compared to commercial vessels. Traditionally, fishers use plastic-filled ice packs to keep fish cold, which can take up to 38% of their monthly income.

DemiLaut addresses fishers’ pain points starting even with simple, low-tech solutions: reusable ice packs and a freezer which is less costly and more sustainable than just regular ice cubes.

These solutions also range to technology-based methods such as providing the fishers with a low-cost transponder that can ease their fishing process while ensuring their safety at sea. 

It’s about equipping these fishers with knowledge, microloans, and improvements on the fishing operation with sustainability and selective fishing practices in mind. By innovating the traditional fisheries’ value-chain, it’s their hope that fishers can eventually sail away from poverty.

Solving Real World Issues One Code At A Time

And speaking of tech, Telebort is a platform that provides kids and teens with coding and app building skills to solve real-world issues.

The Telebort team understands that the accessibility to high-quality computer science education (CSEdu) needs to be addressed. To solve the issue, Telebort provides B40 kids and the under-represented minorities in the tech field, with learning materials to nurture, educate and build awareness on computer science.

The fruits of their labour can be seen through creative solutions by the students. For example, Ezekiel Raja Purba, a 17-year-old from Jakarta developed an app called ‘Keep Fit From Home’. It guides the users on how to stay healthy while calculating calories burnt.

However, like most schools, the pandemic forced them to transition into online classes. But the team managed to pivot and even successfully built a new revenue stream through monthly subscriptions.

They now have over 250 subscribed students for their classes conducted online or offline in the Penang Digital Library. The team hopes to reach more than 100,000 kids and teens (with 40,000 beneficiaries) on the basics of computer science education by 2025.

Cultivating Future Sustainable Farmers

Urban Farm Tech (UFT) is another graduate from the SEtia program who is tackling agricultural issues locally. But, their target beneficiaries are the students with special needs from marginalised schools.

UFT provides the staff and the students with urban farming equipment along with the knowledge on how to maintain, grow and sell the produce of the farm as a form of self-sustainability and employment.

Like Phytopia, UFT utilises a pesticide-free system for clean produce. Once the crops are ready to harvest, UFT will link buyers to the schools, so the income can go straight to the school and their students.

And as of January 2020, the UFT team has assisted more than 2,500 students and 100 teachers from the marginalised communities. As part of the revenue stream, UFT works with corporates and the local communities, seeding the benefits of urban farming.

Urban Farm Tech’s urban farming setup in one of the schools / Image Credit: Urban Farm Tech

The pandemic has also forced UFT to seek an alternative form of revenue through e-commerce. They now provide hobbyists with their urban farming solution for those who want to be self-sustainable and more conscious of the greens they consume.

-//-

These are just 4 of the 25 social enterprises from SEtia, and while most of these SEs were affected by the pandemic, they have plans to further extend their on-the-ground reach to more affected communities in Malaysia and neighbouring nations. 

So you’re looking for proof?

Speak to a B40 student who now knows how to build a sustainable farm, a fisher who has an improved fishing haul through the implementation of technology, or children who have learnt to code and a new career option is now possible for them, you’d find all the proof that you need.

Also Read: Lenovo Offers Eco-Aware Companies A Way To Reduce Global CO2 Footprint With This Add-On

Featured Image Credit: DemiLaut

MaGIC’s E-Nation 2021: Hear From An Ex-Tesla Director And A Nobel Peace Prize Winner

[This is a sponsored article with MaGIC.]

To realise Malaysia’s 2030 Shared Vision, the government highlighted that there needs to be a strong shift into strengthening and improving the nation’s capability in the fields of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

With the advancements in STI, Malaysia can undergo rapid changes that’ll propel the socio-economic landscape of the nation, so that all Malaysians from different income groups can prosper in an inclusive economy.

But to do so, the innovative minds and the ones who are capable of making changes need to band together under a common goal to bring concepts into action.

To facilitate this coming together, the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) will be hosting their yearly E-Nation conference, revolving around the theme of ‘Future Fast: Thriving For A Better Tomorrow’.

A New Look For E-Nation

Unlike previous years, when E-Nation was held in-person and consecutively for a few days, E-Nation 2021 will be an ongoing event that’ll be held in several quarters throughout the year, and will end with a virtual and an in-person conference at MaGIC’s headquarters.

Dzuleira Abu Bakar, the CEO of MaGIC, said this format shift in E-Nation is made to equip and provide support to Malaysian innovators with an ‘always-on’ series of events throughout the year, rather than just a single event.

Acknowledging innovative entrepreneurs, social innovators, and the ecosystem that enables them as Malaysia’s wealth creation players, Dzuleira said E-Nation has to ignite them to drive the nation’s greatness.

As an advocate for Speak for Change, where everyone can have a voice—E-Nation provides like-minded individuals with a platform to have a shared conversation on how to build a better tomorrow.

The first part of the event titled: ‘Series 1: Innovative Leadership by Design’ will kick off on March 31. The other parts of E-Nation will be held in different quarters, with Series 2 currently tabled for June 24. While Series 3 and the conference will be held on August 26 and October 28 to 29, respectively.

This year’s E-Nation theme is also in-line with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI)’s new policies and initiatives introduced in the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (NSTIP) 2021-2030.

