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Startups should be selective with investors

Publish date: Fri, 24 May 2024, 09:18 PM

KUALA LUMPUR (MAY 24): While Malaysia boasts a thriving startup ecosystem with over 3,000 local startups, securing funding remains a significant challenge. Entrepreneurs seeking capital may find success by exploring alternative avenues apart from traditional venture capital (VC) investments, said Ramachandran Muniandy, founder of Asia Mobiliti.

Ramachandran, whose mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) solution company is now in its Series A funding round, said that deciding not to go after traditional VCs allowed for a discovery of untapped and unconventional investors. The company is aiming to raise its valuation to US$10 million (RM47.03 million). 

“Now we are in our [series] A round because we started looking at unconventional investors. In doing so, we discovered this whole untapped area of non-VC investors that were ready to deploy [and fund] us. We’re talking about family offices, high net-worth individuals and even private equity firms now are beginning to deploy earlier. We also find public-listed companies that are quite strategic with us,” he said during the panel session entitled Funding Woes In The Back Mirror? Startup Funding in 2024 at the Disrupt Invest Summit 2024 on Thursday.

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He added that startups should be more agile and strategic when pitching for funding while being critical with who they get their funding from. 

“I think it's a point now in the Malaysian start-up journey, that we should start asking ourselves the question, to be very critical and very choosy with investors. Don’t just take any money from whoever. Because that has led to a lot of problems previously,” said Ramachandran. 

“[For instance], a startup that does one thing now simply because an investor who is looking at signals from the US, forces this poor Malaysian startup to copy a company in the US and eventually kills off the Malaysian startup.”

To address this challenge, he suggested that Malaysia needs to change the investor landscape and personalise investor outreach by identifying unique value propositions for startups and match it with VCs that have similar ambitions. 

“In Malaysia, startups are listening to a playbook that does not work anymore. We need to rewrite the playbook [to better support startups].” he said.

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