Make The Pitch Season 2

>> Thursday, October 4, 2012

I don't watch tv often, but I am lucky tonight as the final episode of the reality show Make The Pitch (Season 2) is on the air when I switch on the tv to keep me company while sprucing up the family hall.

Here are all the six finalists:

Offers motorhome vacations
Gathers information on personal finances needs (eg credit card and loans) from providers across Malaysia in one website

Dahlya Fashion
Innovative extender design for muslimah wear

FanXT Sports
fantasy sports site that offers international sports

Fashion Valet
Online shopping website with ready-to-wear garments, accessories and handbags, from chic classics, designers to edgy statement pieces, promoting local/regional designers.

Web-based programmes that offers mobile big data analytic processes

The last 3 receives offers from MyEG as the main sponsor for the show in return for equities. Cloudstat accepted right away, Fashion Valet accepted after a negotiation, FanXT Sports rejected. The other 3 finalists will also receive support from the other sponsors.

Got great business ideas and looking for investors? Sign up to join Season 3 here!


Toys for girls

>> Thursday, September 20, 2012

A link from Freakonomics brought me here, and article about Bettina Chen, Jennifer Kessler and Alice Brooks who founded Stanford startup Maykah, which develops toys that encourage young girls to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

From the article:

Now at Stanford University, the three women have teamed up to form Maykah, a startup aiming to create toys that encourage young girls to study science, technology, engineering and math. Their first toy is Roominate, a dollhouse for girls to build, from decorating it with wallpaper to installing the circuits that power the lights, fans and door buzzer.
All three founders trace their passion for technology back to their childhood playthings. Brooks said she asked her dad for a Barbie, only to receive a saw, which she used to make a dollhouse. Chen built elaborate Lego creations with her older brother. Kessler grew up playing Mastermind with her dad. They hope that Roominate will offer the same kind of inspiration.
"There are lots of great toys on the market," Kessler said. "But we don't see the toys that inspired us when we were young."

And a couple of quotes that I like:

"We think it's so important to reach girls early on, when they're still exploring and thinking about who they want to be when they grow up," Kekelis said.
"We want young girls to see every career, every discipline as an option," Kessler said. "We want all girls to have an excitement for all subjects."
I went to their website and here's what the dollhouse (basic unit) with the circuit board looks like. Well, the circuit board is not visible here.

I love the idea! I've always wanted to invent toys that are both fun and educational at the same time :)


Food & Beverage (F&B) concepts

>> Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Last Friday, I had lunch at a restaurant belonging to a friend's family company group. The group's F&B chains include a local staple food, a snack chain, a dessert chain, and the latest one, the where I ate last Friday, is Korean food. I was in awe as I listen to him talking about their business.


Most of us probably have fantasized about having our own F&B business at some time or other. What's yours?

For me, these are the 3 concepts that I like to 'berangan-angan' about. I say 'angan-angan', because I don't foresee myself actually going to do this for real. Not yet anyway.

1. Drive-through meals. Now, the only drive-through options we have are fast foods. But why not for other types of food as well? As a working mother, there are days when I could be too tired or too late to cook after work, so I relish these take-away or drive-through options. Even the convenience of not having to park and get out of the car to buy food is very much appreciated! There will be less than 10 menus offered, food that majority Malaysians are used to, like nasi ayam, nasi lemak, nasi minyak, kue tiaw goreng, fish and chips, etc. These will be pre-packed in nice transparent containers, ready to be placed in plastic bags and paid for. The outlet name will be 'Tapau' or 'Dinner Box', the location must be a heavy traffic area where people pass by on their way home from work.

2. Ok, this is not so much an F&B outlet but more of a social website using the idea of internet as the effective connector between supply and demand. A customer may browse the options (depending on location/menu) offerred by home 'chefs' and pre-order meals to be picked up on the specified date. The idea is - mothers cooking at home can just size up whatever they are planning to cook for their own family, extending their 'service' to outsiders who maybe looking for good home-cooked food. So, it's a win-win situation for both parties. The web could be named or, depending whether the business model is designed to appeal more to the service provider or to the customers. This idea is not my own actually, it's from here.

3. Ice-cream parlour! My fantasy from 10 years ago, but not so much now - it has dropped to number three spot. I have sweet tooth - I fancy all sort of sweet desserts, including ice-creams. Some 10-20 years ago, we don't have much of shops specialising in ice-cream, but recently frozen yoghurt chains spring up like nobody's business, so this is not exactly a novel concept.


