Entrepreneur

Diving Being An Extreme Sport Doesn’t Make It Exclusive, This PJ Dive Center Proves It

Author’s Blurb: I’ve always wanted to explore the marine life in some of the most beautiful diving spots in the world, but I have a fear of deep bodies of water. Diving has also always been this very technical activity to me that, if done wrongly, can result in fatality. Add to that the fact that I don’t even really know how to swim, and it’ll seem like there’s no hope for me with diving.

Melanie is an experienced diver, having been diving for many years before she even left her job in the marketing industry to take a leap of faith and become a scuba diving instructor.

Besides meeting people from various industries and countries who are all united by their love for the ocean, she also opened up her own diving center called Flow Dive Center.

There are three co-founders, but she and Matt, a close friend of hers who’s been teaching swimming for the past 13 years, are the ones who run the operation.

Curious about the uptake of diving lessons by Malaysians, we spoke to Melanie to learn about her business.

A Rising Demand

Over the 4 years that she’s been running Flow Dive Center, Melanie has observed that demand for lessons is actually on an upward trend.

“Millennials today are much more willing to spend on experiencing than having. They would rather experience and create memories than spend on materialistic goods,” she shared, and I believe her since I fit the description.

“Also, with the rise of social media, FOMO (fear of missing out) is on the rise, and scuba diving is definitely high on the list of ‘cool’ stuff to do.”

What she’s said is also supported by her own clientele that’s mainly made up of young adults aged 20 to 35. As for the rest of her customers, she’s had children from as young as 10 up to adults around the age of 70.

A dive lesson in progress / Image Credit: Flow Dive Center

The PADI scuba diving courses are simple and designed to be progressive, Melanie shared, which is why anyone can join.

“With proper structure such as theory, pool, then open water, you are slowly introduced to skills and knowledge to ensure a fun learning experience,” she explained.

“In my opinion, everyone can dive if they put their mind to it! However, we strongly suggest that our customers who do not swim take up some basic swimming classes first.”

Well, I’m definitely noting that advice down for when I decide to learn diving.

Diving Into Opportunities

If you were to Google Flow Dive Center, you might notice that they’re located in PJ Palm Sports Centre, where there’s another dive center called Seamonkey Dive Centre.

That sounds like a close competitor, and not just figuratively either.

With them sharing a building, we asked Melanie how that affects business.

She revealed, “Actually, Seamonkey Dive Centre was the previous main dive center in PJ Palm Sports Center, but they decided to focus on their business in Tioman and move to a smaller set up here.”

That was why Flow Dive Center came in and set up shop, and it’s now the main dive center there.

The front end of Flow Dive Center / Image Credit: Flow Dive Center

Thus, anyone who wants to use the pool for diving activities would have to go rent the tanks from Flow Dive Center.

To set themselves apart from other dive centers, they take great pride in the quality of customer service they offer. “Our service doesn’t just end once you’ve received your license,” Melanie said.

“We strive to build a long-term relationship with our students, most of whom eventually become close friends of ours. This is why we have a wide array of community events running throughout the year to keep our community tight.”

And based on what Melanie told me about their dive trips to islands for days at a time with students, there’s no doubt that it’s one way they keep their rapport.

As their business is quite stable, they’re able to conduct courses and trips all year round.

An island diving trip in session / Image Credit: Flow Dive Center

Even during monsoon season from November to February, their business isn’t too affected since they can simply go to different islands to conduct the courses.

Besides courses and trips, Flow Dive Center is also a retail center for diving equipment and the likes, and Melanie revealed that they have a healthy revenue pipeline across all streams thus far.

Going Against The Flow

Throughout her years of diving, Melanie has also noted that scuba diving is quite a male dominated industry.

“When it comes to scuba diving, the very first few ideas that come to mind is that it is an extreme sport, it is very physically demanding and dangerous.”

Not to mention that with many beauty standards placed on the opposite end of darker skin and drier hair (which sun exposure from diving can lead to), it’s no surprise that many women tend to shy away from the sport.

However, she’s happy to see that there has been a rise of women taking up the sport in recent years, though there’s still a major lack of those who progress to professional diver status, or even to opening up a dive center.

Melanie and her team speaking to a student / Image Credit: Flow Dive Center

Melanie believes that Flow Dive Center can play a role in amending the lack of women in diving by capitalising on the trend of the global equality movement.

In line with that, she shared that Flow Dive Center is definitely toying with some ideas on women empowerment via scuba diving.

Bottom Line: Despite my fears about diving, I think it’s still something that I’m willing to take the plunge for (ha! See what I did there?), whether in the near or far future. The draw of the ocean’s breathtaking beauty coupled with the thrill of lurking dangers is just a package that I can’t help but be drawn to. But first, I need some swimming lessons.

  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Flow Dive Center

 

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