Helping To Shine A Guiding Light To Malaysian Movers And Shakers

Series 1 will feature thought leaders like Beth Davies, the former Director of Learning & Development at Tesla, and Muhammad Yunus, a social entrepreneur, banker and Nobel Peace Prize Winner for founding the Grameen Bank.

Before her stint as Tesla’s Director of L&D, Beth Davies held management roles for well-known companies such as Apple and Microsoft too. Reportedly, she played a hand in Apple’s meteoric rise back in 2003, as she headed the company’s Leadership Development team back then.

She will be imparting her knowledge gathered from these companies on the know-how of building a culture that can cultivate a loyal customer base.

Muhammad Yunus is also one of the other high-profile speakers present at Series 1. He is known as the ‘Father of Microfinance’, as his efforts with Grameen Bank provided over USD$ 6.5 billion to poor communities worldwide.

Yunus will be joined by Dzuleira Abu Bakar as they explore the potential of innovation in eradicating poverty and the role that society can play in sustainable development.

Philip Loo, the co-founder of HAVVA, and Azizulhasni Awang, during his win at 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championship / Image Credit: HAVVA, Nicola, Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-sa 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the Series 1 virtual event, other speakers from all walks of life such as Azizulhasni Awang, a Malaysian Professional Track Cyclist and Olympic Bronze Medalist, and Philip Loo, the co-founder of HAVVA, a tech startup that innovates on urban farming will take the stage as well, with different insights on leadership.

-//-

If you’re interested in tuning into E-Nation 2021, you can register your interest here with your details, admission is free.

If you want to keep up with E-Nation 2021 as it runs this year, you can pre-register yourself for the other series on the same page.

Despite the change in format, one consistent benefit remains—there will be plenty of opportunities for you to network with other attendees and speakers throughout the event.

  • Sign up for E-Nation 2021 or find out more here.
  • Read more on what we’ve written about MaGIC in the past here.

Also Read: Pushing Away Traditional 9-5 Offices, Cisco Keeps Remote Workers Connected Securely

Featured Image Credit: Beth Loeb Davies Facebook

Lenovo Offers Eco-Aware Companies A Way To Reduce Global CO2 Footprint With This Add-On

[This is a sponsored article by Lenovo.]

Millennials currently make up 50% of the workforce in Malaysia and by 2025, 75% of global workers will be millennials.

In a 2020 survey, Deloitte found that 61% of millennials value employers who attempt to reduce the company’s impact on the environment. With this knowledge, businesses should then seriously consider implementing company-wide green initiatives to attract and retain millennial talent.

Lenovo, one of the world’s largest PC manufacturers, recently launched the Lenovo CO2 Offset Services, offering businesses a solution to offset carbon emissions of selected Lenovo products at the point of purchase.

What Is Carbon Offsetting And How Does It Work?

Carbon offsetting is a method for individuals and companies to compensate for CO2 emissions by funding an equivalent CO2-saving action project.

After purchasing selected Lenovo CO2 Offset Services products and opting into the service, customers can choose to be enrolled into a CO2 saving project from one of Lenovo’s partner initiatives. These are specially handpicked projects, some are even overseen by the United Nations.

One of the green projects specifically for Asia Pacific (APAC) customers focuses on biomass energy, which generates electricity using wind energy harnessed from sugar mills. Another APAC project tackles safe and clean waste disposal, which generates renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gases.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8, one of the laptops under the offset service / Image Credit: Lenovo

LVM Versicherung, a German insurance company, opted into Lenovo’s CO2 Offset Services with their order of 4,000 ThinkPad X1 Yoga laptops and 4,500 ThinkVision P27h-20 monitors. 

Instead of just going with the automatic CO2 offset service provided by Lenovo, the German company took it a step further. The purchases they made were fulfilled via train from Lenovo’s manufacturing plants in China to Germany, further reducing their carbon footprint compared to delivering the products via aircrafts.

Note: To opt-in to the Lenovo CO2 Offset Services, speak to a service representative who will provide you with the correct products along with the quotes. Do note that the Lenovo CO2 Offset Services is a paid service.

Lenovo’s Ongoing Green Initiatives

Lenovo’s CO2 Offset Services is not the company’s first green initiative. In 2020, the company was recognised for its actions on reducing emissions, mitigating climate risks, and the development of a low-carbon economy (energy needs derived from clean sources).

Lenovo managed to reduce its “scope 1 and 2” (direct and indirect) greenhouse gas emissions by 92% in 2020, exceeding the company’s initial goal of 40% set in 2010. The brand understands that climate change poses a risk to the planet, and they’re actively combating it by making changes to the way they operate.

This starts even from the moment consumers view certain Lenovo products on their Eco Declaration page online. Here is where consumers can see how much carbon emissions the products are producing. These extensive reports include a breakdown of manufacturing, shipping, and estimated usage of five years.

Report Observation: In the report on the carbon emissions of the ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 1, Lenovo details that transportation using rail is lower compared to by air or by truck. Therefore LVM Versicherung chose to deliver their purchases via train.

With these reports in hand, companies that are conscious of the environment can be well-informed of the carbon footprint of the products they use on a daily basis. However, knowledge alone is not enough, proactive actions are necessary for actual change to occur, and this is where Lenovo CO2 Offset Services plays its role.

Before launching the CO2 Offset Services in APAC, Lenovo trialled the service in several Nordic countries. Through this trial, they managed to offset more than 26,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to emissions of 1.7 million miles of airline flights or annual emissions of 8,600 households.

