eSmart Systems wins M'sia biz plan contest

eSmart Systems Sdn Bhd was announced the winner for the Venture 2001 business plan competition for its software and Internet portal esmartgolf.com--a golf tee time booking service.

KUALA LUMPUR--eSmart Systems Sdn Bhd was announced the winner for the Venture 2001 business plan competition for its software and Internet portal esmartgolf.com--a golf tee time booking service.

By bagging the competition, MSC-status eSmart Systems hopes to increase its chances for venture capital (VC) funding, something which the company has been trying to secure since first established in late 1999.

According to eSmart Systems CEO Arshad Ashraf, the Venture 2001 competition has given credibility to the company's business plan as it is recognized and endorsed by independent consultants such as McKinsey & Company Malaysia and leading VC firms. "At least we can now show potential investors that there is merit in our business model...what we need now is the will to invest by the VCs," Arshad said.

eSmart Systems' winning edge was the fact that it already had an operational golf portal with seven local golf courses as customers as compared with other business plans which were still in conceptual stages, the organizers said.

The VC panelists were BI Walden, General Electric Partners, Softbank, 3i, Mayban Ventures, MSC Ventures and techpacificCAMERLIN.com.

Second place went to Accelteam Sdn Bhd for its ASP services for customer centric CRM solutions, followed by Internet Muslim travel and tours marketplace operator Zarnet Dotcom Sdn Bhd.

McKinsey principal Dr Nikolai Dobberstein said the Venture 2001 organizers will continue to help winners "get some real financial backing".

"We have arranged for eSmart Systems to make a presentation to the KL Angels Club," Dobberstein said.

He added that Malaysia needs to find ways to address business skill issues and put mechanisms in place to develop great ideas and turn them into profitable ventures.

And contrary to popular belief that VC funds have dried up in Malaysia, Dobberstein said: "Capital is not an issue. With the recent establishment of the government's RM500 million VC fund, and with more than RM1.5 billion VC money under management, there is abundant aid available...the money now needs deals to flow."

He said the winning business plans have proof of concept and these companies have very committed management teams. "They deserve to be funded."

Dobberstein said the sponsors, which include McKinsey, the Malaysian Institute of Management and MESDAQ, intend to hold a similar competition next year.

The Venture 2001 business plan competition attracted 446 entries from the IT and Internet sectors.

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