At Vulcan Post, we often have the privilege of putting the spotlight on local startups and entrepreneurs who are making waves in their respective industries.
On the flip side, we’ve also written about businesses that were shutting down due to a myriad of reasons.
Just like the startup features, these closures bring in a wealth of informational value for our readers, particularly those who are also entrepreneurs. Thus, the purpose of this article is to celebrate what they’ve achieved, and the factors that led up to their business closure.
With that in mind, here are six businesses that shut down this year, and what we can learn from them.
Editor’s Update [5/04/23, 7PM]: Since the publishing of this article, Smooshie Juice had successfully found a buyer and is now operating under a new management team, 100 Fresh Sdn Bhd.
Through the course of 11 fruitful years, pure fruit juice brand Smooshie Juice had made quite the mark. Its products could be found at Boost Juice, Ben’s Independent Grocer, and Family Mart. The company was even approached by cinemas and airlines to supply juices as well.
However, in March 2022, its co-founder, Lee Hai Lin, who goes by Lin, told Vulcan Post that the brand was closing down.
There were various reasons that led to this, but one of the primary reasons was the increase in the cost of goods, especially when it comes to raw ingredients. Since Smooshie Juice is all about using 100% natural ingredients, this was particularly problematic.
At the time of the closure, the co-founders announced that they were looking for interested buyers for their juice brand. It appears that their search has turned out positively, as Lin recently told Vulcan Post that Smooshie Juice is now being operated by another party.
Although it was a struggle to sell the brand, which wasn’t profitable at the time, Lin shared that through persistence, they were able to connect with the right person.
The key, Lin said, is to just put the word out there—such as through write-ups. Furthermore, even if you have doubts, you should keep pushing until you get the results you want.
Health and beauty brand Root Remedies bid its customers goodbye in August 2022 after a seven-year run.
The main reason? Burnout.
In a heartfelt post to Instagram, the founder, Chiew Yee Sian, explained that keeping up with social media and its “unceasing trends” have become all too much for her.
“With the constant need to pursue profits and thus views and clicks, I find myself becoming increasingly disillusioned and burnt out,” she wrote.
In October, Sian and partner Leland updated the Root Remedies community, sharing that the supportive messages they received had opened their hearts to the possibility of restarting the brand sometime in the future.
For now, though, the husband-and-wife duo will be taking a “good break” to figure out their next steps.
This decision aligns with the reminder Sian had given in August, which was that “it is okay to take a break, and not forget about the important things in life.”
For other entrepreneurs who can relate to Sian’s feelings of disillusionment and burnout, taking a break to reconsider your strategy might seem like overrated advice, but just remember that it’s overrated for a reason.
After six years of selling lingerie online, Jujumello’s founder Mel Chia took to Instagram to announce that she has called it quits.
In the same post, Mel explained that the main struggle was that she couldn’t control the pricing or scalability of the business, because Jujumello sourced its products from China. As such, she wasn’t able to adjust the product cost, design, sizes, cuttings, and colours.
Furthermore, the products lacked a competitive edge, as Jujumello’s products were made similarly accessible to other brands by the manufacturers.
A key lesson entrepreneurs can learn from Mel’s journey is to place a heightened importance on identifying what your brand’s USPs are or can be.
This could be done by having exclusive designs or access to your products, or if not, then having a different marketing strategy to stand out with the same products.
Established in 2014, Kaodim was an online home services marketplace that linked everyday service providers such as handymen, general contractors, personal trainers, and more.
Kaodim’s co-founder, Choong Fui Yu shared that throughout its years of service, the company had created jobs and business opportunities worth hundreds of millions for their service providers.
Sadly, the prolonged lockdowns during the pandemic had resulted in various operational disruptions, labour shortages, and high running costs, which greatly impacted Kaodim’s business and quality of service.
Plus, the home services industry is a highly competitive one, as consumers have plenty of other choices to choose from such as Recommend.my, ServisHero, and TheLorry.
Perhaps its business model was also slightly flawed from the start, as being a third-party marketplace, Kaodim was unable to prevent service providers and customers from doing business off the platform after connecting through it.
This shows that businesses in competitive markets should take greater care to analyse the market and its threats, then pivot as needed.
We can also draw parallels between Kaodim’s services—part of which includes connecting consumers with cleaners—and another now-defunct brand known as Homico.
A Malaysian cleaning services startup, Homico has been facing allegations from both ex-employees and ex-customers alike regarding unpaid salaries and unrefunded fees. It had allegedly shut down its services without telling its customers, resulting in plenty of confusion.
Thus, we do commend the way Kaodim winded down its operations, addressing its stakeholders in a public statement and updating its FAQ page to ensure it was properly servicing its customers to the very end.
5. Fit Rebel
The most recent closure on this list is from Fit Rebel, a clothing brand selling high-performance sports leggings. While it was announced on Instagram on December 9, the founder, Nadia Hasbi, actually spoke about it in a YouTube video published in November.
In the video, the solo entrepreneur explained in detail what had went wrong, which mainly involved issues with the manufacturer. She also shared that she’s now working for another company, where she’s much happier.
On December 16, Nadia also uploaded a follow-up video that entailed the mistakes she made and lessons she learnt throughout running Fit Rebel.
The first lesson she shared was not thinking big enough. In fact, she was afraid of Fit Rebel growing too big, too fast. As a solo entrepreneur, Nadia was concerned about not being able to handle the workload. However, she now realises that she should’ve have been afraid about hiring a team.
Another mistake she made was not expanding her product range. This was because the initial designing process for her sports leggings had taken around six months. Because of that intensive process, she felt hesitant about doing it over again.
Once again, it seems like fear had stopped her from expanding. Fit Rebel could’ve produced tops, sports bras, and more articles of clothing.
Nadia also shared that she wished she would’ve jumped on the TikTok bandwagon sooner as well.
Looking at these regrets, it seems like fear was a major obstacle for Nadia and Fit Rebel. Entrepreneurs in similar situations should be willing to grow, particularly in terms of hiring more staff and expanding the product range, even if doing so means you might put yourself in potentially uncomfortable spots.
Perhaps one of the most well-known and established brands on this list, FashionValet is a fashion ecommerce site that had closed down in July despite having received multiple huge rounds of funding.
Initially, the closure of FashionValet had attracted allegations regarding its financial statements and supposed mismanagement. But allegations aside, there is still plenty entrepreneurs can learn from the shutdown.
In a statement to A+M, a magazine by Marketing Interactive, its founder, Vivy Yusof, explained that the decision to close the brand was done to focus on its best performing portfolios, which were its house brands LILIT. and dUCK.
The biggest lesson here, perhaps, is learning when to let go, and that you can pivot and refocus your efforts on better-performing initiatives. This also means that it might be a good idea for entrepreneurs to not put all their eggs in one basket.
Live and learn
As the saying goes, failure is the mother to success. This includes not just learning from our own failures, but from others’ as well.
While it’s always sad to hear about startup closures, honest sharing from founders can serve to inspire and kickstart the next generation of similar startups to do better.
Plus, as long as a business owns up to its errors and stays accountable to its stakeholders, it’s possible for its founder to make a comeback in the future at a better time, should they decide to do so.
Geared with these lessons, we hope entrepreneurs will be ending 2022 strong, and going into 2023 feeling refreshed!
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Kaodim / Nadia Hasmi / Mel C