Brandker eyes RM1b Nasdaq listing by 2023
Behonce Beh 
The company’s academy has expanded to overseas markets such as Shenzhen, China

Technology incubator Brandker Group Sdn Bhd plans to be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market in the US with an ambitious valuation of RM1 bil by 2023.

Its founder and CEO Matthew Chong says: “What we want to achieve is to have 100 startups and achieve an initial public offering (IPO) roadmap of RM1 bil by 2023.”

Chong started his first business when he was only 19

Brandker owns startup BRICH, touted to be a digital global business deal maker that combines artificial intelligence and a real-time language translator to help users source and facilitate business deals from foreign markets.

He says the plan is to help BRICH achieve RM10 mil in valuation in two years.

Brandker invested into BRICH in June and is expected to introduce a mobile application by mid-November, and a full version in January next year.

The monetisation model for BRICH is via subscription as it acts as a smart business matcher.

Akin to a virtual sales lead generator, it connects business-to-business (B2B) stakeholders such as wholesalers and manufacturers sourcing for leads and solutions.

 Brandker’s business entities helped it post a turnover of RM2 mil last year.

The company is also exploring other business verticals such as co-working space, e-commerce, as well as bicycle and motorcycle leasing portals.

Chong says Brandker provides seed funding from RM50,000 to RM500,000 to support startups and also act as an accelerator.

He adds that its investments in startups are funded internally.

“We are focusing on quality portfolio that we can bring to investors, not so much getting investors,” he explains, although the company has approached potential corporate investors.

However, he says it is not difficult to get good ideation but “difficult to get good people”.


Helping brands expand

Brandker was established as a brand investment and management company. “The idea was to build local brands and seek investors to help expand the brands we built,” Chong says.

It is a digital platform providing business network (connector), business coaching (educator) and a platform to cultivate and invest in new startups, business ideas by entrepreneurs from all regions (incubator).

“Last year, we made a change that if we wanted to build a
billion-dollar company, we needed to have something larger in terms of set-up and skill set. This means a larger platform to attract more capital.

“In the past, we invested about RM4 mil in Cosans Coffee and our valuation could not even shoot up to RM5 mil. That’s the limitation of brick-and-mortar businesses compared with tech startups,” he explains.

Chong’s previous ventures included notable food and beverage brands such as Cosans Coffee and Mono Sushi. He says he has sold Cosans Coffee back to its investors.

Brandker also has a presence in China and Singapore, supported by its academy, consultancy and technology divisions.

Built from the ground up

Chong’s entrepreneurial journey has not been easy. Following the passing of his parents when he was just 12, he worked many odd jobs such as kitchen helper, construction worker, flyer distributor, mechanic apprentice, electrician and salesperson.

He opened an optical shop with a partner when he was 19. After it closed down six years later, he started Little Tree Cafe.

He then started Little Tree Design Studio, a creative agency, and Little Tree Society to provide education opportunities for underprivileged children.

The design studio was named Big Ideas in 2008, before becoming Brandker Consultancy in 2013.

Today, the group’s main revenue generator is its academy which provides short courses, business talks and corporate training for entrepreneurs and professionals, to address business needs in areas such as branding, business, capital, leadership and digital services.

Aside from speaking engagements at partner events, the academy has attracted over 150 students to pursue its courses.

It targets entrepreneurs at different stages of their journeys, from ideation to those creating brands with potential for listing.

Chong’s business talks have enabled him to expand the academy’s reach to markets such as Shenzhen in China and Singapore.

Brandker’s consultancy arm has been fairly stagnant but serves as a support to its investee startups.

Chong’s previous consultancy clients include Impiana Hotel, Sony Malaysia, UCSI University and Iskandar Property.

“In 2016, we made a big move to focus our consultancy on our investee business. However, we do foresee taking in a few projects in future,” he says.

Chong’s goal is to build Monotot City, an arts hub on top of a mountain, to elevate the local arts industry in order to transform the lives of underprivileged children through education and enhancement of their living standards.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 249.