Results of our predictions and trends of Malaysian startups 2021

At the end of 2020, we launched some forecasts of business trends in Malaysian industries, collected from the startup community called Entrepreneurs and startups in Malaysia on Facebook.

A good year later, we come back to the predictions that have come true and those that have not. So sit back and see what foundations 2021 has laid for 2022, shaped by the pandemic.

1. Live trading will take off: become a reality!

For 2021, we predicted live commerce to be on the rise as the next level of e-commerce.

As a reminder, live commerce brings a more interactive aspect to your usual e-commerce experiences. This is where sellers go live to show off their wares and offer limited-time promotions, engaging curious viewers who might be converted into customers later.

This phenomenon is related to our love for consuming visual content, such as Tik Tok, Instagram reels and stories, etc.

Noticing this growing trend, more and more companies have rushed to take advantage of it. Here are some local examples in 2021:

  • Multi-channel e-commerce solutions provider Sitegiant launches its new live trade characteristic;
  • Netccentric of Singapore enters joint venture agreement with Malaysian companies Commerce.Asia and Docono Holdings to launch Nuffnang Live Commerce;
  • Bigo Live global streaming site launch of Bigo Marketplace, its e-commerce site which uses live and social commerce features; and
  • The development of Com livea new Malaysian live trading site that has yet to be launched.

The traditional way of e-commerce is already old news, and with its explosive growth during the pandemic, it makes sense that players are trying to outdo each other with different strategies.

Personally, I think we could already move into the next phase of e-commerce, where Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will come into play more. But we’ll see if the industry in Malaysia catches up so soon. .

2. The Birth of an Online Education Ecosystem That Tackles Virtual Exams: Didn’t Happen…

We still have hope for this one. Edutech is an exciting and ever-changing space, so there’s always a chance that we could suddenly see breakthroughs.

So far though, we have yet to see national exams go virtual, which means the ecosystem is still incomplete. If we talk about online courses, review and more, we have a lot of players (just browse our edutech tag and you will see).

Universities like Monash Malaysia (of which I am an alumnus!) and the University of Nottingham Malaysia have already rolled out their own online exam systems, the former even having a supervision system called eVigilation.

So there are still plenty of opportunities to bring this kind of technology to public schools as well. All we can say is that for edutech startups to work with the government to deploy a comprehensive virtual education ecosystem would be a game-changer for the future of education.

3. Cloud kitchens and delivery-only brands will increase in number: it’s become reality!

Also known as ghost, central, or shared kitchens, a cloud kitchen is a place where virtual restaurant brands can cook food without a storefront and only make deliveries.

We already had quite a few cloud kitchens in 2020; by 2021 other names had joined the chat, such as GrabKitchen, Air Kopitiam and kEATchen, to name a few.

Starting a restaurant from scratch is expensive, and the benefits of cloud kitchens for many budding F&B entrepreneurs tend to be flexibility and slightly lower upfront costs.

Image Credit: Air Kopitiam

However, there are also downsides to them, like no foot traffic, high delivery commission fees, and more, which we explain in detail here, and got more information from the virtual brands themselves- same here.

It’s likely that this trend will continue to multiply in response to the many pandemic-born home catering businesses that may eventually want to expand.

But to really attract these companies, competing cloud kitchens would need to offer better incentives that target their pain points, like offering their own apps and food delivery fleets to lower brands’ operational costs.

4. The concept of co-sharing will flourish in all industries: did not happen…

2020 has seen co-sharing centers for hairdressing, beauty services, baking, etc. But in 2021, the concept’s growth seemed to have stalled.

Could this be blamed on how the 2021 pandemic turned out to be worse than 2020, even though we were already beginning to understand COVID-19 better? We’ll need to check with an expert on this, probably.

So other than coworking and cloud kitchens, nothing new using the concept of co-sharing has caught our eye yet, so maybe we were just thinking ahead of our time. (2022, don’t disappoint us!)

5. Young actors will innovate in the agricultural industry: It has become reality!

Yeah, we know agritech isn’t a new concept, but we’d say it’s a lot sexier now, with all the drones and smart farms and whatnot.

Traditionally, working in the agricultural industry evokes working in the dirt under the hot sun, but even smallholder farmers today are benefiting from the technological innovations built by the younger generation.

Some examples of actors making this possible are Rice Inc., which uses a “laundry” to help rice farmers reduce crop losses, CocoJack, a social enterprise that develops the skills of young B40s in agritech, and Kapitani, a “agri-fintech” startup offering bookkeeping. solutions for farmers to adopt agritech.

These startups are all led by young Malaysians, but that’s not to say industry veterans haven’t done their part in innovating our agricultural landscape.

Image Credit: Mono Melon

Take for example Mono Melon, which has made waves by growing Japanese melons right on its Putrajaya smart farm. (They now also grew square watermelons, popularized by Japan.)

This is a start-up created by agricultural experts whose real ambitions go beyond just growing premium fruit. They want to equip more farmers with the knowledge and technology to do the same.

We got the juicy details when we went to visit the farm to harvest my boss’ melons (ahem), and you can read their full story here.

Much like edutech, we foresee this still being a space with plenty of growth opportunities, so we’ll stay tuned (pun intended) for 2022 developments in agritech.

6. Improved virtual events and increased hybrid events: now a reality!

Virtual events in 2020 were still a bit sketchy, leaving more to be desired, but in 2021 the virtual events we attended felt like they had been around for years.

Examples of virtual and hybrid events include Wild Digital SEA 2021, MaGIC’s E-Nation 2021 and MDEC’s Malaysia Tech Month 2021, all of which saw impressive attendance.

With still wary feelings about COVID-19 infections, most of us were more comfortable attending via screen, but were still open to attending demo days or in-person presentation events with appropriate SOPs.

We don’t know if this trend towards virtual and hybrid events will continue to grow in 2022, as a large part of the population is already vaccinated and we are learning to live with the new variants.

People are eager to get out and have physical experiences, so it’s likely we’ll see a return to in-person events in 2022.

Still, while virtual and hybrid events are no longer our top pick, they will still be viable backup options.

Special mention: This one isn’t quite a virtual event, but we wanted to thank (Gather) for allowing us to create our (and dream) virtual office that now serves as a baseline for our own internal virtual events. . , keeping us sane for 2 years of telecommuting.


4 out of 6 predictions came true, which if scored on a 100 point scale would give us a score of 67. That’s a C grade, which our Asian parents won’t be too proud of, but still a victory in our eyes.

This means there are still opportunities in the Malaysian market that more entrepreneurs could tap into. We don’t know if the market is really ready for such moves, but we guess that’s where market validation is needed.

As the economy recovers, we have high hopes that 2022 will be an interesting year for business, and we already have an industry trend prediction piece for 2022 in the works.

  • Read our previous post on Business Trends Predictions for 2021 here.
  • Check out our other predictions on who has the greatest potential to win Malaysia’s 5 digital banking licenses here.

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post/Cookhouse

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