A NOTE FROM Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd (Cradle), an agency under the Ministry
of Finance, Malaysia, is once again proud to be a strong
CRADLE FUND SDN BHD supporter of TeAM’s efforts within the industry and to co-
sponsor the first edition of this illuminating book for we
First and foremost, I would like to recognise the importance of emerging women technopreneurs
congratulate the Technopreneurs in creating a vibrant and dynamic economy for the nation.
Association of Malaysia (TeAM)
on the successful publication of As is well known, Cradle manages the Cradle Investment
Women on Top, an inspiring Programme (CIP), which is Malaysia’s first development and
book that has a highly informed commercialisation funding programme intended to seed
pulse on the challenges of our innovative technology ideas into businesses and to spur
women technopreneurs, allowing technology commercialisation, both within the public and
us a look into the true value of private sectors.
their achievements. It truly inspires me to salute them for their
numerous milestones on their individual technopreneurship Funding alone however, is never enough. We understand the
journeys. complexity of the roles that technopreneurs have, and that is
why Cradle also offers an ecosystem of commercialisation
It is my sincere belief that the stories shared by the 15 women support ranging from mentorship, strategic partnerships,
in this book will serve as important inspiration points and training and competency building, networking, VC-pitching
guiding lights to current and budding technopreneurs, in their and opportunities for media publicity support – to help kick-start
search for success. the budding ideas of technopreneurs, to commercialisation
and further growth.
Regardless of the additional demands on time, energy and
resources, these women show that the path to success requires Similarly, mistakes can be extremely costly for budding
technopreneurs to be determined, persistent and unwilling to technopreneurs. Our role in Cradle therefore is to ensure that
allow themselves to be defeated by adversity. these technopreneurs start on the right footing, with proper
planning, funding and support.
Hence, a partnership with Cradle does not just begin and end FOREWORD BY MDEC CEO DATO’
with the funding provided – it is a lasting membership of the
Cradle business-building ecosystem for technopreneurs, which
has been built to ensure that more CIP-funded technopreneurs
will succeed. MDeC and TeAM have a
long history of cooperation,
It is the business-building environment that makes up half the given our common interest in
stimulus for growth and success – and Cradle is there to providing support, assistance
provide it, for technopreneurs, such as in the case of Chong and encouragement to
Sheau Shing, who was one of Cradle’s early recipients. technopreneurs, as well as
Cradle is honoured to play a part in the success stories of fostering technopreneurship in
such women, and in fortifying the future of our nation. Malaysia. TeAM’s endeavours
when it comes to encouraging
Once again, congratulations to TeAM on the launching of Malaysians to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship have
Women on Top. It is a significant landmark – one that will always been inspirational and original but more importantly,
be the catalyst to growing the number of successful women distinctively complimentary to MDeC’s own efforts to grow
technopreneurs in Malaysia. technopreneurship and the field of ICT in Malaysia.
Our support of TeAM’s efforts to inspire ordinary Malaysians
through success stories to embrace technopreneurship began
Nazrin Hassan with the Go For Broke series, and we are pleased to continue
Chief Executive Officer this tradition with Woman on Top, which seeks to inspire and
encourage women to boldly stride into a field that to some,
is seen to be dominated by men.
One of the great advantages afforded by technology is that
it is gender-neutral. From writing software and manipulating
bio-organisms to creating content and finding ways in which
to make life easier and better through technology, neither
gender can claim a unique advantage. In the field of
technology, advantage comes not from size, or strength, or
physical abilities, but from the mind and the power of an
idea taken to its limits.
Malaysian women are already recognised as important
contributors to the country’s economic and social development.
With technology, Malaysian women will play an increasingly
important role in the national development of the country,
allowing greater participation in the economy. The future of
Malaysia is already partly in the hands of women and I hope
that this book will help inspire some of them to believe in the
power of their ideas, and to dream the technopreneur dream.
Chairman Mao once said, ‘Women hold up half the sky’.
