Some months ago, Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged for the nation to regain our status as an Asian Tiger by grooming the nation to become Southeast Asia’s Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) hub. This calls for us to future-proof ourselves and embrace the digital transformation as well as be innovative, creative and mindful of social impact- our surfboards really- in order for us to ride whatever new unprecedented technological advancements that the IR 4.0 waves bring.
Malaysia is adapting its behaviour to take advantage of new opportunities available brought by technological advancements. The question is: “Are we moving quickly enough to adapt ourselves?”
Though the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ may not be true all the time, in an instance such as this, it may not be that it is untrue, but rather too time-consuming to take on as situations like this calls for expeditious action.
And it is a no-brainer as to why the government is placing a heavy emphasis on entrepreneurship. We need that aggressiveness and that steadfastness that comes naturally with the entrepreneurial culture in order to ensure the establishment of a truly entrepreneurial Malaysia.
For this reason, some of our biggest efforts at MaGIC are channelled at tapping and leveraging on our low hanging fruits: The generation Z. They are already entering the workforce today and are our future hope in driving the rapid development of more innovative and sustainable ways of delivering products and services.
At MaGIC, we understand that in order for us to become a truly entrepreneurial Malaysia, we need to start at the roots and that includes the youth in schools and Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). In Bahasa Melayu, we say ‘Melentur Buluh Biarlah Dari Rebungnya’. This is why the youth are one of our primary focus.
MaGIC recently organised a 4-day University Startup Challenge (USC) 2019, a competition to identify young creative and innovative talent through an intense syllabus that helps them refine, build and showcase their ideas turned prototypes. The MaGIC USC held from 27 to 30 September 2019 at the MaGIC Campus in Cyberjaya, Selangor in partnership with pitchIN, Wadhwani Foundation and Website Artisan was organised with a three-pronged objective:
A total of 122 teams from 39 universities submitted their ideas during the application round. After careful deliberation, 26 teams from 21 universities were shortlisted to participate in the challenge.
Mohd Hanafi Shahrain, USC Programme Lead shared, “USC has a comprehensive and guided syllabus uniquely designed for students of higher learning to refine their existing solutions in just 4 days. The coupling of creativity and innovation in the modules with the injection of mentoring provides these aspiring entrepreneurs the springboard momentum required to transform their business ideas into investment-ready and commercially-viable solutions. Not only will we be able to test the level of creativity and innovation amongst students, we will also be able to gauge how the generation Z are adopting the problem-solving mindset and how we can work towards helping them in becoming more resilient in the IR 4.0.”
Day 1 of the competition kicked-started with a mingling session as well as pitching by the participating teams for all to understand a little about the level of competition they were up against as well as to pick the minds of other participants who were in the same field as theirs. The syllabus peaked on Day 2 where participants received a thorough immersion on ideation, validation and go-to-market strategies. The level of intensity continued on to Day 3 which included exposure of the participants to prototyping, financial management and a preliminary demo day to get a sneak peek of what was in store for them on Day 4- demo day where 5 teams had the opportunity to present in front of guest of honour, YB Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof, Minister of Entrepreneur Development, Malaysia.
Judges for demo day included Renuka Sena of Proficeo, Elaine Lockman of Ata Plus, Professor Rajesh Nair of Asia School of Business and Dr Melissa Foo of Malaysian Angel Business Network (MBAN).
Numerous ideas from various industries were worked on during the challenge. From Rubber tapping robots to 3D printed customisable limbs to Automated External Defibrillators (AED) Drone Emergency Delivery, our Malaysian youth certainly proved that they are extremely capable when given the right information, direction, tools, equipment, guidance and most importantly the freedom to unleash their creative and innovative capabilities.
The 5 teams that made it through to demo day include BoardBack Enterprise, Inosightech, Ibupreneur, Fkicket service and Bayam Sanarent.
We had the pleasure of speaking to the champions of the challenge, Boardboack Enterprise. The team which comprised of Muna Irsalina Mohd Jamil, Mutiara Azman, Teh Wing Chun, Nur Syahirah Naharuddin and Nurafiqah Nadhirah Mohd Fadli bagged a winning cash prize of RM15,000 and other accolades.
According to Nurafiqah Nadhirah Mohd Fadli, the idea came about during a class project. “We formed our team through a mandatory course subject offered under the Faculty of Management (FOM) that all 5 of us were taking while pursuing our bachelor’s degree in Multimedia University in Cyberjaya.”
Muna Irsalina shared, “BoardBack Enterprise is a startup company with an aim to boost student learning through educational games especially at the primary school level. The educational games which allows you the freedom to customise the storyline of the games are designed to educate students on what is beyond the classroom walls in a fun yet educational manner. The incorporation of these games with the student’s day-to-day activities during or after school enables them to improve their communication, social and interactive skills, as well as build knowledge on various subject matters as per the customisation of the game.”
The BoardBack team have deployed several units of their prototypes to primary school teachers and are being well received by them. However, after undergoing USC, the team has also considered casting their net a little wider by diversifying their target market. They are currently working to partner with companies with play areas such as indoor playgrounds in car service centres for them to customise board games with their company’s branding, aside from kindergartens and day-care centres.
“Through USC, we really got to pick the minds of seasoned entrepreneurs which helped us tremendously. It was somewhat of an eye-opener for us because we were so fixated on what we wanted to build but never took the time to actually validate and market test if what we were building was actually what the market wanted. The exposure that USC has given us has definitely changed our outlook on how we view our product. USC has also enabled us to connect with so many potential partners through networking especially after demonstrating our product during demo day”, said Nurafiqah.
“These made-to-order boards will be sold at a kid-friendly price of RM 50.00 to RM 80.00 depending on the customisation requirements. We aspire to sell approximately 100 boards a month. This may seem a little low to some but seeing as we are a pretty lean team and we do not exactly have the capital to mass-produce at the moment, this move is actually feasible. We would rather under-commit and over-deliver instead of over-commit and under-deliver. The majority of the team members are still undergoing our internships or are awaiting graduation and we only spend our nights working on BoardBack, so we want to set goals that are achievable and realistic. If there is real demand, we will then set higher goals”, said Mutiara Azman.
The BoardBack team earlier this month took home a silver award after pitching their idea to investors during the Research Innovation Commercialisation & Entrepreneurship Showcase (RICES). They also participated in the Pertandingan Usahawan Inovasi Piala Menteri Pendidikan Malaysia 2019 and are working towards national expansion soon through partnership opportunities.
For more information on BoardBack and to get in touch with them, visit their FaceBook page here.
Keen to participate in the next USC? Stay tuned to the MaGIC website for more information about our next intake!
Written by Reshmi Haran