By GABEY GOHbytz@thestar.com.my
PETALING JAYA: The Asian Business Angel Forum 2012 (ABAF) is seeking to encourage high net worth individuals (HNIs) to diversify their portfolios by investing in technology startups.
"Many of them are familiar with traditional vehicles of investment, such as real estate, listed stocks or bonds," said ABAF co-chairman Johnathan Lee. "But when it comes to technology, this is unfamiliar territory."
Lee, who is also vice-president of commercialisation and ventures at Cradle Fund, noted that the local funding eco-system is still young, and with the Government bound by limited resources.
"What happens is that only the cream of the crop gets funded at the moment, while there is a large segment of startups which are good but may have narrowly missed out based on just one or two criterion," he said.
Calling government grants "a temporary solution," Lee said it is a problem that can be solved by the addition of more investors from the private sector who are actively engaging with the technology startup scene.
"However, the first step is providing information and education about investing in technology companies, especially in the area of early-stage equity investment which is what we will be focusing on," he said.
Lee said risk and expectation management can help mitigate concerns over intangible products and the high risk of failure associated with investing in technology ventures - topics that the upcoming ABAF 2012 will cover.
About 200-250 HNIs are expected to be among the 500+ attendees at the three-day training and conference event, which is set to take place from May 23-25 at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
It is the first time the event is being held in Malaysia, having previously been hosted in Shanghai and Singapore. Typical attendees are business leaders, angel investors, policy-making venture capitalists and startup specialists.
The event is also slated to be a showcase of Malaysian-led technology.
It is jointly organised by Cradle Fund - an agency under the Ministry of Finance that manages the Cradle Investment Programme, a development and technology commercialisation fund - and Virtuous Investment Circle, an independent not-for-profit angel investment group.
For more information, go to www.abaf.asia.