In the foreseeable future in Malaysia, it is my sincere hope
that we will see more women technopreneurs at the helm
of MSC Malaysia Status Companies playing a greater role
in shaping Malaysia’s ICT industry, and together with their
male brethren, propel Malaysia and her economy towards
the goal of a high-income, high value society.
Dato’ Badlisham Ghazali
Chief Executive Officer
A NOTE FROM MALAYSIA corporate governance and extensive network access. Working
in close partnership with technopreneurs, we are committed
VENTURE CAPITAL to empower them to create wealth and generating superior
MANAGEMENT BERHAD investment returns. Towards this end, since its inception in
the year 2001 MAVCAP has been operating with a fund of
I wish to congratulate and commend about RM970 million and have invested in 117 companies of
Technopreneurs Association of which 12 are listed on various stock exchanges worldwide.
Malaysia (TeAM) for their initiative
in coming up with Women on I would like to assure TeAM that they can always seek the
Top, a book that will be a source support of MAVCAP when such is needed in the domain of our
of encouragement and motivation operations and in line with MAVCAP’s objectives. We see an
for technopreneurs both male and opportunity in working with TeAM in assisting small or budding
female in Malaysia. Malaysian ICT companies for whom it is often a challenge to compete for
Venture Capital Management market presence given their limited resources and capital. Over
Bhd. (MAVCAP) is particularly delighted with this effort on time, it has become increasingly evident that these entrepreneurs
the part of TeAM as MAVCAP has been mandated by the would require support in order to give their innovative ideas
Government to assist technopreneurs in their growth and and sound business plans a chance at success.
success. The narratives by various authors in this book are real
life stories that I have no doubt will serve as valuable lessons Once again congratulations to TeAM for this excellent book
and references for all technopreneurs. which should enjoy a very good readership.
MAVCAP, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Minister of
Finance Incorporated, was established expressly to develop
the venture capital (VC) industry in Malaysia. Our mission Husni Salleh
is to lead in VC investments and to act as a catalyst in Chief Executive Officer
the development of the venture capital industry. We offer
entrepreneurs not only financial assistance but also technical
expertise in developing business plans and strategies,
FOREWORD BY KOH LEE CHING, Indeed, a fair number of the entrepreneurs that are featured
in this book express a great love and passion for cooking.
PRESIDENT, TeAM Of course, they are equally matched by those who have very
little interest in cooking. Thus, masak-masak may have been
One of the earliest games I the inspiration to start a business for some of our female
remember playing as a child entrepreneurs but for a number of them, it may have served
was masak-masak or ‘cooking’. as a reminder to aspire to a life beyond masak-masak.
Masak-masak involves pretending
to cook - all the rituals of the Many studies have shown that entrepreneurship is just like
cooking process, from going to any other potential career option. It is just like becoming
the market and shopping for the a doctor, an engineer or an accountant in that it can be
ingredients, to finally cooking them up on a stove in a wok, learnt. Technopreneurship is merely a natural extension of
were part of the game. I remember making paper money to conventional entrepreneurship, except that it demands a
buy my ingredients, collecting leaves and flowers to barter technology component. The 15 technopreneurs who have
with other players. A significant part of the game involved generously shared their stories in this book will affirm that
role-play and we took turns being the buyers of goods, and entrepreneurship can be learnt. And as their personal stories
sellers of goods. Today of course, you don’t really need to will show, not all of them have technical skills, yet the
do any of this at all – Facebook’s ‘Café World’ now offers springboard of their businesses involves the use of technology
everyone a digital masak-masak experience. to create a business, a service or a product to enhance,
improve or create value.
