Had the pandemic not occurred, Rozaimi is certain that his current dessert business would not exist.
Working in an Australian-based offshore rig service prior to this, his visa was temporarily terminated as border closures continued to extend from the pandemic. With hopes that he could return sooner, Rozaimi relied on his savings to ride out the storm.
But as lockdowns nationwide dragged on, he and his wife, Intan, needed to find another way to generate income. Witnessing the rise of home-based F&B businesses launching amidst stay-home orders, the couple thought it would be worth exploring the same path.
“When looking for ideas, we tried various types of recipes such as cake, pudding, jelly, and so on,” Rozaimi said. Then he recalled how he’d loved a specific dessert made by a chef during his time offshore. So, they decided to try it.
Upon validating their product with family and friends, the duo introduced their dessert to the market in November 2020, calling it Fruit Cheezy Milk (FCM).
It’s all in the name
If the name of this business sounds off-putting to you, you’re not alone. When our team first heard the words fruit, “cheezy”, and milk strung together, you could say it wasn’t received very well either. “The product is exactly what it sounds like,” I told them.
Made of fruit, nata de coco, jelly, cheese, and milk, Rozaimi admitted it was originally quite difficult for them to find a suitable name for the business. This was especially so since the dessert didn’t fit into any category of pudding, fruit cocktails, or jelly.
In the end, being literal with it was his best choice. It worked in their favour, as the brand’s name has also sparked enough curiosity from customers who saw the ads on social media. Rozaimi explained that the target audience would then reach out to learn more about the dessert, which eventually converted them into paying customers.
“The second reason (for the name) is that we want to directly inform the market about the main content of this product because there may be potential buyers who are allergic to milk or cheese and some kinds of fruits,” added Rozaimi.
Curious myself, I ordered 2 boxes (RM10 each) from FCM. The moment it hit my palate, I finally understood what Anton Ego felt like when he ate the ratatouille made by Remy the rat. There was something nostalgic about its taste; once I got over the brand’s name, I was hooked.
It had a red jelly layer on the bottom that tasted like jello you’d get in kids’ party packs, and the white layer on top tasted like condensed milk. The latter is where milk and cheese have been blended together, hence the slight salty element. It wasn’t creamy, but milky, which describes Fruit Cheezy Milk’s name perfectly.
FCM’s dessert reminded me of my mum’s jello topped with runny condensed milk she used to make in her leisure time as a quick and simple dessert. Of course, I gave my compliments to the chef.
Learning the ropes of social media
Being in their 40s, setting up their online business was challenging as they needed to learn the ropes of promoting FCM online. “We need to learn how to make Reels, and learn to use TikTok, which is the latest trend among them because we see the market on this platform is broad,” said Rozaimi.
“We also needed to increase knowledge in marketing through YouTube sources, watching videos by marketing experts and other reading sources.” Furthermore, they’ve been attending entrepreneurship workshops offered by the government.
With limited capital, they were selective in choosing which platforms to advertise on. On top of using social media ads, Rozaimi and Intan found cost-effective methods in Facebook groups and free shoutouts offered by influencers online.
Additionally, their niece helped them spread the word about FCM to attract a younger segment of paying customers. Since launching, FCM has sold roughly 1,000 tubs of its dessert and caters to 15-30 year-olds, with 50% of customers being returning ones.
There’s always room for more
Even after the pandemic blows over, Rozaimi hopes to still continue FCM and expand it. If the couple’s plan works as intended, they will open up a physical shop for their desserts with more product varieties as well.
To make this happen, the entrepreneurs are open to growing their knowledge and working with government agencies to help FCM scale.
If they do indeed launch a physical outlet for their desserts, their product will probably be the least of their worries. Granted, they’ve already built a pool of familiar customers who may choose to visit the outlet, but to draw new ones, they’d need to have a store that looks attractive.
Since they’re targeting the younger crowd with their current marketing efforts and getting sales from them, perhaps FCM could consider designing their store to have Instagrammable aspects too.
Take for example how Licky Chan, a tattoo parlour cum ice cream shop, does it. The store’s appeal doesn’t just come from its interesting concept, but from how every corner of the outlet is an Instagrammer’s haven too. When customers come by, you’re guaranteed to see an Instagram story or post from them, tagging Licky Chan.
It’s free marketing that spreads fast, and it’s something FCM should definitely leverage on with their future store.
- You can learn more about Fruit Cheezy Milk here.
- You can read about more startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Rozaimi and Intan, co-founders of Fruit Cheezy Milk