34-year-old Maxi Lim is a familiar face in both the independent and commercial scene.
The local actor has had six feature films and countless productions varying from music videos, short films, television dramas, TVCs, and variety shows; and is probably best known for his role in the Singaporean original movie series Ah Boys to Men.
Although the Temasek Polytechnic graduate majored in Interactive Media Design, he has always been interested in entrepreneurship and first dipped his toes in the business world when he was a teenager. At 18, Maxi co-founded a fashion label that was funded with S$50,000.
That experience propelled him into the world of business, and at the beginning of this year, he launched EATMYLJ, a fried chilli snack brand.
Singapore’s first fried chilli snack
EATMYLJ is Singapore’s first ever fried chilli snack that is produced locally and is unbelievably addictive and delicious.
The motivation behind starting EATMYLJ started when Maxi was approached by his old friend, Marcus Lee.
He wanted to distribute chilli snacks from Thailand and was looking to engage Maxi to help promote the brand. That partnership slowly snowballed into a business relationship.
“Since I am always on the lookout for a worthwhile startup, I counter-proposed that we should be business partners instead,” said Maxi.
However, after a year of planning, the duo decided to scrap the idea of importing snacks from Thailand. Instead, Marcus came up with an idea to “recreate” the snacks with his own recipe using another variety of chilli.
“What we have at the moment is an original product,” explained Maxi.
According to the brand’s website, EATMYLJ is Singapore’s first ever fried chilli snack.
During the initial launch, the duo sold their products on a weekly basis and within the hour, everything was sold out. The best record was three minutes.
Customers were always eagerly waiting for the weekly launch of the products — some even got frustrated as they were already at the checkout point, but was not successful in purchasing the product.
“We eventually moved on with getting our snacks fully stocked at all times instead of launching it weekly or biweekly,” said Maxi.
A few months down the road, they decided to expand their product portfolio.
EATMYLJ now has three varieties: original, chicken skin, and lotus root. Both the original and lotus root varieties are suitable for vegans. The brand also offers shipping services to Malaysia and Brunei.
It took a year to perfect the snack recipe
Having launched the product at the beginning of 2021, the duo is clear on the roles they each carry. Marcus is in charge of production, while Maxi handles all things in relation to marketing and business.
But they both have a hand in creating the snacks. The process is relatively simple — the chillies are deseeded, fried, and then seasoned with a secret recipe.
The duo took an entire year with the testing process as they had to obtain the right tools for the job, implement the right technique, and set the right temperature before they felt confident in launching their product.
To further improve their product, the duo is collaborating with Tong Garden and the Food Innovation & Resource Centre (FIRC) at Singapore Polytechnic.
In June 2021, the duo had participated in the Asia’s Great Snack Challenge, in which they emerged as one of the top 10 finalists. They are being mentored by Tong Garden and the FIRC at the same time.
The duo will be competing in the finals of the snack challenge in December 2021.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
Challenges are what strengthens startup businesses. Without challenges, business owners would not rise up to the occasion and exceed their own expectations.
Some of the challenges faced by Marcus and Maxi include holding full-time jobs during the beginning of the startup journey.
“Juggling filming and business can be tough on me. My filming has been paused several times this year due to the heightened alert, so there’s a lot of work to catch up on,” expressed Maxi.
Despite the challenges faced, the duo is excited to announce that they are in the midst of launching their physical store. More details on the announcement arriving soon.
EATMYLJ remains grateful for the overwhelming support it receives whenever products get restocked as it often sells out within 3 minutes, 10 minutes and 12 hours.
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Featured Image Credit: Maxi Lim via Facebook / EATMYLJ