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

Why This UTM Grad Wants Stroke Patients To Play Games With Robots

Despite winning 30 awards, acceleration from MaGIC, our PM Najib’s note of their product, and pretty extensive media attention in 2014, this year sees a rehab-based startup called Techcare toiling away in relative silence.

While the team of three founders has expended a lot of effort and research into developing a product that can be accessible to those who might need it most, what is immediately striking is how they’ve gamified what can be a demoralising and stressful rehabilitation process for those with limited mobility, either due to age or illness.

Techcare is a notable Malaysian blip in a rising trend towards gamified rehab, which saw a lot of attention in 2016 among medtech players internationally.

In fact, we’ve seen some of the technology available internationally use the Kinect, while others are also approaching it using VR.

In our own quick search on the matter, it’s clear that rehabilitation for stroke, in particular, is one of the more researched aspects of medical gamification.

Techcare puts a more portable and affordable spin on their offerings, which allows them to supply to the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) to benefit local stroke victims.

Since 2014, Techcare has produced three products that have expanded beyond just stroke, and tackling a wider range of health verticals.

  • Fitness Balance Board (Fibod): To help retain the crucial balancing skills that usually begin to decrease after 30 years of age—reducing falls due to ageing. The balancing board gamifies improving your balancing capability, strengthens core muscles, helps with body coordination and improves ankle flexibility to reduce injuries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEXHNU_wcr8

  • Instant Feedback: It’s able to record all of a user’s sport movements, from golf, to swimming, and any others that require a strong form. Instead of having to rely on coaches to observe and give direct feedback, this device allows users to just plug and play.
  • CR2-Haptic: A compact and portable rehabilitation robot for hand exercises, suitable for the elderly and stroke patients. Patients play games on the device, which tests the patient’s hand dexterity and sends assessment reports on a cloud-based platform. The robot is able to train for different functional movements, and also provides cloud-based assessment reports for family and healthcare practitioners to check.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2gN3BGDEus

Techcare didn’t delve into gamified rehab business just to jump on the bandwagon. 

UTM graduate Khor Kang Xiang told us that this all started during the first year of doing his degree, when he wasn’t sure what to do with his life.

“I had a simple life. A lot changed when I was in university. I joined a robot competition called RoboCon. I learned a lot of skills. We represented Malaysia to Egypt and won Best Design. ”

“I then thought what now? Is that all? I kept looking for something better until I visited a stroke centre in Johor. Then, I decided to build rehab robots to help. This was 6 years ago. It started during my university life.”

Once part of his PhD project, Techcare grew into his business. Kang Xiang’s lecturer, Dr Yeong Che Fai—who already has a few robotics company notches on his belt—eventually became his co-founder. Their team-up picked up their CTO in Patrick Chin.

This eventually led to the development of a robot that would benefit the shoulder and elbow. Kang Xiang brought the robot around to sell it, but it was then he realised that this isn’t exactly what his customers are looking for.

So for Kang Xiang’s final year in university, he went to about 20 rehab centres and hospitals to understand how they’re traditionally doing, and what are the limits.

It was there he understood: user experience is important.

With more refinement on their value proposition, the Techcare CR2-Haptic came to be. It was project zero that began their Techcare development. 

[caption id="attachment_623207" align="alignnone" width="620"] The founders trying out the CR2-Haptic / Image Credit: Founders Asia[/caption]

In fact, Kang Xiang’s beginnings with the NASAM centre cycled back home when Techcare began working with the organisation 3 to 4 years ago.

An NGO that was started by a stroke survivor, this organisation is better equipped to provide advice and refinement on their robots meant for stroke patients. Now Techcare’s robots has been used by the NGO for two years, across the 9 centres they have in Malaysia.

“Working in healthcare is tough because there aren’t many people doing this in Malaysia.”

It means more to the team when they hear about patients who are able to engage with their rehabilitation themselves, especially if a therapist is too expensive for them.

With 70% of his employees coming from PhD backgrounds, they came together wanting to actually create an impact with their education.

Techcare has received inquiries from Hong Kong, France, the USA, and others, despite not being the first players in the market.

On top of that, the team informs us that of those who used the portable robot, 16% showed significant improvement after 6 weeks of training, and of those, they showed 67% improvement in how much they could move.

Despite that, the team needs a bit more help with traction. 

[caption id="attachment_623205" align="alignnone" width="700"] The Fibod, their latest market offering / Image Credit: Techcare[/caption]

Unfortunately, bleeding hearts don’t pay the bills. And after graduating the MaGIC program with their idea, the team is now in the Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator to turn the startup into a viable, profitable business.

“As engineers, we’re not that good in business. We always want to push ourselves to different level, and last year, we decided to push a bit more in business.  We want to join this [accelerator] and explore new opportunities, as well as learn the business world and how it works.”

As for their future goals, it’s all very down-to-earth.

“Firstly, we want to achieve more customers, and get more partners to work with us. We hope to raise funds as well, so that our company can be more established.”

Again, they are definitely not the first players in the market. Even if we ignore the CR2-Haptic for stroke patients, something like their Instant Feedback definitely rings familiar to us, even though they’re definitely giving the tech their own little spin.

But if there was ever a space that could benefit from more players and competition, it would definitely be in the medical tech scene, which help the quality of life enjoyed by our species as a whole.

Also Read: Discovering Local Gems Was Just A Start—4 Other Ways LokaLocal Took Off In Just A Year