AC Ventures challenges local dotcoms to take on the world

AC Ventures, the venture capital unit of Andersen Consulting, is challenging dotcom start-ups in the country to take on the world if they are to play in the e-commerce arena.
Written by Yap Cheng Theng, Contributor
KUALA LUMPUR--AC Ventures, the venture capital unit of Andersen Consulting, is challenging dotcom start-ups in the country to take on the world if they are to play in the e-commerce arena.

Daniel Chan, Partner, Andersen Consulting, said while it is a "pleasure" to meet young dotcom executives who have the enthusiasm and passion, many still lack the dream to "take" on the world.

"They tend to focus on the Malaysian marketplace. There is insufficient thought to the reality and practicality of their concepts. Many do not realise that marketing and branding are very critical to the success of a dotcom," said Chan.

"Innovation, speed, more innovation and more speed are what needed in the e-commerce," said Chan. Young dotcoms are also advised to be prepared to collaborate or form alliances, to reduce the capital requirement to start up and to achieve the speed for the launch.

"E-business must be deliberated quite differently from capital projects of the past. They must be run and operated outside the current organisation structure. If you are starting a pure play dotcom, think big, play big. Otherwise, don't play at all," Chan quipped when contacted by CNET Malaysia.

Couple of dotcoms run by young 20-somethings executives have been sprouting up in Malaysia. These include Catcha.com, Asianauto.com and Dreammotor.com.

AC Ventures, said Chan will look for dotcoms across all industries which have business models that can truly scale regionally and globally.

"The business models must have differentiating value propositions that will change the rule of the game and create a more efficient and productive business environment. They must generate real revenue and collection should not be an issue," Chan said.

Serious consideration and sustainable budget must also be set aside for branding.

"Then there is the need to get world class endorsement and alliances. Finally, we look at the company's management and development team and their ability to scale fast and the unique assets (engines) to be built," he added.

Malaysia growing out of infancy stage

Though Malaysia is still in its infancy in e-commerce, recent spate of corporate moves is a strong indication the race for a piece of the Internet pie is moving at a phenomenal pace.

"Yes, the dust has finally settled. Many CEO's have started internal eVenture groups. We are reading a lot more news about Malaysian dotcoms and corporate players establishing incubators and venture funds. We are beginning to hear success stories, for example, Asia Travel Network. More importantly, CEO's are starting to pay attention to this new economy," Chan said.

To move on to the next level of e-commerce, however, some issues need to be ironed out.

"In terms of real e-commerce, Malaysia has to first quickly sort out the payment issues before we can see more people embracing it. Credit card fraud remains high and this is not a trivial matter," said Chan.

To create demand, businesses need to start offering online transactions versus information.

Chan also urged the Malaysian government to review existing regulations.

"In particular, many of the existing regulations must be revisited and changed to create a more competitive environment. If more government transactions can be done online, for example, applying for passport, renewal of driver's licence, then the internet growth will be faster. We are a little too slow here," said Chan.

The e-economy's contribution to the country, though is not easy to estimate is expected to be similar as in the US where e-economy will constitute 3 percent to 10 percent of the GDP, said Chan.

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