Initiatives like these put the decision-making and power in the hands of businesses, who can now walk the talk when it comes to making green choices—not just to appeal to their employees and customers, but for the sake of a more sustainable future for all.

  • To find out more about the Lenovo CO2 Offset Services, click here.
  • For a full list of products eligible for the Lenovo CO2 Offset Services, click here.

Also Read: This Malaysian Co Designed Stretchable & Breathable Pants To Counter The Local Weather

Featured Image Credit: Lenovo





Pushing Away Traditional 9-5 Offices, Cisco Keeps Remote Workers Connected Securely

[This is a sponsored article with Cisco Malaysia.]

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, many companies already began questioning the usefulness of having a permanent office space for their employees. The mindset shift away from fixed physical offices was compounded by the rise of coworking spaces and an increased demand for a healthier work-life balance.

And the pandemic has only added fuel to that fire. In a survey conducted by Pew Research in America, 54% of their respondents would prefer to work remotely or working from home post-pandemic.

Coworking spaces come in as a middle ground, where teams can still have a hub for employees to meet and collaborate, without the need to upkeep an office. A coworking space also provides a more professional and private setting for client meetings if necessary, as opposed to working out of a cafe or house.

With increased flexibility, efficiency becomes more important whether the employee is working in an office, coworking space, or at home. However, tech issues such as shoddy office servers or connection issues invite a miserable working experience.

To ensure that their members don’t encounter connectivity issues, Common Ground, a coworking space operator with over 20 coworking spaces across ASEAN, made a strategic shift to enhance their networking infrastructure.

Creating A Secure, Fast & Reliable Network Infrastructure

The coworking space wanted to provide their members with a secure, high-speed, reliable and stable connection in every single corner of their venues.

An unstable network would pose an issue for the members, as they will not be able to access the files they needed whenever and this meant that Common Ground needed an optimal setup without running into downtime.

With Cisco, one of the largest networking solutions in the world, Common Ground was able to create an Always-on Network which is scalable and does not require a full IT team present physically in all their spaces to manage it.

By deploying Cisco Meraki, Common Ground managed to stay ahead of the curve, providing their members with improved networking performance.

The More You Know: Cisco Meraki provides a secure and intelligent platform that helps customers connect and automate to accelerate their digital agility in a cloud-first world. The Cisco Meraki Platform is the cloud networking foundation for the entire Meraki product portfolio.

It comprises cloud-first operations, open APIs, and a broad ecosystem of apps and technology partners. It is built with a modern cloud-native architecture that powers SD-Access (wireless, switching), SD-WAN/SASE (security, VPN, mobile gateway) and IoT (cameras, sensors) products and solutions.

When considering business resilience, companies need solutions that are efficient, stable, and well-equipped to handle their digital workplaces.

“Meraki was able to optimise our network and provide higher internet speeds to all our active members at the same time, even under heavy loads, at every corner of our premises,” said Yvonne Lee, the Head of Common Ground Malaysia.

Image Credit: Cisco Malaysia

Managing All Deployed Solutions Through A Single Dashboard

With Cisco Meraki’s comprehensive cloud-first platform that is simple, secure and intelligent, customers like Common Ground can easily employ and integrate new technologies that provide the best experience for their customers and employees.

Additionally, their IT teams can get an overview of the networks of multiple branches, instead of logging into different dashboards for different networks and rummaging through them to figure out any issues.

For example, an IT team in Malaysia can manage the setup of a new Cisco Meraki solution in Hong Kong, without needing to be there physically. An employee from any division who is present on-site can simply plug in the device and the IT team can install, configure, and deploy the solution remotely.

Top: The Cisco Meraki MR33 cloud-managed router / Bottom: The Cisco Meraki MX64 SD-WAN

Through this quick deployment and management, you won’t need a full squad of IT personnel present at every location, which can help you save up on costs as well.

Steven Chong, the Chief Technology Officer of Common Ground said, “We now only need 1 person to deploy a network and it can be done remotely within minutes. Prior to Cisco Meraki, it used to take a few people to be on-site to achieve the same.”

Easy Check Up On The Health Of Your Solutions

Meraki Health is a tool that automatically analyses and monitors the health of all your deployed solutions.

For example, a Common Ground member might run into an issue with connecting their device to the network. The IT team can then check through Meraki Health to identify and fix the issue remotely.

https://youtu.be/TeDWLoOII_c

Equipped with full visibility of all deployed solutions, your IT team is also capable of early detection of hardware failure, and it’ll prompt the IT personnel to perform the changes ASAP. Steven said that Cisco Meraki’s dashboard allows them to quickly pinpoint the source of the issue and take care of it in a few minutes, without dragging the whole network to a shutdown.

As the focus shifts to hybrid working conditions, cybersecurity is another major factor that digital workplaces need to take seriously. With important files and data now transferred virtually between employees or between servers, companies need to have the products with the proper security to back them up.

Cisco Meraki’s comprehensive and secure platform helps customers keep networks, spaces and devices secure, as your business and workplace shift to a hybrid model. With employees working remotely or in the office, it ensures that everyone has the predictable, safe and secure connectivity they need to maintain productivity.

  • To know more about what Cisco Meraki offers to your company, click here.
  • Talk to a Cisco representative here.

