The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) launched Founders Grindstone on Friday as its sixth funding initiative in the span of four months, following the facilitation of five alternative funding initiatives for companies seeking financial relief during the movement control order.

This latest initiative by MDEC’s Global Growth Acceleration division is geared towards elevating the proficiency of startup founders to successfully navigate the complexities of raising funds and fulfilling the gruelling demands of potential investors.

Founders Grindstone is a six-month programme, consisting three blocks of intensive workshops conducted by global partners from venture capital firms, equity crowdfunding operators, startup-centric media and the legal practice.

Apart from mentorship and advisory, Founders Grindstone also offers the opportunity to leverage funding platforms of the partners on-board, granting Malaysian entrepreneurs access to investment offerings by the global funding network.

This initiative is timely as Kuala Lumpur was ranked 11th emerging startup ecosystem in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020 released last week. Expressing her delight, Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC, attributed the positive rankings to the entrepreneurial vigour of local founders and reinforced MDEC’s commitment to be the prime driver of digital innovation among post-seed stage startups in Malaysia.

“Founders Grindstone will up the ante in our post-seed startup landscape. As we focus on scaling digitally-powered business, we are thrilled to draw on the collective experience of Draper Startup House and top-echelon partners to provide stewardship and tactical advice to our tech entrepreneurs. The exchange of such rich knowledge will thrust Malaysian tech entrepreneurs beyond current pastures, ready to earn global recognition,” said Surina.

Meanwhile, Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of MDEC’s Global Growth Acceleration Division, asserted that this initiative fills a critical knowledge gap in funding technicalities and will stimulate the flair for storytelling among Malaysian tech entrepreneurs, who often struggle in their quest to secure capital-injection, resulting in futile attempts when pitching to investors.

“Tech startups are undeniably the key drivers of digital transformation worldwide. Going digital is no longer a corporate mantra but part of our lifestyle today, from contactless transactions at work and leisure, to e-learning in schools, digital ID at dwellings, remote-working solutions, e-wallets and many more.  Jobs created by startups are also suited for our economic future, which is why MDEC is steadfast in supporting our entrepreneurs in their funding and growth endeavours,” added Gopi.

The first block of workshops will be conducted virtually by MDEC and Draper Startup House Ventures (DSH) on 15 July 2020, where participants will be guided on the creation of effective pitch decks and the art of persuasive storytelling. After the workshop, startups are eligible to submit their pitch decks on the DSH Ventures platform – 20 chosen startups will be invited to pitch in the coming weeks. The top 10 startups will be initiated to famed Draper Ventures Network, providing founders with access to 23 global funds.

“Our vision is to enable one million entrepreneurs worldwide and partnering with MDEC allows us to help Malaysian entrepreneurs with their storytelling abilities. If we can put any one Malaysian startup in front of the Draper funds or to the rest of our partners, it will be another step in elevating the Malaysian tech scene, locally and globally,” said Giulianna Crivello, Head of Ventures at Draper Startup House.

Running sequentially is another enrichment workshop on 29 July 2020 to address the legalities involved in the funding process. Conducted by Izwan & Partners, founders will be advised on the statutory requirements of fundraising, insights on venture capital financing and exposure to terms sheets, investment instruments, cap tables, valuation and other compliance matters.

“As a tech and startup-focused law firm, we regularly act for bootstrapped entrepreneurs and venture-backed companies with full understanding of their struggles in securing funds. We laud this initiative by MDEC that will not only prepare founders to be fundraising-savvy but also promote Malaysia as a preferred investment destination,” said Izwan Zakaria, managing partner of Izwan & Partners.

MDEC urges Malaysian-based startups of all growth stages to participate in Founders Grindstone. Registration is now open and additional information is available here.


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