If you think about what happened this year, what would you change? We'd all have different answers, but without a doubt, we all hope for a better 2021.
This year, limits were exceeded and the ideas and their implementation accelerated. A whole world of new things has opened up for Malaysia to look forward to.
To get more insights from the members of the startup community themselves, we reached out to the Entrepreneurs and Startups in Malaysia Facebook group to ask about their predictions for startup trends in 2021.
1. Livestream shopping is expected of every ecommerce gamer
Livestream shopping brings back the fun and interactivity to the online retail experience, and it's something Malaysia has been experimenting with in recent years.
The trend is growing positively overseas. China's Taobao live sessions have increased 110% year over year since 2016. During the lockdown of the country from January to February 2020, the platform even increased the number of its traders by 719%.
We have no doubt that local traders will also use the pandemic as an opportunity to bet on this trend.
Melissa from MM Meal promotes Hong Kong Kool Chicken Pot / Photo credit: Hong Kong Kool Chicken Pot / MM Meal Live
One platform hosts Mukbang live streams to help vendors sell meals, while another gives away wedding offers from vendors, for example. Even Lazada and Shopee have invested in their live streaming capabilities for SEA.
If you're planning on doing the same, you may want to target the Mandarin-speaking market in Malaysia as they tend to be more impulsive with their expenses, as we learned from an entrepreneur in the industry.
2. An online education Ecosystem that can handle virtual exams
Photo credit: New Straits Times
The move to online schooling is driving the demand for startups that can move the public school curriculum online and host virtual classes that bring elements of a physical classroom to the screen.
However, postponing exams online still seems incomprehensible. COVID-19 has caused UPSR and PT3 to be canceled, while SPM has been pushed back and students expecting it have been stressed.
A solution for monitored or unsupervised online exams therefore offers an untapped market here. We can take some information on this from the Imperial College London online exams for medical students.
To curb the cheating, the testers surveyed students in a way that the answers could not be linked through online lookups. The order of the questions was also randomized so that the students could not help each other.
However, it would be a while before Malaysian schools could apply this nationwide. Universities can do this first as most students already have a personal laptop.
3. Fewer restaurants, More cloud kitchens for the delivery business model
Photo credit: Kochhaus
More and more F&B companies will forego a physical restaurant in favor of cloud kitchens, as everyone is more open than ever to ordering their food from Grab, Foodpanda or even AirAsia Food.
These commissioner's kitchens are also known as ghost kitchens, communal kitchens, or central kitchens, but they all serve the same purpose. It is a place for cooking food without a shop front and specially designed for deliveries.
The model is best for businesses that never plan to open a restaurant like Epic Food Hall, Chan Good Food, and Ghost Pizza.
Even the well-known F&B brand, KyoChon Malaysia, cooks in cloud kitchens to supply their 22 restaurant chains.
Opening a new restaurant is not the best idea right now as it is expensive and people may still be scared to eat there. Cloud kitchens also have the benefit of pricing and rental flexibility, which means less commitment.
Plus, there's no need to remodel physical space, pay delivery commissions, or hire more staff to wait for tables.
Names like Cookhouse and Kitchen Connect even offer other services like marketing and logistics in-house to help new F&B brands grow.
The more F&B owners realize the value of this model, the more cloud kitchens will emerge over the next year, and existing ones will expand their spaces to accommodate more brands.
4. Beyond coworking to co-sharing For different industries
Image credit: HIPsalons
The concept of co-sharing is growing. Some have popped up in the beauty and hair styling industries, making it possible for solo preneurs to start a business with little capital.
For the F&B sector, we have co-sharing studios where you can learn how to bake intricate cakes from an iPad and for home cooks starting a business from a co-sharing kitchen.
Most of the co-sharing areas offer training and equipment, as well as the ability to network.
Because of the types of companies that use such concepts, I've found that they all share the same thing: each one offers a specific service or product.
Maybe next year we'll see some joint mechanical workshops, dental clinics, or even carpentry and art studios.
The possibilities seem endless, and we already have a co-farming startup providing smallholders with manageable space and technology to grow their business.
This leads me to my next point on agriculture.
5. Younger startups will delve into innovations for the age-old agribusiness
Of course, agriculture has existed since the first agricultural revolution in 10,000 BC. The difference now is the change in consumer behavior.
More people are willing to buy products from smaller players and share their names on social media to show support.
Young entrepreneurs see the opportunity and find ways to innovate and develop this industry for a variety of reasons.
For example, exclude the import of not-so-fresh fruits from overseas or act as a direct supplier to companies and customers. People are even willing to accept vegetable subscription boxes.
Image credit: Figara11
Because of the pandemic, we've also seen heartwarming collaborations between large e-commerce companies and farmers.
As consumer behavior has changed, we expect more younger startups to try to make money on what has always been viewed as an outdated, archaic industry.
6. Virtual events will improve and hybrid events will increase
Since the pandemic stopped all physical events this year, Vulcan Post has been participating in virtual versions for the past few months.
We roamed the streets of a virtual food festival, looked at real estate in a virtual exhibition, and attended an online conference with virtual networking.
We contacted Pearly Lim, who is part of the team behind Tiger's Street Food Virtual Festival, and she told Vulcan Post that her goal was to create an experience that was as close to reality as possible.
When you do things virtually, the possibilities open up endlessly so you shouldn't feel limited to what you can physically do. The most important thing is to keep it interactive, engaging, and fun for your attendees.
Pearly Lim, Marketing Manager, Tiger, HEINEKEN Malaysia
It's exciting to have virtual avatars and spaces to move around in. However, many of these events lack interaction between other participants, which makes them seem rather "lonely".
A live chat box would allow users to socialize, which would add to the fun and improve the social experience.
Virtual events are definitely here to stay even as we return to more normal circumstances. We expect hybrid events where parts of it can be done virtually and the others can be done physically.
It is not easy to get an audience's attention online. Hence, more and more events will try to improve their gamification and interactive features, even for the more formal and educational types. If you have the skills to do this, you're in luck.
- You can find more information on Malaysian startups we've written about here.
Selected image source: Figara11 / TCH Foodworks Coworking Kitchen