Recently I read Philip J Romano's book, 'Food for Thought: How the Creator of Fuddrucker's, Romano's Macaroni Grill, and eatZi's built a $10 billion Empire One Concept at a Time' - it was quite enjoyable. That was the first time I heard of him, said to be the "Steven Spielberg of the restaurant industry". In this book, he told of his background, his first ventures into business, how he conceives his restaurant concepts and how he executes his ideas, as well as his failures. He has lauched more than 25 dining concepts so far.

He propels the idea about exhibition or demonstrative cooking/kitchen, so that people can see how their food is being prepared. He also likes for customers to be able to see the food being used in the cooking, so sometimes storage is open near the customer area rather than hidden at the back. He calls it 'truth in feeding'. He likes to make the customer feels some form of ownership over the restaurant. He's very creative, not just in creating concepts for his restaurants but also in marketing and management strategies. After opening Fuddrucker's, a hamburger restaurant, he created Hamburger Appreciation Society of North America (HASNA). Guess who won the best restaurant award? To counter slow sales on Monday and Tuesday night, he announced a msytery free dinner night once a month which could fall either on a Monday or Tuesday. To reduce the amount of dish broken, he announced a bonus amount. Each dish broken will be deducted from the bonus, the remaining amount goes to the staff. Compare this against deducting from the person's salary.

Conveniently, the book contains an Appendix B which listed down Phil Romano's Food Concepts in chronological order. I'll pick some to share here:

The Key Hole (1969). Members-only upscale bar with key-access only. Engraved customer names on bar for a charitable donation. Wall-to-wall portraits (caricature) of customers. (Customer ownership)

First National Bar & Grill (1974). Restaurant on the bottom floor of office tower. Charged by the minute for (buffet) lunch. (Because limited space to cater to big office lunch crowds means they need fast customer turnover).

Pasta Palace (1975). Movie house turned restaurant. Terraced seating, silent movies, menu on screen. Visible pasta machine, deli in front lobby.

Fuddruckers (1980). Upscale hamburger restaurant featuring exhibition cooking, on-premises bakery and butcher shop.

Romano's Macaroni Grill (1988). Northern Italian fare, exhibition kitchen, chef-driven operation. Summer & winter menus. Contrast of upscale and downscale design elements.

Nachomama's (1992). Authentic Mexican-Mexican food, multiple frozen drink machines, zany decor, bilingual wait staff.

EatZi's (1996). Restaurant-meal replacement concept featuring fresh restaurant-quality take-out food.

Hunger Busters (2000). Rolling soup kitchen operated by The Food Foundation, founded to feed and clothe the homeless.


Also, if you are into the F&B business, you might want to drop by PWTC this 12-14 July for the 13th Malaysian International Food & Beverage Trade Fair.


>> Thursday, June 21, 2012

While googling for something, I came across a website that is full of resources for entrepreneurs in Malaysia. publishes classifieds, directories and job vacancies. I mean, just look at the vast categories below and their post numbers! Good place to do a bit of survey/research too, or if you're still looking for what business to go into.

Agen Hartanah (749)
Bengkel Basikal (34)
Bengkel Kereta (710)
Bengkel Motosikal (143)
Bengkel Tayar (84)
Bisnes Air Mineral (171)
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Bisnes Aksesori Kereta (192)
Bisnes Broadband (393)
Bisnes Burger (194)
Bisnes Cermin Mata (56)
Bisnes Cuci Kereta (295)
Bisnes Cyber Cafe (245)
Bisnes Dobi (721)
Bisnes Ebook (573)
Bisnes Handphone (454)
Bisnes Hotel Dan Resort (260)
Bisnes Ice Blended (207)
Bisnes Jam Tangan (115)
Bisnes Jeruk (68)
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Bisnes Komputer (793)
Bisnes Kurier Dan Logistik (216)
Bisnes Minuman (553)
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Bisnes Sms (91)
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Bisnes Steamboat (89)
Bisnes Tablet Pc (113)
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Bisnes Western Food (81)
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Diskusi Bisnes (1247)
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Expo Karnival Tapak Niaga (2001)
Forex Malaysia (661)
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Iklan Tv Radio Media Massa (85)
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32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow

>> Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The New York Times magazine listed 32 innovations in an article recently. Some sounds cool, some makes me wonder whether they are being serious or not. Well, to each their own.