Looking back, I have come to realise that masak-masak,
aside from being an innocent, fun game at the time, contains Starting one’s own business may not necessarily be
within it the seeds of entrepreneurial spirit and passion. I like something that is suitable for everyone. One must first have
to think that there are many women out there who segued a deep interest and passion, and in a sense, the daring-do
from playing masak-masak to becoming owners of high-value to venture forth and build something from nothing. Then there
businesses that utilise the power of technology to generate is the continuous effort of acquiring the necessary skillsets
value, be it in the form of innovation, products or services. needed to become an effective and successful entrepreneur,
and by extension in the technology space, technopreneur. in the path that you have chosen. I also hope you will be
It is not just one skill that is required: a successful motivated and inspired to reach greater heights by some
technopreneur must be a leader, a strategist, a problem of the tremendously successful women featured here, which
solver, an opportunist and wear many other hats as the include two owners of listed companies.
business evolves through its life cycle.
To all of you out there for whom masak-masak was once a
It is my hope that this book will serve as both an inspiration, favourite pastime, perhaps it’s time to awake that dormant
and an educational reference for all aspiring technopreneurs, entrepreneurial spirit that lurks within you. It is time to come
but especially women. I hope from this book that they will out into the real world, and cook up something real. It is time
realise anything is possible and anyone can make it if they to live your dream. Take that first step, whatever it is that
have set their mind and heart to it. Despite all the talk of glass will move you forward, then the next and the next. And who
ceilings and chauvinism, gender plays no role in determining knows - it may be you gracing the pages of the next edition
the success of a venture. In reality, it is going to be about of Women on Top.
the business, the product or services, the positioning, the
competition, the sales and marketing and cash flow. All of
which have absolutely nothing to do with biology. Koh Lee Ching
As a member of the fairer sex myself and the first female TeAM Technopreneurs
President, I hope that through this book, I can make my own Malaysia
little contribution towards encouraging, empowering and
emboldening more women to make the leap, and enter the
world of technopreneurship. If the 15 women in this book are
anything to go by, we aren’t just good at it, but we are much
better at figuring out how to have our cake and eat it too.
For those who have already started the journey, I believe
this book will be a very useful opportunity to reflect back
upon your own journey and recognise that you are not alone
EDITOR’S NOTE Or perhaps it is simply because women entrepreneurs have
had a hard time being taken seriously by proper trade
publications in the past, and thus, assume that any feature
Finding candidates who were willing to appear in the
about them involves being dolled-up, glammed up and
inaugural Women On Top book was not easy. TeAM
answering questions about their fashion preferences, rather
President Koh Lee Ching, the TeAM Council and Secretariat
than their business achievements.
had to put a great deal of time and effort into securing
the 15 candidates whose stories are shared in this book.
Whatever the reason, I hope that this book will address those
This was in marked contrast to the speed and eagerness in
concerns, and motivate more women to participate in similar
which the mostly male candidates featured in TeAM’s Go
future endeavours. Highlighting the achievements, struggles,
For Broke book stepped forward.
challenges and yes, failures, of women entrepreneurs in the
technology space is an important endeavour, and serves an
This creates the illusion that there is a shortage of female
important aim. It is only by sharing the stories, recounting
technopreneurs when the reality is very different. Suitable
the trials and tribulations, and reflecting on the challenges
candidates were aplenty, but candidates willing to grace
of those who came before, can those who come after be
the pages of the book and share their stories seemed few
inspired to reach for the stars.
and far between. Why the disparity in reactions? Perhaps
we women are a little more guarded, and cautious, about
marketing, branding and public relations than men. Perhaps
we don’t have that gung-ho ego that male entrepreneurs
have, and are not interested in preening for the public. Or
perhaps we simply prefer to beaver away at our businesses,
focusing on being highly profitable rather than highly visible.
Maybe the title ‘Go for Broke’ (which we later changed to
Women on Top) was an anathema to female entrepreneurs,
who as you will see from the stories here, are much more
judicious about taking risks.
WOMEN ON TOP DATO’ WENDDIANNE CHONG
5 THINGS ABOUT
DATO’ WENDDI-ANNE CHONG
Adores her five dogs.
Confesses she can’t live without her Blackberry
Supports women who dare to be at the forefront of
Her favourite golfer is KJ Choi.
