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The startup scene in Penang, Malaysia

Penang is an island with a thriving commercial centre and a pro-commerce state government. Although it’s the second smallest state in Malaysia, it’s not letting that stand in the way of major economic growth and this tiny island is punching well above its weight when it comes to business acumen. In recent years the bustling business community has become a leading light in the country’s economy. Penang has the third-largest economy amongst the states of Malaysia, after Selangor and Johor, and also has the highest GDP per capita in Malaysia, making it an affluent location as well as a business-friendly one.

While manufacturing may be the primary driving force behind Penang’s economic success, it is also a great location for start-up businesses to get a foothold, especially low-overhead businesses such as software development. High-tech electronics are focused around the northern end of the island, which also ties in well with software start-up businesses. Over the years this has also encouraged a high level of international investment from companies like Dell computing, Motorola, Intel and Seagate.

Penang Malaysia



An attractive proposition for business

In the last few years there has been a slight decline in the amount of investment money coming into Penang, particularly when you take into consideration the lower labour costs of manufacturing in countries like China. However, Penang is still an attractive proposition for investment, and that makes it the place to be if you want to start up your own business.

The location of so many international banks in the region also makes starting a business in Penang an attractive proposition, as the opportunities for approaching financial investment firms is greater here than almost anywhere else. There are also a number of specialist recruitment firms such as Yellow Elevator, who marry up opportunities with potential employees. With such a highly trained workforce to choose from concentrated into such a small area, Penang is also rich in experienced businessmen and women, skilled software designers, accountants and financial experts – everything the small business owner needs to get started!


Who’s leading the way?

Currently in Penang there are a clutch of new businesses who are proving that diversification is the key to future survival. As many high-tech electronic firms move their manufacturing overseas to countries like China, it’s businesses such as software development that will ensure the continued success of this region. Companies such as Exabytes, Malaysia’s largest web hosting business, are based in Penang, as are infographics experts Piktochart. Web production company Netizens Media are leading the virtual charge, and the number of digital start-ups in Penang is growing every day.

While the high-tech manufacturing industry may be in decline in Penang, especially with the loss of Penang’s free port status, business groups such as The Penang Development Corporation and InvestPenang are doing everything in their power to bolster new sectors and encourage start-up businesses to make the island their home. With so much potential and a strong commercial sector already in place, it makes sense to do business in Penang!

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and management graduate. He loves sharing small business tips from the latest accounting software solutions such as QuickBooks to hacks for social media campaigns. When he’s not online, he likes volunteering at his local community centre.

[Public Service Announcement] Stop 114A – It’s Hurting Us All

Seriously, this hasty amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 is utter bull crap. Period.

OK, the language is pretty strong here and I totally mean it here: spend 10 minutes to read a summary about the law and imagine that you can be charged for just about anything defamatory posted online… even if you aren’t remotely responsible in the creation of such content!

Anyway, be educated about it and rally against this stupidity lest we get ourselves back in the informational dark ages – stop the hypocritical attitude of wanting growth in the IT sector but taking away the freedom for people to communicate with each other with the fear of being charged and sentenced.

– Seh Hui, co-organizer of Webcamp KL

Stop 114A Awareness WordPress Blog

Webcamp KL #12 – The Holy Cow Moment

What do they say be careful what we wished for? Indeed we are in a big surprise when roughly 150 people showed up for the event and have outgrown the hall that we’ve started Webcamp from!

All we can say is: Thanks for making Webcamp KL a smash! We wouldn’t be able to reach such heights without your support and participation.

With such strong backup, we kicked off the very first Webcamp of the year with something special, something worthy to set the tone proper for future Webcamps to come. We are going to talk about the most common Archilles’ heel that most introverted techies have: socializing skill. If the very thought of talking to a stranger, even with Webcampers, sends shivers down your spine, we’ve got help for you!

We brought in a solid lineup of speakers to share their valuable experience and useful tips in socializing:

  1. Freda Liu, BFM Radio 89.9Tell Your Story — DIY PR
  2. Walter Heck, Olindata“Can I please go to the toilet?” (and other questions I don’t want my remote freelancers to ask me)
  3. Raja Jesrina Arshad, MindshareThe Art of Socialising in a Networking Event


Do you have a startup or business wanting to getting some media love and attention, but you’re a bit cash-strapped? Could it be possible that such PR can be done for free without doing advertising deals with them? We got an insider expert in the house: Freda Liu, radio host and producer for BFM Radio, and has extensive PR experience as a PR manager and TV newscaster. In her talk, she generously shares with the audience communication techniques and strategies in pitching the media to cover your story. She also shared some creative tips that would have your DIY PR engine all year round — so don’t miss out!

Next up is Walter Heck, an adventurous entrepreneur who happens to love to travel around the world. As you wondered how a global trotting entrepreneur keeps his business humming along smoothly — he spills his secrets on how would you hire remote freelancers, and later communicate and manage them effectively once you got them on board. If such Four Hour Work Week-esque is a dream of yours, spend some time to listen to this talk and soak in his wisdom and experience — with great hopes that you’re able to replicate his success and have some really wild adventures around the world while growing your own business.

To wrap it all up, Jesrina Arshad really goes down to the basics: imagine you arrive in a networking event like Webcamp and you want to reach out to other people, what are the do and don’t during the “getting to know you” phase. Acknowledging the majority of the audience that has a bit of a geeky bent, she prepared an organized bullet-point list of great networking tips you’d want to keep in mind when reaching out to a fellow group member whom you are getting to know for the first time. And from what we gather from the Twitter stream after the event, some people are actually applying what she taught during the talk and everyone are enjoying each other’s company. That’s the proof that you should listen to this talk: it’s that useful :) .

We also have a Q&A panel with all three speakers with great questions: ranging from how would you approach someone famous to handling (gasp) people who seemed to follow you around.

The WCKL Universe

Yes, WCKL is now no longer just a monthly event for professionals and enthusiast about the Internet and web technologies — we now have a host of small satellite events and programmes that enables the community to reach out, bond and getting help from.

Should you find that the 15 minutes icebreaker is not enough for you to find your next co-founder or soul mate, one of these events are going to whet your appetite to expand your professional network:

  1. #WCKL Open Coffee ClubThink of it as the icebreaker session expanded and focused to startup founders and founders-to-be. Whether you are established or just thinking about it, here’s the place to reach out to people who can help you to get your startup grow faster.
  2. #WCKL Mastermind GroupsPrefer a private support group? This one’s for you! We’ll randomly match you up with 5-7 people in a group and it gives you a powerful circle who would keep everyone in check towards achieving their goals.
  3. #WCKL Co-Working HeroesWant something hardcore and want to get some work done? Bring your own project and co-work with people who are the “getting things done” type — as they say, a supportive environment is a highly productive one.

With that, hope to see you around in any one of the events! :D