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Johor has been historically known as a city where we export a lot of talents to other cities nearby like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Let’s hear from Lim Feng, CEO of START Malaysia on his insights in building the startup ecosystem in the Southern region of Malaysia.

Being known as an ecosystem builder in Johor, the community built by Lim Feng (previously known as “Startup Johor”) which is now known as START Malaysia, is a gateway for startups to do global expansion, and to succeed down here in the local market.

As one of the speakers in BizStart Johor Bahru 2019, Feng talked about how startups can grow, how long it normally takes, and what is the valuation and industries like. Besides that, he shared about the co-working space ecosystem as well as tips and challenges for the local startups.

Big and Audacious Vision, Constant Growth Attracts Talents

When being asked about the challenges faced by local ecosystem in Johor Bahru, Feng replied that the largest problem would be talent acquisition and market access – to build the right “A” team people who can work together and scale a startup. From his observation, having a regional or global vision from Day One and building around that is the key to keeping talent. The constant growth of the company keeps the talents excited every day coming to work and they feel being part of something bigger.

At the same time, the advantages of building a startup here in JB is that people get to focus a lot more where there is not much noise. The team can work with people who share the same culture, who talk about building business from Day One, focusing on business model and revenue.

Low Profile and Focused, Solving Real Problems

Talking about the culture of startup ecosystem in Johor Bahru, Feng expressed that a lot of founders here really focus on the business itself, rather than being caught up in the hype of “being a startup is cool”. They are mostly very low profile and do not appear in the news a lot. They really focus on the things that matter the most, which is building their company, focusing on customers.

That is the reason Feng really likes about this ecosystem. He said, “If you continue to build a good product, focus on customer pain points and solve their problem, eventually money will come. There is no need to go out and search for funding before you have anything, just focus on the real world and product, solve customer problem.”

BizStart, A Cool Program that Brought In New Audience

Talking about BizStart, Feng thinks that it is a pretty cool program, and he really likes the audience being brought into the program. A lot of new faces came. It is something that they can really support moving forward.

(To be continued in Part 2)