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ECHO, formerly Ketchup and WeHantar, wins 1337 Ventures’ Alpha Startups Digital Accelerator Cohort 43

A startup striving to make Malaysian employees mentally healthier was among the top two winners at 1337 Ventures’ Alpha Startups™ Digital Accelerator (ASDA) Cohort 43.

The founder, Banu Chandran, launched ECHO, which stands for Everyone Can Help Out, after experiencing burnout.

“I realised others might be experiencing a similar situation, given that the pandemic has worsened mental health by 26%. And even if their loved ones might want to help, they usually don’t have the capability to do so. So I decided to help others by being the person that I needed during the burnout,” Banu explained, as she and her team are equipped with clinical psychology training and hold Masters degrees in the field.

From right, Samiksha Banu Chandran, CEO, Sashya Siddhartha,CMO and Shazuan Danial, COO of ECHO

Previously named Ketchup (to-catch-up, geddit?), ECHO’s services include health check surveys, mental health first aid training, and online check-ins. The validation of being chosen goes beyond just the funding; as Banu says, “It means a lot to know that our initiative is supported by more people than just us.” “With the funds,” she added, “we will be able to kick things off faster.”

WeHantar, a logistics startup, also received seed funding and prizes from 1337 Ventures and MDEC respectively.

WeHantar launched its beta website in July of this year and received its first successful transaction from Malaysia to Indonesia soon after that. They have set themselves apart from other logistics firms by offering flat-rate, door-to-door shipping for packages weighing up to 75 kg. Deliveries are made within one month. 

Ash Najwan, Founder of WeHantar

The founder, Ash Najwan, has spent the last few months focused on building relationships with industry partners along the value chain. He said that market research and business model optimization required many pivots and took up the first two quarters of 2022. This groundwork will allow them to now launch quicker, and scale their operations with the funds coming in.

It was clear during the Demo Day that the crowd also truly believed in the necessity of a service like WeHantar, as they were crowned the crowd favourite out of the other 11 teams present. 

Other finalists included  AirBoard Technologies, JomLiv, Happy Preggie, WOOP Scholarship, Drone Here, Salestify, Thrift, The Other School and Cari Hantu.  

Looking at the diversity of teams, Kavidha Natarajan, Head of Leet Academy (the education arm of 1337 Ventures), said, “One thing we really love here at 1337 is the gamut of ideas that come up every time we run an Alpha Startups™ cohort.” Out of the 46 teams and even in the Top 11, you can see teams like Cari Hantu looking to bring history, tourism, and augmented reality together. Then you have teams like AirBoard, run by students who want to make blended and interactive learning affordable using hardware and software. “It’s always a mixed bag of surprises that keep us on our toes, looking for our next investment.”

The latest Alpha Startups™ Cohort 43 is organised by 1337 Ventures & Leet Academy, supported by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Digital Penang. The pre-accelerator is a six-week virtual programme, exclusively for idea and MVP stage startups. Pre-register for the next accelerator programme. we’ll update you when a new cohort begins, https://1337.ventures/asda/pre-register.

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