DATO’ WENDDI- Is a tireless campaigner and supporter of a large
number of charities including but not limited to the
Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Yayasan
Tuanku Nur Zahira Foundation, Tengku Azizah Fertility
“Passion, passion, passion…
Foundation, Rumah Hope and Ipoh Children’s Home.
With passion in what you do,
you can overcome any
challenges that come your way”
WOMEN ON TOP DATO’ WENDDIANNE CHONG
Dato’ Wenddi-Anne is a co-founder and Executive
Director of TMC Life Sciences Berhad (‘TMC Group’), a
healthcare services provider listed on the Main Board
of the Bursa Malaysia. TMC Group’s flagship hospital,
Tropicana Medical Centre, is a multi-disciplinary
tertiary hospital located in Kota Damansara, Selangor,
with Centres of Excellence in Heart & Vascular, Fertility,
Women & Children, Diabetes & Kidney, Aesthetics &
Cosmetics, Orthopaedics, ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat)
and Stem Cell Banking and Medical Therapies.
The TMC Group also runs the Tropicana Medical Centre
in Penang which specialises in Fertility, Women and
Children. TMC Group’s Stem Cell Banking and Medical
Therapies arm is under StemTECH International, a
BioNexus-status company fully licensed under the Ministry
In many respects, Dato’ Wenddi-Anne Chong has always
of Health. StemTECH is dedicated to providing cord
been something of a pioneer. Her life is filled with a
blood stem cell banking and adult stem cell banking
number of firsts: she was the first group of women DJs at
as well as stem cells medical therapy, stem cell clinical
a Singapore club, and during a stint in modelling, she
trials and stem cell research and development.
was the first Yaohan girl for the departmental store. She
was also the first female drum majorette of Singapore’s
Her journey into entrepreneurship began way before
biggest band – the renowned Tanjung Katong Band.
TMC Life Sciences Bhd. Dato’ Wenddi-Anne had been
So it’s not surprising that she’s amongst the pioneering
involved in her family‘s timber business and even dabbled
management team in a number of leading and cutting-
in running a florist shop! In 1995, she co-founded the
edge healthcare service providers.
TMC Fertility Centre, then known as Damansara Fertility
Centre, fulfilling a desire to get involved in a business
WOMEN ON TOP MAZNIDA MOKHTAR
5 THINGS ABOUT
Cites the Prophet Mohammad as the towering figure
she most admires.
The best advice she ever received as an entrepreneur:
“Cash is King - You may have a contract or make a sale,
but until you collect on the services rendered, unless
you have deep pockets, you will still be stuck”.
Her favourite movies are ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Gone with
the Wind’, which she cites for its strong-willed heroine,
MOKHTAR: Has four children and is married to a cardiothoracic
“The best part of being an entrepreneur: surgeon who also is a fabulous cook.
you have some control, some say.
You don’t just sit back and wait for Cites the Blackberry as the technological invention
your boss to do something” with the greatest impact on the life of women today,
as it enables “more efficient management of work
WOMEN ON TOP
NATURE VS NURTURE
For Maznida, whether or not a person takes a step
towards entrepreneurship is a matter of exposure and
experience. “ I think it helps if you are born with it, i.e.
your family’s been in business as your exposure gives
you “experience” that others not in the same situation
will not have. However, with much actual experience
gained, the skills would naturally be nurtured”.
Like many entrepreneurs, she is of the view that above
all, passion for entrepreneurship is what matters. Passion
was what kept Maznida and her fellow co-founders
committed to their business at its lowest point. And
passion for entrepreneurship is what keeps her on the
look out for new opportunities, like her current venture
– a bakery franchise. “I’ll always be doing business. If
ever I quit Skali as a full-time staff, I’ll still be doing a
business!” she says with confident certainty.
Maznida Mokhtar is the Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder of
Skali. When she’s not crunching numbers for Skali, she’s the proud
co-owner of a bakery that produces Norwegian bread.
