Start-ups have figured out what it really needs to succeed

What does Malaysia lack? For Ashran Ghazi, Chief Executive Officer of MaGIC, the answer is more Steve Jobs. Specifically, Malaysia’s start-up and entrepreneurship scene needs someone like the late co-founder of Apple to look at a situation and figure out what the gaps are.

“As a creativity and innovation centre, our core focus is creating key innovation content and building entrepreneur talent.” Ashran says. “What we are trying to do within MaGIC is to nurture people who are able to look at a situation and figure out what the gaps are. And because they have a passion in that area, they can gather the right technology, people, resources, package them and tackle the problem.

“We always put a lot of emphasis on the creation and invention bit, but we have never actually tuned people to look at problem-solving in this manner. That’s how I see MaGIC’s role within the larger entrepreneurial landscape.”

MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) is a government-funded agency under the Ministry of Finance Malaysia, whose mission is to catalyse and develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. It has a two-part mandate: To build a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem and capitalise on creativity and innovation for long-term impact. To achieve these goals, MaGIC believes in fostering a spirit of creativity and innovation from the inside out.

MAGIC employees themselves need to embody these basic qualities.

“We look for people who are open, agile and able to connect the dots. They should be comfortable with ‘chaos’. You need to be comfortable with storms around you to be able to deal with them,” he says.

MaGIC tries to embody the “spirit of a start-up” within the organisation, while operating within the frameworks of a government agency.

Not surprisingly about 35 per cent of “MaGIC-ians” are aged between 25 and 30, translating into the culture and spirit that the organisation seeks to foster internally and externally.

One of the benefits of working in a young organisation like MaGIC is its flexibility. Understanding that their nature of work requires their people to be always on-the-go, Ashran believes in allowing his staff the freedom to take “time out” or “downtime” when the need arises to recuperate.

This privilege comes with a certain measure of trust and mutual understanding between the staff, team head and team members.

It is also not uncommon to find empty spaces in the office, as many of the staff prefer to work from the various other common spaces around the building, including the cafe and discussion rooms.

“It’s one of the unique things about MaGIC. We try to strike the right balance in everything we do. If we are too rigid ourselves, we will not be able to react and interact in the manner that we should.”

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