Ficus SEA fund invests US9,000 in Klean to boost sustainable recycling across Asean

  • Funds will be used to develop system of machines, enhance local operations
  • Klean now operates 100 RVM devices across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, &amp, Fiji

Ficus SEA fund invests US$429,000 in Klean to boost sustainable recycling across Asean

Ficus Capital ( Ficus ), the world’s first Islamic Environment, Social, and Governance ( ESG-i) venture capital firm, announced that it will invest US$ 429, 000 ( RM2 million ) in Klean, a green technology sustainable recycling business owned by Janz Technologies Sdn Bhd.

In a statement, the company said this investment, made through Ficus’s flagship Ficus SEA Fund, will support the Malaysia-founded company’s initiatives in container recovery, expanding its network of reverse vending machines ( RVMs) and enhancing its regional operations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Fiji.

Klean encourages people to recycle empty plastic containers through the use of a sophisticated digital container deposit system based on artificial intelligence ( AI)-based reverse vending technology. The company encourages active involvement in recycling efforts by satisfying customers with points that can be exchanged for rewards. Moreover, its RVMs hold the World Green Tag Certification, ensuring the highest specifications of environmental sustainability and performance. &nbsp,Ficus SEA fund invests US$429,000 in Klean to boost sustainable recycling across Asean

Our investment in Klean represents our continued commitment to supporting businesses that operate in accordance with ESG-i principles, according to Ficus Capital managing partner Abdullah Hidayat Mohamad ( pic ). As global awareness of social and environmental issues grows, so does the need for responsible investment options that conform to moral and religious principles.

The ESG-i field “presents the intersection of these trends, giving investors the opportunity to make morally responsible and effective investments while upholding Muslim financing principles,” he continued.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global green technology and sustainability market is projected to grow from US$ 19.83 billion ( RM92.5 billion ) in 2024 to US$ 83.59 billion ( RM390 billion ) by 2032, at a compounded annual growth rate ( CAGR ) of 19.7 percent. Major growth is anticipated, particularly in developing markets and emerging markets.

Nick Boden ( pic above ), co-founder &amp, CEO of Klean, said,” Ficus’s investment in Klean is a vote of confidence in the company’s future. This extra funding might become a significant contributor to our expansion. Our goal and Ficus ‘ commitment to sustainable and ethical investment are perfectly aligned, enabling us to increase our network of RVMs and strengthen our regional operational presence.

He added that Klean chose Ficus to serve as the agency’s head institutional buyer because of their closeness to the company’s objectives. ” First, they specialise in Shariah-compliant ESG investing, which resonates with our principles. Our designed growth into ASEAN areas is properly complemented by their strong appearance in Southeast Asia. This provides a significant level of trustworthiness and potential for future support because the fund is supported by Mavcap and the Malay government,” said Boden.

Green recycling technology has the potential to revolutionise different industries, including clean energy, sustainable transport, waste control, and power performance, thereby fostering a cleaner, greener future for all.

Equipped with cutting-edge AI systems, Klean’s Smart RVMs include a device learning-enabled hose worthy of recognising models of stored containers. This makes intended advertising available and allows the shop to recover their container’s data. Moreover, the machines quickly identify the type of materials and sort it into individual boxes, optimising recycling operations. Now, there are 100 RVM products across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Fiji.

Our cutting-edge systems, according to Boden, “enables us to live in a cleaner, greener future by facilitating the disposal process as well as providing useful data and insights.” We are looking forward to having a significant impact on the environment and the communities we serve with this relationship and are excited about the opportunities it may offer.

Complementing these RVMs is the Klean the World mobile software, which allows extractors to scan QR code, obtain Klean items, and unlock benefits. The app uses core user data to create targeted, precise marketing campaigns. Additionally, Klean’s data and reporting capabilities allow businesses to track RVM data and ESG reporting in real-time using the Klean dashboard, providing businesses with detailed information for CSR reporting and data monetisation channels.

Ficus SEA Fund was launched in November 2021 with a focus on accelerating the growth of high-potential technology startups across ASEAN in sectors such as logistics, fintech, healthtech, e-commerce, edutech, greentech, big data analysis, and cloud services. The fund aims to support innovative businesses that have a positive effect on society and the environment. It focuses on three primary concepts: Shariah principles, sustainable growth, and ESG.

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Carsome secures US.39mil financing facility from AmBank

  • Statements this to be its largest bank-backed service
  • Center at this size a significant endorsement of Carsome’s business model

Christopher Yap (left), MD, Business Banking, AmBank Group and Eric Cheng, CEO of Carsome Group watch as Patrick Chin (left), Head of Commercial Banking, AmBank Group and Nicholas Wong, MD, Carsome Capital Malaysia sign the RM100 million financing facility.

Carsome Group has secured US$ 21.39 million ( RM100 million ) in financing facility from AmBank Group to expand its liquidity, bolster its capacity for growth significantly and enhance its capacity to innovate.

The company, Southeast Asia’s largest included vehicles e-commerce system which just crossed 500, 000 cars sold since its 2015 founding, claims this to be its largest bank-backed service.

Christopher Yap, Managing Director, Business Banking, AmBank Group said,” With AmBank’s help, Carsome said it will be able to further expand different levels of the used car buying process, offering a comprehensive, hassle-free practice to its clients. The company’s commitment to supporting Carsome underlines its commitment to encouraging the development of forward-thinking companies and fostering the development of the regional automotive industry.

Eric Cheng, Carsome Group’s Co-Founder and CEO said,” We are thrilled to mate with AmBank, marking a key time in our quest to improve the electrical business. A leasing facility of this size strengthens Carsome Group’s total financial viability and provides strong validation of the company’s business model. It also demonstrates our commitment to elevating the experience of owning a car and offering attainable solutions to our customers. We will use this partnership, CARSOME Capital, to further increase our service offerings, expand our effect, and keep up our innovation in the automotive ecosystem across Southeast Asia.

While it started off as a used car trading system, Carsome has grown into an end-to-end used vehicle habitat across Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia with over 80 Carsome centres across over 50 cities offering a comprehensive set of services including vehicle inspections, sales, funding, and after-sales help. There has been constant rumors about its pending listing, which is not expected to occur until 2025.

