About the Rice Bowl Startup Awards

1. What are the Rice Bowl Startup Awards?

In conjunction with the 1ASEAN Entrepreneurship Summit, an initiative by the Ministry of Finance and National Strategy Unit, to be held in November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (myNEF) will be organizing the inaugural Rice Bowl Startup Awards.

Honouring businesses that embrace mobility and innovation that harness digital technology, the Rice Bowl is the first ASEAN award that recognizes breakout startups in the region. The award is reflective of ASEAN’s sustained efforts in recognizing the contributions of its people as businesses become borderless which impacts the way people work, collaborate and innovate. It also exists to foster trade and promote “regional-footprint” of ASEAN startup businesses, and foster cross-cultural understanding and cooperation via regional awareness of internet, mobile or social media content.

2. Why call it the “Rice Bowl” awards?

Rice is the staple food and diet of ASEAN countries. It is also historically a key commodity for trade – be it at regional level, or just between neighbours in a small village. In the past, anyone can start planting rice, and the family’s food is supplied and the extra can be traded/sold. ASEAN people understand the “importance and role” of rice in terms of food, trade and culture.

Technology is the “rice bowl” of the future – in particular for ASEAN’s younger generation. Without technology, intra-region commerce would be stunted. Technology also tears down many barriers to regional entry – in particular Web and Mobile medium. The Rice Bowl Awards will celebrate startups that harness this technology to propel their business for regional presence.

3. What is the focus of the awards?

The Awards will primarily focus on awarding breakout startups  in South East Asia.

Rice Bowl is distinctly South East Asian, seeking the best representation of the “startup spirit” and not necessarily a tech company per se. It may or may not be “venture funded”. It will focus on businesses that “progresses and enhances” its clients and communities, and shows strong business value and revenues and/or growth. The Awards will also focus on businesses that uses technology to drive its business (either on the web, mobile or as core business systems) innovatively.

4. Why ASEAN? Why now?

ASEAN’s young population, high internet usage, and increasing disposable incomes equates to tremendous opportunities for startups within the region. With a market of over 600 million consumers and a combined GDP of nearly US$3 trillion, the region is vibrant and growing. By 2020, 48% of the ASEAN population will be under the age of 30, and the region will have 194 million new internet users. This combined the with conducive business environment for startups with initiatives provides a unique opportunity for startups to leverage on.

The objective of the awards is to celebrate ASEAN’s successful startups that will push new fronteirs into the global digital tech race. The awards are reflective of ASEAN’s sustained efforts in recognising the contributions of its people in promoting inclusivity and diversity as businesses become borderless which impacts the way people work, collaborate and innovate.

The inaugural awards will be held as the closing programme for the 1 ASEAN Entrepreneurs Summit (1AES) in Kuala Lumpur in November 2015. 1AES is being held in conjunction with the ASEAN Leaders Summit and is expected to draw a crowd of over 7,000 attendees from ASEAN countries.

5. What sets Rice Bowl apart from other awards?

Rice Bowl focuses on developmental elements, which are reflected in our key activities:

  1. Investor Matching and Pitching:

    • Shortlisted nominees will be assisted to prepare a pitch summary kit to be distributed to investors.
    • Investors will select nominees and they will connect with Startups prior to November Summit.
    • A gathering during November Summit will bring all startups and investors in one location.
  2. Media Workshop for Nominees:

    • A two-month engagement to educate startups about the importance of media, and how best to leverage and handle media.
    • Includes a coaching track to prepare startups for media interviews so that they are succinct.
  3. ASEAN Startup Community Building:

    • Engagement activities with ASEAN ecosystem builders in each country to ensure long term buy in for the awards
  4. Nomination & Winner Selection Process:

    • Online submission of startups from ASEAN and selection of final nominees.
    • Expecting to shortlist 3 nominees per category via 10 categories hence a total of 30 finalists .
  5. Media Engagement for Nominees:

    • Crafting out stories of startups for pre-, during, and post- awards via various selected media platforms.
  6. Awards Gala Night:

    • Awards presentation and celebration event.

6. Who are your partners?

Partners for the Rice Bowl Startup Awards are companies and organisations that wish to tap onto the energy, creativity, and vivacity of the ASEAN startup network. It is a unique platform for organisations to promote their brand and establish collaborative relationships with a regional audience of technical and business leaders in the ASEAN economic community. We are working with Malaysian entrepreneur and startup community builders that have regional connectivity, including MaGIC, Startup Malaysia, YBPW, myHarapan and MDeC.

7. Who are you working with regionally? What is their role in the Awards?

Our regional partners include in-country counterparts of organisations such as Cradle, MaGIC and ourselves (MyNEF). Country partners will facilitate the nomination process within each country to help garner nominees for the awards. They are vital in helping us identify and celebrate startups throughout the region.

About the Awards

8. What are the different categories?

The Rice Bowl Awards will recognize outstanding startups in 10 categories:

Star Categories:

  1. The Golden Rice Bowl: Startup Business of the Year
  2. Women in Business Startup of the Year

Industry Categories:

  1. Retail Startup of the Year
  2. Media Startup of the Year
  3. Digital/Online Startup of the Year
  4. Social Enterprise Startup of the Year
  5. Tech Startup of the Year

Cross Sector Categories:

  1. Product Startup of the Year
  2. Service Startup of the Year
  3. Innovative Go-To-Market Campaign of the Year

9. Who is eligible to enter? Are nominees allowed to enter more than one category?

Nominations are open to all companies founded on or after 1 Jan 2010 and must be a registered business entity in an ASEAN country. Additionally, all companies should be fully operational. CEOs or founders must be running the company full-time. Finally, the company must use technology, social media and cutting edge business strategies to deliver their products or services.

