ET Ideas, a social business incubation centre in Malaysia, was started in 2008 when the idea of developing entrepreneurship was very new in Malaysia. ET Ideas has been developing individuals and providing a space to them to work on their ideas. The incubation centre has developed 29 companies and 39 associates till now which work in areas including personality development of adults and children, health, fitness, nurseries, travel, corporate social responsibility, music, and storytelling. ET Ideas has started its service in Nepal through an entrepreneurial workshop held on April 21 this year. The workshop focused on facilitating entrepreneurs to achieve holistic success in the entrepreneurial sector. The incubation centre is in the process of finding potential individuals with innovative and impactful ideas for investment. New Business Age met with Elango Thiyagu, founder of ET Ideas, who came to Nepal for the workshop. He shared the criteria of ET Ideas for investing and the importance of building impactful enterprises. Here’s an excerpt of the interview.
How does ET Ideas invest in ideas? How is it different from other incubators?
I started ET Ideas with myself being the sole investor. However, now, we have associates and other investors around us who mentor and invest in the potential people. ET Ideas is different from other incubators around the world because we are more focused on investing in a person rather than the idea. ET Ideas has a team of people who identify the person’s willingness and potential and help him/her with minimal resources. For example, if someone wants to become a Youtube storyteller, first we invest our time to understand their dedication and once we decide to work with them, we have mentors to share with them the useful skills. We invest other resources only when they are mature with their ideas.
What is the revenue model for ET Ideas in Malaysia? What will be the revenue model for ET Ideas in Nepal?
We take 15-20 per cent stake of the company. To run the incubator, ET Ideas team in Nepal will generate revenue from the charges taken by organising monthly workshops for entrepreneurs, certain percent revenue from incubates from their business and rent from the co-working space which we provide to the incubatees.
How has ET Ideas contributed to the startup scene in Malaysia?
Our biggest successes started happening in the last 3-4 years. The incubator has gone beyond the concept of mentorship and investment and has created a collaborative environment where the companies under ET Ideas support each other in terms of knowledge, skills and resources. Being investors, we definitely seek a return on the investment but we are not strict on timelines. Basically, we are a group of angel investors who have been investing in the vision of people. We invest in the idea stage as well as the early growth stage of companies.
What criteria do you have for investing in startups?
As I said, ET Ideas invests in person rather than in the ideas they bring. We need more the kind of people who deliver through action. So, most importantly, we seek and invest in people with clear goals.
We function in a collaborative way. So, another important quality we seek in an individual is the ability to collaborate.
What are your expectations from the Nepali startups? How will ET Ideas support the Nepali startup scene?
The startup scene in Nepal is developing. The Nepali youths are pro-active. Many of the youths I have been meeting are risk takers and are ready to go out of their comfort zones to meet their visions. We will know more about the entrepreneurs during the workshop.
There are groups of millennials who are ready to start entrepreneurship with a purpose to go beyond profit and create an impact in society. In Nepal, we need more business incubators which can provide mentorship and invest both time and ideas to groom the aspiring youths who are willing to bring impactful ventures.
ET Ideas Nepal will help the young aspiring youths with business basics, provide marketing assistance, provide access to capital, and provide knowledge on financial management, conduct business training programmes and provide infrastructural support. The incubator will find potential individuals who bring innovative ideas to solve social problems. We will provide them counseling, services, space, and network, close mentorship and connect them with the right investors within Nepal itself.