Also Read: Diamonds Were Just The Start, ZCOVA Now Looks To Dominate The Gemstone Market In Asia

Featured Image Credit: Cisco Malaysia

Here’re The Most Attractive Companies In M’sia In 2021, Grads Are Voting Now For 2022

[This is a sponsored article with Talentbank.]

Hiring talent is dependent on a healthy balance of providing value between employees and employers. Employers expect a certain standard of work and contribution from hires, and usually employees desire to work at companies with an excellent brand reputation, work perks, and potential for career advancement.

Talentbank’s Graduates’ Choice Award (GCA) gives recognition to companies that are actively making changes in company culture to attract new talents. It’s important to listen to young voices because Generation Z will soon take up over a third of the global population.

It’s more than just bragging rights for the winners, the GCA also allows graduates and soon-to-be graduates to know which companies are highly sought after and preferred by their peers. This can motivate them to step up their game, stay ahead of the curve and stand out from the sea of talents, if they wish to be hired by those companies.

With GCA 2021’s results finalised, here are the most attractive companies in Malaysia according to the graduates.

Have Your Say: Talentbank is currently collecting votes from Graduates for GCA 2022. If you are a student of a university/college or you’ve just recently graduated within the last 12 months, you are eligible to vote.

1. Maybank
Champion in Overall Winners, Champion in Banking

Maybank is one of Malaysia’s most prominent banks with more than 350 branches locally, and the bank employs more than 40,000 employees worldwide.

For graduates who are keen to apply to the company, they offer programmes such as the Global Maybank Apprentice Programme which are some of the upskilling programmes to develop a graduate’s skill on Risk Management, Product Strategy and more.

Maybank is also the GCA’s Champion in Banking for the third year in a row.

Open positions listed here.

2. Google
1st Runner-up in Overall Winners, Champion in Tech

The world’s largest search engine needs no introduction and since its entrance into Malaysia back in 2011, they still remain as one of the most attractive companies to work for.

Fun fact: Google Malaysia’s current Managing Director, Marc Woo was Google Malaysia’s very first employee.

Former and current employees applauded the company’s work environment, free and healthy meals for employees and visitors from gerai gugel, as well as the company’s flexible working hours and casual dress code.

Open positions listed here.

3. Microsoft (Malaysia)
2nd Runner-up in Overall Winners, Runner-up In Tech

Microsoft is yet another renowned name in the tech world. In 2020, Microsoft reported that they have more than 258 million paid seats worldwide (customers who have purchased) Office 365.

As listed on the company’s US Site, employees can benefit from employee discounts, flexible working hours and long maternity leaves. Local employees also noted that the company provides a free flow of snacks, fruits and drinks.

Open positions listed here.

A shot of the Microsoft KL office / Image Credit: Steven Leach Group

4. Petroliam Nasional Berhad
Champion in Chemical, Engineering and Oil & Gas, Top 5 in Overall Winners

According to former employees, Petroliam Nasional Berhad aka PETRONAS offers a competitive salary and good bonuses yearly—provided that you are up to the challenges that they set out for you.

The company also runs multiple programmes for graduates, such as the Graduate Employability Enhancement Scheme (GEES) and PETRONAS Education Scholarships Programme (PESP). Benefits for employees come in the form of flexible working arrangements, returnee programmes and extended maternity leaves.

Fun Fact: PETRONAS boasts a young workforce, with 56% of its employees being under the age of 36.

Open positions listed here.

5. Shopee Malaysia
Champion in E-Commerce, Top 5 in Overall Winners

One of Malaysia’s largest e-commerce sites, Shopee has become a household name for many, especially during the pandemic.

That said, we recently wrote about Shopee’s Global Leaders Programme (GLP) which offers fresh graduates hands-on experience and leadership opportunities within the company. Graduates who enrolled under GLP get a chance to work overseas, provided with a competitive salary, and most importantly, your work can potentially shape the future of Shopee.

Open positions listed here.

6. Intel Malaysia
Champion in Electronics, 2nd Runner-up in Engineering and Tech, Top 10 in Overall Winners

If you’ve owned a laptop or a PC, you might have noticed that tiny Intel sticker on the device. But, what you might not know is that 80% of laptop CPUs in the world utilise Intel processors.

Benefits of working with Intel include five bonus payouts a year (on top of mid-year and year-end bonuses), an employee discount on Intel stock, flexible working hours, exclusive employee discounts on Intel products, as well as relocation services if you were to move to a new location for work.

Open positions listed here.

7. CIMB
1st Runner-up in Banking, Top 10 in Overall Winners

Specifically for graduates, CIMB has some unique programmes that might entice you to work for the bank. One of the programmes allows you to work for two different companies, and when you have completed the programme, you get to choose between the two for who you want to work for.

For example, the CIMB-Accenture Fusion programme allows a graduate to experience both consulting and banking work, with the first year spent in Accenture to gain experience in consultancy, and the second year in CIMB for a holistic overview of the banking industry.

One of the major benefits of working with CIMB is its Staff Rejuvenation Programme. It allows employees to take up to six months off their job to tend to life matters and return to work in the same position without risking employment.

Open positions listed here.

Taken during one of CIMB’s Scholarship Programmes back in 2019 / Image Credit: CIMB

8. Shell Malaysia
1st Runner-up in Engineering and Oil & Gas, 2nd Runner-up in Shared Services, Top 10 in Overall Winners

Shell is one of the world’s largest petrochemical and energy companies, boasting around 86k employees in more than 70 countries.