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Syed Ahmad Fuqaha believes there’s blue in the red ocean, and, in letting startups fail while it’s cheap

  • 10th month as&nbsp, businessman with Katsana, an business mobility solutions provider
  • Shutting down a significant item taught difficult lessons about adapting to business challenges.

Syed Ahmad Fuqaha, founder/CEO of Katsana, from row, right, with his team.

” To cultivate fresh companies, you have to let them fail. Let them flunk when they are still on the cheap, soars Syed Ahmad Fuqaha, the founder and CEO of Katsana, who founded it in April 2014. Reflecting on a decade of entrepreneurship, he does n’t mince words about the company ecology:” Currently, there’s almost no street to fail. It’s the epitome of entrepreneurs. Innovation is about failing, failing strong and profitably. If someone wanted to know what the government should be doing, I’d suggest they may provide more chances of failing.

As his business celebrates its 10th anniversary, Fuqaha activists for a dramatic change in how we nurture fresh companies. His message is clear: make more options for startups to neglect quick and inexpensively. It’s a theory that flies in the face of some government initiatives, which Fuqaha, who was a boss with business JomSocial which was sold in 2013 to a Silicon Valley company, &nbsp, sees as extremely safe. In his watch, real innovation thrives on the freedom to take risks, slip, and study from those mistakes. &nbsp,

This counterintuitive approach to developing technology has shaped Fuqaha and Katsana’s voyage from a budding company to a focused business provider offering integrated fleet solutions&nbsp, with&nbsp, over 3, 600 customers, while offering useful lessons for entrepreneurs. Along the way he has raised US$ 1.39 million ( RM6.5 million ) in funding from Axiata’s Digital Innovation Fund ( ADIF ) managed by Intres Capital in 2016&nbsp, and US$ 535, 200 ( RM2.5&nbsp, million ) in&nbsp, venture debt from Malaysian Debt Ventures ( MDV ) in 2022. &nbsp,

Lesson 1: Understand when to cut your loses

Syed Ahmad Fuqaha believes there’s blue in the red ocean, and, in letting startups fail while it’s cheapFuqaha’s words are n’t just rhetoric – they’re born from experience. The rise and fall of DriveMark, one of the bank’s first advances, was perhaps best illustrated by the company’s own trip, which is punctuated by calculated dangers and proper pivots.

A smartphone-based scoring system called DriveMark was created to bridge the gap between driver behavior and insurance premiums. It was intended to promote safer driving. At its peak, it boasted an impressive 80, 000 to 90, 000 users. ” We came up with a solution that is very much scalable, using smartphones”, Fuqaha explains, highlighting the system’s accessibility and initial promise.

However, DriveMark soon encountered challenges unique to the Malaysian market. Malaysian insurance premiums are comparatively low compared to those in the US or the UK, where young or first-time drivers can be exorbitantly expensive. ” In Malaysia, on average, if I’m not mistaken, takaful is around US$ 150 ( RM700 ). For general insurance, the premium is around US$ 192.7 ( RM900 ) on average”.

This pricing structure presented a fundamental challenge to the business model of DriveMark. The majority of users fell into a less exciting category, whereas the top performers with the highest DriveMark scores could receive significant rebates of up to RM160, which were entirely funded by DriveMark. ” For a majority of users, the RM15-RM20 in rebate is just too small to be meaningful”, Fuqaha explains, highlighting the bell curve distribution of benefits.

]RM1 = US$ 0.214]

Ultimately, DriveMark’s business model proved unsustainable. Relying on insurance renewal commissions that averaged only RM70 to RM80 per user, the economics did n’t work out. Two years into the pandemic, Katsana had to make the difficult but necessary decision to stop using DriveMark despite some respectable income. ” We just decided to kill it”, Fuqaha states, acknowledging the need to adapt to market realities

The decision was n’t made hastily. In fact, Katsana spent a year exploring ways to pivot and salvage the technology. After a year of refuting the idea and attempting to convert it to a method for businesses to measure Scope 3 carbon emissions, particularly those involving mobility emissions, we shut DriveMark down in 2022, Fuqaha said. &nbsp,

User privacy and data protection were key components of the process. ” The shut down meant erasure of user data, as we did not want to abuse the consent they gave to DriveMark”, Fuqaha explains. &nbsp,

This decision to shutter DriveMark, while difficult, exemplifies Fuqaha’s philosophy of adapting. As a provider of solutions, Katsana was able to refocus its resources on more promising areas of its business, which ultimately led to a more sustainable enterprise market. &nbsp,

The driveMark experience served as a valuable lesson in Katsana’s decade-long journey, emphasizing the importance of adapting to market conditions and being willing to let go of initiatives that do n’t align with the company’s core strengths or financial viability.

Katsana's latest win was with Universiti Teknikal Malausia Melaka (UTEM) in a partnership with AVIS to equip 10 shuttle buses with a suite of solutions in the KATSANA Fleet Management ecosystem.

Lesson 2: The pandemic pivot: Finding the silver lining

As with businesses worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic forced Katsana to reevaluate its operations. However, Fuqaha views this disruption as a” silver lining” that allowed the company to sharpen its focus.

Prior to the pandemic, Katsana was active in various telematics-related auto sector. The business also provided fleet management solutions for business clients like bus and taxi drivers, as well as GPS tracking solutions for private vehicles and the RunMark smartphone-based driver scoring system. They were also looking into potential opportunities in the insurance industry, and they were putting their knowledge and technology to use to create usage-based insurance products.

” We had a silver lining from the pandemic,” said the spokesperson. We made the decision to concentrate on the three areas that “made sense for us financially” and to stop providing tracking for private vehicles, Fuqaha said.

While there was money to be made in the private vehicle market, the economics simply did n’t work for Katsana’s high-touch operational model. ” For private vehicles, we have so many competitors out there. Fuqaha explains that there are numerous GPS trackers that can be purchased on Shopee for about RM70.

