“The LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) mindset has certainly been expanding in Malaysia, but there is a ton of room for growth. Awareness is on the rise with annual festivals like Murfest and the Eco-Film Festival, so it’s only a matter of time before awareness turns into habit,” said the CEO of SickBubble, Roman Sukhareno.
“Most of our team has been in Malaysia for well over a year, and in that time alone we have watched plenty of gyms, juice bars and health spas pop up all over the place. This isn’t for no reason either; a poll from the Sun Life Asia Health Index showed that personal health care is now the primary concern for Malaysians. When you combine those facts with the terrible haze that we experienced this year, the drive for Malaysians and expats alike to find eco-conscious and health supportive businesses has never been higher.”
“We all found ourselves living with a LOHAS mindset for a variety of reasons, and we were supportive of businesses in Malaysia as well, but they were incredibly hard to find. One day, we realised that we must not be the only ones having the same problem,” he added.
And it’s essentially this problem of discovery that Roman and his three colleagues are looking to solve through their web-based platform called SickBubble. SickBubble is a platform that people can use to discover LOHAS businesses, which are essentially ones that are working towards improving both the health of their consumers as well as the environment around them.
Such businesses can range from ones that use sustainable materials and methods in product creation, to organic foods and clothing, all the way to the ones that provide naturopathic or meditative services.
A Niche Outlet
When the team conducted their initial research, they noticed that more than half of their listings didn’t own a dedicated website and they only operated a Facebook page. Thus, they created SickBubble as niched outlet that allows such businesses to get a tad bit closer to their ideal demographic and to interact with them better.
Currently, the core vision of the team is to create an ecosystem that makes living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle much easier than living a “lazy” and “hazardous” lifestyle. It’s their personal belief that the more businesses that they support and shine the spotlight on, the more others will be inspired and encouraged to embark on their own LOHAS-geared businesses.
As such, they currently have over 500 businesses in the KL area listed on their platform. Given that they’re still in the beta phase, most of the work in terms of searching for like-minded businesses is handled by the team. Since the platform is currently being operated by a team of 4, Roman was quick to add the fact that the number of listings on the platform isn’t representative of all the sustainable and eco-friendly businesses out there.
As such, they even allow users to add businesses that they feel fit into each category of the platform, so that more sustainable businesses can have an avenue to be discovered. He also claimed, “Reviews, ratings, and rewards will play a big part in which businesses are found first and featured in a bigger way on the platform.”
People that subscribe to the LOHAS mindset are often driven by passion and an altruistic purpose to leave a positive impact both on themselves and the world around them. And given that SickBubble is a platform that professes and supports such aims, some people actually reached out to the team and offered their help.
Also, their fan base has been quite receptive and they are collectively approaching close to 10k followers across their social media platforms, and this essentially generates a consistent growth of traffic to their platform.
The Fantastic Four
The 4-member team is made up of a mix of skillsets, ranging from design and development skills to SEO and financial capabilities.
SickBubble’s CEO, Roman Sukharenko has participated in a number of startups and has been involved with SEO consultation for over the past 6 years. Meanwhile their CFO, Lee Maingot graduated with a finance degree and has been working towards building his Internet marketing skills over the past couple of years.
Their CDO, Krysta Francoeur has over 10 years of experience in design and has even run her own digital agency. And their CTO, Karuna SKJ is a self-taught web developer and he currently works as a developer at local company.
Speaking about the team Roman said, “Something that brings our team together is the centralized cause of having a positive impact on the world as well as the chance to live a more balanced and meaningful lifestyle. If we can foster the growth of a business or inspire a consumer to start thinking more positively about their lifestyle, then we’ve absolutely done our job.”
Given their extensive skillsets, they understand the bigger picture and are able to identify that Malaysia isn’t the only place where an online eco-friendly and health conscious platform can take root. Countries all over Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and North America all have rapidly growing LOHAS markets, and it’s something that they could capitalise on at a later stage.
However, they first need to get past the beta phase of development, and as such they’re currently in the process of sourcing funds into the project. “With that, we will be able to bring on a full product and business development team and increase our presence in a major way,” he affirmed.
The Final Release
Concurrently, they’re also in the process of launching their web app with upgraded features such as geo-targeted maps, social media capabilities, and premium features that will further enhance the reach of the listed businesses. The geo-targetted feature will enable SickBubble’s users to identify and locate LOHAS businesses within their vicinity.
And the premium subscription, although not mandatory, will help their partner businesses to grow them, and such businesses can make use of value-added services and their demographics.
This subscription service will essentially be an element that will make up their business model. However, they’re also working towards becoming a marketplace that will facilitate transactions between conscious consumers and LOHAS businesses.
“We are getting ready to introduce some greater capabilities for our platform in February and we are aiming to have the marketplace growing soon after that,” he said. “Every business that has signed up on our platform has the opportunity to offer a product or service through our platform. The enthusiasm from our participating businesses for this kind of niche marketplace tells us that vendors are eager to start growing their online presence.”
The team will also be expanding to Bali, a key market in the LOHAS space, and they believe that this will give the platform the much-needed boost. “Currently, we are in the process of interviewing and featuring some of the biggest Wellness Warriors in the area and will be attending the Bali Spirit Festival at the end of March where we will be getting more intimate with the wellness market there.”
“Living with a LOHAS mindset isn’t just for your personal health, but for the health and sustainability of our collective environment. It may sound like a tall order, but it all starts with you,” he concluded.