With less than a million population, Melaka is the second smallest state in Malaysia, after Perlis. This historical state city was Asia's most thriving international port between 13th-17th century, attracting merchant vessels from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Europe, making it the commercial hub as well as cultural melting point between the East and the West. Can Melaka revive its past glory in the modern digital age?
Over the years, people from the startup scene have been asking us:
Even Malaccans like me find it hard to give a good answer to these questions, but some recent events below can give us some ideas, and we will cover a bit on the following:
In the past 1 month, Startup Melaka hosted 2 events:
pitchIN's very first Issuer Preview in Melaka
pitchIN CEO Sam Shafie & CSO Kash (classmate of our Finance Minster Lim Guan Eng in Malacca High School), brought along 6 crowdfunding-ready startups to Melaka. To our surprise, Sam revealed that the first Malaysian company that raised more than RM 3 million via equity crowdfunding is a company based in Melaka named QEOS LED, advanced lighting service provider.
According to them, Melaka is not their main customer market, but it is an ideal place to startup mainly because of lower living cost, supply of talents (universities) and friendly neighbourhood. However, it is definitely not the perfect situation when you learn that their office that located at a MSC-status building (K-Economy Incubator) has only 8mbps internet speed. This is also a shared painpoint by many other technopreneurs in Melaka.
If you're not familiar with Melaka, here's some ideas for you. (If you know Melaka well enough, please skip to the next section).
Tourism is huge here! Ever since Melaka received world UNESCO heritage status together with Penang in 2008, the number of inbound tourist increased significantly and had doubled from 7.2 million to 16.8 million inbound tourist in 2017 alone.
Some Malaccans, or most of them who live near town are not happy with influx of tourist that caused massive traffic jam during weekend.
Melaka is the home for 2 giant local food companies, namely Mamee & Julie's (famous for their peanut butter sandwich & love letters). Yes, you will see 'Mamee' poster everywhere in Melaka, and we even have a "Mamee" museum at Jonker Street.
'Is there any startup company in Melaka?'
The number one question that we got almost every time when we speak to someone from the startup scene.
Ans: not many that we are aware of. We're sure there are more, as we still slowly discover over time, and here's a few notable online service companies that based in Melaka.
🚀Happy2U - Fashion / Shoes
Monthly Site Traffic: 21,000*
Office Location: Batu Berendam
Highlight: the company is run by a very young female entrepreneur who is still studying in university.
🚀Isois.my - Fashion / Plus Size
Sales Revenue: more than RM 1,000,000
Office Location: Ayer Keroh
Highlight: Founder Siew Lee shared her entrepreneurial journey in one of Startup Melaka's monthly cafe sharing session.
🚀Lets Go Holiday - Homestay & Small Hotel Booking
Monthly Site Traffic: 60,000*
Office Location: Bukit Beruang
Highlights: Lets Go Holiday is powered by Softinn. Softinn is the first Malaysian company that won Echelon Asia 2016 in Singapore as well as 'Best Startup' award in WIT Japan & North Asia 2017. The Founder JeeShen Lee has been actively supporting startup community in Melaka through mentoring and events.
*Site traffic is measured using Similarweb, it should be noted that site traffic does not equate sales revenue, these companies might be using other channels to generate revenue, for example, social media.
There are also some established companies based in the industrial zones:
Talking about 'high tech solutions' company in Melaka, iRadar should not be kept 'under the radar'. iRadar has strong research scientist team that provides Smart Sensing solutions (radar, camera, drone) to solve tough industry challenges such as monitoring of environmental quality and agriculture growth.
The CEO of iRadar Prof. Koo will be the next speaker of our monthly sharing session in December. Like our FB page, to keep yourself updated with our event details!
Universities in Melaka:
Universiti Teknikal Malaysia (UTEM) - public university [Campus: Durian Tunggal, Bandaraya Melaka]
Universiti Technologi MARA (UiTM) - public university [Campus: Alor Gajah, Jasin, Bandaraya Melaka]
Multimedia University (MMU) - first private university in Malaysia, with strong link with TM, the nation's largest broadband service provider [Campus: Ayer Keroh]
What's different in 2018 for Melaka? We (finally) have coworking spaces, but what about the occupancy? It's too early to justify now, we will know more in no time.
⇪ pitchIN's event at Grind Shack Workspace
The 'First' initiatives by Melaka Govt
Many Malaccans would be surprised to learn about these initiatives above, they either not aware of them, or not being able to feel the impact.
We can't neglect the great efforts done by them in the past, however, public projects would always bring more benefits to the citizens if the government is willing to switch from their 'top-down' approach to a more citizen-centric method.
Events & Supporters
Multimedia University, and EDC (Entrepreneur Development Centre, MMU) supported the first Startup Weekend Melaka event in 2016. It was initiated by few MMU students and lecturer Dr Dennis (who participated and won in Startup Weekend before). In the same year, few talented young Malaccan ladies organized another Startup Weekend event in Melaka with the support of MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) and YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative).
If you're interested to try starting up in Melaka, come join us at Global Startup Weekend Melaka 2018. We also bring in quality mentors & partners to help you make your ideas happen, especially for travel and smart city related ideas. Any business ideas are welcomed too.
Different stakeholders play a role to facilitate the entrepreneurial and digital development of Melaka. We've observed entrepreneurs moving away from Melaka, as well as entrepreneurs starting up in Melaka. Although some of the companies are based in Melaka, they still have to spend around 50% of the time going to KL to meet clients, and facing difficulty to get businesses here to adopt new or digital solutions.
We already have supply of talents from universities, but there's more to do: to provide better infrastructure and platform to thrive, to train and equip young talents with right market skills, and to retain them to build up Melaka, just to name a few.
We hope to see a better, greener and smarter Melaka for everyone soon.
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