Here's a few of my favourites:

1 Electric Clothes
Physicists at Wake Forest University have developed a fabric that doubles as a spare outlet. When used to line your shirt — or even your pillowcase or office chair — it converts subtle differences in temperature across the span of the clothing (say, from your cuff to your armpit) into electricity. And because the different parts of your shirt can vary by about 10 degrees, you could power up your MP3 player just by sitting still. According to the fabric’s creator, David Carroll, a cellphone case lined with the material could boost the phone’s battery charge by 10 to 15 percent over eight hours, using the heat absorbed from your pants pocket. Richard Morgan

26 CSI: Bathroom
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard are working on a technology that would make household cleaning supplies much smarter — almost like a sprayable forensics team. When the spray hits a surface where there are pathogens present, like your bathroom sink, it would bind to the bad stuff and turn a color — orange, say, for E. coli. Then you could knock it out with a stronger disinfectant. Nathaniel Penn

28 Michelin Star TV Dinner
Frozen food may soon be on par with anything you can get at a three-star restaurant. Sous vide — a process in which food is heated over a very long period in a low-temperature water bath — has been used in high-end restaurants for more than a decade. (Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud were early proponents.) But the once-rarefied technique is becoming mass market. Cuisine Solutions, the company that pioneered sous vide (Keller hired it to train his chefs), now supplies food to grocery stores and the U.S. military. Your local Costco or Wegmans may sell perfectly cooked sous vide lamb shanks, osso buco or turkey roulade. Unlike most meals in the freezer aisle, sous vide food can be reheated in a pot of boiling water and still taste as if it were just prepared. And because sous vide makes it almost impossible to overcook food, it’s perfect for the home cook. Fortunately, sous vide machines are becoming more affordable. “It’s like the microwave was 30 years ago,” Keller says. Michael Ruhlman

One link leads to another, and I arrived at The Innovation Whiteboard Winner, also from the NYT online magazine. Last month they invited readers to submit their innovation ideas online, "whether a theoretical invention, an ingenious reimagining of an everyday item or simply a nifty idea." There'll also be a link from there to see all the other submissions. These are the kind of ideas I hoped people will submit when I organized this blog's first giveaway.

I like the ones they chosen to feature, especially the second and last one. Here they are:

Beach Skates
“Big soda bottles cut in half and duct taped to my shoes mean I can use my power kite to skate down the beach.” MARK LANGFORD, ENGLAND

Response from Paola Antonelli, curator in MoMA's department of architecture and design:
The early testers of new materials and innovative solutions, the true pioneers, are not only engineers or scientists. Surfers, dude! That’s where it’s at. They and all the other impatient daredevils out there. Progress would not happen without them.

Light-Up Umbrella
“The illuminated shaft of this umbrella will allow motorists and cyclists to see you from a distance and slow down.” MIKE WARREN, SAN FRANCISCO

Response from James Dyson, industrial designer and founder of Dyson Inc.:
A good precaution for pedestrians at night or in fog — and a bright idea in the evolution of the umbrella. Just remember, a good umbrella is driven by function — it must first keep you dry. This idea tackles that and moves on to even more improvements.

Soda Refizzer
“If you don’t drink a liter of soda within 24 hours of opening, it goes flat. Next time this happens, drop this refizzer pill into your soft drink to restore its original pop-and-fizz glory.” ANNA BUCHBAUER, NEW YORK

Response from Ben Kaufman, founder of Quirky, a social product-development company:
Beverage companies have tried to address this with various sizes of bottles and cans, but the underlying problem still exists. Drinks go flat fast! If there is the chemistry to support this idea, you have a home run, in my opinion.

Toddler Painting Station
“Recently I made a painting station for my child in a large cardboard box; inside I taped several paper cups to hold different colors. I was able to leave a 2-year-old painting alone.” ERIC WILHELM, OAKLAND, CALIF.

Response from Martha Stewart, Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the author of "Martha's American Food" :
As a recent grandmother of two who also has rather fragile home interiors, I think I could use this idea to best advantage. Maybe it could be expanded to be able to be collapsible and folded so it could be stored when the children are absent



>> Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I learn a new concept recently - speed-matching!

Speed-Matching is a facilitated interaction between two groups to discover opportunities where co-operation might lead to potential mutual value. An opportunity typically arises by matching a challenge from one group with a solution from the other. The purpose is to identify typically 3-5 opportunities with a significant mutual value, each with a rough doable plan for realising them.

Speed-Matching is like “speed dating” where both rely on many one-to-one interactions. However, in Speed-Matching each interaction is always positive and is intended to find as many matches as possible.


