“Technopreneurs”, who mix tech savvy with enterprise know-how, are necessary to Malaysia’s transformation right into a knowledge-based financial system.
Mohd Hezri Amir Abdul Latiff was 23 when he began his first firm in 2009, Hezmedia Interactive. Having graduated from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) that very same yr, the avid gamer determined to commercialise his last yr challenge, an academic recreation aimed toward educating arithmetic to schoolkids.
He was lucky at first – he secured funding from the Multimedia Improvement Corp (MDec) and located some success in promoting the sport. However his journey was not all the time clean. Stiff competitors, slowing gross sales and money move issues have been points he grappled with.
Then his success in creating instructional video games and apps for shoppers caught the eye of IT safety consulting and providers supplier Nexagate. In 2017, Nexagate absorbed Hezmedia and injected much-needed capital into the corporate in addition to experience.
Hezri is assured that the corporate, now referred to as Nexasoft, can increase its providers and options. “We’re now not just looking at games but other solutions related to the Internet of Things, virtual reality and Industry 4.0 solutions. We can do that thanks to the contacts and network of this partnership,” he says.
Enter The Technopreneur
A lot has been talked concerning the position of technopreneurs – entrepreneurs who mix their ardour for all issues tech with enterprise know-how in reworking Malaysia right into a knowledge-based financial system.
Authorities and government-related businesses have, on their half, created an surroundings that encourages start-ups. Organisations corresponding to MDec, Malaysian International Innovation and Creativity Centre (Magic), and Cradle Sdn Bhd supply funding alternatives, enterprise advisory providers and bodily infrastructure.
Artistic Minds founder Muhammad Shafiq Shahrul Amar, whose firm is a number one Stem (science, know-how, engineering, arithmetic) instructional supplier, sees the partnership with MDec within the firm’s early years as one of many turning factors.
Artistic Minds, which was began in 2012, was one of many pioneers in utilizing Lego within the educating of Stem topics.
“A few years after we were set up, MDec introduced the Digital Maker Initiative in line with the government’s education policy to encourage Stem, and made Creative Minds a partner,” he says.
Utilizing Lego because the medium of instruction, Artistic Minds mapped its curriculum towards the nation’s schooling blueprint, collaborating with the Schooling Ministry, MDec, in addition to different authorities businesses and worldwide faculties to supply quite a lot of Stem-based programmes and camps all through the nation.
These cowl quite a lot of themes from robotics to mechanics engineering and development.
Through the years, Artistic Minds has grown from power to power. In addition to schoolchildren, the corporate presents programs for academics and educators as a part of its aim to construct educating capabilities.
Partnerships with organisations like Teraju (an company within the Prime Minister’s division aimed toward boosting the participation of Bumiputeras within the financial system), Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Telekom Malaysia Bhd and non-governmental organisations on quite a lot of tasks noticed rural faculty youngsters uncovered to Stem, 3D printing and different disruptive applied sciences.
Artistic Minds additionally labored alongside the Selangor state authorities to implement its Stem Selangor initiative, which promoted hands-on, participatory approaches to show science, know-how, engineering and arithmetic.
Hothouse For Concepts
Aside from authorities and government-related businesses, Hezri and Shafiq credit score their alma mater for inculcating the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Shafiq, who has a Bachelor of Know-how from UTP, says that universities usually are a great place for college kids to study and hone entrepreneurial expertise, whether or not by way of organising occasions, fundraising or operating tasks.
In his case, topics like enterprise and accounting have helped him in operating his firm. “The assignments that we took on were also more relevant to industry, so as an entrepreneur I was able to apply what I learnt,” he says.
Hezri credit his remaining yr undertaking supervisor for serving to him commercialise his undertaking, MathQuest, which turned the idea of his start-up.
Whereas creativity and innovation have lengthy been one of many outputs of universities, more and more establishments of upper studying are in search of to marry this with entrepreneurship, serving to college students like Hezri get their innovations to market.
