Grindz is an ambitious health supplement startup hailing from Malaysia that is prepared to tackle and shake the fitness and supplement scene in Asia. Conceived by brothers, Jeffrey and Jason Lee, Grindz is one of the few startups encountered by The Asian Entrepreneur that has the most unforeseen but yet natural beginnings. Both brothers were in fact, majoring in Account, Banking & Finance respectively from Monash University and Melbourne University. By assumption, Jason and Jeffrey both appear to be the conventional corporate-finance yuppies that you’d expect to meet at the board room or so you would assume. However, getting into good shape and knowing how nutrition plays an important role in daily life have always been passions that drove the brothers. For example, despite working as an accountant for KMPG post-graduation, Jason worked on personally transforming himself from an overweight 81 kg to a lean 63 kg within 6 months. He also became an ISSA certified Personal Trainer. Whilst, Jeffrey who had also worked on similar personal fitness goals, was personally involved in a project which oversaw the import of health supplements from a US company into Malaysia and Macau. From which Jeffrey got the opportunity to learn about the intricacies nutrition formulation, sourcing and prescription to consumers based on needs. He later also became ISSA certified as sport nutritionist.
The idea came for Grindz really came about to the brothers when they decided to employ the knowledge that they have accumulated pursuing their personal passions for fitness and health to guide and help people to stay healthy in a the right, sustainable and most flexible way. This eventually culminated in the founding of Grindz in 2015 which combines the knowledge of nutrition and personal training from both brothers who were able to achieve their own fitness and health goals despite being busy individuals.
The Asian Entrepreneur has the pleasure of speaking to Jason Lee today about his experiences starting up Grindz in Malaysia and the insights that he learnt as a budding supplements entrepreneur.
How would you describe the essence of Grindz?
Grindz is a lifestyle company that markets and offers the public its high-quality nutritional products and a wealth of fitness information. Grindz motto are “Weight management made easy”.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up Grindz Supplement?
We started from brainstorming of ideas, name, vision, mission and motto which represents our value. Grindz is derrived from Grind whereby we believe that life’s a journey, not a destination. At the end of the day, really, it’s the journey that matters most. Because despite the ebbs and flows, and as trying and tiring the course may be, our ultimate goal in life remains the same, and that’s to achieve an even better tomorrow through the grinding of life.
We then move forward to look for a great creative designer and manufacturer to produce products that appeal to consumers. We work closely with manufacture on formulations and did the entire product tasting on our own before we agree to produce to public. Next, getting approval for the products from Ministry of Health is the most important step in our process of starting up.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
We had difficulties when we were registering our products with Biro Pengawalan Farmaseutikal Kebangsaan (BPFK). Due to our young age, the BPFK not only reviewed our application carefully but also questions us on our background to ensure the safety of the approval. We never gave up and managed to overcome this difficulty by showing our passion to improve the health of people and by providing information on how the supplements and the meal plan works together.
How have you been developing Grindz Supplement since startup?
We knew that we need a team to share our ideas, passions and visions. However, to keep the expenses we are not able to recruit a big team to run the business. We believe nowadays people collaborate to achieve a greater result rather than competing with each other. Hence, we gather fitness enthusiast in KL to form Grindz Athlete. They were our brand ambassador in collaboration to help inspire and motivates people in picking up proper nutrition and training to stay healthy. Grindz athlete had been actively sharing the Grindz idea in social media to promote awareness.
Grindz is looking to expand the company in future to target on South East Asia market where obesity is on the rise and we share similar food culture. We will also increase our product range which revolve around lifestyle, health and beauty. We also plan to develop our very own mobile applications with features revolving around lifestyle, health and beauty.
What kind of feedback did you get for Grindz Supplement so far?
Most of the feedback we get from our Client is very positive and do make ourselves proud. I remember some conversation which really make us happy are for example “I still can’t believe I can eat cake and lose weight” and “congratulations to you and your brothers for a marvellous product and the simplest diet to follow”. As for the taste, most of the clients are happy with it and they could drink it every day. These feedbacks motivate us to go further and promoting to more people.
What edge do you have over your competitors?
We focus on 2 factors which are the Price and Unique selling point (USP). Firstly, our price is reasonable for a weight management and detox product as compare to some which the price more than RM1,000 in the market.
Second, our USP is the supplements and meal plan guide that we have provided. Our supplements are having unique blend which has various health benefits and a great taste that appeal to consumers. Our meal plan is designed by Fitness Nutritionist to suit Malaysian based on gender and weight category. We do not believe that 1 formula suits everyone where most competitors have 1 eating diet for everyone disregard gender, age and activity level. Besides than that, our meal plan guide is sustainable and flexible whereby Malaysian could lose weight in a healthy way by choosing the right food and portion when they eat outside in their busy schedule. There is also one day whereby Malaysian could eat anything they want as much as they can to reset the metabolism rate and to be happy throughout the weight loss program.
Lastly, we as Co-Founder are certified and equipped with fitness knowledge. We provide extra consultation for our clients. We also share the right knowledge through our blog in the website.
Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?