Katsana would primarily concentrate on its enterprise solutions, particularly fleet management for businesses, as a result of the strategic refocus. This allowed the company to leverage its strengths in developing sophisticated, tailored solutions that go beyond the capabilities of off-the-shelf products.

” What we are doing for enterprises, it makes a lot of sense and it is the best use of our capability”, Fuqaha explains. This change required removing the consumer market and concentrating on larger clients with more complex needs.

By streamlining its offerings, Katsana was able to focus its resources on developing more advanced fleet management solutions, including features for monitoring driver behavior ( building on its DriveMark experience ), vehicle performance, and operational efficiency.

This refocusing made it possible for Katsana to stand out in a noisy market. While many competitors offer white-label solutions from countries like China, Katsana’s intensified focus enabled it to develop unique, high-value offerings for enterprise clients. ” What we do is quite unique”, Fuqaha asserts, highlighting the company’s established expertise in providing sophisticated fleet management tools for larger operations.

Katsana went from being a company spread across multiple market segments to a more focused operation as a result of the pandemic-induced strategic realignment. This change enabled the business to escape the abyss of the pandemic and allowed for more sustainable expansion in the post-pandemic economy.

A Katsana exec installing fleet monitoring equipment on a truck.

Lesson 3: Strategic focus trumps rapid expansion

Fuqaha’s journey has included expanding regional, leading to ongoing projects in Indonesia and Brunei. This expansion predated the pandemic. However, he remains cautious about further expansion. ” It is an interesting proposition, but right now, if you want to have a broader presence over there, it is going to stretch us thin”.

This measured approach to growth demonstrates a maturation that comes from experience. Fuqaha has learned to play to its strengths and keep a laser focus on its core competencies as it continues to serve its existing regional clients as it pursues each opportunity rather than chasing every one.

When the pandemic struck, which presented significant challenges to businesses around the world, this strategic focus proved crucial. Katsana, however, managed to navigate the turbulent times without reducing its workforce, which currently stands at around 45 employees. The company’s resilience stemmed from a combination of its focused strategy and pragmatic decision-making.

” During the pandemic, we made a conscious decision not to hire anymore”, Fuqaha reveals, highlighting the importance of adaptability in times of crisis. He chose a more measured strategy as opposed to fighting against unchecked market forces. He also strategically used government funding, utilizing Malaysian Debt Ventures ‘ Covid Relief Fund for Startup program to boost finances.

Fuqaha was able to weather the storm effectively by maintaining its focus on its core competencies while utilizing government support mechanisms. &nbsp,

Looking to the future: A focused SaaS vision

Katsana enters its second decade with a more in-depth analysis and clearer vision than ever. ” Before the pandemic, we had a lot of things on our plate”, Fuqaha reflects. ” We are now more focused,” she said. No doubt, right before the pandemic, we were on the verge of profitability, even last year we were”.

This transition from a multi-faceted startup to a specialized enterprise solutions provider encapsulates many of the difficulties faced by tech companies in emerging markets. When focus and specialization are what is truly needed, Fuqaha’s story is one of learning to ignore the siren song of diversification.

Looking ahead, Fuqaha has set his sights on transforming Katsana into a Software as a Service ( SaaS ) company. This shift aims to leverage the company’s expertise in fleet management and telematics into a scalable, cloud-based solution. By adopting a SaaS model, Katsana can potentially expand its reach while streamlining its operations and lowering hardware reliance.

Fuqaha says,” We’re developing solutions that are quite unique,” giving a hint as to the sophisticated software features that will make up their SaaS offering’s foundation. This change allows Katsana to compete more effectively both domestically and internationally in line with global trends in enterprise technology.

As Fuqaha approaches his tenth year as a founder, his journey has revealed valuable lessons that could be applied to other startup founders. ” Opt for proven business models,” he advises, noting that red oceans still offer plenty of opportunities for those who understand their market and positioning. Startups are frequently encouraged to chase “blue ocean” opportunities. Red oceans frequently have enough space for multiple providers to coexist, each with their own distinctive offering.

Moreover, Fuqaha emphasizes the importance of nurturing existing customer relationships. The phrase” Existing customers are your best sales channel. Spend time with your current customers to become your supporters rather than just developing new features to make your products more appealing. Meet them at kopitiams, send them greeting cards, set up webinars. These are soft approaches that work”, he advises.

In a sector where many are looking for the next big thing, Katsana has found success by focusing on what it does best: offering top-tier fleet management solutions to businesses that are truly in need while also valuing and developing its existing customer base. After all, with a decade of hard-earned wisdom under its belt, Katsana, in the view of Fuqaha, is well-positioned to navigate the roads ahead, wherever they may lead.

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CelcomDigi launches US.7mil state-of-the-art AI Experience Centre in boost to innovation ecosystem

  • Combines emerging technology AI, XR, and Metaverse to promote growth of remedies
  • Component of&nbsp, US$ 53.1mil&nbsp, devotion by Axiata &amp, &nbsp, Telenor to build&nbsp, world-class technology centre

Idham Nawawi, CelcomDigi CEO (5th from left), Fahmi Fadzil (6th from left), Communication Minister, and, Albern Murty (6th from right) CelcomDigi deputy CEO) with partners of its AI Experience Centre (AiX).

CelcomDigi Bhd unveiled its state-of-the-art CelcomDigi AI Experience Center ( AiX ) yesterday, which it describes as a one-stop immersive innovation and collaboration hub designed to inspire, advance, and inspire the development of world-class digital solutions across a range of industries and verticals. As part of the value Malaysia can expect from the 2022 merger between Telenor owned Digi and Axiata’s Celcom, the two sides committed to a US$ 53.13 million ( RM250 million ) investment&nbsp, to build a world-class innovation centre in Malaysia over five years. &nbsp, The AiX is part of the promise to deliver on this.

Supported by a wide ecosystem of leading global technology players and local partners who, together with CelcomDigi have invested a total ofUS$ 11.68 million ( RM55 million ) into the centre, AiX will serve as a focal point for cross-industry collaborations, leveraging emerging technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence ( AI), Extended Reality (XR ), Robotics, Analytics and Metaverse. This creative facility is designed to drive fast technologies advancements and growth of new online startups, enterprises, and potential skills to build a burgeoning development ecosystem and fuel Malaysia’s digital transformation.

