The question that started it all: Why doesn’t anyone want to promote our local brands?
Two individuals who are determined to highlight the beauty of Malaysian handicrafts and item, Shahir and Jila wanted young Malaysians to explore the local market and open their eyes to the treasures that are right in front of them.
Forging a path for local brands of Malaysia, their startup TEJAVOO aims to give businesses more support and exposure by selling their products online—giving easier access for the customers to come across the brands and buy their products.
“And this was what made me take the risk to resign from the e-commerce giants I worked at and form this startup,” said Shahir.
TEJAVOO caters to a wide range of brands and products so long as they are made locally or are a local brand.
“As long as the brand is associated with and in Malaysia we are fine and good to go. We got their back,” said Shahir.
Their tagline reads ‘Lokal 2 Global’.
That’s a straightforward interpretation of their mindset for the store. An online platform, they want to cater to smaller businesses in the country who have limited resources to get their names out to the public.
They hope to bring local brands out of the shadows and move into a more competitive global market.
The company plans to introduce the brands digitally as they believe it will increase the demands for the products, ultimately leading to international fame.
“TEJAVOO are going to solve all these problems. We will create the demands for our local brands. We are going to support local brands and crafts. TEJAVOO will empower local brands to go international,” Shahir explained.
The reason for this idea was because of how Malaysians are always eager to go for the international brands that they end up forgetting about the local ones.
But it’s not just that they prefer the international brands either. It’s just because of one main issue—visibility.
“It’s very simple yet it’s a subjective answer,” Shahir said. “People buy stuff that are visible to them. Our local brands are invisible. And the sad part is that there are demands for all our local brands and handicrafts.”
As the international brands flood the marketplace, the founders saw how international brands were overshadowing the local ones and were determined to alter that perspective.
The use of an online platform gives them the slight edge they need to introduce all the handicrafts and make them “visible”.
Both co-founders with prior experience in the industry; Shahir was once part of Zalora and Lazada, and Jila has long been involved with both sales and marketing.
They cultivate their experiences and knowledge to make TEJAVOO a smooth-running catalogue for all parties.
“We are not saying that we are great. We just believe that with the experience that we have, it’ll eventually contribute to the growth and smoothness of our daily operations. There is still long way to go and still a lot of areas that we can improve,” Shahir stated.
Although their vision is unique and purposeful, they often receive comments questioning the actual ability of this online store in opening the path for smaller brands.
Many don’t believe that our local handicrafts have the potential to be globally recognised but this didn’t stop the founders—instead, it just made them more aware of how skewed the public’s perspective is of this issue.
“We received quite few negative feedback but we also understand that opinions are subjective,” Shahir voiced out.
The e-commerce marketplace being what it is (read: saturated), Shahir still remain optimistic about his startup’s future.
“I agree and admit that the e-commerce market is saturated in Malaysia. In fact it’s overrated. But in my humble opinion, not for our business module and target market. Especially an online marketplace for only local Malaysian brands and handicrafts,” he said.
He might be onto something—after all, the local e-commerce industry saw an estimated RM3 billion worth of transactions in 2016, and that number is projected to double or even triple in 2017.
TEJAVOO’s goal would be to get some of that is diverted towards high quality local products.
They’ve already started their preparation for future developments.
There’ll be a new mobile app being launched by the end of this year that users can look forward to. Plans for expansion and globalisation is also in progress for the company and the first step is reaching out to Philippines.
“We have spoken and meet up with potential investors for our regional expansion. We will move phase by phase and are currently focusing on getting the first phase done,” said the team.
Feature Image Credit: Shahir Bakri