Introducing healthy snacks to Malaysians is no mean feat, having to compete with cheap and easily accessible street food. However, the trio behind Amazin’ Graze strongly believe that they can convince people to invest in their health. They share their story in this latest Chatterbox series.
What inspired the 3 of you to start a healthy snacks business together in Malaysia?
We were inspired to start Amazin’ Graze due to lack of affordable (and yummy) health food in Asia. Ching and I had lived in Melbourne where there were a lot of healthy food options around. When I moved to Malaysia, I was frustrated at the lack of affordable, healthy options and felt that it was a time to make a change!
What are the ingredients used in your products? How are they different from other healthy snacks?
All our ingredients are 100% natural and full of nutrients. We select ingredients for their nutritional content and benefit to the human body. For example, we only use jumbo steel cut rolled oats for our granolas because it is the healthiest option. All our products are designed to balance the human body’s need for protein, energy and vitamins.
We love how you cleverly mix raw ingredients to create unconventional flavours like ‘curry’, ‘five spice’ and ‘salted gula melaka’. What inspired you to do so?
We are proud to be Asian so we want to celebrate local culture and flavours as much as possible. There is so much richness and diversity in our local cuisine that it would be a waste to ignore all of that and go for more “western” flavours. We are in the process of rolling out satay lemongrass, rendang coconut and tom yum nut mixes as well as pandan cookies. Also in store are many other local flavours that our customers will definitely get excited about!
Can someone request for a customised granola mix (according to their tastebuds) or packaging for special occasions like Hari Raya and company annual dinners?
Yes. We currently customise our granola mix for customers who have special diets e.g. nut allergies. We also bring back past season’s flavours for customers who really want to buy them again.
Why do you think it is important to bring your business online?
Accessibility! We want people from all over Malaysia to be able to access our products, including East Malaysia. We also try to make our delivery costs as affordable as possible with free delivery for all online orders over RM50 in Klang Valley and major suburbs across Penang, Perak and Johor Bahru.
What do you like most about Shoppertise? And why did you decide to join the Marketplace?
We like Shoppertise for its ease of use. It was really easy for us to list our products online. We also like Shoppertise because it is a curated marketplace — awesome curation of good products and designs. Very tasteful!
What do you consider the most challenging aspect about running your own business? Was it hard to introduce granolas and dried fruits to fellow Malaysians who are more accustomed to keropok lekor (traditional Malay fish cracker) and pisang goreng (banana fritters) as their choice of snacks?
One of our greatest challenges is learning to prioritise. As a small startup, there’s always new demands on the business and everyone has to wear multiple hats. We need to learn the art of prioritising every day, and every hour so that we can focus on the most important things, and be okay with not being able to complete everything (we are quite hard on ourselves sometimes).
It was definitely a challenge introducing healthy snacks to our fellow Malaysians. The general level of awareness of healthy food is not as high compared to Singapore and Australia and street food is pretty cheap. The challenge then lies in convincing someone that they should invest in their health by not buying cheap, unhealthy fast food; and get a salad or nut mix instead.
Can you share a specific failure you encountered while building Amazin’ Graze (if any) and what did you learn from it?
Finding the right people to join the Amazin’ Graze team was really challenging and remains a challenge today. In the early days of Amazin’ Graze, there were instances where we did not make the right hiring choices, which resulted in a mismatch between the person’s skills and the role. We learned that while our resource needs are urgent, we should be more patient when it comes to hiring and it pays to wait until the right person comes along.
What excites you most about being the owner of Amazin’ Graze?
That we are able to chart our own course and create offerings that are exciting for us and consumers. The ability to create and innovate as business owners is one of the most exciting things for us.
Would you recommend others to follow your path? What do you think are the 3 key characteristics a person needs to be an entrepreneur?
I would definitely recommend others to follow our path! The journey is exhilarating, full of adventures and extremely meaningful. Having said this, I don’t think this journey is for everyone and there are very good reasons not to be an entrepreneur 🙂 I think three key characteristics that a person needs to be an entrepreneur is passion, persistence and leadership skills.
- Passion because no one else is going to be as passionate about your business as you are and that passion wakes you up in the morning and gives you the motivation to continue on.
- Persistence because running a business is like running a marathon — the end is a long distance away and there will be many instances when you want to give up.
- Leadership skills because you cannot do this alone. In the process of growing the business, you have to start delegating and create specialist roles like sales, marketing, finance etc. You essentially become a people manager and your goal is to enable others to do their jobs well.
If you could pick a celebrity to collaborate with, who would you pick and why?
Lily Simpson who runs The Detox Kitchen, whose boutique delis have specially designed health menus. She and consultant nutritionist, Rob Hobson are devoted to their philosophy of great health through great food. But if it’s a Hollywood celebrity then it’s Jessica Alba, the co-founder of The Honest Company. It is a consumer goods company that emphasises the importance of non-toxic household products and champions ethical consumerism.
Lastly, being Malaysian, we have to ask: What’s your all-time favourite Malaysian food?
Amy’s all time favourite Malaysian food is Poh Piah; Ching’s all time favourite Malaysian comfort food is Char Kuey Teow; and Sabrina’s all time favourite Malaysian food is Bak Ku Teh (partly because she’s from Klang).
Writer’s note: answers provided by Amy. Edited for clarity by Joanne.