Launched by the Minister of Communications, Fahmi Fadzil, AiX provides an interactive experience combining look, sound, and feel, and functions real-world options ready for immediate deployment. The technologies and showcases may be updated regularly to provide new experiences to visitors and are built on a unit of continuous development and partnership. They are also set to be the epicenter of co-creation to facilitate quick experimentation and development of new technology solutions for the market.

Emerging technologies like AI are revolutionizing the world, and Malaysia may keep up with this development in order to create a prosperous online nation, according to Idham Nawawi, CEO of CelcomDigi. We made a strong determination to play a crucial role in the achievement of this goal more than 1.5 years ago by leveraging our greater combined abilities as a combined business to invest and promote digitalization, development, and green development for the country.

The AiX is seen as a realization of the federal benefit of Celcom-Digi’s 2022 acquisition, where their combined scale and capabilities you partner with international and regional modern tech giants to advance the creation of cutting-edge online solutions, making it a powerful ally to Malaysia’s online aspirations.

A thriving innovation ecosystem is crucial to the creation of a robust digital society, says AIX. In the fast-paced era of digital everything, speed of innovation is essential. We have therefore created AiX based on a model of strong partnerships and constant evolution, enabling us to co-create use cases for Malaysia with great potential at an accelerated pace. Together we have invested RM55 million to support this endeavor, said Idham, working with some of the most notable global tech and local ecosystem players.

He adds that CelcomDigi will continue to invest in the infrastructure, partnerships, and competencies needed to help Malaysia through its rapid technological advancements. The telco is determined to promote digital transformations across sectors and ensure that all Malaysians can benefit from the advantages of 5G, AI, and emerging technologies.

BoomGrow's Agritech solution is on display at the AI Experience Centre. Daniel Nesan (front), Head of Plant Science, BoomGrow with Fahmi and Idham.

Interactive simulations of solutions for a digital society

Located at CelcomDigi Hub in Subang Jaya’s Hi-Tech Park ( Digi’s previous headquarters ), AiX houses two main inspiring spaces called The Infinity and The Gallery.

The former is designed to provide visitors with immersive, interactive experiences of digital society simulations using cutting-edge audio-visual technology. To illustrate the transformative potential of emerging technologies, which are essential to enterprise growth, the Gallery space showcases a physical array of real-world industrial use-cases. These respective simulations display a range of 5G and AI-powered technologies and robotics across eight verticals namely manufacturing, logistics, energy, fleet, port, healthcare, education and agritech. 13 of the 45 solutions exhibited in the eight verticals are live use cases being tested with businesses in Malaysia.

AiX is also home to AI-RA, the first AI digital human and resident co-host of the centre’s immersive tours. While AI-RA interacts with visitors and explains the diverse use cases on display, she is accompanied by a family of autonomous robotics who perform a diverse range of tasks including perimeter surveillance, delivery of goods, entertainment, and personal assistance, demonstrating the power of combining AI and robotics to improve convenience for work, life, and play.

AiX also houses a collaborative space that serves as a cutting-edge live lab environment for interested parties- from startups to large-scale enterprises, and from academia to government- to co-create, test, and validate new solutions that pair 5G with other emerging technologies.

Build on a partnership model, AiX is powered by a strong, extensive and growing ecosystem of 40 global technology leaders, local partners and solution providers, from core partners Huawei and ZTE, to other collaborative partners AWS, Digital Nasional Bhd, Ericsson, Microsoft, SK Telecom, Softbank, Sumitomo, and Yinson, among others.

AiX will be accessible to visitors on a regular basis. To explore the potential of the digital society through immersive and interactive exhibits, technology and business partners, academia, government agencies, and corporate organizations are invited to visit the AiX.

AiX’s use cases will be updated on a regular basis to give visitors a better experience and allow co-creators to test the most recent technologies in keeping with the dynamism of the tech sector. Schedule a visit to learn how the CelcomDigi AI Experience Centre can inspire and advance Malaysia’s digital transformation at]email&nbsp, protected].

Fahmi getting a feel for robotics. Will his constituency service centre at Pandai Dalam (Bangsar South) see such a robot welcome constituents in the future? On the right is Kugan Thirunavakarasu CelcomDigi's Chief Innovation Officer.

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Coworking space provider Sandbox finds its niche as a startup hub

  • 15 % increase of lively regular users from 2022 to mid 2024 time
  • Investor gave US$ 318k in 2021 to establish 2nd place in Bandar Sunway

Sandbox co-founders, Lye Yu Min (left) and Casper Foo. 

Although the Klang Valley’s traffic conditions demonstrate clearly that the work-from-office pre-pandemic rule has reaffirmed itself, that does not imply that the idea of the company has not changed.

For example, the demand for working has improved after the crisis, said Casper Foo, inc- chairman of coworking area Sandbox launched with his co- founder, Lye Yu Min in 2017 in Sri Petaling, a township in Kuala Lumpur. There was a second i- leader then and the group self- funded the opportunity to the rhythm of US$ 63, 705 ( RM300, 000 ). The next co- founder immediately left to pursue additional interests. &nbsp,

The traditional method of working with a fixed space and legal obligations to pay rent had been clearly demonstrated by the crisis. Numerous companies experienced major cash flow issues. &nbsp,

Renting an office in the post-pandemic era also involves signing a traditional two-year lease and then investing in repairs.

More people today prefer coworking spaces because of the flexibility they are offered, according to Casper, adding that because of the lessons they learned that” income is king,” people are afraid to make this determination. With all the competition out there, you do n’t even know whether you’re going to succeed when you start a business. Which is why choosing a working place to begin as your first business is a wise decision, he said.

Casper points out that one can start at a coworking space right away, and that one can leave after one month if they do n’t feel their idea is solid enough.

