When Wilson and his then-girlfriend were having gut issues in 2013, they turned to yoghurt for help.
They tried several yoghurt products together, but couldn’t find one that was consistent with improving their gut health.
At the time, Wilson was also a food science and technology student, so he decided to research why their problem couldn’t be solved with yoghurt.
He found out that the health benefit of yoghurt actually depends on how survivable the probiotic culture in the yoghurt is.
When Wilson was doing his masters in 2018 in the same field, he realised more people around him faced a similar issue.
YourgutBB was his answer to this common problem, and it was launched in late March 2020 with his brother, TC as co-founder.
Eco-Friendly Business Model
One of the core goals of their business is their focus on minimising their carbon footprint as much as possible.
They produce their yoghurt on-demand instead of estimating their demand to prevent waste, so you can expect waiting 2 to 3 days for pick up or delivery.
Because of that, they don’t have any retail stores that sell or distribute their products.
Instead, they have what they call a production studio, where they transport yoghurt starters to. That culture is used to produce yoghurt then and there.
As water makes up 75% of a yoghurt product, they thought a one-time transportation of yoghurt starters to the production studios could significantly cut down their transportation costs.
And since they produce on-demand, they don’t have to refrigerate their yoghurt as customers can get it immediately once it’s made.
Once their yoghurt is produced, it’s packed into PP plastic bottles, which are like Tupperware bottles.
These bottles can either be kept or returned to their production studios for a cashback or discount of RM2.
Innovating From Commercial Yoghurt Starters
In the beginning, the yoghurt starters were obtained from commercial ones, but their problem was that they needed quite a long time to ferment it.
So to go about that, they started mixing culture from different sources to create their own yoghurt starters.
In 1.5 years, they were able to achieve the starter they have today, and reduce the fermentation time to 20%.
Once the culture matures, they transport them to their production studios.
From there, they will give the culture around 3 to 5 days to adapt to its new environment and reproduce.
When that’s done, fermentation can begin and be done within hours.
The shelf life of their yoghurt is similar to the commercial ones, so their consumers can store their yoghurt in the fridge for up to a month.
Each bottle is filled with 725ml of yoghurt, which is recommended to be consumed within a week.
Their prices and flavours are:
Besides plain, they have pineapple, strawberry, mango and cranberry flavours for their yoghurt.
These flavours depend on the location of the branches as they source them locally.
6 Branches In Less Than A Year
Today, YourgutBB has up to 6 branches across the country.
They are in Seri Kembangan (where they started), Kuching (which TC manages), Kuantan, Klang and Johor Bahru.
The 3 branches, Kuantan, Klang and Johor Bahru were launched recently and have only been running for a month.
On an average, each of their production studios have broken even in about 3 to 4 months.
Last month, they sold 400-500 bottles in Seri Kembangan, 700 in Kuching and less than 200 each in the other 3 branches.
30-40% of their sales will go to raw material, another 30% will go to their agents and distributors, while the remaining is used for operational costs like salaries, rental, education and marketing content.
But Wilson and TC aren’t banking on this business to be their main source of income.
To them, this business isn’t about earning financially but from the impact they create through their business.
“A good example of that is when one of our agents shared that some customers used our bottles to dapao their boba instead of opting for single-use plastics. Isn’t that a good portion of gain for our business?” shared Wilson.
The Hurdles Of An Unconventional Business Model
Because they don’t have a central production point, their yoghurt production is dependent on the water supplied to their production studios.
This means their Selangor branches were affected by the recent water cuts as well, which caused a hiccup in their yoghurt production.
An uncommon business model like theirs is also not one that consumers find it easy to adapt to.
They’ve received pushback from many customers about bottling their products like that because it inconveniences them.
Moreover, their target customers, which are B40 and M40, are hard to appeal to as they see yoghurt as something that’s isn’t a necessity to spend on.
COVID-19 has also slowed down their launching of new production studios.
However, they see it as an opportunity for their team to build up their online presence since they’ve been relying solely on organic marketing.
Giving Back To The Community
Furthermore, with the pandemic hitting individuals and businesses hard, Wilson and TC hired those who have lost their jobs as agents.
“One of our very first agents lost his job as bus driver and his whole family relied on him as breadwinner. We recruited him, trained him and offered him as our distributor.”
Besides hiring locals, they also make an effort to work closely with NGOs to give back to the local community where their business is at.
They’ve done outreach work with the Sarawak Society for the Deaf (SSD) and Worming Up in Kuching to create plastic bag alternatives and find ways to prolong shelf-life to prevent food waste.
“We hope through the way we run this business, we can earn a better future for our beloved sons and daughters,” Wilson said.
- You can read more about YourgutBB here.
Featured Image Credit: Wilson Ang and TC Ang, founders of YourgutBB
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