‘The entrepreneurship scene in Malaysia is far away from what it could be; several initiatives have been launched over the years, but none has really managed to help Malaysia leave a mark in the global space’ (Iman Sedighi will speak at Echelon Asia Summit 2018 to be held on June 28-29 in Singapore) As software programmer with about […] The post Investment climate in Malaysia is risk-averse, says Iman Sedighi, Co-founder of blockchain CSR startup Incitement appeared first on e27.
28 May, 2018E27.CO
Incitement Co-founder and CTO Iman Sedighi
(Iman Sedighi will speak at Echelon Asia Summit 2018 to be held on June 28-29 in Singapore)
As software programmer with about 15 years experience, Iman Sedighi has worked as a full stack developer, freelance programmer, and CTO for a multitude of tech companies across the globe primarily in Tehran, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.
In 2014, he, along with Daniel de Gruijter and Zikry Kholil, started Incitement, a blockchain-based social-tech venture to help brands efficiently implement large-scale, multi-national corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects. Headquartered in Malaysia, Incitement aims to build solutions, business models, and projects that enable people, causes, brands and entrepreneurs to grow themselves and their brands through social impact creation.
Sedighi shares his experience and entrepreneurial journey with e27.
The corporate sector is very well equipped in terms of funds, talent, and infrastructure. And given the importance Gen Y and millennials place on ethical and sustainable practices, the for-profit sector has a keen interest in CSR to cater to the future workforce and consumers.
It’s evident that brands can play a pivotal role in sustainable development to complement the nonprofit sector. By enabling Brands to do more and better CSR, we can amplify and expedite social impact creation, helping the humanitarian sector become more effective. Because of this, we have built Inpactor, specifically tailored to streamline the CSR industry.
Our platform will be underpinned with blockchain technology, because it can help address issues that otherwise couldn’t be addressed. Of course, first and foremost financial transparency is an issue that the humanitarian sector has been struggling to solve for decades. Once donations and funding is provided, where do these funds go?
Second, our Proof of Impact concept enables beneficiaries themselves to report progress of the project using a simple smartphone that comes pre-installed with our application. Beneficiaries will upload proof of the social impact, which will help make impact reporting more robust. Once impact reports are accurate and truthful, they can be linked directly to fund disbursements in a smart contract, so that funds can be broken up into milestones, and only disbursed once progress is made. This will help make collaboration between organisations much more reliable.
Asia is home to countries with high levels of adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and is most certainly on the forefront of blockchain, with many countries actively looking for a balance of consumer protection as well as allowing countries to embrace the technology. South Korea takes credit for around 30 per cent of Ethereum trading, the Tokyo government passed laws recognising bitcoin as a legal tender, Singapore is home to some of the world’s most successful blockchain startups. In many ways, Asia is pioneering the mainstream adoption of blockchain technologies and digital currencies, as the potential it has to boost national economies is very apparent.
Like any entrepreneurial journey, it has been a roller coaster. When I started Incitement four years ago, we were a team of four. Today we’re a team of 25-plus, with two offices in Malaysia, an office in Milan, and a development house in Tehran.
We have grown, but not without a wide variety of significant challenges. Incitement is a social business, and regardless of reported growth in global impact investments, attracting capital remains a challenge.
I like taking on challenges, especially in delivering innovative web-based materials, and managing teams of developers and designers to accomplish that. My dream is to be an elite developer of applications and platforms that truly make a difference in people’s lives. Inpactor is an excellent example of that.
There have been and still are many challenges.
Incitement is headquartered in Malaysia. Malaysia is right next to Singapore, and very close to Australia, both of which pay significantly higher salaries and perceived growth opportunities. As a result, talent tends to leave Malaysia. And even though we have been blessed with a committed and talented team, attracting new talent is a challenge, especially in the tech space.
The investment climate in Malaysia is risk-averse. The startups that get funded are often copies of what has already been done elsewhere, wrapped into a slightly different jacket to cater to the Asian market. Products that have the potential to be disruptive tend to attract investment elsewhere, leaving Malaysia.
Also the entrepreneurship scene in Malaysia is far away from what it could be. Several initiatives have been launched over the years, but none has really managed to help Malaysia leave a mark in the global space.
Regulatory challenges were also inevitable, leading us to incorporate elsewhere. Malaysia, thus far, has not really made any significant efforts to either ban or regulate digital currencies, leaving a lot of uncertainty.
There have been many lessons, but if I were to pick just one, it would be that building good business takes time. It takes time to build and solidify robust business model, it takes time to attract the right people, and it takes time to build a strong foundation for growth.
I’ve had offers from tech giants around the world — from Amazon, Grab, and more. And especially during times when financially things could be better for our business, these offers were very tempting. It’s important to have your skin in the game, and willpower to make short-term sacrifices for your long-term vision.
Echelon is Asia’s largest and most renowned tech conference, and it is an honor for me to speak here. I hope to link up with thought-leaders in the tech- and social impact space, and share my knowledge on the technologies Incitement uses to influence the CSR and humanitarian sector. It’s exciting to be in Singapore, one of the business hubs of the world, and I look forward to learn from the many experts and influencers Echelon will attract.
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