The company is also one of the first to implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace. For example, Shell has implemented women-specific programmes such as the Women’s Career Development Programme (WCDP) and Shell Women’s Action Network (SWAN) to further empower women’s development in the company.

However, graduates who are moving onto Shell should expect challenging work daily with a high level of responsibility. But your efforts will be rewarded through performance-related pay, along with opportunities for rapid progression.

Open positions listed here.

9. Celcom Axiata Berhad
Champion in Telecommunication, Top 10 in Overall Winners

Celcom is one of Malaysia’s first mobile operator networks as it was established back in 1988. It’s also part of the Axiata Group, which has other brands like the e-wallet Boost and the digital marketing agency ADA.

If you do enrol into the Axiata Graduate Programme, you get the chance to work with other brands under Axiata such as Boost, Axiata Digital and so on, exposing you to different industries as you work.

The programme specifically looks for leaders who are willing and capable of picking up skills rapidly. Once you have completed the programme, you can potentially secure a permanent placement under one of Axiata’s brands.

According to past employees, employee benefits come in the form of mobile phone allowance, employee discounts and a comprehensive insurance package.

Open positions listed here

10. PwC Malaysia
Champion in Accounting & Professional Services, Top 5 in Consulting, Top 10 in Overall Winners

PwC is one of the big four accounting firms globally, and in 2020, the firm reported revenues of US$43 billion too. In Malaysia, the firm employs over 3,000 employees in 7 locations.

When it comes to employee benefits, the firm is quite vocal and transparent in what they offer.

Through flex+, employees can have a reduced workweek to focus on their children or ageing parents. They’re also entitled to flexFridays, which allows them to leave work early every second Friday of the month.

Open positions listed here.

PWC’s office in KL / Image Credit: Steven Leach Group

Other Noteworthy Companies Graduates Find Attractive

Aside from the companies mentioned above, here are the other companies that the graduates still voted for as an attractive company they’d like to work for in their different categories:

Industry

Companies

Top In Accounting & Professional Services

PwC Malaysia

EY

KPMG PLT

Grant Thornton Malaysia PLT

Top In Automotive

Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd

PROTON

Top In Banking

Maybank

CIMB

Public Bank Berhad

Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad

Top In Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

TDCX Malaysia

Aspiro Sdn Bhd

Top In Chemical

Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad 

Nippon Paint (M) Sdn Bhd

Top In Consulting

KPMG PLT

EY

PwC Malaysia

Top In E-Commerce

Shopee Malaysia

AirAsia.com

ZALORA

Top In Education

Sunway Education Group

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

Multimedia University

Top In Electronics

Intel Malaysia

Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Dell Technologies

Top In Engineering

Petroliam Nasional Berhad

Shell Malaysia

Intel Malaysia

Schlumberger

Top In Fashion

Uniqlo (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Al-Futtaim Group Berhad

JD Sports Fashion Sdn Bhd

Top In Fast Food Chain

McDonald’s Malaysia

KFC Malaysia

Texas Chicken Malaysia

Burger King Malaysia

Top In Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

Nestlé Malaysia

Unilever

L’Oréal Malaysia

Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd (F&N)

Mondelez International

Top In Government Linked Companies (GLC)

Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM)

Tenaga Nasional Berhad

Employees Provident Fund (EPF)

Permodalan Nasional Berhad

Top In Insurance

Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Berhad

Prudential Assurance

Allianz Malaysia Berhad

Takaful Malaysia

Top In Logistics

Maersk Malaysia Sdn Bhd

MISC

Top In Manufacturing

Top Glove Sdn Bhd

Hartalega

HP Inc.

Nippon Paint (M) Sdn Bhd

Top In Oil & Gas

Petroliam Nasional Berhad

Shell Malaysia

Petron Malaysia

Schlumberger

Top In Oleochemical

KLK OLEO

Top In Pharmaceutical

Johnson & Johnson

Duopharma Biotec Berhad

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

Top In Property Developer

EcoWorld Malaysia

Sunway Property

IOI Properties Group Berhad

YTL Construction

IJM Corporation Berhad

Top In Retail

IKEA

Watsons Malaysia

Guardian

Top In Shared Services

AIA Shared Services

AirAsia Global Shared Services

Shell Business Operations KL

IBM

American Express

Top In Tech

Google

Microsoft (Malaysia)

Intel Malaysia

Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Top In Telecommunication

Celcom Axiata Berhad

Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM)

U Mobile Sdn Bhd

Top In Tobacco

British American Tobacco GBS & IDT

Japan Tobacco International

Graduates, Cast Your Vote

As mentioned, Talentbank is looking for graduate votes for GCA 2022. If you are a student of a university/college or you’ve just recently graduated within the last 12 months, you are eligible to vote.

If you do vote and refer other university/colleague friends too, you stand a chance to win prizes ranging from an Apple Macbook Pro worth RM5,600, a GoPro HERO 5 Black worth RM1,559, online shopping vouchers, and more.

  • For more information on Talentbank’s Graduates’ Choice Awards, click here.
  • To vote for the upcoming round of Graduates’ Choice Awards, click here.

Also Read: CIMB Tap n Pay Turns Android Phones Into Contactless POS Terminals For Merchants

Featured Image Credit: Steven Leach Group

This Malaysian Co Designed Stretchable & Breathable Pants To Counter The Local Weather

[This is a sponsored post with Bottoms Lab.]

