MDEC 2017 Recap: Changing mindsets and building startups in the Digital Age


Startup Group (Storyblocks)

Credit: Storyblocks


[Part Two of an in-depth feature with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC's) CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood: Reviewing strategies for entrepreneurship.]

   At a recent Luncheon Talk during the 42nd Annual Conference of the Federation of ASEAN Economic Association (FAEA), organised by the World Bank Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia, MDEC's chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood spoke about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) was rapidly shifting to the mainstream (Note: See yesterday's report:  MDEC 2017 Recap: Artificial Intelligence is becoming mainstream reality). 

When speaking to Computerworld Malaysia, Yasmin continued the review of the changing landscape with an assertion that Malaysia - and even Asia as a whole - have to learn to view and accept an unpleasant truth: that entrepreneurs need the space to fail. "Entrepreneurship is not something very comfortable, in the Malaysian or even in the Asian context - because failure is an option. Failure is celebrated, and that is not something that we can accept yet [as a society]. Even for me, as a mother, I want my children to go into a stable job - but this is not the way."

In addition, she said that having an entrepreneurial spirit meant that is important to stay on top of innovative trends. "This is an issue -  because in most countries where there is a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, those are the very countries that will have the highest propensity to be able to be future-proof in the world of innovation. We also have to do something more about this."

The MDEC chief admitted that things local entrepreneurs can sometimes become overwhelmed. "Malaysians are really very fond of criticising - and that is fine, you know. But I just don't want us to be overwhelmed to the point of inaction. We talk about how difficult it is for Malaysia, but we have to do something about it. For someone like me, I was on the other side, and I was equally critical - but now, when put into a position of influence, we have to do something, and creating a startup ecosystem is something that we have to do."

State of the startup ecosystem

Yasmin continued straight talking on what needed to be addressed in the current scenario. "For the startup ecosystem, you have go to have clear objectives: this is what we want to drive, this is the outcome that we want to achieve, which is to get more and more companies to get into the system. But at the same time, we must then bring them up into the growth stage. And we do have these companies, so we have to work harder."

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