Found its market

As a provider of coworking space, Sandbox is small compared to market leaders WORQ ( eight locations ) and Common Ground ( 10 locations ), or other established players such as Colony ( four locations ), Co- Labs ( five locations ), Spaces ( three locations ) and Komune ( three locations ).

While industry leader WORQ has been making headlines with partnerships with mall operators and real estate investment firms to expand the scope of its offerings and proven business players are becoming more and more popular for coworking options, Casper believes he has found a niche with his 24/7 coworking space that attracts students, freelancers, distant workers, startups, and modern nomads.

We are more like a business hub, a stepping stone for those who come in with little ideas, maybe only one person, or even occasionally without an plan. So they must experiment with a lot of tests in our environment. That’s why we call ourselves Sandbox”, Casper explained.

In 2022, having proven its target market was viable, Casper, with a US$ 318, 400 ( RM1.5 million ) investment from a close friend opened a second branch in Bandar Sunway instead of the more popular coworking locations such as Bangsar South, Damansara, Bangsar proper or Subang. For us, he said,” Those places are very elegant and business.” &nbsp,

Before Sandbox

Before the concept of Sandbox, Casper had spent his previous 10 years working as a financial planner in economic advisory services, while Lye, his co-founder, spent 11 years as an basic insurance planner. Since their time together at Sunway University, they have been companions.

Casper always liked the idea of working in an office, so he decided to work from a shop, which piqued his interest in the working concept because he thought it was “very cool” but also useful, especially if one was an entrepreneur or modern nomad. &nbsp,

” You could get guidance from others in the same area because the relationship is really strong when you meet like-minded people, rather than working at the cafe only or starting some projects,” said one woman.

Casper’s normal shop, which served as his office, shut down without warning in 2017 and that was the catalyst for the launch of Sandbox.

Sandbox Sri Petaling.

Sri Petaling and Bandar Sunway, and the village think

It was simple to pick Sri Petaling as the starting spot. The founders wanted Sandbox to get located in small towns that had a town experience. Additionally, Sri Petaling is located near to their home.

” I also favor areas that are more geared toward the younger demographic, because businesses typically fall into the 20s to early 30s,” Casper continued.

2017 was a different occasion for coworking areas, as they were too costly, said Casper. ” When Sandbox first started out, our rates were low compared to our competition”.

Now, after seven years in activity, rates have remained the same at the Sri Petaling area.

Because I personally looked for a coworking space before but found it inexpensive, I want to support these startups and those who are starting their entrepreneurial journey. That’s why when we started I wanted to make sure that the costs was pleasant for everyone”, Casper explained.

While Bandar Sunway took a month, its Sri Petaling branch’s cash-flow broke yet six months into operation. Casper items to the gradual recovery that followed the longer period that Bandar Sunway had to make breakeven.

He is now looking to expand Bandar Sunway’s events organization by employing some people. &nbsp,


While residents have come and gone, particularly during the epidemic,” Most folks that leave our place are for good reasons as they grew too great for us to accommodate”, he said, declining to give examples.

A team of four to eight is the common power, but at one place, Sandbox was able to accommodate a group of 30 people because they had expanded at Sri Petaling before the crisis struck.

Sandbox now hosts 70 to 100 active regular people in each area. Between 20 and 30 of the inhabitants are contractors, while the remaining 20 to 30 are between two and four. Since 2022, occupancy has increased by 15 %, and the two locations have a monthly occupancy rate of between 65 % and 80 %.

The prospect

Sandbox is requesting Malaysia Digital Hub ( MDH) status, a government-certification for coworking spaces that meet certain requirements that help their user community grow their businesses.

” We are truly in the midst of this process for getting licensed”, Casper added.

In terms of potential growth,” While we welcome investors, we likewise hope to develop this business spontaneously because we want to maintain our model and style as a center scale, community- driven coworking space”, Casper explained. &nbsp,

Any investor looking to form a partnership with Sandbox in order to expand to new locations must accept their brand. &nbsp,

Beyond investors, Casper is looking for corporate partners. We hope to work together with more businesses to synergize with us, he said. Recently, it recently collaborated with Asus to provide Sandbox with the most recent WiFi router technology.

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The West needn’t worry about Putin’s visit to Hanoi – Asia Times

Vladimir Putin was greeted as an old friend in the Asian capital Hanoi shortly after making his journey to North Korea last month. His 22-hour state visit was greeted with the best possible level of respect and led to a number of contracts on electricity, science, and technology. There was also speak of the once-close supporters working together on defense and security.

In many ways, this display of affection comes as no surprise. After all, it was the socialists in North Vietnam who, with the help of the Soviets, won the war in 1975 and then joined Saigon ( then Ho Chi Minh City ) and the west in uniting.

Many of Vietnam’s current political, business, and academic elite members have previously studied or worked for the Soviet Union in the past ten years, and they are acutely aware of how close the country is to the Communist Party of Vietnam ( CPV ).

However, the myriad of movements to a growing participation and the greeting of old friends sparked questions and concerns. If the West be concerned about Putin’s warm welcome in Hanoi after decades of cooperation and soaring integration with the US and european marketplaces?

We think no. While the present rulers of the CPV, as well as other rulers, were shaped by the apex of the Soviet- Asian attachment, Vietnam’s younger generations are no.

The government’s 100 million inhabitants displays a very unique – and more American – orientation. The rulers of Vietnam’s flourishing digital market, for example, generally studied in the West and talk English, rather than Russian.

The US has a lot more control on Vietnam than the time-tested Russian companion does. This is especially true for the generations born after or after 1986, when the state implemented a number of free-market measures known as “i Mimi.” For most of these individuals, Russia is mysterious, outside of past training and a few regions where it invests or sends visitors.

Their coming-of-age has been a result of growing northern acclaim. Russian language programs in Vietnamese schools and universities have drastically decreased, and Russian language courses are much less popular than French and Chinese. The widespread import of Western information, such as the global standard certificate for tertiary education curriculum and the Scholastic Aptitude Test, has contributed to Vietnam’s rise of global education.

