Another finalist is Evolving Brilliance Technologies Sdn Bhd (EB Tech), founded in 2021, with five co-founders: Ashweein Narayanan, Moses Lenjau, Syazwan, Harold Japok, and Azzam.
“Our company focuses on using Vision AI to optimize industries sustainably. I am personally a serial entrepreneur myself, with some involvement in agriculture/plantation, creative industry, social enterprise and also tech,” Ashweein said.
“EB Tech is my latest venture upon my meeting up with Moses over a session where we were both panellists on a forum on Social Entrepreneurship.
“We met shortly after to discuss potential collaborations, as Moses and his team had developed Vision AI systems that can directly benefit my funnel and channel to commercialisation.
“With the speed of light, we set up the company and began servicing clients in no time, whilst also winning some grants and investments along the way, and here we are today.”
Ashweein said EB Tech heard of the LiveWIRE programme before via social media and friends who participated previously.
The lessons learned during the programme along with the networking and sharing sessions during the programme were “utterly priceless”, in Ashweein’s own words.
“I was personally moved by some of the stories shared and it inspired me to give it my all in running my business and all my other endeavors as well,” he enthused.
As for EB Tech’s biggest challenge, it came down to the matter of financing.
“We have had clients that have not settled their owed dues, and some of these financial constraints have led us to take on jobs just to have some income for our team.
“We overcame it by focusing some efforts on development and start-up grants so we can have opex runway for at least a year or two, and so far we have already achieved this, thanks to the governmental and corporate bodies giving their financial and social support in our efforts.
“Now that we are on the road to acceleration along with our MVP and product market fit in place, we plan to expand our clientele to neighbouring regions of Malaysia such as Thailand and also Indonesia, as they face the same problems of agriculture and agritech that Sarawak and Malaysia faces. ”
With this international involvement, Ashweein hoped that this will help EB Tech to scale the company and to have the business provide significant changes to the industry and economy of the country.
“The biggest lesson I learned very early on in my journey and one that is still extremely relevant today is to have a huge focus on building good synergy.
“Not just synergy in collaboration and partnerships, but also in client-customer relations as well as internal team and staffing synergy as well. When all of these work in a seamless system, we can all broaden our horizons and truly reach for the stars.
“It is almost impossible to run a business as a solo person, so good synergy will bring great results.”
His advice to other budding entrepreneurs? “Do not be afraid to take risks, but do take very calculated ones.”
“In these times, we have technology and information at the tip of our fingers, hence there is no excuse to not do extensive research before going into a new business endeavour, and do not be afraid to network and ask from those who are more experienced in their sectors or even in better interpersonal skills even.
“You never know how close is a gold mine sitting around you, just awaiting the right time to network and create a good synergy, and who knows, you may even make the world a better place someday!”
Bringing a new sense to mainstream media
The do it yourself (DIY) culture of the hardcore-punk scene was the inspiration to form RukunTV, said entrepreneur Raziv Ramzon.
“We wanted to create a platform where those who have the same passion and love towards the music and its sub-culture to be the center of to go to place or platform to find out anything latest, and what’s new from the local artists/bands who have new releases from the new music video, EPs, albums, next shows or, when and where are the next local shows that are happening and going on around Kuching. Of course if possible, we wanted to expand beyond Kuching, maybe the whole of Sarawak.
“Because there is a lot of local underground music scene and talented talents scattered around Sarawak and they deserve to be taken notice of at least.
“Through our platforms, businesses can find out more about these local talents and maybe collaborate with them in terms of marketing their products and such. That’s the idea at the moment at least.
“Basically, if no one is going to do it, instead of waiting and hoping for someone else to do it, why don’t we do it?”
Raziv said that generally in the mainstream media outlet, local underground music scene was less featured as it does not give clicks, or traction towards the platform.
“Plus, the underground music scene is different from the popular music scene that people are aware of,” he said. “We live in a society where people are attracted to popular things, consuming popular things because its trendy.
“If it is not popular or trendy, why would corporations take notice right? The money goes to places where there is a lot of tractions.
“But we believe there are gems and gold in the local underground scene because the community survives all these while using their own resources, without any assistance from corporations or government funding.
“The scene survives purely out of passion and love towards the sub-culture and the music. Unfortunately, because of this kind of nature, the scene is not sustainable.”
Thanks to Shell LiveWIRE, Raziv was thought the proper ways of doing business modal canvas, and how to write proper pitch decks.
“We were introduced to the amazing people from Shell and they told us what are the other things that Shell does and how they help entrepreneurs. It was a totally amazing experience.”
When asked on their biggest challenge, Raziv said it was the hustle in getting capital and convincing people that there is a lot of worth in exploring the local underground music scene in Sarawak.
“We have lots of talents scattered around, they need more recognition. Some of these talents look for opportunities outside of Sarawak and we thought it is such a shame and a waste of opportunities.
“As these local artists/bands not only create amazing music and artwork, but their talents can be utilised in promoting Sarawak as the center of art tourism in Malaysia.
“And it does not necessarily just in the genre of world music only — they are ranging from metal, hardcore, hip-hop, and lots more. I think not just the government, but businesses can utilise their talents and their work, and in return, it would create a local music industry within Sarawak without us having to depend on resources or entities outside of Sarawak or Malaysia to make it happen.”
Looking ahead, RukunTV hopes that they, together with local artists/bands, along with the state government and businesses, can work together to create a more efficient local music and arts industry in Sarawak.
“We hope we can create a sustainable industry within music and arts and in return, it could create more job opportunities for the locals who have the same passion and drive in this scene without us, having to go outside of Sarawak.”
Conserving Sarawakian culture and heritage
A penchant for handiwork, in addition to a passion to conserve traditional heritage, led one unique winner to the finalist of Shell LIVEwire 2023.
Craftsmaker Lucille Awen Jon started PunguBorneo in 2017 as a creative collaboration brand in an effort to continue traditional heritage preservation and conservation.
“Before we started PunguBorneo, we were actively involved in business since 2014,” she said to The Borneo Post.
“We believe in the continuation of traditional heritage preservation and conservation. We want to bring awareness to traditional craft, which we did and today we can see the impact surrounding us.
“We have heard about the Shell LiveWIRE programme since 2018, but only this year we decided to join as we believe that we are on track with our business model and traction.”
Thanks to the programme, Lucille said they received several calls and inquiries on collaboration and business opportunities.
“We also believe we have opened up our eyes to the importance of our business value, in terms of social impact like the importance of preservation and conservation on Traditional Cultural Expressions TCEs).”
Lucille said the hardest time for PunguBorneo was during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly during the movement control order when there was no demand for craft.
“However, we did overcome it after the third month of MCO by creating a new craft – a face mask chain in June 2020 and since then it has become very popular and highly in demand.
“We have received several grants to work on training and workshops for rural crafters on entrepreneurial and marketing skills. And we are planning to have a permanent outlet in Klang Valley in 2 years to come.”
On her advice to uo and coming entrepreneurs? “Never give up and believe in yourself and your product/cause. It may sometimes sound ridiculous or small but the only person that can make the change is yourself.
“Also, wake up early as 4am, because that is when great ideas come. And be resilient, patient and honest about your business.”