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1337 Ventures

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1337 Ventures Turns 10: CEO & Founding Partner, Bikesh Lakhmichand Reflects on The Journey and Lessons Learnt

1337 Ventures Early Stage VC firm

2022 marks a very special year for 1337 Ventures as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. 

A lot has changed since the early days and we continue to remain at the forefront of providing expertise and capital to early and growth-stage companies in Malaysia and around South East Asia. 

As we celebrate this milestone anniversary, here are some reflections from our CEO and Founding Partner, Bikesh Lakhmichand about the evolution of the Malaysian startup scene, how 1337 Ventures has grown, and his favourite part in the last decade and more.

How has the Malaysian startup scene evolved since the year you established 1337 Ventures in 2012?

Bikesh: 

“Over the last decade, the startup ecosystem in Malaysia has been gradually growing. Everyone has matured – the entrepreneurs, fundings and the investors. 

When we first started, the ecosystem was not accustomed to an accelerator model. Startup founders in Malaysia were not focused on equity. Plus, talent was more technical, cautious and risk-averse. 

Fast forward to the present day, there’s this fresh burst of entrepreneurial spirit where we see corporate professionals quitting their high-paying jobs to start a business. They have an audacious idea that comes from solving problems and the desire to make a difference in society. Only then, do they seek for expertise to manage the technicality. 

There are also more funding options and opportunities available now – from numerous venture capitals (VC), angel investors and Equity Crowdfunding (ECF) platforms.”

CEO & Founding Partner, Bikesh Lakhmichand Reflects on The Journey and Lessons Learnt
Bikesh at MyFintech Week 2019

In your words, what do you think are the key drivers that lead to 1337 Ventures being the VC it is today? 

Bikesh:

“We’ve never been a VC that’s obsessed with annual profit and loss statements.

The team itself are those you’ll not find in a classic VC. Everyone here is a key individual from marketing, and finance to tech and because of this, we clearly understand the startup journey. With the startups, we’ve learnt as much as we shared, which is a key driver that has led us to who we are today.

1337 Ventures is also very approachable; we’ve established a funnel which begins with the Pitch Tuesday sessions. It is a platform that allows early-stage to pre-Series A startups to pitch their ideas to our team of analysts. From here, we’ll see how to help navigate their journey, either through the signature Alpha Startups™ pre-accelerator or any of our corporate programmes”.

Alpha Startups™ Digital Accelerator 2021

In the last 10 years, what are your biggest takeaways as a

1. entrepreneur 2.  leader 3.  investor  4. mentor

Bikesh:

“As a leader, it is crucial to know that you cannot do everything alone. I understand that you are passionate about the idea and the vision but it is key to let go and learn how to delegate tasks and decisions making. It may be hard to put into practice but it is important to continue honing this skill. 

For example, as an investor, I cannot oversee every deal, I assign my team of analysts to go out and discover deals. This allows me to focus on higher-value activities while also keeping them empowered with greater autonomy. I’ve also learnt to offer the required resources and training they may need to complete their tasks. Ultimately, it is all about building a dedicated team that runs by itself”.

The majority of your current team in 1337 Ventures are mostly Gen Y and Gen Z. What do you find most inspiring about them?

Bikesh:

“What inspires me about them is 1) they do things with a sense of purpose and 2) they see the world in a different light.  As a VC in Malaysia, we strive to be different. My team are constantly challenging themselves and finding ways to make improvements – which for me is an invaluable asset because we are always looking to improve.”

1337 Ventures and Leet Capital team at Raya gathering 2022

What has been your favourite part of the last 10 years?

Bikesh:

“Venture capitalism in South East Asia has grown and shaped the investment landscape so much in the last decade, however, so many of these VCs don’t exist anymore.

My favourite part is how we sustained and adapted while staying relevant to the startup ecosystem in Malaysia. During the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Alpha Startups™ pre-accelerator programme went fully virtual in an attempt to support local startups.

With the Malaysian government facilitating more funding options for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), we responded by launching Leet Capital, a licensed Equity Crowdfunding platform in 2019. Not forgetting the corporate innovation programmes that we host as the pioneers of design thinking strategy in Malaysia. This journey is what I am most proud of.”

Finally, what do the upcoming years look like for 1337 Ventures?

Bikesh:

“Going fully digital with Alpha Startups™ made us realise that more startup funding is required in the ecosystem. This is why earlier this year, the 1337 Accelerator Fund 1 was launched together with seasoned angel investor Asgari Stephens and former COO of JobStreet.com, Suresh Thiru. 

Moving forward, we want the startups to see us as their partner throughout their fundraising journey –  from the seed stage, right up to even series A. If there is someone with a great idea, they should have access to funding. If there’s no support, we won’t be able to create the next unicorn not only in Malaysia but regionally in South East Asia. 

Hence, why we have started to pay attention to the region after a long hiatus of only focusing on Malaysia. Startups in the region can look forward to being part of Alpha Startups™ pre-accelerator very soon.”

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