Look What the Crowd Drags Into Foldees

Foldees Foldees is one of the more interesting projects emerging from the Malaysian Web scene in recent years. In a nutshell, it is a greeting cards online store, but with a twist. Instead of employing a team of designers, Foldees is crowdsourcing its design function through the creation of a community of greeting card designers and buyers.

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701Panduan, Yet Another Directory Search or an e-Marketplace?

701PanduanAt the present time, 701Panduan provides search utility for finding Malaysian businesses, places and directions. 701Panduan Sdn Bhd, a MSC Malaysia status company, is 50/50 joint venture between SPH Interactive International Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, and Star Publications (M) Bhd, the two leading newspaper companies in Singapore and Malaysia, respectively. Brand tagged as The Ultimate Source for Local Search with focus on the provision of search services on mobile and web platforms.

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A Walled Garden for Singles-Only Named Eteract

EteractEteract is a social app for singles and positioned itself as an online activities site for singles. Eteract provides a social platform designed and refined for singles to find their love match and interact with one another in a safe and fun virtual environment. In contrast, social networks like Facebook, Friendster and MySpace provide laissez-faire context for social interactions.

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Elevyn Selected for NetExplorateur 2009

Elevyn Elevyn is among the 100 web/IT projects selected for this year’s NetExplorateur 100. Besides Elevyn, another Malaysian start-up, Tumpang (bulk-buying platform) is also selected.

Both Elevyn and Tumpany are among 23 projects selected from the Asian region. Other projects from Asia are SharedCopy (Singapore), Enswer.me (Korea), iKnow (Japan), QiFang (China), Juice (China), Asia Online (Thailand), &D Card (Korea), Beam (India), Comi Asia (Singapore), Duedee (China), Ee PC 701 (Taiwan), GazoPa (Japan), iKnow! (Japan), Internet Umbrella (Japan), MetaCard (Singapore), New Songdo City IBD (Korea), OK CouFun (Korea), Rang De (India), Sekai (Japan), SENS (Japan) and Zoho Writer (India).

The NetExplorateur 100 list is created by Forum Nexplorateur, organized by the French Senate. The Forum selects 100 innovative projects from around the world each year and the top 10 winners will be invited to Paris to present to the Senate. Only two from Asia made it to this year’s Top 10 NetExplorateurs of the Year namely, Sekai (Japan) and New Songdo CIty IBD (Korea).

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Elevyn Empowering Fringe Communities

Elevyn Elevyn is a social purpose e-commerce platform. Developed by Mike Tee and Devan Singaram, Elevyn aspires to assist marginalized communities to improve their economic well-being by (a) encouraging and enabling them to trade online with socially conscious consumers from across the world and (b) a more effective means to raise money for social causes.

This venture is probably what Bill Drayton described as social entrepreneurship, which involves a combination of pragmatic and results-oriented methods of a business entrepreneur with the goals of a social reformer.

Social Economy on Elevyn

Anyone can signup for free at Elevyn. Members can support / suggest a cause and setup an online shop. Preferably, the online shop sells products made by the community artisans and the community members manage the online shop, from creating product catalog to product packing to delivery to customers.

Every online shop on Evelyn is also encouraged to must support a Cause. A portion of every sales made through the online store will fund the Cause. After each completed transaction, a buyer will automatically see how is channeled to the Cause.

An example, “raise $200 to buy books for kindergarten.” Evelyn takes 5% for each sales and also 10 cents for each item listed on its online product catalogue. Another 5% goes to PayPal with the remaining 85% will be collected by the seller. Once the fund reaches the target $200, Evelyn will send it to field coordinator to fulfill the Cause (which is, purchase books for the kindergarten).

Online Shop at Evelyn

Besides purchasing products, a member can also contribute by (a) joining the cause, (b) making a donation and (c) raising awareness of the cause by embedding widget on website.

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Elevyn took 8 months to develop its front-end interface; it was launched on November 11 2008. The company is currently developing backend analytic engine that is able to calculate optimum selling price for each country, by aggregating prices on its platform.

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Information Pull / Push Made Easy by EzyPzy

ezypzyEzyPzy (pronounced as “eezy-peezy”) is a web utility for managing information delivery cycle, from contacts management to sending out of text messages and emails to target audience.

Founded by Aaron Gill in 2006, the MSC Malaysia status start-up can easily passed off as yet another business contacts repository service, as offered by players like Plaxo, LinkedIn and Xing. Although its contacts management comes with nice features like highly customizable Contact Form and flexible tagging, it acts more like a complementary function to its web/mobile information delivery.