The main factors that determine the suitability of pants for men are usually price, comfort, maintenance, and design. Bottoms Lab, a male-centric apparel brand that first launched in Melbourne has ambitiously designed a product that wants to check all the boxes above.

The founders of Bottoms Lab are Malaysians and while their bottoms were originally intended for the notoriously temperamental Melbourne weather, they realised their pants would also suit Malaysian weather, which fluctuates between rainy and sunny skies.

When it comes to aesthetics, most pants with ruched “stretchy” waistbands look more casual, and typically are unfashionable. Bottoms Lab hopes to solve this problem through their more modern design that maintains the elasticity of stretchy long pants but is suitable for smart casual or semi formal occasions.

The brand’s flagship collection, the Momentum series (pants and shorts) are bottoms that resemble your usual fitted Chinos. But unlike traditional Chinos, the Momentums are made with a breathable and stretchable fabric, with a slim design that should easily walk the line between casual and more formal settings.

The shorts’ stretchable waistband

To ensure the pants work well for those with an active lifestyle, they’ve sent out a few pairs to their friends to test them out under different activities like basketball, skateboarding, and more.

Testing The Bottoms On My Bottom

After reading up on their claims, we got to walk a mile in their pants, literally. 

As someone who’s on the bigger side, finding the right pair of pants that combines comfort and style has always been a hassle. In my case, for non-stretchable pants, they usually leave a print around my waist after a full day of wearing them, especially if I have any heavy meals.

On the other hand, my colleague, Goh who is a father of two, often struggles to look for casual pants that require less care and are more durable.

So I received a pair of Momentum Shorts in XL, and Goh got the Momentum Pants in S.

While the shorts did fit me well, it was a little too short for my liking (inseam length is 7.6” for XL) as someone who firmly believes that shorts on me need to reach my knees. After all, my pale legs haven’t seen the light of day for a good few months.

Pro Tip: If you prefer longer shorts, you could also opt for their Ease Lounge Shorts instead, which comes in a 9” inseam variant. Use coupon code VPXBL10 for a RM10 discount for your first purchase.

My pale legs haven’t seen the sun in too long. The XXL shorts (in black) are a little longer compared to the XL shorts.

I wore the shorts for a full work from home day through the recent blazing hot weather, and it was a fairly comfy experience. I did not feel overly sweaty throughout the workday and with the stretchable material, it was easy to move around in too. 

The huge difference is that they look much more presentable than my worn-out, faded pants that my mum usually complains about—I can stand up during a Zoom video meeting without feeling embarrassed. 

The front pocket of the pants easily fits my phone and even a long wallet. For those who would appreciate having secret pockets, they have a small one in the front.

Goh wearing the Momentum Pants

Like most of those who are working from home with kids, Goh has to constantly juggle between his parental responsibilities and work. His 2 active boys require him to be quick on his feet and here’s where the stretchability helps, and he wouldn’t look sloppy when they host visitors or if he needs to run out for errands.

He mentioned that the pants were lightweight, which he sees as an advantage when it comes to packing for the family since the pants won’t add much weight.

He was impressed with the wrinkle-resistant feature of the pants, minimal ironing is required, which is a plus for a busy parent.

Finding The Right Fit Through Trial & Error

We’re not alone in our positive experience with the products. When the brand launched in Malaysia early 2020, the team were able to carve a steady returning customer base from those who like quality bottoms at an affordable price.

When developing the pants, the team went through more than 100 samples and 6 months of R&D to perfect the materials and fit of the final product. They’ve put the prototypes through multiple washes to ensure there’s no shrinkage after.

The Bottoms Lab team / Image Credit: Bottoms Lab

In just one year, Bottoms Lab managed to grow its revenue by 160%. Profit-wise, the team shared the breakdown of their products’ cost and profit.

For example, with their Momentum Shorts (RM89), 70% of that retail price goes into product and fulfilment (RM62.30), while 20% goes into marketing and post-fulfilment (RM17.80), and 10% (RM8.90) is their profit.

As for what’s next for Bottoms Lab, the team said they’re actively looking for local brands to collaborate with, and the collaboration will be a chance for both parties to showcase their respective strengths.

For future materials, the team is looking to add denim into their product line, but the process of combining denim and comfort is not an easy task so it requires extra research and testing.

Could there be other stretchy and comfy attire from Bottoms Lab other than men’s pants? Hopefully, if they’re able to complete a thorough R&D process for it.

  • Check out Bottoms Lab here.
  • Get RM10 off your first Bottoms Lab purchase using code: VPXBL10
  • If you’re looking to collaborate with Bottoms Lab, click here.
  • Read more on what we’ve written about apparels here.

Also Read: CIMB Tap n Pay Turns Android Phones Into Contactless POS Terminals For Merchants

Digi Has A New Postpaid Plan, Here Are 4 Key Facts If You’re Thinking Of Switching Things Up

[This is a sponsored article with Digi.]

In March 2020, internet traffic went up by 23.5% during the first week of the Movement Control Order (MCO). 

The increased traffic and slow down of the internet forced many Malaysians to use their mobile data to stay connected to their families or study and work online. Weekly mobile data consumption shot up by 30% too during March until early May.

