The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre MaGIC has launched the ASEAN Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) this Saturday in conjunction with the 1AES Summit in Malaysia, an executive with the firm said.
MaGIC chief executive Cheryl Yeoh said, the initiative will start with Malaysia first, and is aimed at assisting startups who need shared services such as company secretary, banking and legal services, visa approvals, co-working spaces and more.
“This will make it easier for startups to set their businesses up,” she said, in her opening address at the MaGIC Accelerator Programme ASEAN Track Demo Day on Monday.
Speaking to DEALSTREETASIA on the sidelines of the event, Yeoh said, MaGIC plans to expand ACE into the other ASEAN countries in 2016, to extend the platform to startups from those countries looking to scale regionally.
“This year we are launching for companies to set up in Malaysia,” she said. MaGIC has engaged partners forming the legal team, company secretary team, and so on to assist companies in a speedy process of setting up shop in Malaysia.
“We negotiated so that they offer startup rates, and we try to fast track the process for entrepreneurs to set up. Sometimes it can take six months for foreigners to open a bank account, while Malaysians need an average two months. So we are trying to fast-track that to a few weeks,” Yeoh said.
Next year, MaGIC’s target is to bring the ACE to other ASEAN markets like Thailand, Indonesia, the Phillippines, Vietnam and Singapore, Yeoh said.
Next tier markets like Myanmar and Laos will come later. “So if a startup or entrepreneur wants to set up in Thailand, how do they go about it? We’ve engaged partners in those countries to set this up who can facilitate collaboration and connect the startups to the right agencies or people in their respective countries,” she said.
On the whole, Yeoh noted that Malaysia has made a noteworthy mark in the regional entrepreneur scene. Her team had relayed positive news about people at regional startup conferences acknowledging Malaysia and MaGIC.
Yeoh shared that her ambitions has always been to create a regional impact. “When I moved back from the US, people were asking me why come back to Malaysia? But we have larger plans than just Malaysia, it’s about the whole ASEAN region. That has always been my vision,” she said.
MaGIC’s role to put Malaysia on the entrepreneurship map, to showcase the good initiatives under one umbrella. “The important thing is to have the right intent, and people will gradually gel together for the same reason,” she said.
On investor perception of the Malaysian market, she said investors always knew about Malaysian startups but hadn’t known where to find them. “It was a bit tougher for them, because there were so many agencies and they don’t know who to go to. At least with (MaGIC as a) regional umbrella, and we have also done some work traveling to many countries, they know who we are, having met them personally.
“Trust is important, and they know we are providing this platform for deal flows for them. It’s not just Malaysian companies, it’s ASEAN companies,” she said. She added that with MaGIC’s campus based near the airport, many investors and other ecosystem counterparts make a stop at the agency. Yeoh said, MaGIC has hosted investors and agencies from Kazakhstan, North Korea, Czech Republic and Hungary, among others.