Hello Hisham, what are you up to lately?
Nothing much, except fulfilling a long list of my to-do list. One is to constantly keep abreast with the industry making sure that Bayu Kelulut, a premium exotic stingless bee honey, continues to be a leader and remains the market’s first choice indefinitely. Apart from that, I’m also continuously working hard with relevant authorities to seek further if not additional certification and accreditation in keeping up and complying to standards in ensuring that Bayu Kelulut is not only beyond the slightest doubt a trusted brand, but also becomes a household name
As demand steadily grows, I’m making sure the team is proactively ensuring a sufficient supply, thus the need for stingless honeybee farm expansion to increase production as well.
Educating the public is one of my priorities too. There is a big need to educate the masses on the benefits of consistently consuming pure natural stingless bee honey rather than chemically produced food supplements.
Hey, did you know that Bayu Kelulut has already entered China? I am so excited about this. Now I am preparing to participate in the forthcoming much-acclaimed China Asean Expo (CAEXPO 2019) which shall be held in Nanning this coming September 20 2019. We were selected by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) to promote our First Superfood, now commonly known as ‘Kelulut Honey’ to the world.
Next, it’s going to be Taiwan, South Korea, Europe and the Americas. Exciting times ahead!
Can you share with us a little bit about yourself, Bayu Gagah Marketing and your role in the organisation?
I graduated from Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia in 1997 with BBA (Hons) majoring in Marketing. I worked for a Silicon Valley-based organisation for 17 years. My last position was the Materials Regional Manager, managing Asia Pacific procurement.
Diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, I was forced to leave my corporate career behind to seek medical treatments. My health was going south, it left me with slurring speeches, weak memory and major depression. During one of my visits to the doctors, I met one guy, an old but wise gentleman who strongly recommended a pure natural stingless bee honey as a supplement. Out of desperation for a cure, I tried that. Frankly, it was my first ever experience with any kind of honey. Over a short period of time my memory improves, my speech got back to normal and I gradually returned to my normal self again. It became clear to me now when it is said that stingless bee honey is not a miracle but close.
I never looked back since. With the support of my family and siblings, our 2.5 acreages of multi fruits ‘dusun’ (orchard) located in Kodiang, Kedah was converted into a stingless honeybee farm. Hence the journey of Bayu Kelulut Smart Digital Farm and later its marketing arm Bayu Gagah Marketing began.
I’d rather call myself as a Chief of Everything (COE) than a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as I am very much a hands-on person.
Starting a small company that produces trigona honey bee is very rare especially in Malaysia. Do you mind sharing how this adventure started?
We started with a small ‘Enterprise’ company in May 2015 and later converted to a larger ‘Sendirian Berhad’ back in November 2016. From only a 2.5 acres land of stingless honey bee farm with a mere 120 hives in Kodiang, Kedah, we expanded further to Kuching, Sarawak and JV with Serapi Group of Companies and introduces Satellite Farms concept to interested friends and partners throughout Malaysia. Now, from the last count, we have more than 4,000 hives across Malaysia under JV or Satellite Farm approach.
We started the company with 3 headcounts back in 2015. We have since developed and expanded. Now our total workforce nationwide is close to 120 people. However, we only maintain less than a dozen personnel on the company’s direct paycheck while the rest are on the JV scheme.
How many countries you’re now exporting to?
To date, we have exported our product to a few countries, especially around the Asia Pacific region namely Singapore, Brunei, Japan, Australia and now accelerating efforts to penetrate the China market.
Now that’s a real adventure indeed. Who’s your target audience actually and why?
We are targeting the middle and upper-income market segment. They are very much into health conscious, wellness and an active lifestyle. We see a lot of demand here.
In one of the news we discovered, you mentioned that your goal is to take advantage of technology to investigate the daily life of stingless bee and the outcome of it will be translated into producing a greater quality of honey to improve our overall health by consuming it regularly. Can you share more about this?
We are collaborating with Professor Dr Ir. Azizi Harun of University Malaysia Perlis (UNIMAP), one of the top experts in the country for this. Professor Dr Ir. Azizi Harun has successfully completed and published his journal on the skeleton work of how to develop Smart Digital Farm (refer UTM Jurnal Teknologi, Stingless Bee Colony Health Sensing Through Integrated Wireless System, Vol 77, No 28).
This project is all about understanding the ecology of the stingless honeybees to further improve and enhance the quality of honey, to study and identify the right location for placement of honeybee hives, to avoid migration of honeybees, to establish the most favoured nutritious trees or flowers for honeybees and to install chip to detect the whereabouts of the honeybee hives should there be any event of thefts. It’s just amazing.
Is this what they called as Super Food?
You can say that, yes. The acknowledgement of the stingless bee honey as ‘Malaysia First Superfood’ was prompted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Malaysia (MoA) after diligent scientific studies reveal that it contains a very high antioxidant level, which is 4 to 10 times higher than normal traditional honey.
Encouraged by this finding, MoA tirelessly promotes the benefits of consistently consuming stingless bee honey at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and other venues worldwide, hoping to achieve international recognition for a stingless bee honey as a wholesome food supplement with natural medicinal values similar to if not better than the manuka honey of New Zealand.
MedicineNet clarifies Superfood as non-medical term popularised in the media referring to healthy types of food that can reduce one’s risk of disease or improving any aspect of physical or emotional health. The so-called superfood may have an unusually high content of antioxidants, vitamins, or other nutrients too.
Let’s talk about the shouting out part a little. Which is more important to you, branding or marketing?
My take is that both are equally important. One is the Ying and the other, Yang. Balance, they both must be.
Why is that?
Branding is the strategy or direction that you apply while marketing encompasses the tactical goals and how to get there.
How relevant is traditional marketing to your marketing campaign?
Traditional marketing is always relevant to any kinds of business campaign. Although in this era people are inclining towards digital but personally I think that purchasing behaviour involves not just digital but both. Therefore, it is equally important to spend the Marketing effort on relevant platforms and make the most of them. For most businesses, making the right Marketing decision is not easy, but if you do, it can make a huge difference in the results.
Running a successful business is not just about choosing the appropriate market or having the right Marketing strategy. I believe product quality and great customers’ experience are influencing the results too.
As you know there are Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and a few other social media platforms out there. Among these, which one works best towards your advantage in generating leads?
Facebook, given their current population.
What would be your advice for younger generations if they were to grow their career in your niche?
No one is born a seasoned entrepreneur – we all learn by making mistakes. In fact, making mistakes early in life is much better than making the same mistakes years later and losing much more money in the process. However, while ‘making mistakes’ is one way to learn, another great way of gaining knowledge is through learning from the mistakes of others.
Starting a business looks great on paper, but in reality, it is a process that involves constant failures, iterations, and alterations. It takes time and patience to scale to success. It is all about what they call as Grit.
Any parting words?
I would like to take this opportunity to quote the great Theodore Roosevelt;
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with dust and sweat; who strives valiantly, who errs and may fall again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming.”
This quote inspires me to continue to move forward with full knowledge that business as in life will be filled with setbacks, challenges, failures as well as successes. That there will always be people who get in your way and are negative. However, they are just a footnote in the lives of the successful and embody the other famous quote “the world needs ditch diggers.”
For those who wish to get in touch with you, what is the best way?
Yeah, sure. If you ever need help or advice on stingless bee honey, I am always available via +601 8400 4420 or +601 8662 4420. You may also visit our official website at this url www.bayukelulut.com, or drop by at our Facebook and Instagram.