“The best way to predict the future is to create it” according to Peter Drucker. This was just one of many motivational and inspiring quotes set up around the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) lounge area. SMBA members and other participants were greeted with large bean bags and open-concept workspaces as they gathered around the MaGIC collaborative workspace in Cyberjaya. Before the forum began, the speakers of the day were warmly welcomed by SMBA Board Member, Ms. Pauline Goh of Invest KL.
The CEO of MaGIC, Mr Ashran Dato’ Ghazi gave a brief welcoming speech, explaining what the company does and how they operate. He explained that they are a creativity and innovation centre for entrepreneurs helping them grow and sustain their businesses. The company’s main mission is to catalyse the entrepreneurial system in Malaysia by bringing together resources from partners and communities. They also aim to develop entrepreneurs with high growth start-ups that will make a positive impact at a regional or global scale. In short, they show entrepreneurs how to gain the most return, with the least amount of investment. MaGIC began two and a half years ago and has managed to reach more than 100,000 people, helping run 225 start-ups.
Specialising in entrepreneurship development and social enterprise, MaGIC is funded by the Ministry of Finance to help grow Malaysian start-ups. One of their main programs, MaGIC Central provides advice and information on entrepreneurship as well as a platform to connect entrepreneurs with government agencies. MaGIC Accelerator on the other hand, is known as the largest program in South East Asia to grow a community of regionally-focused start-ups. Mr Ashran mentioned that the program aids new ventures by advising owners on matters such as how to increase innovation, making sure their ideation process is up to mark and encouraging collaboration when it comes to expanding product or service line extensions. MaGIC ASEAN as the sub-stage of this program, serves as a catalyst for start-ups through creating a two-way relationship for entrepreneurs to push their businesses into different regions of the ASEAN community. This program targets to help accelerate 50 start-ups to be investment-ready in just 4 months.
One of the company’s boot camps, partnering with Uber and Digi, assisted entrepreneurs in refining their ideas through simulating a real-life pitching process. Mr Ashran also spoke about the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in sectors such as health and finance through building creativity and educating the “rakyat”, or Malaysian citizens. Before ending his presentation, Mr Ashran invited participants to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Community 2016 from December 8th-9th. The event pursues the theme of reimagining and designing the future of entrepreneurship by suggesting initiatives that can not only grow a business, but build the entire sector. This marketplace for ideas will feature key-note speakers such as futurist Mike Walsh, celebrity entrepreneur Bill Rancic and many others.
The floor was then passed on to Johnathan Lee, the Vice President of Entrepreneurship Development. Mr Lee spoke about how the programs offered at MaGIC were catered specifically to a variety of entrepreneurs, allowing them to increases their chances of success while reducing their risks. The Accelerator program was their most famous as it explored short workshops, coding courses and even blue ocean strategy. He also described the process that took place when entrepreneurs approached MaGIC. Similar to a “Shark Tank” concept, entrepreneurs would have their proposal go through a stress test and be assessed on how well they pitch to investors.
Through experience, the team found that people often jumped into business ideas without having proof of their theory. They then decided to offer a variety of training and networks for business growth funding, depending on the area of choice. MaGIC even features programs that give trainees the opportunity to be mentored and guided by investors during a period of four months. This gives entrepreneurs an insight to what investors are looking for in new ventures. MaGIC works with different national and global companies to customize their programs to the needs of entrepreneurs by bringing mentors and coaches to address certain areas.
The company’s Vice President for Social Entrepreneurship, Ehon Chan was invited next to speak about how MaGIC incorporates social development for entrepreneurs. Young and energetic, Mr Chan discussed how partnered agencies work together to solve social problems through new ventures. He also differentiated social inconvenience from social problems, citing Uber’s success in making taxis easier to find, but lack of success in making transport more accessible, as an example.
MaGIC wants to support entrepreneurs with their global expansion by raising awareness on the importance of social enterprise and shifting the mind-set of those in public and private sectors. As an example, Mr Chan explained that many people were purchasing cotton t-shirts, but cotton farmers in India were upset because they were underpaid and living in poor conditions. “Business was not just about gaining profits, but considering and appreciating the human value,” said Mr Chan on an ending note.
Before taking the company tour, Ms Pauline concluded the presentations by gifting Mr Ashran with a token of appreciation on behalf of SMBA.
Tour around MAGIC
The participants were shown around MaGIC by the Community and Events Coordinator, Mr Ahmad Rafique. The tour began with a visit to the company’s community workspace on the ground floor which served as a place for entrepreneurs to rest, generate ideas, and build on their products. One of their special features called the “hot desk” allowed freelancers, website developers, and digital marketers to rent the space for three months with a fee of RM 150. According to Mr Rafique, the space is a community-driven hangout place where entrepreneurs are welcome to gather to create, share and discuss their ideas. He also showed the attendees the company’s information board that provided a description about the current 40 start-ups that were being worked on.
Upstairs, participants were greeted with a large classroom carpeted with soft, indoor grass fit to accommodate trainees from the Accelerator and ASEAN programs. The back of the room also featured a start-up map-board which enabled the entrepreneurs to set their own milestones, track their progress and achieve their goals. Participants then proceeded to the right wing of the first floor where the academic wing is located. Mr Rafique mentioned that all the stages of their classes and courses took place in the classrooms to serve as a place for everyone to learn. MaGIC even offered courses to adults above 50 and young children to develop their creativity and innovation skills.
The tour ended around half an hour later, and light refreshments including tuna sandwiches, butter cupcakes and hot pastries were served. The attendees grouped around the collaborative workspace area to network with one another and pursue interesting conversations.