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The weekend of 6th and 7th December was spend in Johor across the causeway at Barcamp JB. I was fortunate to have Michael Lim of Comiqs fame for company in the short trip.

As many of the participants from Singapore, we were slightly late due to the traffic jam at the causeway. But still it was good to reach there without missing much. Of course, at the venue were fellow Singaporeans, Neo of Tawa, Shen of Jorrb, Claudia and Uzyn.

Funding in Malaysia

There were plenty of talks and sharing going on and I will focus on those which I find useful and interesting. Firstly is a spontaneous presentation by Jamie (and a little of Andi) of TED Malaysia. Their presentation was about the grant and MSC status. What interest me was the access to expertise and help beyond the grant provided.

After the presentation I had a short conversation with Jamie to find out that he and his team of around 40 are under the payroll of the government to help grant applicants and startup gain access to tools and expertise. Other help include market access and to quote him, most of the startups he helped have sales beyond the shores of Malaysia.

And Jamie and team are not VCs but will act as the bridge between VCs if needed.

That interest me as it is a different model from the funding structure provided by Singapore IDA where the funds are to be given out by selected VCs who will then incubate the startup. This is a less centralized approach with no centralised (paid) team managing the startups.

Given the 2 different approach, there are pros and cons and it is open for discussion:

  • Centralized: Access to common pool of knowledge, expertise and network
  • Decentralized: Pool of knowledge, expertise and network are distributed and varied from VCs to VCs.

The common items between both is there startups have access to resources. While the centralized approach is like a one size fits all at the start and then adapting to the individual startup needs.  The decentralized approach will require the startup founders to match their expectations with the expertise and interest of the VCs in Singapore. This requires due diligence on the founders’ behalf to talk to the different VCs and to match themselves to the VCs.

As I do not have any funding experience, I cannot comment much. But in Jamie own words: It is a A-Z package for startups.

Understanding Generation Y

The next talk which I went in late was presented by Janet of about how to understand Generation Y. I was more of listener, taking in the interactions.

My personal thoughts of it is that is not not so much of a Generation Y vs Generation X sort of comparision, but more of how have “work” evolved. The Henry Ford way of work where people comes in, sit down and do specialized work have been replaced by creative and knowledge based work. Work where the metric is the time spend, efficiency and productivity are targets to achieve were common in Generation X.

The new knowledge based work requires creativity, brain storming and innovation (urg!, big words but I cannot think of better words to use). For example a programmer may be tasked to develop a feature. If the feature is easy, it can be done within the allocated time, if not earlier. If it is technically challenging, it might take weeks till a proper or sub-optimal solution is found.

In the new knowledge based work, work in itself is not properly defined and it may appears to be a series of ad hoc brain storming, troubleshooting, firefighting and optimization effort. And of course, knowledge based work have an element of artistic expression. Designers have their own style and programmers their own quirks.

But of course, work consist of administrative, accounting and other essential paperwork with are more tedious and less domain knowledge based. Such work are necessary for business and requires attention from the knowledge worker, whatever they like it or not.

Lighting Talks

Some speakers did not turn up and hence there was lighting talks. Preetam was there just in time to (crash and) talk about a 1 MYR camera stabliser. Just a 5mm screw, a thread and a washer. Interesting and practical.

There were several other and Marcel, a new friend talked about Yahoo search services. I presented a short one about the many feeds that I read daily. And to quickly list (the important ones) below:

Web2.0 in Vietnam

Chip presented about the industry in Vietnam where more than 100 million usd had been invested. Most of the sites presented were portal and news site. User generated content sites were limited due to censorship which ,according to Chip, is widespread. And the consumption of web services non-existent.

I find it really interesting for the amount of money to be invested into portals. which translated to a lot of content.

Bjorn on China Gaming

Bjorn‘s talk was on his experience with a China web startup, HiPiHi.  He mentioned that the chinese are not strangers to paying online and are willing to pay for IM features, all thanks to QQ. IM features include emoticons, and if I am not mistaken, sounds and tones.

What was interesting is the pointers on gaming which is big money around the world. Firstly, there are gaming farms in 3rd tier cities and below around China that have people playing games and leveling characters in MMORPG to be sold.

And secondly, Bjorn introduce a 4 quadrant matrix with the following segments:

  • limited time, limited money
  • plenty of time, limited money
  • plenty of time, plenty of money
  • limited time, plenty of money

For those with plenty of time and no money, they end up playing DOTA. But for those with limited time but have money to spare, and yet want to have the satisfaction of pwning someone else in MMORPG games, they can pay to get items or level up to gain an unfair advantage.

He goes on to add that Giant Interactive employs mentors to games (salesmen previously) to help newbies in games to win other characters by buying virtual goods (swords, armour) to gain an advantage. Targeting those with no time but plenty of money sure is a business plan, but it generate a rather unhealthy gaming experience. People does pay to have some booasting rights.

I believe Bjorn and Chip offered valuable insights for day one.

And the last item of the day was Powerpoint Karaoke. I shall not go into details but in short: Acting smart is hard and pretty hailarious!