Organised by NTUC’s U SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) – an initiative that was set up by the Labour Movement to help support SMEs and enable them to address challenges so that they can in turn, take better care of workers; this session saw attendees who were invited by U SME, Food Innovation & Resource Centre (FIRC) as well as the Singapore Bakery and Confectionary Trade Association (SBCTA). U SME staff were on hand to share with attendees on how the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme would help SMEs be more manpower-lean through transformational change in their industry while former Bakerzin owner, Daniel Tay, shared his experiences of being a foodtrepreneur.
Daniel Tay founded patisserie-cafe chain Bakerzin in 1998 and left in 2013 to start another company, Foodgnostic, which specialises in wholesale baked goods. Another venture that Daniel has embarked on is reviving “Old Seng Choon”, a bakery for traditional pastries and a tribute to his father’s well-loved Seng Choon Confectionary that closed in 1996. With more than 20 years of experience under his belt, Daniel gave candid advice to fellow entrepreneurs.
It was a really enlightening session and here are the interesting nuggets of advice that we’ve distilled for you:
Daniel Tay on the importance of transformation:
He gave several examples of companies that weren’t able to “future-proof” their business such as Kodak, Nokia and Borders that ultimately led to their downfall. Daniel stressed the importance of not dismissing new developments or technology in the industry.
“Even if you have a successful business, even if you have a brand that is 50 years old, if you don’t evolve with the times, sooner or later, this brand will just go under.”
Daniel Tay on the Singapore brand:
He believes that the “Singapore brand” is itself a unique selling proposition and there are many positive connotations that are associated with “being made in Singapore”. He encourages entrepreneurs to leverage on Singapore’s good reputation to produce and export products globally. He also mentioned that although it would cost more, there is always automation (such as the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme) that would help significantly reduce production costs.
“It’s a little bit more expensive… but the brand equity that you will have is very strong.”
Daniel Tay on marketing tips:
First – you need a strong brand, one that does not bore people easily.
Second- you must have a good storyline.
Third – you have to have a good PR company, one that helps to sell you.
“Marketing need to spend money… a lot of money”
Daniel Tay on lessons he learnt from business failures:
Daniel shared how in one of his first business forays, he pumped in over a million dollars in setting up a factory and within a year it closed down due to under-capitalisation, inexperience of running a business and being “a bit too proud”. He recalls thinking that he would be rich overnight once he had the factory and did not plan adequately. Since then, he has a lot more experience under his belt through setting up of Bakerzin and Foodnogstic.
“Failure is sometimes pretty good…”
Ending thoughts on the event:
Daniel shared his thoughts on galvanizing members of the bakery industry in Singapore with the end goal of putting Singapore on the world map for baked goods... starting from one good product and with the help of automation. All we can say is... this man is certainly worth his dough. ;)
Source: Credits to AspirantSG for this article.