Information Push and Pull

EzyPzy’s Listings offers information-on-demand (information pull) facility. Here’s how it works. Create a Listing from EzyPzy’s web, Ajaxy interface. Each Listing is assigned an Ezykode.

For example, an Ezykode for a restaurant can be “Daily Specials.” The Ezykode is promoted on the restaurant’s promotional materials and those interested to find out more about the daily promotions can text message “EZY Daily Specials” to 36881. The restaurant owner can choose either to send out text-based (SMS) promotion information or pictures (MMS) to the requester. The mobile number of the requester will be automatically entered into the restaurant’s contacts list on EzyPzy.

This information pull service by EzyPzy can adapt to many settings, be it selling of real estate and automobile and also sending daily updates to conference participants.

EzyPzy Dashboard

ezypzy dashboard

Users can also create Campaign, which involves sending emails and/or text messages to predefined contacts/leads (information push).

The EzyPzy Menu

EzyPay charges service ‘subscription’ fee, per-month basis. Fee ranging from RM0 to RM300, depending on the size of contacts repository and number of Listings (see Table below). At any time, a user can easily upgrade (and downgrade) their usage plan.

The Pricing Plan

ezypzy pricing

On top of the ‘subscription’ fee, EzyPzy also charges its customers a standard rate of RM0.15 per SMS and RM0.30 per MMS for text messages sent out from EzyPzy system.

From Features to Solution

According to Founder and CEO Aaron Gill, EzyPzy was originally conceptualized as a tool to assist real estate agents to manage their property listings online and push information to their potential leads via mobile phones. As development progressed, the application organically grew and became an integrated information delivery solution.

EzyPzy continues to grow by adding layer upon layer of features and capabilities, in order to differentiate itself in the marketplace. In coming months, the company will introduce new features and functionalities:

  • Embeddable customizable contact form, which can be embedded on any website; contact details entered into the form are automatically stored to EzyPzy contacts repository,
  • Automated contact details capture of scanned name cards, and
  • Scheduler for its email and SMS Campaign.

Launched in May 21 2008 during the World IT Congress in Kuala Lumpur, EzyPzy has over 150 clients storing over 12,000 contact records. The company is one of the first five recipients of the MSC Malaysia’s Technopreneur Pre-Seed Fund.  EzyPzy has been used in two major events in Malaysia, namely the Monsoon Cup and Miss Malaysia Indian Global Pageant. Besides Malaysia, the company has started offering its service in Singapore.

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Carrefour Grocery Promotions Now Searchable on Yellotext

yellotextThe pioneering mobile SMS-based search provider, Yellotext is collaborating with Carrefour in Malaysia, by making grocery promotional offers by the French hypermarket giant searchable on its search platform.

Now, Carrefour Malaysia’s customers can find out latest offers and promotions, by texting “ASK Carrefour Groceries Promo” to 36869. Grocery promotion information (product details and prices) will be sent directly to the customers’ mobile phones via SMS. Each text message ASK query will be charged RM0.30.

Carrefour Promotions. Search Anytime, Anywhere with Yellotext

yellotext how to

For Carrefour, this search service offers added convenience to its shoppers (especially bargain hunters), by making its promotion information searchable via text message. It also provides the hypermarket giant the ability to narrowcast promotion information to targeted audience, as information delivery is only triggered by users’ search query (information on-demand, on-the-go). In this case, it’s about delivering the right information to the right person at the right time!

This search utility adds a new dimension to Carrefour’s marketing arsenal and complementing its existing broadcast medium – newspaper ads, catalogue, poster. Promotion offers for the period November 28 – December 10 2008 at Carrefour Malaysia are already searchable on Yellotext, as of today.

For Yellotext, this collaboration looks set to further catalyze its users’ growth. Currently, the company is exploring opportunities with more companies in other sectors to organically grow its user-base and expand its search directory.

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Budding Ventures Showcased at Startup Camp KL ’08

startup camp klSix recipients of MSC Malaysia’s Technopreneur Pre-Seed Fund Programme were paraded by Roslan Bakri Zakaria of Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) during Startup Camp KL yesterday. The six Pre-Seed’ed projects:

  • Elevyn, web-based platform that connects community-based sellers to a socially-conscious market
  • EzyPzy, contact management, information repository and information distribution web application
  • Urekalabs, creator of videoAD and roo.my
  • Thisisbinding.com, print, photocopy and bind your work
  • TeDDology, social network for Malaysia’s technopreneurs
  • SocialWalk, social network that revolves around events

Budding Ventures

startup camp kl

Devan Singaram (Elevyn), Kenneth Kiffer Fong (EzyPzy), Roni Shah Mustapha (Urekalabs), Hakim Albasrawy (Thisisbinding), Asyraf Abdul Rahman (TeDDology) and Tham Keng Yew (SocialWalk), together with Roslan Bakri Zakaria, shared their experiences applying for the Pre-Seed Fund and also their start-up adventures. 

