We Malaysians love our food.
What better way to endear yourself to us than to come up with new and creative ways to get it to us, particularly if they’re convenient and accessible?
This is probably is why food trucks are thriving, encouraged by the support from different organisations and local food enthusiasts about this new business model in town.
Izat Izwan Idzian saw the increasing demand for food trucks in Malaysia but noticed that people, especially those from underprivileged communities, couldn’t jump onto the trend because of the relatively expensive cost (approximately RM50,000–RM100,000) it takes to start a food truck business.
So he formed a team to tackle this issue and benefit the community at the same time.
Bringing Food On Two Wheels
On 22nd of August 2016, the team enrolled in MaGIC Accelerator Programme (MAP) Social Enterprise Track and they were one of the first startups to represent Perak in the programme.
“We have learnt a lot throughout the 15-week programme. We have gone through the MVP (minimum viable product) stage where we manage to validate our menu, food taste and pricing. We are now totally ready to penetrate the market,” shared Izat to Vulcan Post on their experience.
Before they came to MaGIC, their aim was just to sell the bike but after being connected to a few mentors they met through the program, their direction now is towards microfranchising.
Their franchise concept comes with the Foodbike itself, equipment, training, marketing and the first supply of stock. They also introduced a Rent-to-Own scheme where the ownership of the Foodbike will be transferred to the beneficiaries once they have reached certain amount of sales revenue.
Currently, the team consists of five members that are pursuing this enterprise full-time at their office in Empire Damansara and another two who run the operation at their first location in Anggerik Mall, Shah Alam.
Creating The Foodbikes
The concept of their food bike is quite interesting with the design being akin to the traditional ice cream vendors you usually see on the go with their motorcycles.
Izat shared that it took them two weeks to come up with the design and about a month to produce the prototype. His team-mate, Fauzi Razak has been leading the product development team all this while with his expertise in the carpentry and ironwork field.
The team also takes into consideration on who they approach to handle their franchise.
“We are working closely with Department of Social Welfare in identifying the right candidates to become our franchisee from their existing financial literacy and skills training program. All the candidates will be interviewed by our management team to find someone who is reliable to carry our brand name and ready to make an impact to their own lives,” said Izat.
Currently, Foodbike dictates the location at which the families can run their busiess to ensure acceptance of their concept by local authorities and public at this early stage. Foodbike focuses more of their efforts towards high traffic locations such as MRT stations, shopping malls and top business area.
“Our first unit of ‘café-on-wheels’ will start its operation at Anggerik Mall, Shah Alam on 3 January 2017 where we will also introduce our catering and delivery service to nearby business and residential area. We also enable a Rent-to-Own scheme to all our beneficiaries as we don’t want to burden these people with loans at the early stage of business,” said Izat.
Foodbike has shared that there have been few demands for them to just sell the bike without the franchise concept but their priority is the helping underprivileged families to sustain their business. Therefore, the team decided that they would assist such families by giving them a set menu of products to sell.
They do however plan to introduce other concepts like selling steamboat, ice blended drinks, ice cream, nasi lemak and burgers in the near future. Any place could become a mobile food court with a variety of food and beverages. This is how they plan to disrupt the market in the future of F&B in Malaysia.
Giving Back To Society
So how different are they compared to food trucks considering their mode of mobility when it comes to their F&B service is similar?
“We thought that we belong into the same group and category as food trucks but we are wrong. By giving a cheaper option now, we are definitely in a different segment but the good thing about our innovation is our franchisees are able to break even within a year,” said Izat.
But besides the profit, what Foodbike hopes to focus more on is being a food chain that enables underprivileged communities in Malaysia to build themselves a better future and escape the poverty line, as part of their duty as a social enterprise.
To make sure the growth of their enterprise does not divert away from their goals, the team is on the lookout for more collaborations from corporate donors focusing on entrepreneurship and community development. In return, all units of Foodbike sponsored will come with the branding of corporate donors.
“At this moment, we have been working closely with organisations like Biji-biji Initiative, Edunation, TOMS Malaysia and GreenTech Malaysia to ensure the impact of Foodbike towards our beneficiaries and end-users,” said Izat.
Besides these, Foodbike has also managed to secure a partnership with Tekun Nasional, Hijrah Selangor and Yayasan Penjaja dan Peniaga Kecil 1 Malaysia should any of their franchisees need financial assistance to further expand their business.
As of now, Foodbike has one unit ready to operate in Shah Alam but they are looking to produce and operate another 10 units of Foodbike in the next 3 months at hotspots within Klang Valley.
Their future plans for their franchise includes finding investments for food trucks to become their mobile central kitchen and introduce catering and delivery services. Their partnership with GreenTech Malaysia also gives them the opportunity to explore the usage of solar panel and LED panel as the advertising platform on Foodbike.
“Our target goal for 2017 is to disrupt the current food truck industry with our innovation. We hope that we will get the chance to participate at 2017 SEA Games hosted by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur from August 19–31 2017,” said Izat.
Feature Image Credit: Foodbike