Women Inventors

>> Thursday, April 12, 2012

That's the title of a book written by Stephen Currie that I've just read recently.
In the book, he has written about the following ladies:

Temple Grandin
A professor who invented ways to do better animal livestock farming. Interestingly, she is autistic and is a strong autism advocator. A movie has been made about her in 2010.

Madame CJ Walker
An entrepreneur of successful beauty and hair care products who invented new ways of marketing them.

Rose O'Neill
An illustrator who created a popular comic and doll craze Kewpie.

Grace Hopper
A computer scientist and US Navy officer who is a pioneer in the field, developed the first compiler of computer programming language, and conceptualised the idea of machine-independent programming language (leading to COBOL).

Margaret Knight
An inventor (mechanical engineer?) who invented a number of machines (she has almost 100 patents), mostly for industrial uses including to make shoes, but also with engines. She is most famous for her machine that produces (cheap) flat-bottomed paper bags.

It's amazing how inventors in America are filing patents left, right, and center even in the early nineteenth century.

Do we have such a culture in Malaysia?
Sure we have the official body in the form of Perbadanan Harta Intelek Malaysia, or Intellectual Property Corporations of Malaysia, but we don't seem to hear much about the happenings in the media.

Wait. The website share their statistics. Cool. Let's check it out.

I attempted to replicate the tables here, but they come out weird (yes, I'm clueless with html programming!), so please click here to see the numbers for yourself.

For the past 3 years, the annual number of patents filed (applied) has exceeded one thousand per annum, with about a fifth of them being granted. And the Malaysia has been the third countries with the most patent and certificates of utility innovation granted after USA and Japan. Wow! What patents are those? I would like to know!



>> Monday, March 26, 2012

Ever since I read Robert Kiyosaki's book Rich Dad Poor Dad, where he advised people to build assets that could generate income, I have been trying to think of what are the assets that could fit the bill (generate income) outside the usual things that will come to mind when talking about assets for example real property, mutual funds, bonds, shares and the likes. What are the things that are smaller in value, that can be bought with cash, and can generate income? (if you have any answer/idea, please leave a comment!)

Of course, there's a lot of businesses revolving around this concept, which is to purchase assets and rent them out, some easy examples being car rental, lorry/moving services or canopies-for-rent.

Some examples of items with even smaller value:
- books
Example: Q'reazant
- toys
- wedding needs eg dresses/gowns, pelamin
- costumes

Last Saturday, we took the kids to Zoo Melaka. We brought our pushchair for our 1-year-old, but we noticed that there were quite a number of families who were holding their babies in their arms (some are 'wearing' their babies so that's okay too, not as tiring as having to depend solely on your arms!). Don't they get tired? They may intentionally choose to carry their babies, but I imagine a service offering pushchairs for rent in places of attraction would be quite welcomed and an added value to visitors!

This service is already available in certain shopping complexes (the one that I know of is Alamanda, Putrajaya). When we went to Gold Coast, Australia back in 2010, we also rented a stroller when we went to Dreamworld.

This is how I imagine the process would be like. First, the entrepreneur would need to give a proposal to the authority or management of the place of attraction that has been identified as having a potentially significant demand. She would need to sell on the idea that this service will be appreciated by their customers and can even be added as a feature in their brochure/flyer. Then if the management has bought the idea, then she can proceed to negotiate the monthly fee to be paid to the management and what facilities (if any) is expected. Let's say the management is happy with RM1000/month (figure is plucked-from-the-air, no basis hehe).

Capital. Purchase of the pushchairs, of course. Go for a good quality ones, but not necessarily branded. The one I'm using, for example, cost only RM220, and it passed European safety standard. Ok, using Zoo Melaka as an example, I would probably go for 5 units to begin with, though this is probably more on the low side for weekend and peak times. So, total investment is RM1100.

Staff. The entreprenuer would need to hire a worker who will be manning the 'stall'. Expected salary ... my guess is around RM800/month? It's an easy task but very boring. The staff would also need to be relieved during breaks.

Rental. How does RM20 rental per entry with RM30 as deposit sounds? Fair? Let's say the take-up rate is 6 times a day on average (ok, another pluck-from-air figure, no research/survey at all), the the total proceeds is RM3600.

Operation. Ideally, if the exit point is near the entry point, then the staff could watch out for possible theft. (Yes, that's a risk that needs to be mitigated). But if it's not, then it could be quite tricky.

