On 27 July 2018, the Liberal Latte cafe in Kuala Lumpur played host to MaGIC’s signature Grill or Chill Event (GoC). The quaint cafe was teeming with women from diverse backgrounds, all convened together for their shared passion of entrepreneurship. If you missed out, then imagine a hundred women cramped up together in a cafe, sipping on coffee (well of course we had coffee on free flow mode), discussing ideas and exploring how each of them can lend a hand to help a sister out in making their individual entrepreneurship journeys a much less painful one.
I know some of you are probably thinking…. Wait a minute.. Small space + Hundred women + Unlimited coffee + Lots of talking? *YIKES!* In all honesty, it was one of the most engaging sessions we have ever had! MaGIC’s GoC this time was held in partnership with Girls in Tech and themed #women. This was not only MaGIC’s first time organising a women only GoC, it was also our very first time hosting it outside of our MaGIC Campus!
GoC is a monthly pitching platform for startups to showcase their products and services to get valuable feedback from industry experts within the entrepreneurship ecosystem to further validate and refine their solution, in a five (5) minutes pitch session with an additional five (5) minutes for questions and answers. So really no pressure huh?
Six (6) startups ranging from those at an ideation stage, prototyping and growth conjured up the courage to pitch at GoC #women. The lineup saw women embarking on creative and innovative solutions from a social startup providing formalisation of domestic worker employment to a call system solution hoping to solve call centres woes.
……… because we were all about women, the grillers had to be women too. The ‘grillers’ or mentors were Chief Executive Office of Proficeo, Renuka Sena; co-founder and director of Ata Plus, Elain Lockman and founder and president of Johor Empowerment of Intellectual Women Association (JEIWA), Fadilah Nizar. You would think that because it was an all women on women thing that the grillers would have gone easy on those pitching, but no. Some of us chilling at the back were actually trembling on behalf of our fellow friends being grilled. Boy (no pun intended), did they show no mercy.
I sat down with Nadia Latiff, Managing Director of Blackbox Solutions Sdn. Bhd and Lim Yee Teng, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Content Producer at Camdy to pick their brains a little about their solutions.
Reshmi: “Tell us about your solution and when your reached that ‘aha’ moment and knew this was something that would actually benefit people.”
Nadia Latiff: “The idea of a call centre solution came to me when I was working with my father to create a solution for ICT businesses. We had this idea of basically creating a call centre solution that would complement the existing solutions already in place. We now have a team of seven (7) people. We know we have a really great product, although it may need some fine tuning we are pretty confident in our current offering. We have thus far identified only one competitor in Malaysia. What sets us apart is that our system uses multiple Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions using only one application. We also provide our clients the option to actually customise the solution to the tee of our clients business nature and needs. Our solution is currently being used by the Integrated Transport Information System (ITIS) under Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), PERODUA, The Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) and many more.“
Lim Yee Teng: “Our aim at Camdy is to be the top, undisputed gift marketplace within the region. We want to revolutionise the art of gifting by providing consumers with an array of personalised unique gifts. I was previously a cinematographer, freelancing in Hong Kong and Taiwan and then was running food startup called Homemademarket as the co-founder. In 2017, I was invited to join the Camdy team but I felt that I was just not ready and it was not exactly the best time for me to be juggling two (2) startups at once. After much persuasion, in March 2018, I finally caved in. I sold my shares in Homemademarket and joined Camdy! Camdy was actually started when my colleagues, founders of Camdy, Edward Chee Ching Shin (CEO) Ahmed Zafar (CTO) realised the difficulty in sourcing unique gifts for their friends and family. They did a bit of searching around and found that there were actually really interesting products being sold by artisans who did not have the know-how of actually advertising their business online. They saw they gap and decided to do something about it. They created a platform for ease of convenience and accessibility for all to buy and sell these personalised gifts online. The team has grown from two (2) to seven (7) in such a short time. Since our inception, I would say that we have definitely grown leaps and bounds. We realised we needed to do a whole lot more validation. We have managed to raise about RM 2 million from angel investors and have achieved an average 40% monthly merchant (i.e creative businesses) growth rate. We have also seen a climb in our monthly unique visitor traffic with revenue increasing over the months. We are proud to be providing our services to some of our corporate clients such as Shopee, PWC, Guardian, Nirvana, Dell, Michelin and others.”
Reshmi: Would you like to share your experience being grilled? How did it feels standing up there in front of all these women?
Lim Yee Teng: “It was a valuable ‘grill’! *giggles*. We had to face some really tough but real questions about our company’s valuation and strategy. It was a reflective session that led our team to rethink about our plans and strategies again. Also, the encouragement from the crowd, was simply overwhelming and has definitely wanted us to continue pushing further to improve. I think GoC benefits those pitching as well as those chilling simply because the attendees themselves get to learn what to do and what not to do when they pitch the next time. They get to learn from our mistakes and for us being grilled, it gives us more resilience. Pitching is part and parcel of an entrepreneurs journey so providing us with a platform like this not only helps us boost our confidence but also helps us fine tune our pitch deck for when we are really going in for the prize. I think it is important to be bold and take the extra step to put ourselves out there in the market and face the questions that are thrown at us. Only then we would know what to improve on and how to improve.”
Nadia Latiff: “My experience during the GoC was really overwhelming and it has definitely made me more confident in pitching my solution. I do not usually do this so this was a first for me, challenging myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. I was so focused on my pitch that I forgot to pay attention to my deck. I received ample invaluable feedback from the grillers. For instance, the jargons, tonality and terms in my deck was suited for someone who understood the technical aspects of things and basically forgot to think about the non-technical people that I am pitching my solution to who would have probably no idea of what I was even saying. I am glad that I was provided with this opportunity because it was a great chance for me to also understand the ‘lingo’ I would need to adopt when selling my solution to companies who are not exactly venturing in the technical field. So, if you are a fresh entrepreneur, just finding your balance in the entrepreneurship scene, try GoC out. Trust me. You would rather get feedback earlier on rather than later when you have completely built your solution only then find out that there is no market for the product. “
Reshmi: “You two are young ladies, playing vital roles in your startup. Do you have any words of advice for all the other womenpreneurs out there who are just kickstaring their entrepreneurial journey?”
Nadia Latiff: “Well, something that I can share which was something that I have learnt the hard way is that whenever you see an opportunity, DO NOT just sit and dream about it and watch it go by without grabbing it. As women, we have doubts but we need to stand up and just do it. The startup world is merciless so you will need to grab every opportunity you can. The most important thing I feel is also to always have patience. If you are someone who wants results fast and want to be closing deals the next day, this life is not for you. You will stumble upon many roadblocks. You will have your ‘ups’ as well as the ‘downs’. Whatever you do, do not give up! Opportunities come to whoever who wants to make it happen. Also eliminate the word ‘shy’ from your vocabulary. You will need to have thick skin to be successful as an entrepreneur.”
Lim Yee Teng: “Be bold enough to take risks, be critical about analytics and be sincere about what you are doing. Go lean and do not overspend in the early stage. Focus more on the cash flow and do not let the expenses overweigh the sales. Only start to expand the team when your cash flow is positive.”
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