Good Startup Ideas from Startup Weekend JB (Malaysia)

I like all these startup ideas from Startup Weekend JB (Malaysia). I can’t figure out how to comment on their blog (I am guessing Tumbler just eliminates commenting?), so I started this post – and ended up adding much more than I planned on putting in a comment.

All of these ideas are not very technically challenging and pretty much versions of these businesses are already successful around the globe. But creating great user experiences (in apps or on web sites) is often neglected for doing something passable (and local conditions mean the business is a bit different here than it would be somewhere else).

To create a greatly successful startup focusing on great, not adequate, customer experiences is extremely useful. And you can leap ahead of competitors that don’t focus on customer delight.

One of the interesting things from my experience living in Johor Bahru, Malaysia the last few years is that Malaysia has way more entrepreneurial diversity than the USA (in my limited experience). Many of these businesses stay small. But you have entrepreneurs in all sorts of businesses at events in JB. In the USA the events I went to were all software focused (internet businesses etc.).

Here you have people setting up factories, printing companies, beauty entrepreneurs, construction companies, bakers, motel chain (less than a handful of motels so far) etc. going to HackerSpace meetings and Drinks Entrepreneurs, BarCamp etc.. Startup Weekend I do think was very IT focused, even in JB (it is setup to be that way so it isn’t surprising).

There are small business entrepreneurs in the USA, but they don’t go to entrepreneur/ LeanStartup etc. type meetings (in my experience). And they are more limited; so many businesses in the USA really can’t be done easily by some new college graduate. The capital and legal requirements are just so huge you need so much to start that it isn’t something considered in the cool-startup communities (in general – I’m sure there are some things like micro-brew startups etc.). In JB it seems to me fewer than 33% are IT dominated. Though I expect this will increase rapidly. I think there is a real benefit to including non-IT focused people in these communities.

The number of people outside of IT that decide to be entrepreneurs out of school is tiny (it seems to me). In Malaysia it seems much more common. But in general people don’t talk about it as being entrepreneurs they are trying to make a living and setting up their own business to do so is just a natural thing to do.

SmartDining – find local restaurants (mobile app) and order (for take out or dine in).

The app shouldn’t be too hard to do well. The challenges will be working with restaurants, marketing (so often the case) and maybe mapping (finding good suggestion). How to balance efforts well will also be a challenge – you could spend tons of time on many different valuable efforts related to this business. Vote.


Jomla – app to help students find part time jobs and let businesses find workers.

Good match to need. Again the technology shouldn’t be hard – the challenge will be getting enough business interest (I predict). So again marketing is a big challenge. Marketing to students should probably be easy if the businesses are there. I personally think people ignore the web way to much, but maybe I am out of touch. It is certainly true students use apps more. I would also focus on jobs that don’t require going to a physical space (so location isn’t significant).

Virtual jobs doing all sorts of work is a bit domain. This are is a challenge to find businesses to feature. The feedback feature is critical, making sure it works well is important and a potential challenge. Might well want to offer it free to some businesses to start. Vote.

I have also had a business idea (kind of related to this) that might be able to tie-in (expat support via a local student, where can I buy a basketball shoes, where to buy some food item they want from home, tour to get a feel for the city – where things are from a practical point of view etc.). I could see setting up this as a way to staff such a business…

Rent-A-Stay Malaysia. Another one with good business need. The technology is again no challenge. There are so few decent places online for real estate of any kind and certainly for finding room, etc.. Marketing is the big issue again. Finding people to advertise is the biggest challenge (and the technology needs to make this really easy to do). Even attracting customers to rent a place will be a challenge (they even note this, though in a different manner when they state potential customers don’t even know about air-bnb – if they don’t know about that how are you going to reach them?).

But if the site works well it will likely spread quickly among people that realize the internet is perfect for finding places to stay. Vote. I think the business case is also good for doing this for longer term stays/renting a place to live.

Handymate – find tradespeople to do minor home repair.

Again technology is not the challenge. This many well be the most difficult to do very well, however (just a guess). Getting tradespeople signed up could well be very hard. Getting those people rated well will also be hard. If successful though, this is a great way to make money. The reputation piece is the key to making this work well. Vote.

All of these have potential to be very successful businesses. Of course coming up with such ideas isn’t that hard. Making them into successful businesses is hard but also potentially fun and rewarding.

The concept of customer delight has a long way to go in Malaysia. Even just customer service is poor in general (as is customer service in the USA, they are poor in different ways but both countries have a long way to go in how they treat customers – it seems to me Japan is maybe the only country that doesn’t have a long way to go so partially my expectations may be impacting my judgement).

Related: Small Business Profit and Cash FlowCustomer DelightWhat Job Does Your Product or Service Do?Innovation Strategy

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