Asia-Pacific’s Leading Disruptors 2019: Malaysia

FinanceAsia is showcasing the entrepreneurs who are leading the wave of technological disruption across the region. Here we look at Malaysia.

In line with our mission to shed light on the many investment opportunities popping up across Asia and Australasia, FinanceAsia is showcasing the entrepreneurs who are leading the wave of technological disruption in different countries and across a range of sectors.

Their companies range in size and maturity, but these people share a common drive and vision to compete against established institutions, whether in financial services, retail, energy, robotics, or logistics, to name just a few of the industries featured.

Following our methodology, we have selected five entrepreneurs from each of Asia Pacific's largest economies. Today we look at entrepreneurs in Malaysia.


The World Bank's Doing Business 2019 report ranked Malaysia as the second best place in Southeast Asia to run a startup when it comes to ease of business. The country is a manufacturing hub and increasing accessiblity had made it an ideal place for aspiring entrepreneurs to set up shop.


Company: iHandal

Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur

Year founded: 2009

Industry: Energy

Prominent backers: None

Patel is chief executive of iHandal Energy Solutions, which he co-founded with his father in high school. After his father fell ill, Patel stepped in to lead the company at just 15 years old. This Malaysian entrepreneur is driven by the goal of making the region carbon neutral through innovation.

“I managed [the family business] for two years with my mum to make ends meet,” Patel said in an interview with FinanceAsia. “When I realised I couldn’t further my studies, […] I decided to integrate what I learned in my final year project [about] heat engines with our business. We came up with our own machines that could be applied to other companies.”

iHandal has developed a method of capturing waste heat from buildings and recycling the energy for further use. The company employs proprietary technology, which has given Patel the edge over his competition. Big-name clients include the Ritz-Carlton and Hilton hotel chains, as well as local hospitals and tourist resorts.

Because it was profitable in its first year, iHandal has never had to raise funds. As the company launches a Melbourne branch in October, however, Patel is preparing to court investors for the first time.

The niche nature of Patel’s work has also contributed to its success. While the Malaysian government has started to subsidise renewable energy initiatives, the area of energy efficiency and conservation – as opposed to energy manufacturing – has been largely overlooked.


Company: Omnilytics

Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur

Year founded: 2014

Industry: Data

Prominent backers: 500 Startups, East Ventures

Yin graduated from Durham University’s economics programme in 2014 and was on track to start a traditional corporate career when she decided to take a year out to travel and explore other interests.

While at home in Kuala Lumpur, Yin noticed a dearth of fashion shopping websites in the region. In response, she launched online clothing vendor Shoppr and analytics company Omnilytics in 2014 with two classmates.

Omnilytics has since expanded across the region from Malaysia and Australia to Singapore and Indonesia. The company monitors more than 5,000 e-commerce sites around the world.

“Anywhere [where] there is a gap between supply and demand, Omnilytics can close it with better information,” Yin told FinanceAsia.

Notable client brands include clothing retail giant Zalora. Despite Omnilytics’s initial focus on the fashion sector, Yin considers the company to be industry-agnostic with data solutions applicable to businesses in beauty, finance and other areas.


Company: Fave Group

Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur

Year founded: 2015

Industry: Entertainment

Prominent backers: Venturra Capital, Sequoia Capital

Neoh is the founder of Fave Group, a mobile rewards and bookings site that evolved out fitness sharing platform KFit. In addition to buying tickets and making reservations, the company operates FavePay, a cashless payment platform that offers cashback rewards to users.

The entrepreneur was the head of online booking company Groupon’s Asia-Pacific operations before acquiring the firm’s regional holdings to start Fave.

Though based in Malaysia, the startup is expanding its presence throughout Southeast Asia and now operates in Indonesia and Singapore as well.


Company: The Billion Dollar Fund

Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur

Year founded: 2018

Industry: Investment

Prominent backers: Golden Gate Ventures, Gobi Partners

Chen is the co-founder and managing partner of the Billion Dollar Fund, which seeks to bridge the funding gap between male and female entrepreneurs. 

She and her team hope to raise $1 billion from venture capital firms around the world by 2020. These funds will support emerging and aspiring female entrepreneurs.

A Boston Consulting Group report last year found while female entrepreneurs generally receive much less funding than their male counterparts, startups founded or co-founded by women generate more revenue on average.


Company: CoinGecko

Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur

Year founded: 2014

Industry: Cryptocurrency

Prominent backers: None

Ong and Lee launched CoinGecko in the early years of bitcoin before the cryptocurrency trend had really gained popularity. Cryptocurrencies exist on the blockchain and are notoriously hard to regulate; realising this, the entrepreneurs developed a platform to rank and share information about the tokens.

New cryptocurrencies are invented each month, adding to the hundreds already in circulation. CoinGecko monitors more than 3,300.

More than aggregating data, Ong and Lee have spearheaded cryptocurrency and blockchain education. The company recently partnered with Western University in Canada and Germany’s Humbolt University to develop crypto research.




¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
Share our publication on social media
Share our publication on social media