Entrants are encouraged to enter as many categories as they like – the criteria for each of the individual categories is listed on the Rice Bowl website.

Startup Business of the Year is to award the Best of the Best, and finalists for that Rice Bowl will be chosen from all of the winners for the various categories.

10. Are entrants from non-ASEAN countries allowed?

All nominees must be registered companies within any of the ASEAN countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

11. What are the nomination and judging criteria?

All companies must meet the general criteria, as well as the specific award criteria. The general criteria are:

  • Your company was formed on or after 1 January 2010
  • Your company must be a registered business entity in one (1) or more ASEAN countries
  • Your company is “fully operational” – which means your company has started offering its services, products or programs to your intended “customers”. Any nomination that is still in the business plan phase, or still in the process of launching – but has not actually launched, will not be considered
  • CEO and/or founders run the business full-time (ie no side projects, school projects or concept-stage companies)
  • Uses technology, social media and/or modern business strategies to deliver your product or service

In additional to the general criteria, each award category has a specific requirements. Please view the Award Categories page for more details.

12. What is the nomination and judging process?

Nominations are open from 1 June 2015 and close on 15 August 2015. Nominations are open to all, and can be done by entrants or 3rd parties. All entrants will be featured on the Rice Bowl website.

The Top 30 finalists will be chosen by our panel of judges and announced on 1 October 2015. These finalists will then be evaluated by our celebrity judges and the winners will be announced during the Awards ceremony in November 2015.

13. How will finalists and winners be selected?

Finalists and winners will be selected based on the nominating and judging criteria for each category. The winner of the Golden Rice Bowl Startup Business of the Year will be selected from the pool of awardees to celebrate the Best of the Best.

14. Who are the judges? Who are the celebrity judges?

The judging process for the awards will be a 2-tiered. At the first level, all entrants will be evaluated by our panel of judges

The top 30 finalists will then be evaluated by our panel of celebrity judges comprising of successful entrepreneurs and investors. We are still in the midst of confirming all of our celebrity judges, and will announce who they are on our website closer to the date.

15. What will the finalists receive?

At Rice Bowl, we want to celebrate our finalists as well as our winners. All shortlisted finalists will receive USD15,000 worth of startup grooming, including:

  • Professional media coaching
  • Engagements with regional media
  • Matched with interested VCs and funders at the 1 ASEAN Entrepreneurs Summit in November 2015
  • Access to the 1 ASEAN Entrepreneurs Summit in November 2015
  • Red carpet treatment at the Awards Gala Night

Winners of the various categories will also receive the Rice Bowl award and bragging rights.

16. When will the awards be held?

The inaugural awards will be held as the closing programme for the 1 ASEAN Entrepreneurs Summit (1AES) in Kuala Lumpur in November 2015. 1AES is being held in conjunction with the ASEAN Leaders Summit and is expected to draw a crowd of over 7,000 attendees from ASEAN countries.

17. Will all the finalists be awarded investments?

The Rice Bowl Startup Awards seeks to foster partnerships and encourage the startup culture within the region. As such, all the shortlisted finalists will be matched with interested VCs and funders at the 1 ASEAN Entrepreneurs Summit in November 2015. Any agreements on funding will be between the startups and the VCs/funders, and will not involve Rice Bowl.

About the Organisers

18. What is 1AES?

1ASEAN Entrepreneurship Summit (1AES) seeks to bring together governments, private sector players, entrepreneurs and all other stakeholders in the regional ecosystem together to catalyse great entrepreneurs for tomorrow’s ASEAN. It is being held in conjunction with the ASEAN Leaders Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 2015.

19. Who is MyNEF?

New Entrepreneurs Foundation (myNEF) is a not –for-profit organization that focuses on creating and developing sustainable entrepreneurs via strategic developmental programs. MyNEF designs and caters programmes with entrepreneurs in mind, helping them achieve their business goals. For more information, visit www.mynef.com.

20. Why is MyNEF hosting these awards?

The Rice Bowl Startup Awards is the first ASEAN awards to celebrate the successes and milestones of the region’s startups. The awards are to inspire and foster the entrepreneurial spirit and help make the region an epicentre for technology startups.

In addition, MyNEF is in collaboration and partnership with recognized bodies and entities in the startup eco-system of each ASEAN country, including the likes of MaGIC, MDeC, MoF and others.



Initiated By
nbos mof Kementerian asean GEW
Organized By
Strategic Partner
UMCIC Maybank microsoft My Bulk Print
Creative Partners
melinda looi UCT
Audit Partner
the spark
Official Hotel
Royale Chulan
Venture Management Partner
Infinite Ventures
Media Partners
Amamz Aquila Malaysia Reserve Thailand Startup
Community Partners
brand geeks cradle Cyberview mad incubator mdec myharapan mypaa nef startup my ustart WIEF watchtower wena C Asean Bangkok Ent Digital Kawai Hubba geeks in cambodja ideaspace iglu Lithan startup mm startup jobs startup thailand startup vn the spark webmob