Based on National Health and Morbidity Survey of 2015, obese Malaysians make up 17.7 per cent of the population while those who are categorised as overweight make up 30 per cent. The obesity prevalence have increased drastically from 4.4 per cent in 1996 to 14 per cent in 2006. Then it increased to 15.1 per cent in 2011 and continued to increase to 17.7 per cent in 2015. Malaysia is also rated as the highest obesity rate in South East Asia.
Frost & Sullivan research shows that Malaysian healthcare expenditure could rise as high as USD20 billion by 2020 due to the rising incidences of chronic diseases, increasing healthcare costs especially in Wilayah Persekutuan and Selangor due to urbanisation, and a weak ringgit. At a market size of close to USD500 billion, the Asia Pacific Healthcare market (consisting of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare technology) represents 30% of global revenues, and is still the fastest growing region globally with a growth rate of 11.5% projected for 2016.
Technavio’s research analyst predicts the health supplement market in Malaysia to grow at a CAGR of 7% during the forecast period.
What is the future of the industry?
Based on industry insights, we could foresee that the healthcare industry is growing especially in recent years due to the rise of aging population in Malaysia. We also noted that there are more new fitness centre in Malaysia being open. Malaysian are getting more health conscious.
We would be keep up to date with the latest knowledge on health and fitness industry. Besides, we will be increasing our product range which revolve around health, beauty and lifestyle in near future to keep up with the industry.
Were there anything that disappointed you initially?
Since we started, we were trying to reach out by trial and error. As being one of the first to promote through a fitness team coming from different background but shares the same vision, we weren’t sure which of our content or our features would appeal most to consumers. Thus, we only spread amongst our own social media platforms to our family, friends and peers through word of mouth. We started to worry when some content doesn’t generate sales to us. At first, we followed a few suggestions from consultant however some ideas don’t works for us. Having disappointment is therefore unavoidable in startups when you can’t make sure there is a solid plan for your company.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?
Being an entrepreneur in Asia is challenging as Asian usually takes a little while longer to adapt to new innovation being introduced in the market. We are so used to follow the traditional way of living and the knowledge that has been passed down by our parents. We tend to live with social norm as we do not feel comfort when we are different compare to peers. This eventually challenge us mentally and physically. However, things are getting easier as there are more community and groups being formed to support entrepreneurship. For instance MaGIC that has been formed as a platform in Malaysia to support entrepreneurship. Additionally, more young generations are picking up entrepreneurship and we are able to learn from everyone from different background through networking events.
What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?
There are cultural differences between Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship. In my opinion, this cultural differences is mainly due to how Asian vs Western being brought up by the family.
Asian parents tend to emphasise on the results rather than the progress itself compare to western. This eventually make Asian entrepreneur having higher fear of failure. They do not dare to try as they are afraid to fail. Whereas western understands that the progress of trying is important rather than focus on it end result.
Asian parents tend to be protective which results in stricter parenting rather than giving the freedom. They do not let their children do anything which they think it will cause harm to the children. The western would let their children to explore and learn from the mistake itself. The western eventually will be greater in entrepreneurship as they will be exploring the opportunity with their passion. Whereas, there are a few jobs traditionally deemed to be ‘successful’ ones to Asian parents: doctor, engineer, lawyer and accountant.
Asian parents generally have an autocratically-inclined way of raising their children, and questioning authority at any time is seen as being disrespectful. Whereas western take a different approach by establishing a friendship with their children. The kids in western do question their parents which eventually builds a questioning mind rather than just follow strictly.
In bottom line, I would think that western entrepreneurship would be greater as they have learn to follow their passion, having questioning mind and willing to try without fear of failure.
What is your definition of success?
Life’s a journey, not destination. Success is to achieve a greater me tomorrow through the constant grinding of life and at the same time enjoying the life journey. Be fearless, have a vision.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Be passionate. There’s a saying where do what you passionate about will lead you to success. However, in our thinking, we believe that being entrepreneur must be more than that. We must be passionate with business and the idea itself. Idea is the lead to create the product or services. But passionate with business is the one which drives the long term success. As Mark Cuban once said, “Follow the green, not the dream.” If your dream startup won’t make you any money, you may need to change your focus
Be flexible but persistent. Every entrepreneur has to be flexible, continually learning and adapt to new knowledge. We have to learn to change our strategy at the right time when we face difficulties. At the same time, we have to remain devoted to the cause and mission of our company. Consistency shows value of whatever we are after and eventually it will leads to success.
Be open-minded but trust your gut. We should always empty our cup when we meet anybody. There is always something to learn from someone. Always seek for advice and listen to others opinion. However, there is no right and wrong, black and white to an answer. Digest the advice and opinion, trust your gut and make a decision to move on. Be responsible to the consequences for the decision has made.
Having a great team. No individual can be good at everything and we have limited of time per day. Everyone needs people around them who have complementary skill sets. Build a team of colleagues, suppliers, friends and mentors who able to support you throughout the entrepreneurship.
Having a plan and enjoy the journey. Planning help us concentrate on our goals, keep finances and progress on track and help us understand our deviations or failure. However, there is no perfect plan in the world, action speaks louder than words. Plan well and execute it, solve the problem when it arise. The road to success is a long one, do enjoy the journey while we are trying to reach our destination.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Dream is just a dream, make your move on the dream. Surround yourself with greater people and you will see miracle. Do not stay in comfort zone as comfort zone doesn’t make you a greater man.