1) Get a good trustworthy staff.
2) Avoid theft. Would a higher deposit help?

So, on a monthly basis, the profit is 3600 - (1000+800) = 1800. This means the entrepreneur could recover the investment cost (1100) in just one month.

And then, of course, repeat this process for other places of attractions :)

Of course, this could also be a direct initiative by the management of the places of attractions, as an added source of income.

(Gosh, writing this makes me feel like an 'armchair entrepreneur' because I just think them out but I don't execute them.)

Image credit to


TR's 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2012

>> Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Technology Review is a magazine published by MIT. Every year, the editors reviewed and selected 50 companies they think are the most innovative. Go to the original link - you'll be able to click each box to read why it has been chosen together with a link to a full article on the company.

Here's a couple example:

First Solar
Why: It is reducing the cost of utility-­scale photovoltaic installations.
Key innovation: First Solar constrains costs with vertical integration of everything from plant construction to the manufacture of high-efficiency cadmium telluride cells.


Why: Online social connections and shared data offer a new way to improve the understanding and treatment of disease.
Key innovation: Published a peer-reviewed study, based on data volunteered by site users, that countered the results of a clinical trial assessing the effects of lithium on ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

There's also other names which will be familiar to you like Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Facebook, Twitter, Shell, Samsung, Zynga and many more.


Agensi Inovasi Malaysia

>> Thursday, March 1, 2012

I had the opportunity to listen to someone who was in Agensi Inovasi Malaysia talk during lunchtime just now ('was', because he is now in HDC).

Agensi Inovasi Malaysia is, in the words from their website here: a statutory body set up by the Government via AIM Act 2010, with the primary purpose of being the driving force behind Malaysia’s push towards establishing an “innovation economy” and the country’s aspirations of achieving a high-income nation status.

Vision: Wealth creation through Knowledge, Technology & Innovation

Mission: To stimulate and develop the innovation eco-system in Malaysia towards achieving the vision 2020

The National Innovation Strategy, or “Innovating Malaysia” is the official government framework for driving innovation. This holistic strategy recognises the challenges of creating a highly innovative “eco-system” and understands the need to engage with every element of society.

Under the first thrust, the point Build Futureskills today garners a lot of interest in the hall just now. The invited speaker spoke about a study done by the agency that shows children in the agre bracket 4-6 years old shows a lot of creativity but this declines when the same measure is used for primary school students. Audience is keen to know about what changes are being done in the education system in Malaysia to reduce the focus on rote learning and incorporate innovative thinking, but it seems that the agency is still at its study and engage stage.

Quadruple Helix sounds bombastic, no? But it simply means four segments working closely together: government, industry, university/academia, and society/rakyat.

Ok, here are the focused areas for inno-accelerator:
- Agri-bio
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Clean & Green
- Green Technology
- Nanotechnology
- Automtive
- Biotechnology
- Economics
- Medicinal & Aromatic Plant
- Telecommunication

Check-out a few success stories shared in the website on Manufacturing Water Bottles, Testing Aircraft Wings, and Mobile Office Apps.

There's also quite a few research papers being shared here.

Coincidently, AIM is in the news today, because the PM just launched the Proton Green Mobility Challenge yesterday.

From here:

The Proton Green Mobility Challenge brings together teams from 10 local universities, who will compete to build the best performing electric vehicle based on a standard Proton Saga.

Teams are each given one car, a battery set, a motor and controller unit, a telematic unit and RM20,000 seed fund to build their machine.

They have until October to complete a working model, which will then be tested at the Sepang International Circuit in four categories farthest distance, quarter-mile acceleration, fastest time for two laps and maximum velocity (V-max).


Holidays and annual leave

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This post is waaaayyyy late (by more than 2 months), but hey, better late than never, right?

When I spoke to a Singaporean colleague, he said that over there, the annual leave cycle ends on 31 March annually, while the school holidays is in Decembers. What this means is, the percentage of workers taking their leave in December will not be as big as Malaysia. Parents who wishes to spend more time with their children and take them for holidays do so in December, while the others will do so in March (or the first quarter of the year).

This is a win-win situation. Offices/workplace won't be too under-staffed, and holiday-makers won't need to fight over hotel vacancies and perhaps hotels won't increase their peak period premiums too much.

And the best thing is, it's a very simple change that is easy to implement, and yet has a tangible impact. Of course, one could argue that everyone should plan properly and not leave it till last minute (Dec) to take their annual leaves, but behavioral change is more difficult to attain than a simple policy change.


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