Some interesting facts about the Fund:
  1. The Pre-Seed Fund offers up to RM150,000 for anyone to kick-start their business ideas.
  2. To date, there are 168 start-ups funded with 90% 19% of them already with some forms of revenue.
  3. In recent months, each Batch attracts about 400+ applications.
  4. Lots of submissions related to greeting cards and education. Majority of the Pre-Seed fund applications were related to education and online wedding.
  5. The Fund is an outright grant a conditional grant. 
    • If a funded company makes RM1 million within 3 years upon completion of the project, the company is required to return the RM150,000.
    • If a funded company receives RM1 million investment within 3 years upon completion of the project, the company too is required to return the RM150,000.
  6. Preferably, two stakeholders for each project, with one as primary as full-time and the secondary (can be part-time).
  7. The minimum requirement: Develop a prototype at the end of one year
  8. Only 60% of the approved fund can be used for ‘allowance’.
  9. Each project team member can only receive a maximum ‘working’ allowance of RM1,500.
  10. From Submission to Approval process takes about four to five months.
  11. Each applicant can only be involved in one funded project, at any one time.

For those interested, some key considerations when applying for the Fund:

  1. All you need is an idea (with some elements of IT, of course). 
  2. The “Application Form” is important (and probably the most time-consuming).
  3. Have a right revenue model (e.g. target market and how you plan to get to that market)
  4. Research on your competitors
  5. Technology innovation
  6. Business innovation
  7. Present your ideas, concisely
  8. Time and pace yourself during presentation
  9. Reference – letter of support is helpful
  10. Know your facts related your business ideas
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You ASK, Yellotext Answers

yellotextASK is a new SMS-based directory search service by Yellotext Sdn Bhd. It enables users to find whereabouts of desired items and also contact details of their favorite shops from its ASK Listing directory, anywhere, anytime.

To use the search service, just type “ASK” followed by a search query e.g. “ASK hair salon curve” or “ASK hair salon” and then send to 36869. The search engine can also ‘understand’ queries in natural language e.g. “ASK looking for a hair salon at gardens.” Response time is typically under a minute (depending on network conditions).

Simple Steps to ASK Yellotext
yellotext how to

Some search results are followed by supplementary mobile vouchers called ASK Poster (adopting Google AdWords concept). Poster is designed for merchants to send promotional vouchers to Yellotext’s search users and each Poster is tagged to a set of search keywords.

Someone who searches for a bookstore, for example, is probably more likely to have an intention to buy books. She will find a discount voucher for books useful and relevant (and timely). With ASK Poster, bookstore operator can effectively respond to purchase intention by enticing customers with promotional offers.

Mobile voucher is free to all ASK users. Instead, Yellotext charges merchants based on the number of times their vouchers are delivered to search users. Additionally, merchants pay for listing on the ASK search directory and search users pay RM0.30 for each set of search results.

Txt Msg Rules, Still

SMS usage is still showing strong growth. A recent market report “2008 Global Mobile – Data and Content Markets” by Research and Markets estimated over 2 trillion text messages will be sent worldwide in 2008 and the number is expected to grow further. “Market Trends: Mobile Messaging, Worldwide, 2006 – 2011” by Gartner also expected text messages to surpass 2 trillion in 2008; Asia-Pacific and Japan are the biggest users of mobile messaging with estimated 1.7 trillion messages to be sent in 2008. Gartner also estimated mobile messaging revenue to reach US$60.2 billion in 2008, a 15.7% increase over 2007.

In Malaysia, 56.9 billion text messages were sent in 2007 alone (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission). That’s about a billion text messages sent each week!

According to Chow Tuck Mun, CEO of Yellotext, ASK service “combines the two widely used applications, search and SMS.” Its ASK Poster is a well thought out approach to SMS marketing. Conventional bulk SMS marketing is spam-oriented whereas Poster is driven by users’ intentions and allows contextualized mobile marketing. Rather than simply throwing spaghetti against the wall and see if it sticks, ASK makes SMS marketing more targeted, intelligent, effective and less intrusive.

ASK search is in early commercialization stage and its directory already has over 3,000 records (and growing) covering eight major shopping malls in the Klang Valley area – Pavilion, Suria KLCC, Berjaya Times Square, Mid Valley, The Gardens, 1Utama, The Curve and Sunway Pyramid. Currently, the ASK service is only available to subscribers of the three main Malaysian mobile carriers – Maxis, DiGi and Celcom.

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