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Obituary: Nazrin Hassan, Cradle Group CEO

Obituary: Nazrin Hassan, Cradle Group CEO
Nazrin Hassan is survived by his wife, Samirah Muzaffar and five children. - BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR: Over 10 years ago, he was the very first guest on the now popular Klang Valley-based business radio station, BFM.

Last year, when Astro AWANI embarked on the adventurous journey to establish an English language business talk show, he again gave the honour to this publication to become the first guest on the show - Market Talk.

Such is the nature of Nazrin Hassan, always there to support new ideas, new beginnings and new initiatives.

His work has left so much impact to the startup world, how the Finance Ministry (MOF) views startups, how the Inland Revenue Board views Angle Tax Reforms, and how, as a business presenter, this writer views the business world. 

Nazrin Hassan, Group CEO of Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, died yesterday after he was trapped by a fire in a bedroom of his house in Mutiara Damansara here, according to police.


The eve of Hari Raya, and the final day of Ramadan. And before the start of the World Cup, an event he would surely be anticipating for sometime now.

Nazrin, 45 years old, was in a bedroom on the upper floor of his house.

Nazrin's work to shape Malaysia's startup began nearly two decades ago when he started his own venture. Shortly after, the MOF decided to create its own platform to finance budding technopreneurs in the nation.
Under MOF, the Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad was created. Soon after that, Cradle was born and Nazrin was asked to spearhead this programme.

Under Nazrin's leadership, Cradle funded two very successful ventures.

MyTeksi, later renamed Grab is now a 'unicorn' – a term given by the venture capitals whose company has reached US$1 billion in value. Grab is now a powerhouse in the ride share business, buying over international rival Uber in a stunning deal.

Another success was the financial technology (fintech) behemoth, iMoney. This firm continues to grow from strength to strength and is now present in close to a dozen countries in Asia.

Under Cradle's initiatives, there are also the thousands of budding aspirants looking for a shot in the startup world. They were led by energetic, optimistic entrepreneurs who presented their business case to the investment panel at Cradle.

The very types that Nazrin would've loved to meet again and again.

Hundreds of them received one form of grant or another from Cradle. Many still do. And in the long term, a solution needs to be had if Cradle were to remain sustainable. It was here that Nazrin's genius took another level up.

Nazrin struck strategic partnerships with private investment funds locally and abroad to ensure that the startup ecosystem will not burden the Malaysian taxpayer.
Venture arms such as the Cradle Seed Ventures (CSV) were then created. The future of CSV is bright, but perhaps its adventure must go on without Nazrin to keep an eye on.

Above all, his friends would probably not define Nazrin as the 'Cradle guy'.

Interestingly enough, his friends and his Facebook followers would track his commentaries closely when it comes to football.

An ardent fan of Arsenal, he was vocal about Arsene Wenger's overstay at the club. He was critical of other football teams' efforts and would shower these teams with compliments if they'd done well.

He was ever so diligent to pen his predictions every Friday night before the EPL weekend kicks off.

His Facebook timeline would also be peppered with commentaries on the social and political ongoings too.

He always wanted a better Malaysia. And with the surprising results of the 14th General Election, he was fast to point out some 'quick wins' that the new government could embark on saving costs, improving productivity and harnessing a more colourful ecosystem for businesses to thrive.

At 45 years old and with so much to be done, Nazrin's story was still writing itself until this untimely tragedy struck. 

Perhaps, in life as in death, Nazrin wants the young Malaysians to continue growing the startup ecosystem that he had dreamt up. 

Perhaps, his story is writing still.

Market Talk: Budget 2018 Focus with Nazrin Hassan


Why is Cradle Fund stopping grant support to entrepreneurs?