Of Might and Magic: An Interview with Jowynne Khor

Date of publishing: 10/03/2017 00:00

Jowynne Khor

On a mission to make Malaysia the startup capital of Asia, the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creative Center (MaGIC), under the program direction of Jowynne Khor, strives to connect the dots linking entrepreneurs with valuable resources, to establish networks that spark collaborations, and to create structural improvements in the startup ecosystem. 

 

Focusing on three core activities, MaGIC strives to support the success of startups in Malaysia. 

First of these core activities is Education. The MaGIC Academy was established to teach both tech and non-tech programs ranging from 2-week short courses to longform training that last from 9 to 12 weeks. These programs are open to all, though in-house clients are prioritized and given specifically curated curriculums to fit their unique needs. 

 

 

The next core activity is Acceleration, also called the Magic Acceleration Program (MAP), where enrollees can either take the Social Enterprise (SE) or the ASEAN track which caters to 50 Southeast Asian entrepreneurs. The latter is a 4-month program that equips startups with the right tools and skills geared towards success in the region, exposing them to a pool of 150 potential investors, and broadening their opportunities for growth. 

 

 

Exposure is the final core activity. Once a year, 50 homegrown startups are sponsored by MaGIC to attend a 2-week program in Silicon Valley. The startups undergo a preparatory week at a Stanford collaborative program before becoming immersed in the practical business environment and culture. 

Jowynne Khor is the Director for Community and Events at the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creative Center and the co- founder of Gorgeous Geeks, a community that empowers professional women in the male- dominated tech industry. 

“It’s lonely to be a female in this industry, which is why I want to empower and support them. I felt this, realized it, and wanted to do something about it,” explains Khor. Having experienced both successful and failed startups, she has honed her experiences into building more efficient ecosystems and adding value to entrepreneurial ventures. 

She spoke to FlySpaces about the opportunities in Southeast Asia, the contemporary state of coworking, as well as the benefits of these evolving trends. 

 

 

FlySpaces: Why is Malaysia an ideal environment for tech companies? 

Jowynne Khor: Compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is at the right time, right now. We need the government to come in first. If they say that this is the way to go as a nation, they provide support, and thus that makes it easier. The movement also needs to be picked up by corporations. Since the opportunity was created, other opportunities open as well. Startups in Singapore have a somewhat saturated market; but in Malaysia, the gaps are still there and there are several problems that still need to be solved. That’s why it’s the perfect time and place to set up these tech companies. 

FS: Describe MaGIC’s coworking space. 

JK: Our space has an event team and a community team. We build a community by using events as a reason to bring people together. When people all come together, this makes a community. These people are gathered to work, live, and stay together. They start thinking about what they can do for the community. They can plan, design, and craft things together. 

Our programs start from ideation stages, where people meet each other, form teams, and come up with creative ideas. These ideas are then converted into concrete products. This all happens inside the coworking space. Ideation bootcamp
is run by my whole team to help startups prepare for our Acceleration program. Hackathon is a platform for them to do this. We want to create a funnel for them to become successful in the Malaysian environment. 

 

 

We have 54 startups currently here with us. Some only have 2
to 3 people in them, and we have a total of 94 in the space. It’s a very open space that’s community driven. We encourage everyone to network with each other. There are no boundaries, so they can all cowork together. 

FS: What is the final message you’d like to leave with our readers? 

JK: When you want to be part of this ecosystem, no matter which role you’re playing, you should understand that everyone is important. No matter what position, gender, etc.—everybody plays an important role and we all have to acknowledge this. Hence, we can come together and move forward. When we don’t realize this, we blame each other and we think others aren’t doing enough and are not given enough opportunity, and in this way, we can’t succeed.

 

We have more inspiring interviews and features in our SpacesAsia magazine.

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