With more citizens relying on mobile internet during the pandemic, Digi, one of the largest telcos in Malaysia has decided to step up. They revamped their postpaid offerings, giving users more value, and a fast and easy package no matter their hobbies. 

Here are five main points to take note from this updated package.

1. Digi’s New Postpaid Plans Now Start At RM40/Month

Digi’s new postpaid plans come with a renewed pricing, starting from RM40 a month. This plan entitles you to 10GB of all-access mobile internet service, with unlimited calls to all Malaysian networks at no extra charge.

Based on a market analysis by Ookla, Digi was the fastest mobile operator in Malaysia for the 2nd half of 2020. With the brand’s new revamped all-access internet service, you’ll be getting a fast mobile internet service without any restrictions, even on the weekends, which would be optimal for those off-work PUBG gaming sessions.

The new Digi Postpaid plans

2. There Are Free Add-Ons To Choose Based On Your Lifestyle & Data Needs

Signing up for Digi’s new postpaid plans gives you access to choose free add-ons. You’ll also get better deals with plans above Digi Postpaid 60.

For example, with Digi Postpaid 60, you’ll get 25GB of internet and unlimited calls every month. But since starting your Netflix binge, you now need more data. You can opt-in for an additional 10GB of internet monthly, for free.

Alternatively, if you’re a mobile gamer that often spends on monthly gaming passes, you could go for the add-on which gives you a RM5 monthly rebate on your subscriptions on EasyAdd, Google Play or App Store at no extra charge.

Note: You will need to sign a 12 or 24-month contract with Digi to be eligible for these add-ons. Alternatively, there are add-ons that you can pay for, to get additional mobile data. Each user is limited to 1 add-on.

An example of the add-ons you can get from Digi

With Digi Postpaid 60 and above, you can get a Gadget SIM for RM10 a month, which gives you an additional SIM card for your gadgets, a discount of up to RM30 a month on Digi’s Fibre Broadband, or a monthly rebate of RM10 for the Digi Mobile Broadband package.

3. Subscribe For Additional Family Lines At A 50% Discount

Primary line users on Digi’s new postpaid plans can get additional supplementary lines starting from RM20 per month.

Example Scenario: You’re a dad of two, so you’ll need a total of 4 lines. You only use the phone for internet surfing and work-related communications, while your wife only uses her phone for social media and YouTube videos.

As for your kids, they can be seen either binging on a new K-drama or a television series or slaying monsters in Genshin Impact.

To get the best deals for your data-heavy kids, you go for the Digi Postpaid 60 Principal plan as you can share your internet quota with your kids if they need it.

Here’s what you’ll need to pay: RM60 for 25GB of internet (Primary), RM20 for 10GB of internet (Supplementary), and two RM30 for 25GB of internet (Supplementary). So for a family of four, all you need to pay is RM140 a month.

If you enable auto-billing via the MyDigi app (Android & iOS), you can get 5% off your bill too.

4. Get Access To New Phones With Monthly Payments

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on the latest phones, Digi’s PhoneFreedom 365 gives you the chance to do so, with zero upfront payment and a zero-interest instalment plan. Digi also lowered the commitment for PhoneFreedom 365 from Digi Postpaid 90 to Digi Postpaid 60 as well.

You can get the iPhone 12 Pro Max through Digi for RM188 a month, but you’ll need to sign up for the Digi Postpaid 120 plan to be eligible for this.

So by paying RM308 a month, you’ll be getting 65GB of all-internet access, unlimited calls to other Malaysian numbers and a new phone. Like other Digi PhoneFreedom 365 plans, you can switch up and get a new phone by the 18th month of your payment.

  • Find out more about Digi’s new Postpaid plans here.
  • For more T&C on the plans, click here.

Also Read: CIMB Tap n Pay Turns Android Phones Into Contactless POS Terminals For Merchants

8 Companies From MDEC’s GAIN Programme That Stepped Up During The Pandemic

[This is a sponsored article with MDEC.]

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the norm, and for many, the new norm has not been easy. Besides having a large portion of the population stuck working and studying from home, many businesses saw their normal income streams reduced or even cut off. 

It was in challenging times like these where a group of local technology companies decided to rise to the occasion and look beyond their own situations or issues. 

These companies have a shared interest in helping Malaysians tide through the pandemic by helping those in need, ensuring that Malaysian society at large will be able to contribute to the economy, including the digital economy. This is in line with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) vision to create a technologically integrated society in line with Malaysia 5.0.

As the agency tasked to lead Malaysia’s digital economy, MDEC’s GAIN programme has nurtured over 150 successful tech companies.

The More You Know: GAIN stands for ‘Gateway, Amplify, Invest, Nurture’. It is an ongoing initiative that assists tech companies by providing market access, high-visibility impact activities, access to funding facilitations and growth through a mentorship system.

Thanks to the head-start and assistance these companies received through the GAIN program, they’ve decided to pay-it-forward through their fierce drive for community building. They are not just capable of running a highly successful global business, but they’ve also made it a priority to help the nation and to give back to the ones in need.

Here are some stories of how MDEC’s GAIN companies have helped out others throughout the pandemic.

1. Providing Workable PCs And Tablets To Students Who Need Them

With schools physically closed, classes have transitioned online. But for those who are in a rough financial situation, getting a capable PC for their kids to use might be close to impossible.

Rentwise, a provider of Green IT Solutions, tackled this issue by equipping underprivileged schools with functioning PCs for their students. They collect retired computers, which were then restored and data-wiped, breathing new life into the devices before passing them to the students.

