Focus On One Product & Go Global – Foodtrepreneur Daniel Tay

NTUC’s U SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) is an initiative 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. In one of their recent engagement sessions on how the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme would help SMEs be more manpower-lean, former Bakerzin owner, Daniel Tay was invited to shared his experiences of being a Foodtrepreneur. Guests from Food Innovation & Resource Centre (FIRC) as well as the Singapore Bakery and Confectionary Trade Association (SBCTA) attended the session.

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Daniel Tay started by sharing a little background on himself. He founded the patisserie-cafe chain Bakerzin in 1998. After his success, he turned his attention to starting another company, Foodgnostic which specialises in wholesale baked goods in 2013 . Today, he is embarking on yet another venture. He wants to revive his father’s Seng Choon Confectionary, a bakery for traditional pastries that closed in 1996. With more than 20 years of experience under his belt, Daniel delivered 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:

With more than 20 years of experience under his belt, Daniel delivered candid pieces of advice to fellow entrepreneurs. It was a really enlightening session and here are some of the interesting nuggets of advice that we’ve distilled for you:

The Importance Of Transformation

To make his point, he gave several examples of companies such as Kodak, Nokia and Borders that were not able to “future-proof” their business which 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.”

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.”

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”

Lessons 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, the 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

Daniel shared his thoughts on galvanising 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. 😉

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