A successful entrepreneur is one who has the courage to take risk, start a new venture and make a difference in trying to achieve financial freedom. Every successful entrepreneur will have similar attributes such as passion, determination, dedication, creativity, self-confidence, flexibility as well leadership. Within this report, you will be able to discover some of these attributes within the entrepreneur that I’ve been privileged to meet and be a part of my interview.
Viva Gelato is an Italian-style ice cream shop that belongs to Mr. Muliadi Halim, 45, from Indonesia. Muliadi came to Singapore to set up Viva Gelato with Mr. Ng, a Singaporean, despite already having another brand that has 14 outlets back in Jakarta. He obtained a master degree in Gelato from the Gelato University in Bologna.
As a child, Muliadi was exposed to entrepreneurship activities back in Indonesia since his family owned a bakery. During those days where life was difficult for his family, his parents started to produce cakes at home and distributed them to several shops for them to sell. By doing this, they only earn what they managed to sell during the day. Then they will come back in the evening to collect the left over cakes and as time goes on, his parents were able to save enough money to set up a small bakery.
It is common for the children in Indonesia to help their parent’s business back in those days. Muliadi wasn’t excused from this as well, he had to tend the bakery after school so that his parents could go back home to rest. Since his parents were strict, he could only obey and help his parents. As Muliadi grow older, his siblings eventually started their own food business as well.
Due to the influence of his family, Muliadi soon started his own business. At that time, he was still studying marketing as an under-graduate in a university. Muliadi realized that most of the food business around him had a similar problem which was food wastage. In a bakery, left over bread can only be thrown away while in a restaurant, ingredients that are kept for too long will be spoilt. He knew he want to set up a food business however he wanted one that had the least risk involved since he didn’t had much capital back then. In the end, he decided that a business that sells Gelato could work out since Gelato can be kept for two to four weeks if stored in a proper freezer. Keeping that in mind, he invested on an expensive cabinet that cost about S$28,000 to store the ice-creams in Viva Gelato. By having a product that can be stored for such a long period, food wastage didn’t exist in his new business.
As an entrepreneur, Muliadi showed dedication towards his business when he decided to drop out of university in his last semester so that he could concentrate on his ice cream business. Even though now he felt that it was a bad choice because he didn’t had the assurance like what university graduates had. He also mentioned that there were many things that happen in a day-to-day business that cannot be relate to the textbooks we see in school. Despite admitting that some of the things he learnt in university had helped him a little as a young entrepreneur.
Muliadi met Mr. Ng in Singapore when he was looking for a new supplier from Singapore that could provide better quality ingredients for his ice-cream. He eventually became partners with Mr. Ng when Muliadi came to Singapore to set up Viva Gelato. Mr. Ng helped Muliadi to set up the machineries in Viva Gelato since he was good with it which made Muliadi felt grateful.
Even though Muliadi isn’t a Singaporean, he is still grateful to the acts of the government in Singapore. They were in favour of a government scheme that exempted Viva Gelato from paying tax for a certain period during their start up and was given a grant for certain accounting software. He was also happy to know that the government support young entrepreneurs who are hawkers since he sees that teenagers these days are not interested in the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry. Muliadi asked who is going to provide authentic food in Singapore now that everyone is hiring foreign workers to cook.
Doing business is part of Muliadi’s life, he treat his staff as if they are his own family members. As a leader he showed care and concern by finding out the condition of his staff to determine whether they are fit to work. An example given was that he only had one full time staff, the rest of his employees are all students who work part-time at his shop. He will find out the exam schedule of everyone to let them take a break from work and study. In Viva Gelato, every staff is expected to treat customers with the upmost respect. If there is something that is troubling any of the staff, Muliadi will try to help his staff by releasing them from work so that they are able to concentrate on what is more important to them. His vision for his business is to train his staff to the extend whereby they are ready to take over his leadership role stating that he would give a portion of the business to his staff.
Just like any other successful entrepreneur, Muliadi has failed in the past before becoming who he is today. He mentioned that every business will go through ups and down, he recalled being cheated by his own best friend back in Indonesia. After that incident, he decided that he will
not include any of his relatives or close friend in the business emphasizing family relationship is very precious. Muliadi didn’t want to spoil the relationship between his family and him since he felt that family is very important.
Muliadi felt that he work even harder when the business was not doing well. He said unlike any other rich kid in Indonesia who managed to start their own business with their parents money, Muliadi had to start everything from scratch and because of this reason, he felt even more motivated to do well. After setting up fourteen outlets in Indonesia throughout the past 9 years, he was able to set up Viva Gelato with S$180,000 for the start up.
Creativity also exists within Muliadi when he shared about a unique product of Viva Gelato. The unique product that Viva Gelato offers is the “thumb size cone ice-cream”. It is a mini version of a normal cone ice-cream. He pointed out that so far, he had never seen anyone in Singapore doing it. Besides that, he also produced Gelato using durian as he realized that durian is very popular here. Muliadi remembered a regular customer from Malaysia who really enjoys eating the durian Gelato.
An advice from Muliadi to the youngsters is to earn a living, it doesn’t necessary mean that you have to be working for a great company. There are other ways to earn income instead of being just an employee. Everyone should try to become an entrepreneur regardless how small scale the business is. As long as you have the patience and determination, you will definitely see progress in your business. Before setting up a business, you have to know what your passion is. Without passion, you will feel like giving up during times of trouble and end up losing your business.
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Written by : Teng Yong Jie