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Why (& How) We Started Startup Melaka group

by Soon-Aik Chiew

Just like many other Malaccans, I moved to KL for my first job upon graduation. Why so? Pretty common reasons:

  • Limited choices: people have been discussing about the same companies in Melaka for the past many years: Infineon, Texas Instrument, Mamee, or Banks
  • I met people who came all the way from Melaka to KL to attend or volunteer at events. The reason is simple: 'Melaka got no such thing. So come here la'.
  • I spent 4 years in KL, and sometimes walked long distance (save money) to meetings and events. It's all because of: exposure and experience that I can't get in Melaka.
  • Lack of 'connection point': I only got to meet Melaka heroes like Daniel (TEDxKL), Amran (Zenpipe) and JeeShen (Softinn) when I was in KL, not in Melaka
  • Few bosses / managers in Melaka told this: ' The graduates cannot 'pakai', still learning outdated stuff, not much chance to learn new things here too, want to train them also difficult. Not I don't want to do better, Melaka very hard to find & cultivate talents la."

Let's face the fact: we've seen more startups & individuals moving away from Melaka than those moving into Melaka. But they did that for good valid reasons:

'Market is small.. No opportunities.. No events.. No support.. No talents.. No Exposure.. Nothing..'

Above are all real challenges. We have respect for people who moved out, and hope they can do better. At the same time, we wish to do something for those who choose to live or have to stay in Melaka (like ourselves: I returned in 2017). If no one is doing anything, the progress here will always stuck at 0%.

So here we are, trying to facilitate more opportunities (in more sexy words: building the startup ecosystem) in Melaka, the place that is loved not just by Malaccans but people all around. Our community leaders like JeeShen, Dr Dennis & Welcome are not from Melaka but they love Melaka just like Malaccans and making it a better place. Somehow, we build up the community to solve our own problems too.

Historical development / Hari ini dalam sejarah

2013: I represented university for a national business competition, and got to know about the ex-winner, JeeShen (Softinn). Then only I realized there's a tech startup located at Bukit Beruang near MMU Melaka.

2014: My ex-company was sponsor for a conference (first Echelon Malaysia), so I gave tickets to few friends including JeeShen. We then discussed about how to improve the ecosystem in Melaka to overcome challenges (stated above).

2015: I was invited as speaker at the same conference. I proposed them to replace me with Jeeshen. I didn't contribute much to the community other than creating a Facebook group, he was physically present in Melaka contributing to the community (and later joined by Dr Dennis & Welcome).

Welcome recently sent this photo (below) to remind us that the Startup Melaka FB group was created on 1st April 2015. Not sure why I chose to create during April Fool, luckily it's not just a joke.

We had the very first meetup (see cover photo) at Coffeeology cafe, they are now our venue partner as the boss Azim is very supportive in building the Melaka community.

2016: JeeShen joined the competition by the same conference organizer in Singapore and won 1st place out of 100 startups around Asia. When he competed in the final, he emphasized that his company is from Melaka. From there on, people started paying a little bit of attention to 'startups in Melaka'. But no, it was not mushrooming or booming for startup scene in Melaka.

2016-2017: We started to have events like Startup Weekend in Melaka. We're happy that these events are not just mainly organized by us, but also by the different groups of people like students in and outside Melaka. Some partnerships, ventures & hiring happened thanks to these efforts and support from many other sides.

2018: Our objective remains to facilitate more entrepreneurial and learning opportunities for the people in Melaka. We had our very first and (so far) the only meeting to talk about 'what's next & what else we can do for Melaka?'. (Pic below: meeting at Mamak)

JeeShen, Dr Dennis, Welcome, Me

When we first planned about 'monthly sharing session', we agreed that even if it would benefit just a small crowd (e.g. few university students), we would continue doing it whenever possible.

It's 2018 now, hopefully we've moved the needle a bit to reach 1% progress. We believe that there are many more hidden gems in/from Melaka, we hope to connect them to help everyone do better, together.

We celebrate when cities like Penang, Johor and Ipoh are doing well. We believe Melaka can do better too, in its unique way. If you're interested about the ecosystem here, come join us!

'What a lovely place to live, work or run company!' - by friends from other state & country. (Pic below)

One shares, everyone wins.

Soon Aik

Minion @ Startup Melaka

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