Go west, young gentleman

Young Vietnamese, including the sons and daughters of Russian-educated social, business, and scientific officials, are also becoming more widespread. Our own study, which was published in 2021, compared the background of Vietnam’s online leaders, who were mostly born after the Soviet Union decline, with those of the country’s leading businesses in more traditional fields like caffeine, furniture, and steel.

A significant change was observed when looking at the international experience of both founders. Returnees from the West are increasingly at the forefront of Vietnam’s rising startups, as opposed to the former Soviet Union.

In comparison to their older counterparts, the owners of Vietnam’s high-performing technology companies are 15 times more likely to have US experience. And they are 35 times more likely than the heads of Vietnam’s large, standard companies to be graduates of American institutions.

The businesses who are generating new success in Vietnam and shaping the speed of its cultural norms, economic growth, and modern connections have backgrounds that are greatly different from those of the older technology.

This generational shift towards a Western context, both in business and past, suggests to us that Putin’s state visit may really add up to a largely ceremonial training. As part of their long-standing “bamboo diplomacy,” in which Vietnam pragmatically engages with all powers, we see Vietnam’s leadership rolling out the red carpet for Putin.

For two interrelated reasons, it is unlikely to reflect deeper ambitions or future plans for the nation’s transition from bamboo diplomacy.

First, over the past 30 years, the West has established a strong and tangible footing in Vietnam’s every aspect of cultural, economic, and technological life, from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Hanoi in the north. Indeed, Hanoi even seems to welcome the West when it comes to security, a juxtaposition with Vietnam’s inventory of Russian- made arms.

Second, Vietnam’s political leadership will steadily come to have more Western- educated returnees in senior positions. The Vietnamese elites ‘ strong ties to Russia will grow as the commitment to making agreements with their former allies grows.

Not to mention the country’s already somewhat Westernized economy, which is supported by the growing Western-educated business community and is fueled by free trade agreements and foreign investment.

The fact that the CPV welcomed a US assistant secretary of state, Daniel Kritenbrink just three days after Putin left is perhaps the most obvious indication of Vietnam’s commitment to its bamboo diplomacy. The American friend’s visit to the US confirmed the country’s position of being a” comprehensive strategic partner” in Vietnam, placing it on par with both China and Russia.

Ba- Linh Tran is a senior lecturer at the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, while Robyn Klingler-Vidra is associate dean for global engagement and associate professor of entrepreneurship and sustainability at King’s College London.

This article was republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Beijing: new Treasury rules amount to ‘decoupling’ – Asia Times

Following Washington’s suggestion to establish a set of specific regulations that would hinder and track American investments in China for semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and classical computing, Beijing has expressed major problems. &nbsp,

The Chinese Commerce Ministry stated on Monday that, despite the US’s repeated efforts to say it has no intention of dissociating from China or preventing the country’s economic growth, Washington has insisted on preventing American firms from investing in China and preventing the government’s normal growth. &nbsp, &nbsp,

A spokesperson for the government referred to the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in the US in November as” a typical broad approach to national security,” saying that this method goes against the two faces of state’s discussion at the conference in San Francisco.

He predicted that the restrictions may have a negative impact on Chinese and US businesses ‘ regular economic and trade cooperation, undermine the world’s economic and trade balance, and deteriorate global commercial and supply chains ‘ security and stability.

He added that China is entitled to take the same actions as the United States is against. He demanded that the US government prevent politicizing and stifling business.

Researchers at the Ministry of Commerce, Zhou Mi, predicted that Washington’s purchase regulations will make high-tech cooperation between the US and China more difficult. He claimed that it will also stifle global technical innovation and scientific advancement. &nbsp,

Beijing made the comments after the US Treasury Department released a notice of proposed rule-making ( NPRM ) on June 21 to implement Biden’s executive order, which was first announced in August and had the title” Addressing US investments in specific national security technologies and products in countries of concern.”

According to the Treasury, the NPRM establishes a procedure for creating a new federal security software to combat threats from foreign direct investments in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The proposed NPRM developments our national security by preventing, according to Paul Rosen, assistant secretary of the Treasury for Investment Security, the numerous benefits that some US opportunities offer besides only capital from supporting the development of delicate systems in nations that might use them to harm our national security.

The Treasury requests comments on the proposal through August 4 and anticipates that the regulation will be in effect by the end of this year. &nbsp,

The secretary of the Treasury must enact laws that prohibit US citizens from operating AI, chip, and quantum computing businesses in China, according to Biden’s executive order. &nbsp,

Additionally, the regulations should mandate that US citizens notify the Treasury of specific other transactions that might involve these products and technologies that could compromise US national security.

The NPRM said a” covered transaction” may be a prohibited transaction, or only a notifiable one. &nbsp,

Covered transactions include the provision of debt financing, the conversion of convertible debt, greenfield investments ( a type of foreign direct investment where a company establishes operations abroad ), joint ventures, and limited partner ( LP ) or equivalent investments.

China’s FDI

The Chinese Commerce Ministry reported on June 21 that its total foreign direct investment decreased by 31 % to US$ 57.9 billion in the first five months of this year from US$ 84.3 billion during the same time period in 2023. &nbsp,

FDI in China’s high technology manufacturing sector rose 2.7 % to US$ 6.9 billion. FDI coming from Germany and Singapore to China rose 24 % and 16 % year- on- year, respectively. However, the commerce ministry did not make the detailed FDI figures available for each country. &nbsp,

China’s high technology development certainly needs the participation of foreign funds, but it mainly relies on domestic funds and policy environment, said Xiang Ligang, director- general of the Zhongguancun Information Consumption Alliance, a Beijing- based telecom industry association.

China must now send a clear message that it needs to develop its own AI technology, according to Xiang, who stated that the proposed US investment restrictions were a result of this. He made mention of Beijing’s recent national policy to support Chinese technology startups.

On June 15, China’s State Council published a document to encourage local governments, state- owned- enterprises, banks, private equity and asset management firms and long- term fund management companies to provide loans, subsidies and funds to technology startups.

