Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Idea Cradle Investment Programme (CIP) don't fund?

I am a 2 times failure for CIP fund application. Mr. Bugs Tan (Inventor and Vice President of MACRI) said you got 50-70% brighter chance if you are shortlisted for an interview, and I got called for Interview both time.

One of my compliant is the lack of transparency and guidance for those who didn’t make it beyond the Interview session, or even got kicked off before the interview. You don’t know why your idea got rejected, thus you cannot learn from mistake. I can understand Cradle’s reasoning for doing so, probably due to lack of manpower and avoid opening the flood gate for appeal.

Cradle seems to have a bunch of professional and progressive people, who knows what they are talking about. I had always doubt their professionalism in evaluation (whether they know what is a good business plan or not). After I attended a talk hosted by them, I have slightly more confident. There is one important technicality which every applicant must be aware of, that is there is some category of projects that Cradle just won’t fund.

Portal is a great buzz word and success during to the 90’s thanks to Yahoo. In Malaysia, we have MOL portal which got sold for millions (and I don’t think it’s that valuable now) by the founder of JobStreet. Then we have Catcha (the most promising VC funded project and envy of all entrepreneurs of the time) which I think failed miserably into the void. If you try to apply to start a project with the word “portal” as part of the title, they would probably press the delete key faster than you can submit.

If you try to be as successful as Amazon.com, and try to invade the share market of blooming.com.my, please hold your horses. Though I personally feel that E-Commerce is a good time now (with better infrastructure and people are more opened the idea), so I guess I would have to fund it with my own money. I don't think starting something which enable E-Commerce like Yahoo Store would be any better as well.

Online Advertising
If you try to be like Google Adsense, Nuffnang or Advertlets, you won’t get money from these guys either. Perhaps they have seen 1000 proposals based on Online Advertising (inspired by Google Adsense), so it’s pretty hard to stand out again.

There software is very important to business, but too bad there are too many competitors out there. I tried to submit a proposal in the early years to come out with a low cost (priced around RM 10K using mostly “free” software, where the market price is around RM 50K – 1 Million) CMS/DMS to target small business owner, and that didn’t work as well. They said there are too many similar products in the market.

Directory & Listing
If you try to challenge iProperty (which more than 2 dozens website already tried so), you would have to use you own money as well. They have a thing against property listing and perhaps business directory (do we need a better online Yellow Pages?) as well.

I understand Cradle blacklist these categories because it’s too common and high risk. The downside is even if you try to improvise and do it better on these ideas; I don’t think it will get their attention as well. I think the better strategy is self funding and make it work (or grab enough attention) to gain morechips for your future negotiation and funding. Who knows? The idea might really burnt, or prove them wrong as well. Google did go IPO after the Internet bubble burst, if you have the guts to buy their shares then, you would be slightly richer.

No guts no glory.

What does Cradle like?
I think they like really cool technology, something innovative or complicated (high risk in commercialization, but media buzz is guaranteed and got categorized as Malaysia-boleh kinda Technology). Engineering feat to solve daily problem in better ways seems to gain favour as well, and perhaps following the new trend on recycling and renewable energy. As for ICT, I think any kind of website is loosing favour (including the latest hype in Social Networks like Facebook or MySpace, and I’ll be so TL if they did grant one), or any common business application like Accounting, Inventory, Document Management, etc. Maybe GPS / Wireless related mobile applications could gain some attention.

I guess there is no hope for all MalaysiaMostWanted.com range of services to be funded by Cradle. I am quite tired of figuring out what favour the VC as well, I just want try if MY ideas really work or not.


Neo said...

Maybe they will fund a porn website or directory?

d_luaz said...

sure bor?

Boon said...

I'm in the process of applying for a grant from the govt as well. I haven't arrived at the interview session, but I believe if I focus on "common themes" like portals, e-commerce, ERP software and all that... that's not going to answer the question of, "where's the value"?

Ultimately the business has to have real value, with real people using it. And it has to be justified beyond the idea itself.

It has to be justified beyond SWOT charts, market statistics, what people think, trends, risks, and patterns.

At the end of the day, I think it is worth trying, just for the experience - whether you get it or not is another thing altogether.

Ultimately the focus is really on the value, not on the money.

d_luaz said...

So does that means "common themes" with a new twist does not have value? Does it means we can't be profitable if there are already 100 ERP products in the market place? Does it means since we already have Yahoo, there shouldn't be Google? Does it means other Office Suite should be in the Market since Microsoft Office is dominating? Does it mean we shouldn't try to create software which 100 people before us already tried?

I get your points. Do let me know if you are satisfied with the outcome after a few months :)

Anyway, this article is not to "talk bad" on Cradle, but to let you know not to waste your time on "common themes" which had a low chance of success with them.