To date, they’ve prepared over 250+ refurbished PCs for schools in the nation. They’ve worked alongside MDEC to donate several laptops to students in Tenom Innovation Centre, Sabah recently too.

Like Rentwise, SNS Network, a local technology solutions provider also worked on addressing the needs of schoolchildren during the pandemic.

Image Credit: SNS Network

They’ve donated 15 units of JOI tablets (SNS’s own-brand of devices) and a combination of 70 headsets, speakers, and printers to SMK Permatang Rawa. This allowed the school to supply their students with tablets for remote learning.

Besides schools, the SNS team gave 9 JOI Notebooks to the team in Penang Hospice Society to keep their doctors and physicians connected.

2. Ensuring B40 Families Still Have Food On The Table

Those who lost their jobs during the pandemic might struggle with finding a new source of income. This could spell disaster for B40 families as most of them live from hand to mouth.

Innov8tif, an AI solutions provider to help businesses reach more sales and improve traditional processes, organised a Sumbangan Kasih programme to assist with the welfare needs of the B40 groups in Subang Jaya. Working with MBSJ, they handed out food and grocery vouchers to 200 families in need in May 2020.

“We understand that when it comes to giving back to the community, any action, big or small can make a real difference,” said George Lee, the CEO of Innov8tif.

Image Credit: Innov8tif

3. Giving Financial Aid To Impacted Communities

Some companies have opted to give monetary donations to NGOs and people in need that lack financial resources for essentials.

Vitrox, a local manufacturer for electronic equipment provided RM1,088,790 of funds to several NGOs, schools and hospitals.

HR platform, WorkSmartly ran a ‘Gaji Sehari Challenge’ whereby employees informed their management how many days of their salary they wished to donate, which the management then matched. At the end of the challenge, they collected RM5,750 and they’ve donated the funds to Mercy Malaysia, Kitafund and Zoo Negara.

WorkSmartly’s #GajiSehariChallenge / Image Credit: WorkSmartly

4.  Launching Initiatives On A Larger Scale

Some of the larger companies opted to launch several initiatives, tackling multiple fronts.

One of the GAIN companies doing so is Forest Interactive, a telecommunications platform provider operating in 39 countries, who utilised their massive reach to its full potential.

Through #ForestCares, they contributed necessities to over 147 households with more than 1,100 people in the Temuan Orang Asli community in Damansara Perdana. They’ve also launched their #Qurban initiative in their Indonesia branch. They prepared Qurbani (animal livestock sacrifice during Eid) to over 430 people in Indonesia.

But they’re not alone in these ventures. 

Collaborating with Street Feeders of KL (SFOKL), they provided food and necessities to street friends (the term for the homeless used by SFOKL) in key KL areas through their #CANFeedTheHungry initiative. Initially, they set out to raise RM2,000 but exceeded that goal, securing over RM2,700 for SFOKL’s use.

redONE, a mobile virtual network in Malaysia have also opted to launch several initiatives as well. They’ve allotted free 10GB high-speed internet to all of their customers, helping them to stay connected during the pandemic and they gave out 1GB of data daily too, which is helpful for the students relying on mobile data for their studies.

Some of redONE’s initiatives in 2020 / Image Credit: redONE

To assist those who are looking for job opportunities, they’ve launched the redONE Preneur Sales Advisor (RPSA) programme to connect over 10,000 Malaysians with job opportunities. The programme helped participants become sales advisors, equipped with professional training and coaching.

The team behind redONE worked jointly with the Perak State Government as well. They launched the Telcopreneur Perak Programme to nurture 1,000 youths, unemployed, and small business operators to be telco entrepreneurs.

5. Protecting The Frontliners

Meanwhile, MDT Innovations, a tech company with a focus on IoT products, opted to equip the frontliners from the Immigration, Security and Passport Division with over 400 boxes of face masks, ensuring that our immigration officers are safe while working.

They’ve also partnered up with more than 13 NGOs, distributing over 400,000 face masks and 4,000 bottles of sanitiser to more than 16,000 beneficiaries locally.

-//-

These companies have shown that they have aspirations toward achieving shared prosperity and community building is deeply rooted in their core value. This is exactly the type of company that MDEC hopes to continue nurturing.

“The contributions and actions of these GAIN companies are a reflection of MDEC’s vision of Malaysia 5.0—a human-first society in a tech-age. While many of these companies have solutions and innovations that work towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), their actions show that they put society at the centre of what they do,” says Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of MDEC’s Digitally Powered Business Division.

 “We hope to see more tech companies in Malaysia contribute to society whenever they can as these GAIN companies have, and contribute to the efforts of our nation reaching vision Malaysia 5.0.” Gopi added.

MDEC, backed with the support from the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) will continue to lead the digital economy forward, ensuring shared prosperity for many Malaysians along with realising Malaysia 5.0.

This is achieved through their focus on three strategic pillars of empowering Digitally Skilled Malaysians, accelerating Digitally-Powered Businesses and attracting Digital Investments. 

  • For more information on MDEC’s GAIN programme, click here.
  • Find out more about what we’ve written about MDEC in the past here.

Also Read: CIMB Tap n Pay Turns Android Phones Into Contactless POS Terminals For Merchants

Featured Image Credit: Forest Interactive / MDT Innovations