Southeast Asia venture capital firm Gobi Partners is trying something new and somewhat unusual to ensure it can still discover fresh startups across Malaysia to invest in during the pandemic lockdowns.

This week it rolled out an online championship that, not dissimilar to NBA playoffs, has a bracket system to whittle down 64 selected early-stage startups into eight finalists.

Those finalists in its brand-new SuperSeed II Championship will be invited to pitch in front of key industry investors. Also up for grabs is a prize money pot of $3.5 million, potential investment from Gobi’s SuperSeed II Fund (which was established last year), plus access to other opportunities, such as a potential grant from state-run Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

Gobi’s managing director for Malaysia, Jamaludin Bujang, said in a statement that the VC firm must “keep investing as the world goes through these kinds of cycles. In order for the ecosystem to survive, the show must go on.”

See: Gobi’s Thomas Tsao on a decade as a Southeast Asia VC

This championship is on the lookout for fledgling businesses in:

  • retail and enterprise tech
  • fintech
  • “smart city” tech, including transport, ride-hailing, environmental, construction sectors
  • Muslim consumer services

Registration deadline is June 15 at 11pm Malaysia time. The first stage after that is online voting, followed by video voting, online pitching, and, lastly, in-person pitching for just the finalists.