WOMEN ON TOP HAJJAH AINON
5 THINGS ABOUT
Her favourite inspirational song is ‘I have a dream’ by
Swedish pop sensation ABBA.
Has ﬁve children.
Cites the wife of the Prophet Mohammad, Khatijah as
a towering figure that she admires and whom she is
An avid reader, her choice of the most signiﬁcant books
she has read in the past year is eclectic indeed. On her
list were ‘A New Earth: Create A Better Life’ by Ekhart
“In business, look beyond the
Tolle, ‘Secrets of Chinese Business’ by Ann Wan Seng and
box and circle”
‘The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader’ by John C
Picked broadband as the technological invention with the
greatest impact on the lives of women:“The introduction
of broadband changes a woman’s life tremendously -
information is at your doorstep. It’s a library at home. Now
a woman can juggle being a mother, wife and career
woman from the home”.
WOMEN ON TOP EVELYN SAMUEL
5 THINGS ABOUT
Her favourite part about her job - the surprises. “I never
really know what to expect from the day’s experiences
even within a pre-set schedule”.
She listens to Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ when she’s
anxious, Deep Purple when she’s angry.
Has two daughters who are her best critics.
Her hobbies include listening to music and culinary
EVELYN SAMUEL: experimentation. Amongst her more colourful kitchen
experiments: sambal belacan with redcurrants in
place of limau kasturi.
“If I deliver the value, the proﬁts will come”
Cites networking guru Dr. Ivan Misner as her inspiration
and Carl Sagan’s ‘Contact’ as her favourite movie.
WOMEN ON TOP SHAHNAS OLI
5 THINGS ABOUT
She’s a former a competitive swimmer, a pianist who
has completed Grade 8 examinations in the Associated
Board of the Royal School of Music, a blue belt
taekwondo exponent, and a scuba diver who enjoys
diving in the Maldive Islands.
Sees herself as very much a citizen of the world: she
was ‘made’ in Wales, spent part of her formative
years in the United States, had her initial education in
Malaysia, possesses post graduate Australian degrees,
SHAHNAS OLI: and has international working experience.
Cites Khadijah Al Khubra, the wife of the beloved Prophet
“The opportunity to dream and the
Muhammad as the person whom she most admires and
continuous striving to make dreams a reality –
looks upon as her inspiration.
that’s what I love the most about my job”
She loves Disney and “Everything Mickey Mouse.
Disney has certainly achieved the purpose it was
intended for – advocating happiness and having
established the happiest place on earth!”
Cites Stephen MR Covey’s ‘The Speed of Trust’ as the most
signiﬁcant business book she has read in the last year.
WOMEN ON TOP JACQUELINE ANN SURIN
5 THINGS ABOUT
JACQUELINE ANN SURIN
When asked to describe herself in one word, she
She believes that every person in Malaysia should
be identified as Malaysian.
Her favourite foods are sambal udang and assam
pedas. Her favourite movie is Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord
of the Rings’.
JACQUELINE Admires American historian Howard Zinn “for giving
me perspective about social change and our agency
ANN SURIN: as citizens”.
“Always leave people Regards the washing machine as the technological
in a better state” invention that has had the greatest impact on the
lives of women.
WOMEN ON TOP NURSHAFIEDA ABDUL KHALID
5 THINGS ABOUT
NURSHAFIEDA ABDUL KHALID
Cites her inspirational figures as Tun Mahathir
Mohamed, Oprah Winfrey and her mother, Che
Noorma Md Taib.
Comes from a family of 7 siblings.
Her favourite movie is ‘The Click’ starring Adam
Sandler. Her hobbies are swimming and cooking.
‘The 360 Degree Leader’ by John C Maxwell is
the most significant business book she has read
ABDUL KHALIL: this year.
Views e-commerce as the most significant technological
“When you are successful,
development to have a positive impact on the lives of
every day is Hari Raya”.
women as “it can be operated 24/7 from anywhere,
at any time with the potential of recurring earnings. It
allows many housewives to do business from home”.