According to the statement, financial authorities should foster a favorable lending climate for technology companies to grow and raise money. China will tweak its laws in order to promote FDI, according to the statement. &nbsp,

In an article published on June 23, Guan Quan, a professor at the Renmin University of China, writes that the US has recently sent an official to Japan and the Netherlands and urged them to tighten their export controls for chip-making equipment. &nbsp,

Besides, he says, Washington also plans to add 11 Chinese chip foundries to its Entity List. He says all these moves have shown clearly&nbsp, that the Biden administration will not stop suppressing China’s chip sector.

He claims that until one day China can self-supply all the necessary chip-making tools, the only way to put an end to all these restrictions is to use technological advancements. However, Guan did not provide a roadmap or schedule for how China would go about accomplishing its objectives.

Chinese students repatriated

China can still use this opportunity to attract American investments into its high technology sectors, according to some commentators, because it may take up to six more months before the proposed US investment restrictions go into effect. &nbsp,

Meanwhile, the immediate effect of imposing a ban on Chinese students from studying or obtaining AI technology in the US is. &nbsp,

On June 22, China Daily, a state- owned publication, reported that four Chinese students who traveled to the US for academic conferences had recently suffered from the US border officers ‘ “unwarranted harassment, interrogation and repatriation” .&nbsp,

Border agents questioned the four science students, two of whom have research interests in AI, about their personal and family histories and whether they were affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, according to the report. &nbsp, &nbsp,

It said the US has repatriated more than 30 Chinese students, mostly master’s or doctoral degree candidates in computer- related fields, in recent years.

Read: China hawk: Fix symbolic, ineffective US sanctions

Follow Jeff Pao on X: &nbsp, @jeffpao3

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NEXT: AI Connect 2024 in Penang focuses on AI disruption

  • Malaysia is learn from the upheaval created by AI and gain from it.
  • Bring AI people who work with colleges and universities?

NEXT: AI Connect 2024 in Penang focuses on AI disruption

” For the past few months, we saw significant investment from large companies like Microsoft and ByteDance into Malaysia,” said Penang-based serial entrepreneur Curry Khoo ( pic, below ), who is building his third startup right now, Noobs, an open-source playbook for the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia, which was launched in 2022.” We saw heavy investment from Nvidia and other large companies like Microsoft and ByteDance into

A properly regarded society builder as well, Curry was not talking about Wordpress but instead, NEXT: AI Connect 2024, an occasion aimed at bringing together business leaders, companies, and AI fans on Jun 26 at The Ship Campus in Batu Kawan, Penang.

Curry believes that Malaysia you know and take advantage of the disturbance being created by AI due to the recent surge in demand for Nvidia’s specialised chips, which are essential for powering different forms of AI, including chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini.

NEXT: AI Connect 2024 in Penang focuses on AI disruptionThe best way to know is to hold an event so that everyone can identify the participants and comprehend the surroundings of the AI scene, Curry said.

In the subsequent Q&amp, A, Curry goes into more detail about the occasion and explains why attending is worthwhile.

Q. Why did you decide to concentrate on AI for NEXT?

because everyone in the universe is discussing AI. Nvidia’s growth was but rapid as a result of AI, and it caught my attention. People will be a part of AI, in some way or another, after doing some checking and researching. However, over the past few decades, we have seen powerful opportunities by big companies like as Nvidia, Microsoft and ByteDance into Malaysia. So, the best way to learn from AI is to host an event but that we can learn from each other.. &nbsp,

Q. Why is it located on Batu Kawan rather than the beach?

There are already a few ordinary occasions on the island, but none in Batu Kawan. As industry experts will tell you, Batu Kawan is booming with semiconductor firms that even use a lot of AI, specifically for their production, but most people are unaware of it. Therefore I felt it was the best place for this occasion, and managed to get the help of the PKT Logistics Group via its business system, Entrepreneur&nbsp, Growth Hub, to host&nbsp, it at its The Ship Campus. &nbsp,

Q. You appear to be making an effort to draw students in addition. Why?

The most important factor for the industry to grow is skills. I anticipate a lot of desire for AI, and it should begin with young people, particularly those in universities and colleges. We want to motivate and motivate them to pursue careers in AI, particularly in the specialized field. You can read about the curiosity in AI from both the state and the traders who have invested. There is a&nbsp, need to expand our AI skills share. &nbsp,

Q. What kind of effect is this event going to own?

I want to see more personal business AI people, especially those with professional backgrounds, working with our colleges and universities to develop more expertise in the field. &nbsp,

I believe there is a huge opportunity for Malaysia because the semiconductor industry is increasingly reliant on AI to improve its production efficiency, especially if we can move the talent pool forward.

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Notti Pet Food secures US0K seed funding to elevate pet health & nutrition standards in Southeast Asia

  • aspires to have 200 marketers both online and offline by the year 2024.
  • Funding will help new product launches, rise into the Philippines &amp, Singapore

From left: Ke Yee Yap, founder of Notti Pet Food, Amanda Cham, associate director, 500 Global, Joel Neoh, partner, First Move and Audra Pakalnyte, partner, First Move

Notti Pet Food, the modern pioneer behind Southeast Asia’s first sluggish- baked super premium mealworms, has secured a seed funding of US$ 500, 000 ( RM2.4 million ) from 500 Global and First Move, marking a major step in the dataset company’s trip.

This innovative funding will help the business, which is focused on promoting South Asian animal health and nutrition standards, including launching new product lines and entering the Philippines and Singapore areas.

Over half of Malaysians ( 51.1 % ) currently own pets, according to Standard Insights ‘ most recent Consumer Report Malaysia 2023, which is expected to rise. As dog ownership grows, so does the need for animal food, with minimal higher- quality options available. Notti is a better option than traditional animal meals because of this trend. Their distinctive product line features 100 % individual- quality meat, enriched with fruit, vegetables, bacteria, and supplements. &nbsp,

This distinguishes Notti from other corporate brands that rely on confusing labeling and meat meal. Notti preserves nutritional integrity by using genuine ingredients and a soft 90°C slow-baking technique, in contrast to the high-temperature extrusion techniques used by main brands.

Notti’s materials have received clinical testimonials, exceed global Association of American Feed Control Officials Nutrient Standards, and are suitable for all ages, species, and styles.