At UTP, for instance, college students are provided mentoring and training to assist them decide the worth proposition of their invention and designing their enterprise mannequin.
Zamri Abdullah, who heads UTP’s Technopreneurship Workplace, says the college assists college students financially by means of seed funds to start out micro companies on campus (MicroBiz Fund) and funding to improve their prototype for early market validation (TechnoSeed Fund).
One other key perform of the Technopreneurship Workplace is to offer the infrastructure for product and enterprise improvement.
“The Technopreneurship Garage, for example, features co-working space and workshop with rapid prototyping machinery (like 3D printers, fabrication tools, to name a few), computer labs, fabrication workshops, booths and business outlets,” he says.
Occasions such because the Science and Engineering Design Exhibition, Entrepreneurship Expo, networking occasions with UTP Alumni who’re entrepreneurs, in addition to start-up grasp courses and workshops are a number of the initiatives undertaken.
“The rationale is to change from the job-seeker to the job-creator mindset among students,” he says. The aim, he provides, is for 10% of UTP college students to pursue entrepreneurship and arrange their very own corporations by 2025.
Navigating Turbulence And Charting Progress
Though beginning one’s enterprise and rising an enterprise is engaging, it’s value remembering that such endeavours aren’t all the time clean crusing, particularly initially. However as these entrepreneurs level out, the journey is paved with invaluable classes.
“Introducing new things can be a challenge. In the beginning, not everyone was receptive to our ideas. Parents did not see the value of teaching children robotics, but it is through robotics that you develop problem-solving skills,” says Shafiq.
He provides that youngsters additionally decide up communication and presentation expertise, and study to work in groups.
Persistence and self-belief have been needed in these early years. At present, Shafiq is upbeat about Artistic Minds’ prospects given the potential of know-how schooling, and is presently exploring tasks overseas.
Hezri is equally optimistic about his enterprise, including that Nexasoft just lately accomplished a undertaking for Petronas R&D to create a plant monitoring app. “We are on a firmer footing today,” he admits.
The struggles of the early years taught him essential classes. “Cash flow, sales and revenue are critical to a business – it’s more than just about developing games,” he says.
Networking can also be necessary. This, he says, is a lesson from his mentor, Nexagate founder and managing director Khairil Effendy. “He stressed the importance of meeting people everyday, building rapport and networking,” says Hezri.
Regardless of the challenges, each technopreneurs haven’t any regrets concerning the paths they’ve chosen. “There is no right or wrong thing in entrepreneurship. You have to experiment and experience it yourself,” says Hezri.
His prime tip for budding entrepreneurs is to start out early. “If you have an idea, go for it. Give yourself seven to 10 years and build on your capabilities, whether it’s network or skills. If you’re fresh out of university and experiencing failure as an entrepreneur, take heart that you’re not even 30, so you have time on your side.”
A Nursery For New Innovations
Since its institution in 2016, UTP’s Technopreneurship Workplace (a unit beneath the Centre for Scholar Improvement) has incubated 36 start-ups and helped to efficiently commercialise 30 tasks. An extra six technopreneurs are at present being developed.
A number of the success tales embrace Solvie Professional, a platform that seeks to empower the agricultural business with the availability of momentary staff. The app permits industries on its platform to rent momentary staff to switch absentee staff.
Solviepro presently has four,750 registered customers with 450 lively transactions every day. The corporate is planning to launch a full cellular software for Android and iOS on the finish of 2018.
One other profitable incubation is Forge Manufacturing unit, which supplies 3D printing providers to college students inside UTP and round Bandar Seri Iskandar in Perak – specializing in college students within the fields of engineering, structure and design and modelling.
Forge Manufacturing unit emerged first runner-up within the Asean Younger Entrepreneurs Problem (AYEC2018), and was named the Prime 10 Greatest Scholar Entrepreneurs for KPT-Teraju Excellent Larger Schooling League 2017.
For extra info, go to utp.edu.my or e-mail [email protected]
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