Malaysian Brand Of Cycling Jerseys With Batik Designs
Western brands from Australia and Europe have long dominated the cycling jersey market with minimalist looks in solid colors.
Yim Wai Hong, himself an avid cyclist, wanted to do something on his own.
“I wanted a different touch because I feel the cycling landscape and culture of Southeast Asia is so vibrant and we have so much to offer. Why settle for minimalism when you can be completely different, stand out and be seen? ” he said.
And it is true that Yim’s jerseys certainly stand out while pursuing the practical goal of being noticeable on the road among large vehicles.
Friendships built on bikes and coffee
BikeBaju is Yim’s passion project. Full-time, he is the Director of Operations at a retail company with 70 outlets in Klang Valley.
Previously, he was the founder, chief bicycle mechanic and also barista of the Velocity Cafe in Ampang, a bicycle shop and cafe united under one roof.
“We have been operating for 4 years and have gained a sizable cycling community. Even though we closed the cafe, our friendship and love for the sport kept the community very tight, ”he said.
It is this community that gave its name to BikeBaju. They often rode bikes together and had a group chat which inspired the idea “BB”.
Fed up with being a traveling advertisement for other brands while wearing their jerseys, Yim designed the Chameleon, BikeBaju’s first jersey, for himself.
The cycling community took notice and started asking for orders. So he decided to manufacture more to meet demand.
These requests also led him to launch his second design, BikeBatik.
“Soon my friends even organized bike trips just to wear the BikeBatik in a group and take pictures to show off!” he apologized.
His wife and co-founder, Yahui Tan, is an experienced marketer.
Seeing how he was making word of mouth sales and minimal marketing, she felt they could go further.
“She felt there was so much potential to play with the BB brand. Bike Boys, Bike Boss, Bike Babes, there’s so much room for the imagination with the BB brand, ”he says.
Without hesitation, she purchased the domain and hosting for bikebaju.com.
He refused 3 investors
In addition to Malaysia, they already have customers from Germany, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia since their launch in December 2018.
His past accomplishments have fueled investor interest in the same company.
“After briefly telling them about my life, from an art student in high school to getting an automotive engineering degree, to a technical service engineer and then to an F&B entrepreneur, telling them about BikeBaju as my passionate side it caught their attention, ”he says.
Besides offering him a job, they also offered to invest in BikeBaju. 3 approached him, but he refused them all.
He knew firsthand how unpredictable entrepreneurship funding can be, which is why he rejected these offers.
Yim himself aims for lasting prosperity on a game of capital combustion.
I personally value financial stability and prefer not to take risks. I take my investors very seriously and will only take funding if I decide to go all-in, without juggling a sideline and a day job. I have to be fair to my investors and give my best.
Yim Wai Hong, co-founder of BikeBaju
“Growing organically for BikeBaju has served me well so I’m going to go with the flow for now,” Yim said.
“I did my research on creating fashion brands, it’s very important for marketing and brand awareness.”
Yim designs the jerseys himself and works closely with a manufacturer to get the right quality and fit as he is meticulous about it.
BikeBaju claims to be trendy yet affordable with their jerseys costing RM225 per piece.
Now I’m not a cyclist myself, but a quick online search led me to find cheaper ones under RM100. BikeBaju therefore turned out to be quite expensive for me.
He explained, “The premium cut and fabric are priced between RM500 and RM1,000. The cheaper RM100 jerseys will give you an unflattering fit with an inferior fabric that doesn’t last. “
“In that sense, BikeBaju comes at a fair price. But we always strike a balance between manufacturing costs and margins. “
BikeBaju has customers willing to pay that price too, as their first batch of sales was purely pre-orders.
“We made enough profit with the first batch of sales that we decided to use that money to get inventory ready to be sold around the world for our second batch,” he said.
For such a niche sport, word of mouth is powerful for the brand. With virtually no marketing outside of Instagram ads, most of their customers were from organic referrals.
“When a rider wears the BikeBaju, other riders will notice it because the design is so striking and unconventional,” he said.
“Very quickly, groups of cyclists asked about it and that’s how the controls snowballed.”
People also noticed the brand when a TV3 celebrity wore it and posted it on their Instagram, which helped boost their sales.
“My cycling buddies and my younger brother – who is also an influencer – are currently actively promoting the next wave of BikeBatik.”
“I’m pretty serious about this and also curious to see where this organic growth will lead,” Yim said.
As for the future of BikeBaju, they plan to have a suitable website this year.
It is also looking for the best way to deliver its products to the international market with minimum time and resources.
“I know I would have done it when people looked for their BikeBaju rather than their European brands. A really proud moment to be Malaysian for me, ”he said.
- You can read more about BikeBaju here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Yim Wai Hong, Co-Founder of BikeBaju
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