Keyee Yap, chairman of Notti Pet Food, emphasized,” Notti is more than just a product, it embodies our opinion that pets are cherished community members. My staff and I are dedicated to making sure your pets receive nutritious foods and an experience that recognizes the special relationship we share with them as a devoted animal lover, as well as myself.Notti Pet Food secures US$500K seed funding to elevate pet health & nutrition standards in Southeast Asia

Khailee Ng ( pic ), managing partner at 500 Global, highlighted Notti’s team strengths:” Beyond being a pet food company, Notti is a pet- focused entity with a roadmap for multiple revenue streams and products. We’re eager to help their progress in the expanding pet industry because we’ve built related businesses for people.

Audra Pakalnyte, companion at First Move, noted Notti’s ability as she stated,” At First Move, we seek out founders with toughness, strong know- how, and enthusiasm, and Yap embodies all of these qualities. From our first meeting, it was clear that her commitment to solving real problems, innovating, and maintaining high standards in the pet industry was a driving force behind Notti. We’re excited to work with Notti as they continue to expand and have a significant impact.

Notti actively participates in Trap- Neuter- Return initiatives and charitable campaigns, including giving pet kibbles to animal shelters, in addition to advancing animal health and nutrition. Their focus on innovation, nutrition, and animal welfare reflects their mission to foster a healthier and more compassionate world.

Currently available in over 100 pet shops across Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, Notti aims to expand to 200 online and offline distributors by the end of 2024, signaling confidence in driving substantial business growth and benefiting pets worldwide.

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Reducing carbon footprint in Malaysia: The potential of green-tech startups

  • Essential for M’sia to identify efficient- technology startups dedicated to sustainability&nbsp,
  • Collaboration between multiple stakeholders is essential in addressing weather issues.

Reducing carbon footprint in Malaysia: The potential of green-tech startups

Malaysia, with its huge forested area of 18.27 million acres, or 55.3 % of the total land area, is navigating the subtleties of carbon pollution. In 2021, the government’s CO2 emissions were nearly 298.5 million metric tons, mainly attributed to power production and consumption. The country has seen a constant increase in coal power over the past ten years, increasing by approximately 1.3 % annually.

Major environmental effects have been caused by Malaysia’s rising carbon emissions. The nation is becoming more prone to climate change, with more frequent wildfires and rising sea levels, which pose significant risks to its southern provinces.

Another pressing problem is forest. About 133, 000 hectares of healthy forest were lost in Malaysia in 2023, leading to the loss of biodiversity and causing significant amounts of atmospheric carbon to be released, intensifying climate change.

These environmental changes have serious economic implications, with climate change potentially shrinking Malaysia’s GDP by 20 % by 2050. This puts vital industries such as agriculture, hospitality, and fisheries at hazard, along with possible impacts on public health and work production.

But, Southeast Asia also has major opportunities to address climate change. According to a study conducted by BCG and Fairatmos,” Climate Technology in Southeast Asia: Key to Unlocking the World’s Carbon Sink” ( Climate Technology in Southeast Asia: Key to Unlocking the World’s Carbon Sink ), nature-based solutions ( NbS ) could account for roughly 30 % of the global carbon offset by 2030, despite Southeast Asia containing less than 1 % of the world’s total landmass. Important sectors such as agriculture, hospitality, and fish can grow by focusing on sustainable practices while enhancing human health and work production.

To effectively harness nature- based solutions, collaboration between various stakeholders is needed, particularly in technological advancement, personal- public partnerships, and green investment. Although advances like the Internet of Things ( IoT), artificial intelligence, remote sensing, and quantum computing play a significant role in NbS implementation, more green investment and political will are required to overcome obstacles to NbS adoption.

The development of NbS is already being impacted in Indonesia with assistance for Fairatmos, a nonprofit that works on high-quality coal offset projects across Southeast Asia. &nbsp,

Fairatmos founder and CEO Natalia Rialucky said,” Indonesia hosts 15 % of the world’s ability character- based carbon falls. Fairatmos aims to make the process simpler, allowing everyone, regardless of size, to start nature-based tasks that reduce greenhouse gas emissions without paying a premium. Everyone should be able to participate in the restoration of the atmosphere by overriding obstacles like restricted technical expertise, extended certification procedures, and high costs.

Fairatmos has received assistance for its solution, Atmoswatch, from ANGIN, an first- level investment platform and development consulting consulting company in Indonesia, through its Product Market Fit Programme powered by Official Development Assistance. This program aims to develop businesses ‘ products to better match business needs by providing money, tailored coaching, and networking opportunities.

Ursula Toding, ANGIN business development senior associate, said,” We were impressed by Fairatmos ‘ alignment with government priorities, especially in carbon offset initiatives amid Indonesia’s focus on carbon regulation. Startups like Fairatmos must make the most of their business to address environmental issues, balancing impact with business viability. Through the organisation, we can become more strategic in our approach, achieving both meaningful impact and sustainable growth”.

Additionally, Fairatmos received funding from regional venture capital firm Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India ( VVSEAI ). VVSEAI’s partner, Puiyan Leung, said,” Innovators like Fairatmos play a vital role in supporting these efforts. In order to reduce the impact of the climate crisis in a creative and creative way, we sincerely hope there will be similar projects throughout Southeast Asia. In the same way that Fairatmos does, it also helps to reduce emissions as well as offer economic and social benefits to local communities and help them in their efforts to adapt to climate change.

To replicate this model in Malaysia, identifying green- tech startups dedicated to sustainability is essential. Venture capital firms, such as VVSEAI, can provide support through funding, mentorship, and networking, while the Malaysian government and stakeholders foster conducive environments for sustainable investments.

The partnership between Fairatmos and key ecosystem players serves as a successful model for green-tech startups, investment platforms, and venture capital firms. This partnership demonstrates how these organizations can work together to reduce carbon footprints and speed up Southeast Asia’s transition to a low-carbon economy, significantly advancing sustainability initiatives. This collaborative model provides a framework for Malaysia that can be applied to other countries, demonstrating the viability of combating climate change through strategic alliances with businesses.

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