Upin & Ipin: The zenith of Malaysian animation (so far)

upin & ipin

Mention Malaysian animation to me and the first thing that pops to my brain are those various animated public service announcements on TV in 80s, such as the anti-aedes and anti-dadah campaigns and the Sang Kancil animated stories and age-old parables inculcating various social values.

Fortunately, the state of Malaysian animation has come a long way since those shorts. 3D style animation is the way forward and a Malaysian animated show currently riding high is the much beloved Upin & Ipin, which features the adventures of 5 year old twin brothers in a fictional Malaysian kampung (village). Originally a side project for the blockbuster animated film Geng: The Adventure Begins (Malaysia’s first CGI-animated feature film which is one of the highest-grossing Malay-language films in history), Upin & Ipin was introduced on TV9 in 2007 as a six-episode Ramadhan month special, to instill significance of the Islamic holy month amongst children. To date, the series has reached its fourth season, including another Ramadan special season in 2008. Its third season which was more secularized and went under the new full title Upin & Ipin dan Kawan-Kawan and which premiered in early 2009, was picked up by Disney Channel Asia for the international market (airing in November 2009) with dubs in English (the official dub, as the credits and episode titles are in English as well), Mandarin and other languages.

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Winners at the 10th International Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2010

International APICTA Awards 2010

The 10th International APICTA Awards 2010 was held on Friday October 15 2010 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Malaysia.

This year, a total of 180 nominations from 16 member economies for 16 categories. “From a small member base of 5 countries in the first International APICTA Awards, we have now grown to include 17 nations across the Asia-Pacific region, most recently adding Taiwan to our ranks,” said Sutee Satanasathapon, Chairman of APICTA. The 16 member economies of APICTA are Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Since it started in 2001, the awards programme has recognized and rewarded the innovation of numerous ICT companies across the Asia-Pacific region. Past APICTA winners have contributed to the regional ICT Industry with two such examples being:

  • CyberPlanet Interactive Co. Ltd., 2004 Winner for Media and Entertainment, has become a public-listed company and expanded into China and Japan to become the largest console game developer in South East Asia
  • Les’ Copaque, 2007 Winner for Best Start-up Company, is now rated as one of Malaysia’s foremost production and animation houses with its flagship animation series, Upin & Ipin with broadcast in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Malaysia won 4 Awards

There are a total of 29 Malaysian finalists for this year’s Awards, consisting of 24 companies, 3 universities and 2 schools. Winners are judged based on these criteria:

  • Uniqueness
  • Market potential / value for public
  • Functionalities and features
  • Quality and application of technology
  • Presentation

In this year’s International APICTA Awards, a total of 4 Malaysian entries winning the following categories – Research and Development, Tourism and Hospitality, E-Learning, and E-Government. Singapore-based Ephone International Pte Ltd clinched two awards – Best E-Health and Best Start-up Company – for its product, EPI Life. Other notable winners are IP Payments Account Receivable Solution from Australia, which won the Financial Industry Applications category and Thai company, Geomove Co. Ltd. for their Sensor Service Grid application, which won the Tools & Infrastructure category.

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10th Malaysia Plan on IT, entrepreneurship and startups, announced by PM @najibrazak

10th Malaysia PlanExtracts from the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011 – 2015) speech by Prime Minister Najib this morning, related to IT industry and stimulating the emergence of startups in Malaysia:

  • Encouraging entrepreneurship: “…bankruptcy laws will be simplified to support a risk-taking culture, eliminate the stigma of failure and allow high calibre and credible entrepreneurs who fail to become active again (p 20);
  • National Key Economic Areas, NKEAs: Information and communication technology, ICT as one of the 12 NKEAs (p. 15).
  • Focus on soft infrastructure development: The 10th Malaysia Plan’s “allocation for non-physical infrastructure will be increased to 40%, compared with 21.8% in the 9MP. Focus will be given to skills development programmes, R&D activities and venture capital funding geared towards promoting a higher level of innovation in the country” (page 14);
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The Unofficial Guide to MSC Malaysia ICON Grant Application (Forms Included)

On August 04 2009, Malaysian PM announced the creation of the MSC Malaysia ICON grant programme, with RM12.86 million allocation (under the second economic stimulus plan). hello ICON The purpose of ICON is spur the creation of local online contents to support Malaysian broadband strategy.

The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), custodian of the MSC Malaysia, will spearhead the implementation of ICON, with the ultimate aim of unleashing groundswell of vibrant and sustainable digital content industry in Malaysia. Currently, MDeC is inviting individuals and companies to submit project proposals for the ICON programme. Malaysians and majority-owned Malaysian companies are eligible to apply for the Grant. But, is it hard to apply for the grant? To answer the question, here’s our not-so-famous 3-step Unofficial Guide.

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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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15 Mysterious ‘Thoroughbred’ Malaysian Open-Source Companies

Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) handpicked 15 MSC Malaysia status open-source companies to transform them into global players within two years. Target: Each capable of generating RM150 million of annual revenue!

The 15 promising open-source companies were selected from a total 46 open-source companies (out of 1929 MSC Malaysia status companies, as of Nov 25 2008). However, for whatever reason, MDeC didn’t reveal the identities of the 15 companies.

A simple search (by MSC Malaysia qualifying activities) with the term ‘open source‘ from the MSC Malaysia Company Directory only yields 10 companies, namely:

  1. Byte Craft Sdn Bhd
  2. Microlink Solutions Bhd
  3. KZEN Solutions Sdn Bhd
  4. MNS Systems (MSC) Sdn Bhd
  5. Getronics Technology Sdn Bhd
  6. ELX Operating Systems Sdn Bhd
  7. Synchroweb Software (MSC) Sdn Bhd
  8. Abyres MSC Sdn Bhd
  9. Jayway Malaysia Sdn Bhd
  10. Open Application Systems Sdn Bhd
Also, results from a search with the term ‘open‘ (in addition to the above 10 companies):
  1. Unified Communications Sdn Bhd
  2. Comline DotCom Sdn Bhd
  3. eWarna.com Sdn Bhd
  4. Consolsys Technologies Sdn Bhd
Search with ‘linux’:
  1. CSA Conventive MSC Sdn Bhd
  2. Karensoft Technology Bhd
  3. Axiomatic Solutions Sdn Bhd
  4. Milinux Networks Sdn Bhd
  5. Hybrinix Sdn Bhd
  6. Zen Computer Systems Sdn Bhd
Search with ‘java’ (MDeC is collaborating with Sun Microsystem for this initiative)
  1. Sun Microsystems Malaysia Sdn Bhd
  2. Cyber Logic IT (MSC) Sdn Bhd
  3. Plant Essence Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd
  4. Forest Interactive Sdn Bhd

That’s a total of 24 companies associated with the keywords ‘open source’, ‘open’, ‘linux’ and ‘java’ in the MSC Malaysia Company Directory. The Star’s news article reported a total 46 open-source MSC Malaysia status companies. Maybe the discrepancy occurs due to (a) beside the four search keywords, there are other keywords associated with open-source companies in the Directory or (b) the Directory is poorly maintained (or, @nazroll rightly asked, “how does mdec define an open source company?“)

Are some of the above-mentioned enterprises made up the list of the 15 mysterious creme de la creme Malaysian open-source companies?

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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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