When running a fast-paced business, more often than not, you have to wear different hats to meet the needs of your company. Social Media Ninja, People Operations, VP of the Pantry… you name it. Though we know that you’re gung-ho about your business, you also have to be smart about it. Previously, we spoke about apps that will increase your productivity . Now, let us share with you some of the resources available in Malaysia, to simplify some aspects of your startup. Make sure you read until the end because there’s a happy ending!
If you type ‘Crowdfunding Education Malaysia’ on Google search, you’ll find Skolafund.com as the top non-sponsored suggestion of the first page. This comes as no surprise as this social entrepreneurial venture deserves to be where it should be. Skolafund is known as a well-recognised education crowdfunding platform in both Malaysia and Singapore, and was recently listed in Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30. We spoke to Tengku Syamil, its co-founder and CEO just recently in learning the history, the process and the vision behind Skolafund’s establishment.
The Journey so Far
In brief, Skolafund is an online crowdfunding campaign platform founded in 2014 with a vision to help underprivileged university students in Malaysia and Singapore to fund their tertiary education fees and expenses.
How it all started? As a student at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, Syamil and his partner Syakir, noticed a major issue among students in their university, which was the difficulty in finding financial support. Syamil recalls that he came across a Facebook post about a student who was struggling to find financial support to fund his studies and to support his family. Yet, to his surprise, hundreds of other students offered their help by asking for his bank account details so that they can help him regardless of how much they could donate. This heartwarming situation struck him with the idea to come up with a website that connected deserving underprivileged students who were seeking financial support with groups of concerned individuals who were willing to help – the rest was history.
The beginning was not all smooth sailing as their survey on ‘crowdfunding’ received copious amounts of unsupportive feedback. Syamil laments, “majority of the respondents have never heard about crowdfunding before, not even the famous Kickstarter” and this showed that the Skolafund team had to focus on educating their target market on crowdfunding first before anything. With the help of local celebrities and social media influencers like Dato’ Fazley Yaakob and Anwar Hadi who shared their efforts on social media, Skolafund slowly gained positive recognition that boosted their credibility.
“Another problem is that both of the co-founders are not equipped with technical knowledge”, Syamil declares that plan and ideas won’t work without skills. Sadly, it is during this stage that Skolafund had to deal with the greatest challenge where most of their funding proposals were rejected based on two reasons, “they (prospect funders) didn’t think the idea could work or they didn’t believe that we could execute it well.” In April 2015, with their own savings they managed to bootstrap and build Skolafund’s alpha version website to prove their idea could work. The first student’s RM 5,000 scholarship campaign on their site got fully funded within 3 days and with this proof-of-concept, Skolafund joined the Startupbootcamp Fintech Accelerator program and gained a pre-seed funding that helped them to built their Beta site; they’ve been excelling ever since.
Passion & Ambition
Conclusively, Syamil advises all aspiring entrepreneurs to focus on the idea that entrepreneurship is all “about solving problems innovatively, while building a business that is closed to their hearts so that it can bring genuine passion to them in a long run.” This is very important as passion will fuel entrepreneurs when going through tough times and challenges.
Last but not least, Syamil also stresses on the importance of gathering the right team members when assembling a new startup. When asked if there was one thing that he wished he knew when Skolafund started, he wished he knew “the importance of bringing in people with the right set of skills, have passion for the problem that you are trying to solve and have the necessary experience ” as he believed that it would allow you to scale your business with minimum resources.
Five months into the year and 2016 has already been a year of many surprises, but no doubt an exciting one for Supahands in the Tech Start Up community and we’d love to share that all with you.
While it’s been challenging and we’ve been trying to figure out the angle of which we will write for our readers, we’ve decided to embody Nike’s way to “Just Do It” instead and be generous in our sharing of knowledge and know-how with everybody.
So welcome to our new blog!
Supabytes will be the place where you’ll be able to find bits and bytes of information from us to you and will cover everything from the current promotions or latest features in Supahands, our personal learnings to stories of businesses from all around the Asia Pacific Region!
Here are some awesome categories which you can look forward to reading in each of the sections:
News – Keep yourself informed on our latest collaborations, promotions, events, conferences and new features at Supahands!
Business – In our own journey of building Supahands, we’ve made a fair deal of misconceptions and mistakes, so learn from us and not repeat them to progress further in building your dream business. We also want to share best practices, tips and hacks from other Entrepreneurs, Startups and Businesses around the Asia Pacific region that will help bring your business to the next level.
Community – Running a business isn’t all about making money but rather building a group of people who are like-minded and heading in a common direction. We want to build a community that will help businesses of all sizes to thrive and be more productive. Get to learn more about our pool of SupaAgents and learn more on how you could join our Supahands community.
Social – As a company, it’s always good to be able to give back to society in one way or another. With that, articles under this section will highlight some our collaborations with Non Profit Organisations as part of integrating community service into our business model for the better good.
As we squeeze our brain juice dry to produce these weekly articles for you, we hope that you will take away some elements of inspiration, ideas and action. Similarly, if you have great ideas and thoughts to shout out, feel free to drop us an email at email@example.com for us to feature you on Supabytes too.