IF you have an idea you would like to see turn into a business but are unsure of how to go about it, chances are, you could become a startup. Startups are small companies working around an idea that could potentially be in demand in the future. These small-scale businesses initially became popular during the dotcom rush at the beginning of the millennium, when tech­-based startups were (and still are) a big hit in Silicon Valley. The companies still standing, such as Amazon and eBay, are Internet giants today, but were startups a decade ago.

In San Francisco, billion dollar tech companies were passionately funding dorm room projects by Ivy League undergrads hoping for similar luck. That was how Facebook received its initial funding from PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel, who made an angel investment of US$500,000 in the social network, which is now on Forbes’ 50 World’s Most Valuable Brands list.

Startups are all about bright minds coming together to solve a problem using business as the medium. The idea of WhatsApp (initially a startup, too) is to just allow users to send text messages for free. Victoria’s Secret came to be because founder Roy Raymond felt embarrassed walking into a lingerie shop to openly buy something for his wife, and his solution turned out beneficial for other men, too.

In Malaysia today, looking for an investor to seedfund your idea maybe neither simple nor difficult.

Your business needs to be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia and have accounts filed properly. Most investors don’t put money into an idea, they usually invest in the people executing the idea and also the reputation of the startup.

External funding has its own benefits and drawbacks. Investors will require a fraction of the company’s share in return for the investment made. This basically means part of the business profit will have to be shared between the investors. Some startup owners are not too fond of having the managerial power broken down and shared with outsiders.

Avid photographer and blogger, Jonathan Yip had different plans for his clothing line when he started in his senior years of high school. His investment for his business was solely funded by his passion.

Starting young: Jonathan Yip, posing with his clothing line Comme Des Malaysia, kicked off his venture while in high school.

Starting young: Jonathan Yip, posing with his clothing line Comme Des Malaysia, kicked off his venture while in high school.

As an event photographer and advertorial blogger, he saved up his side income to kickstart his interest in business. Large corporations spend millions a year on just marketing, which involves advertising. For a young entrepreneur like Yip, channelling big bucks just to have his brand known wasn’t too reasonable for him.

“Sales were stagnant for awhile until a good a friend of mine, Chammaine Tan (former Miss Universe Malaysia finalist) helped me promote my clothing on her Instagram account. I’m thankful for that favour as it got sales moving.” co-founder Lim Rue­Hann – whose health-based infographics recently went viral – thinks it’s about time Malaysians are made aware of health concerns in the country.

The website she created with her friends is intended to educate Malaysians on how to stay healthy with simple tips and tricks available to most of us.

“Financially speaking, sustaining a business project like this website can be difficult. But when you’re fuelled by interest and passion, you tend not to complain,” said the 27­-year-­old, who left her job to work on the website.

“Registering the business as a private limited company was the part that set us back the most. But all of this can be done for under RM3,000,” added the nutrition and community health graduate. She urges Malaysian youths to pursue their ideas while studying, if possible, as work life can be more time-consuming.

“Youths today have to learn how to take smart risks when it comes to business. Business is meant to generate profit, but there is more to business than just money,” said Yong Joe Kit, 17.

“Social skills are the building blocks that could decide if you’re funded or not,” added the aspiring young entrepreneur, who is also part of Thiel’s prestigious Under 20 community.

Luck also plays a role in securing opportunities. Young entrepreneurs today should look out for other aspects of the business world that can add value to a startup, as cash investment will run out eventually.

Monetary funding can be too mainstream, at times. Entrepreneurs today are looking for alternatives to add value to their company, without relying too much on literal cash funding from external parties.

In startup-friendly cities like Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, there are companies that provide non-­monetary investment. Sydney-based venture, technology agency BlueChilli, provides software and web

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