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Brewing Success In Modern Tea

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The story of Chatime Malaysia Bryan Loo’s true calling

Bryan Loo is another amazing Malaysian male entrepreneur who started off at a very young age. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Loob Holding Sdn Bhd, who is responsible for bringing the popular modern tea beverage – Chatime Malaysia.

Chatime is a Taiwanese franchise founded in 2005 with over 800 retail outlets across countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, China, India, Macau, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Dubai, Vietnam, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States.

THE DAWN

Just like any other wage earner who has the desire to own his own business, Bryan decided to leave his job and venture into entrepreneurship at the age of 24 years old. According to Bryan, he had a very strong determination to pursue his own enterprise that he knew he was going to be successful regardless the type of business he would choose.

“One day, I called my dad and told him that I’ve decided to venture into Food and Beverage (F&B) business. He asked me why, since no one in the family has ever done business in F&B. I actually went into a few entrepreneurship exhibitions and from my observation, I believe that only F&B business can resist any economic crisis.”

The F&B business in Malaysia is huge. However, after studying the market, Bryan found out that there were three untapped segments in the F&B market. They were namely: 1) tea representative/franchise 2) ‘Grab & Go’ concept and 3) cold beverages to cater the hot tropical weather.

“When I was travelling to Taiwan, I learnt that there were 198 modern tea brands with 25,000 outlets in that country. Right at that moment, I knew this is the business that I need to bring back to Malaysia. Why would there be such a modern tea culture in the other side of the world, which is not happening in Malaysia? My first vision was to bring the entire modern tea culture to Malaysia, not just to bring bubble tea – a common misconception people have on Chatime.”

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TRUE CALLING

Bryan’s journey was not entirely a smooth sailing one. He faced a lot of challenges, which eventually became learning curves to propel him to success. “Bubble tea in Malaysia, when it first started, was mainly prepared from powder, while Chatime’s is freshly brewed from tea leaves. When I first brought Chatime into Malaysia, the challenge was to educate the people on our bubble tea. That education process itself takes quite some time to have impact on the people.”

“Resilient entrepreneurs must embrace failure and learn from it. As the boss, I always have the privilege to make decisions, hence I end up making a lot of mistakes. But I grow a lot quicker than other people because of that. As time goes by, the decision making experience will teach you how to make a good one. It’s not about making a right or wrong decision, but making a quick decision, so that if it fails, we can quickly reduce its impact by changing course.”

“Entrepreneurship is not a life style but a true calling. The moment you decide to become an entrepreneur, the determination will become much stronger than any other thing in the world. You must understand your intention – you want to become an entrepreneur because you want to change your life. My calling has become stronger and today, it has become my life purpose to make sure I continue to become the leader of my own,” Bryan added.

Bryan mentioned that is it very important for young people to not treat entrepreneurship as a life style but as a true calling instead. “You cannot say ‘Because that guy is successful in entrepreneurship, I want to jump into the bandwagon as well cause I know I can be equally successful’ – then you will definitely fail big time. That guy is successful because he has a purpose in it. If you do the thing that excites you, you can feel the fire burning inside. That means you’re doing the right thing! I still feel the excitement and the fire inside me since the first day I established my company.”

Bryan’s advice to the young generation who is planning to venture in entrepreneurship:

“It doesn’t matter how visionary you are as an entrepreneur. If you don’t have the pool of people who are willing to get their hands dirty to achieve the vision, you’re just visionary – and that’s not enough. Visionary goes hand in hand with execution. The only reason I could achieve the things I have now is because I have a team of great people working with me. I need to keep myself reminded even though we need to create so much things out of the organisation, I still have to take good care of my people. Am I making them happy enough so they can provide good services to our customers? These little things are very important for a company.”

CHOOSING A LOCATION

“Whenever we choose a location, it doesn’t necessarily mean the right one. But after some time in the market, we learned that because Chatime is more to ‘Grab & Go’ concept, we needed to use a different approach. Hence, we started expanding into Shell outlets – because we want to be more relevant in the lives of Malaysians who commute daily. They may not walk into shopping malls everyday, but they go to petrol stations every week. It is necessary for Chatime to put its footprint there.

Of course, location and demographic of target audience are important factors to look into, thus feasibility study is important. In this case, we look into traffic reports of a particular Shell station before the decision to invest is made. It’s the same as retail malls.

To me, as a general perspective, retail market is a lot more under-performing this year compared to last few years. We are fortunate enough to say that we had about 6% growth last year. I think it was a miracle, because, the market is tough, to even have a growth is almost impossible. I think the biggest gratitude goes to the operational team that has managed to pull through a refined SOP within the operations department.”

‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ – this applies to someone even as successful as Bryan Loo. In his journey towards success, he received many other rejections from the big companies for a franchise, but he did not give up. He then turned to the start-up of Chatime Malaysia, which is now possibly the most popular household brand in Malaysia.

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