Malaysian Startup Selling Personalised Star Map Gifts

Gifts are something I always find myself struggling with. Whatever the person seems to need or want, they usually already have it.

Then the default is something generic and boring like a mug or flowers.

Realizing the difficulty in finding cute gifts that could be personalized, had sentimental value, and were long-lasting, Faris and Zatil turned to foreign startups for inspiration.

There, they discovered that personalized star maps were created as meaningful gifts and decided to be the very first Malaysian startup to offer this product.

In January 2020, Stars Above Us was born.

Their objective? Presenting personalized star maps as the ultimate gift that solves the problems of choosing a gift and can also be used as home decor.

The gift market is huge but lacks variety, Faris said, and added to his and Zatil’s personal struggles with gift-buying (which he thought many others faced), they were reassured that the business would take off.

It’s not rocket science

That being said, there is nothing complex about their product.

It’s a map that shows the alignment of the stars at a certain place and time, and can be generated for special events like your first date, your wedding day, or the birth of your first child, for example.

The heart-shaped design / Image credit: Stars Above Us

Below the generated map which is shaped like a circle or a heart (the two current designs from Stars Above Us), you can then add a title describing what the star map represents.

Faris guided us through the process.

It starts by generating the star map using the given location and date.

Open source planetarium software is used to generate the star catalog which renders the star positions according to your selected map.

After that it is changed to improve the quality, and this is also when a title, poster border, star map border, grid options, and constellation options will be added to a customer’s request.

Then everything is printed on high quality photo paper.

A freshly printed star map / Image Credit: Stars Above Us

Overall, the whole process usually takes up to a week.

Ensuring stellar quality

I found the star charts to be quite expensive for what they are at RM179.90-RM299.90 depending on size (or RM99 if you go for an electronic copy only), so I asked Faris how they justified it.

“Personalization comes at a cost in time and creativity. Every product we deliver is different, ”he replied.

“We have invested a lot of time perfecting our design and are always happy to accommodate any additional requests from our customers.”

Second, the quality of the paper they use for printing is similar to what you would find in a wedding photo album.

They have also invested thousands in their printing machine, which is not your ordinary document printing machine.

“This printer is what photographers use to print their art and sell it for thousands of dollars,” Faris explained.

Third, customers can choose to have their star map framed, and this wooden frame is specially designed for Stars Above Us.

“When you hold it, it’s strong and has weight. It feels solid within your reach and gives you that premium feel. This is the quality that we offer, ”he added.

Other key costs covered by the prize are the careful packaging of your gift, its shipping cost, delivery box, bubble wrap and other shipping related aspects which amount to RM 30 per shipment due to size.

A star map wrapped and ready to ship, and a star map used as home decor / Image Credit: Stars Above Us

Finally, the brand must take marketing into account. “It’s about 10-15% of the price and will continue to be at that level for some time in this early phase of the business,” said Faris.

“Ultimately, yes, you can get the cheaper star maps if you buy the electronic copy and print the map yourself, but you won’t get the designs we offer, and not the same quality at for sure.

As he said, in the end, the quality speaks for itself.

When the stars align

On average, Stars Above Us generates monthly income of RM 10,000-15,000, with profit as well.

“It’s possible to increase marketing and sales, but we want to do it regularly to make sure we can keep up with orders,” Faris said.

Their goal by the fourth quarter of 2020 is to increase their income by 50% in order to help the economy by providing jobs for the poor.

For example, they already have two housewives who earn income by being part of their sales team.

Currently they ship to Singapore and Brunei outside of Malaysia, but at a high price.

One solution for this that Faris and Zatil have identified is to open a distribution center in each country to reduce costs and overall product prices.

Regarding other growth plans, Faris enthusiastically shared, “We also have another slightly different product to introduce into our business plan, but the Star Map will remain our primary product.”

  • You can read more about Stars Above Us here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Faris & Zatil, Co-Founders of Stars Above Us

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Jothi Venkat

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