In a conversation with Ashwin Chockalingam, Founder of Winacore Capital, he shares his thoughts with Disruptr on his latest venture in collaboration with media powerhouse, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) and why marketing is an area that needs to be prioritised by founders.
“We are of the belief that our approach with the FMT x Winacore Capital accelerator is fairly unique, with an interesting and effective combination of experience, resources, capabilities and skillsets,” he points out.
The accelerator which appeals to young and growing founders will have both FMT and Winacore play a crucial role. FMT’s typical investment is media in exchange for equity, while Winacore Capital offers financial investment and hands-on financial guidance.
This will also include setting up of financial accounts processes, preparation of financial projections, cash flow planning, pitch decks for future capital raises. Ashwin also shares that in addition to providing business strategy advice, his assistances go as far as being based in the offices of portfolio companies if required.
The accelerator which was established mid last year has already invested in several rising startups in the country. One of them being, Products2U, a startup which aims to facilitate online commerce for underserved offline communities plans to expand into new regions in Malaysia, along with onboarding new offerings onto their platform.
According to FMT Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Azeem Abu Bakar says he was excited to get behind and support Products2U, adding that the business has shown impressive market traction thus far.
“With FMT’s media firepower, I believe that we could “supercharge” Products2U growth,” he says. As of November 2022, FMT attracts 6 million unique visitors to the website in a month, placing the English language news site with the largest audience base.
Reports have also shown that FMT has the highest number of online impressions, at 20.1 billion in 2022.
The accelerator’s investment into Products2U marked its second investment, with its first investment being in Mart Expo, a network of artists from across the world.
In terms of fund size and verticals of focus, Ashwin says that both FMT and Winacore Capital can technically invest in ventures together or independently, with effectively an evergreen type fund structure.
“We are currently looking startups based in Malaysia with no specific vertical in mind. However, we are looking to invest in ventures that have built a minimum viable product and have found product market fit, preferably from seed stage onwards,” he says.
Investments are done on a case-to-case basis, hence the amounts invested may vary significantly depending on the venture. Each investment will likely (but not necessarily) be at least RM500,000.
While the collaboration between a media house and a VC is not common, similar model of collaborations have been done before. In 2021, Cikguu, an education tech-startup received a funding of RM50,000 from 1337 Venture and media group Amanz.
Amanz CEO, Ikhwan Nazri, at the time said, “Through AmanzNXT, our investment arm, we started to co-fund with 1337 Ventures and Cikguu is the startup that aligned with our ‘Membentuk Komuniti Berinformasi’ (forming an information community) moto.
Marketing and public relations have often a been common struggle points for startups across the nation as the focus during the early days of the startup are often invested in generating revenue and ensuring the team sees another day operating.
However, in return, smaller startups with no room to invest in marketing end up falling behind or experience growth much slower. Through collaborations between a media house and a VC, Ashwin is optimistic selected startups may be able to balance both marketing through a media powerhouse and at the same time, be able to grow operations wise.
For more information on the accelerator, visit here.