Problems in the Malaysian startup ecosystem and how to fix them

Problems in the Malaysian startup ecosystem and how to fix them

Not lots of would disagree that Silicon Valley is the amount one startup ecosystem in the world. But just in scenario anyone’s doubting it, this is a point proven by Startup Genome’s The World wide Startup Ecosystem Report 2021.

Scoring a ideal 10 in all groups (particularly effectiveness, funding, connectedness, sector access, understanding, and talent), Silicon Valley is recognized as a worldwide centre of innovation and residence to a great number of unicorns.

But this write-up isn’t about the prowess of the San Francisco tech hub, but relatively, Malaysia’s personal startup ecosystem.  

In the same Startup Genome report that verified Silicon Valley’s reign, Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur is nowhere on the major 30 international startup ecosystem rating. On the other hand, KL was recognised as 21-30 on the prime 100 rising ecosystems record, with a price of US$16.1 billion.

That’s definitely some thing to be happy of, but is Malaysia’s ecosystem basically shifting rapid sufficient, primarily when compared to our regional counterparts?

Four marketplace industry experts came to converse on the topic throughout a panel at Wild Digital Southeast Asia 2022 titled “Embracing Adaptation: Making a brighter startup ecosystem”.

With Aaron Sarma, common husband or wife at ScaleUp Malaysia, as a moderator, the specialists sharing their insights were being Karl Loo, founder and COO of ServisHero, Effon Khoo, founder and CEO of, and Ahmad Kashfi, senior vice president, ecosystem enhancement at Cradle Fund.

Determining Malaysia’s troubles

According to Karl of ServisHero, Malaysia is basically fairly an attractive room for worldwide traders. On leading of the chances for digitisation, Karl also explained that Malaysians have a fantastic standing for remaining in a position to construct organisations and scale them regionally.

Effon from also pointed out that startups are much better presently, in particular getting survived via the pandemic.

But if that is the situation, why is Malaysia’s ecosystem nevertheless driving?

Ahmad Kashfi (as Kash, as the moderator and panelists contact him) has an thought.

Cradle Fund is Malaysia’s early stage start out-up influencer, included under the Ministry of Finance Malaysia in 2003 / Impression Credit rating: Wild Digital  

In the Malaysia Startup Ecosystem Roadmap 2021-2030, penned by a crew of professionals in the startup scene, 5 most important challenges in the ecosystem have been recognized. This features:

  1. Absence of non-public sector-pushed funding
  2. Lack of local and foreign talent with the expected technological and electronic skills
  3. Absence of a crystal clear path from ideation to commercialisation for startups
  4. Absence of strong procedures and restrictions to offer a sustainable startup ecosystem
  5. Lack of validation and guidance deficiency of accessibility to cross-border industry penetration.

These are all challenges that MYStartup, an accelerator programme hosted by MOSTI and Cradle Fund, aims to tackle.

According to Kash, it’s significant for Malaysia to develop an “economic flywheel”, which will generate ample centrifugal drive to acquire momentum and propel Malaysia’s ecosystem.

Acquiring personal and community institutional help

If you are involved in our area startup scene, you are going to know that there is rather a large amount of governmental involvement and support.

Just to record some names, there’s MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technological know-how and Innovation), MDEC (Malaysia Electronic Economic system Company), and MRANTI (Malaysian Study Accelerator for Technologies & Innovation).  

Curiously, this amount of government intervention would seem to be rather distinctive to Malaysia, at least in accordance to panellists.

When all the governmental help is excellent, this qualified prospects to the issue asked by the moderator—are Malaysian startups overly dependent on govt intervention to get items done? Do also several of these programmes stop up making neighborhood founders complacent?

“Let’s consider a stage back and explain our function in the overall plan of things,” Kash reported. “We are just facilitators and we should really just continue being as facilitators, not as mentors or business specialists.”

He ongoing, “What we need to do is to concentration on what we do very best, which is make certain we arrive up with the very best policies for startups to prosper.”

As these kinds of, Kash noted the value of company (private sector) participation—something that he sees is starting to be a trend. Corporates are extra energetic when it will come to investing in startups, whether it be monetarily or normally.

This advantages each the startup and the corporate, as with fresh funds, the startup is given more option for expansion, which, in convert, can be channeled again to the corporate’s possess development.

Kash concluded, “Because [corporates] know if they never innovate, they’ll be disrupted.”

The title of the panel was “Embracing Adaptation: Setting up A Brighter Startup Ecosystem”

This is why the MYStartup initiative also features names like Petronas and Microsoft, amongst others to appear. According to Kash, a common thing the team hears from these corporate companions is that they want to function with startups, but they just never know how.

The cause that private sector participation is significant in the 1st position is that non-public sectors normally facilitate investments.  

To insert, these massive organizations can act as a harmless harbour and route to exit for startups.

In accordance to Karl, if far more exit situations exist in Malaysia thanks to the involvement of personal organisations, the area will bring in much more investments though motivating founders.

And of study course, this would be crucial for the retention of talent.

Growing a larger talent pool

Recently, the situation of “talent” has been elevated commonly in Malaysia. Or rather, it is the doable decline of claimed expertise that has been the subject of conversation.

To Karl, it is a genuine menace that Malaysia is losing its talents to other marketplaces.

“Now extra than ever, tech employees have a ton more selections,” he reported. “They can be digital nomads and distant employees in Bali, they could do the job in any of the Southeast Asian nations around the world because tech expertise is significant in desire.”

ServisHero is a system in which consumers can appear for residence and enterprise solutions

From his working experience, a great deal of workers users even inquire for relocation to an additional office—typically their Singaporean a single, which has been carrying out a very good job attracting worldwide expertise and global networks.

“Regional expertise wars are incredibly authentic correct now,” Karl explained. “A good deal of our neighbouring nations are finding very proactive about this, so it’s time for Malaysia to get quite intense.”

The solution for Effon is to build a larger talent pool with enhanced instructional benchmarks.

On top of this, the CEO also thinks that it’s time to shift further than just retention of expertise. He prompt that the method to get operating visas should really be far more streamlined, as he believes that the alternative lies in attaining foreign abilities fairly than retaining area kinds.

If this can be reached, it would undoubtedly let Malaysian startups obtain a bigger and superior talent pool.


There is no question that Malaysia’s startup ecosystem has a whole lot of prospective. The total Wild Electronic SEA conference is a testomony to that.

Nevertheless, prospective is not plenty of. There must be steps taken to fulfil those people potentials, which will demand the help from each governmental aid as very well as participation from the non-public sector.

Stakeholders have to also deal with incentives to entice world wide talent and the education and learning technique in Malaysia really should be fostering a far better, far more optimised talent pool.

As Aaron set it: “It normally takes a village to increase a child, it takes an ecosystem to raise a startup, and it will take all of us to work jointly to make it superior.”

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