The second half of the year 2020 saw more businesses and companies started compared to previous years despite the pandemic that caused a shrink of 5.6% in overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While we might perceive it as a good sign of people braving through this hard time to start their entrepreneurship journey, many might have done this due to the fact that they have no other options to earn a living. It is only fair if we hear the stories of entrepreneurs who have actually started a business during these difficult times.
While the pandemic may have closed the door on his tech office of an international mobile content service provider, Suthan Mookaiah has opened up another door to a pandemic proof business - BeliGas Malaysia, a gas delivery service that allows you to order cooking gas online.
He started the business with zero experience in the operation of a gas delivery business and slowly improvised along the way. From selling 2 barrels of gas each day for the first week of operation, BeliGas Malaysia has since managed to bring in their first RM1 million in revenue within 6 months.
Read more about Suthan's journey in starting his gas delivery service during the pandemic here.
Inspiration for a business often starts through passion. Ethan Wong decided to look into his interest in making tempeh back in 2018 when his sourcing business was put to a halt due to the pandemic. He spent 6 months perfecting his tempeh chips recipe and creating the TrulyGourmet brand.
To make sure that this uncommon snack is palatable to Malaysian tastebuds, Ethan sent samples of tempeh chips throughout Malaysia before rolling out his business. The result? He has sold over 1.7k packets within the first 2 months by actively sharing his journey in starting this business on Facebook.
Read more about Ethan's journey in starting his tempeh chips business during the pandemic here.
When the supply is low and the demand is high, there lies a good business opportunity. Ben Rayappan, an event planner, did a market research on which business to run before reaching a decision for a plantation of cili bara, one of the hottest and most difficult chili species to cultivate in Malaysia.
Knowing how Malaysians crave hot and spicy dishes, Ben began his chilli farming with 156 plants and has expanded his farm to 1,200 chilli plants. The farm allows him to sell 240 - 350kg of chillies a month to wholesale markets and individual buyers from Negeri Sembilan, Klang Valley, and Ipoh.
Read more about Ben's journey in starting this chilli plantation business during the pandemic here.
The lockdown may have restricted the movement of people but online shopping makes it possible for them to get the food they used to enjoy from dining-in. Aaron Yap partnered up with Yee Hoi Coffee, a traditional coffee roastery founded in Ipoh, to bring the traditional kopitiam coffee into people's home.
With zero online presence since the business was founded, Aaron's business gradually gained traction by running Facebook Ads and joining various sales organised by several eCommerce platforms. The sales volume was 10 - 20 orders a month initially and it gradually grew to 30 - 50 orders a month.
Read more about Aaron's journey in moving this traditional coffee roastery business online during the pandemic here.
For cabin crews, the closing of international borders means losing their bread and butter. Gary Faizol Abdullah took the matters into his own hands by starting GalleyG from his home kitchen to sell Indonesian sambal as a way of earning a living for the time being, until the airline business goes back to normal again.
Operating a home kitchen is a tedious business. Gary has to handle everything on his own, from sourcing raw ingredients to dispatching the bottled goods, when he first got started. From 20 sales per week, his sambal business has grown to several hundreds of orders per month after partnering up with FoodPanda.
Read more about Gary's journey in starting his sambal business during the pandemic here.
The 5 real stories of starting a business in the midst of the pandemic series were written to tell the stories of entrepreneurs who have braved through these difficult times and successfully started a business. May the articles inspire and motivate you to push through these difficult times and achieve your goals in your entrepreneurship journey.