M’sian Fresh Fig Farm Creating Prebiotic Gugu Guts For Health
Fresh figs are rarer in supermarkets, and when you find them, there’s a good chance they aren’t usually that sweet. But why?
According to Lawrence and Cheah, co-founders of Figara11, this is because imported figs sold in supermarkets must be picked from their trees before they ripen.
This is because ripe figs are soft and brittle, which makes them difficult to export.
But once picked unripe, they never continue to ripen, resulting in duller, more seeded figs.
Figara11 wants to change Malaysians’ access to fresh and ripe figs, and also to present them in a form new to us.
So, they started their own fig farm, although it is an unpopular crop here with no cultivation model to easily adopt and implement.
A leap of faith
Friends since high school, Lawrence and Cheah are chartered accountants by profession.
Cheah’s last job was at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), while Lawrence’s more varied career was working at KPMG and starting small restaurant and e-commerce businesses.
Lawrence had a burning desire to start a farming business after leaving KPMG, but he learned that it required a lot of capital and an equally passionate business partner.
Fortunately, that partner came in the form of Cheah, and the timing was right as they were both financially ripe to dive into a high-risk, unknown industry.
When we want we can
Figara11 built a rainproof house to ensure that the figs get their daily sunshine while being watered only by an irrigation system.
“The land we use is also prone to flooding because it is located next to a river. To prevent the occasional flooding from destroying the figs, a huge budget has been allocated for earthworks to ensure that priority is given to the higher ground for fig growth, ”they shared.
Along the way, the founders also realized that natural soil was not quite suitable for figs and that some parts of the earth, no matter what was done to change the texture of the soil, was simply holding too much of the soil. water.
With no real access to electricity and government water supplies, Lawrence and Cheah resorted to rainwater harvesting and solar power to keep the farm going.
They learned a lot from scratch, but also used knowledge readily available online and advice from those already in the industry to successfully produce figs.
Exit the base
Having tried the fresh figs of Figara11 myself, I cannot deny their tenderness and sweetness.
These are available on the Figara11 website only for pre-order, and RM20 will give you 250g of fresh grade A figs of the common fig species.
Fun fact: Figs are rated and the highest rating given is AA rating. There are also giant figs that can weigh up to 150g per fig.
Figara11 also offers grade AA and giant figs. However, Lawrence and Cheah weren’t happy selling fresh figs.
“There is a lot of research done on the benefits of figs, and most of it boasts of the laxative qualities of figs to help improve digestion,” they said.
Figs used as a prebiotic supplement are not new abroad, but such a concept has yet to make its way here.
Malays are more used to probiotic supplements and drinks like kefir and kombucha.
But what probiotics need in order to thrive are prebiotics, which come in the form of soluble fiber, like what you’ll find when consuming vegetables and fruits.
“Since Malaysians are still new to the idea of prebiotics, we thought that instead of just selling fresh figs, why not introduce figs as a botanical drink infused with many other superfruits and fortified with more prebiotics? from other sources? ” Lawrence and Cheah said.
Before probiotics, you need prebiotics
So they created Gugu Guts.
Since their launch in September, their customers have noticed improvements in digestion, and people with constipation have seen immediate effects on proper use.
Some clients with eczema linked to poor gut health also shared improvements with the duo.
Fresh figs are the main ingredients of Gugu Guts, and some of the other superfruits it contains include pomegranate, goji berry, cranberry, and raspberry, to name a few.
Gugu Guts has no processed sugar, but still contains natural sugar (fructose) from the fruits, so we had to wonder if diabetics can eat it.
“For those who have diabetes, we recommend trying Gugu Guts for a few days and seeing if their blood sugar levels rise,” they said.
“So far, we have not encountered any problems because the recommended daily intake is 4 tablespoons, which is not excessive.”
No sharp corners
For a product that costs RM149 (350ml) and needs to be consumed within 2 weeks, Gugu Guts may seem expensive.
The founders explained that this is because it is a concentrated prebiotic with very little water.
“We believe Gugu Guts is capable of delivering its value and because it is made with premium quality ingredients, those who are health conscious would certainly appreciate Gugu Guts.”
In addition, Figara11 does not skimp on quality packaging.
Gugu Guts’ thick and frosted bottle comes from abroad with its cap. This ensures that the unopened emulsion remains excellent for 1 to 2 years.
Using a glass bottle also allows them to do a hot fill method, negating the need for artificial preservatives.
The used delivery box is hardened with thick kraft paper which further ensures that the product reaches customers without interruption.
“Yes, it has a higher price, but with higher quality ingredients, we should not reduce its packaging and bottling,” reasoned Lawrence and Cheah.
Promo code: Figara11 has a 11.11 promotion for a set of 3 Gugu Guts bottles which cost RM360, which saves you RM87 from the regular retail price. With this promotion you will also get a box of A-grade figs worth RM20 per order, limited to those from Klang Valley. You can use our promo code DKL111 for RM11 off.
Reach the right consumers
Gugu Guts sold over 100 bottles in a matter of weeks with minimal marketing. Now they are gaining more visibility for the product through affiliate and reseller programs.
They prefer to go to niche retailers and specific eating establishments because they believe that those who frequent these places may appreciate ripe figs better.
In the next 2 years, Lawrence and Cheah hope to enter the Singaporean market.
“When we hit our goal of exporting our products overseas, that’s when we know Figara11 has done it.”
“At the moment we are still doing our best to produce high quality figs and meet market demands,” they said.
They believe the market is large enough for more players and hope to someday become a “buatan Malaysia“Product of which we can be proud.
“But to make that happen, we are doing our best to break even as soon as possible and expand our farm to produce what is considered sufficient volume for the fruit / produce to be exported.”
- You can read more about Figara11 here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Lawrence and Cheah, Co-Founders of Figara11
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