Vulcan Post Top Tech Lifestyle Site Mon, 08 Apr 2024 07:36:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vulcan Post 125 75 Top Tech Lifestyle Site 58911792 AI salaries surge amid tech industry downturn, with data scientists earning up to over S$17K/mnth Mon, 08 Apr 2024 07:35:48 +0000

Faced with layoffs, hiring freezes, and a significant decline in funding within the Southeast Asian tech
ecosystem, there has been a notable shift in compensation trends in Singapore’s tech industry.

In contrast to the preceding two years, during which technology salaries experienced substantial
growth, there is now an overall decrease in salaries for various tech positions, according to Nodeflair’s annual tech salary report. This includes software engineers, who are traditionally among the top earners in the industry.

Despite the overarching salary reductions, one sector stands out: artificial intelligence (AI). As the industry increasingly pivots towards AI technologies, compensation for roles in this domain has witnessed a notable upswing.

In particular, data science roles, including positions such as AI engineers, machine-learning specialists, and deep-learning experts, have seen a noteworthy increase of over 10 per cent in average salaries, marking a growing interest and investment in AI technologies.

The median starting pay for junior data scientists in S$7,500

Based on the salary data derived from NodeFlair’s proprietary database, which includes verified user-submitted pay slips and offer letters, the median pay for a junior data scientist hovers around S$7,500.

Meanwhile, data scientist leads earn up to S$17,000 per month, marking a 27 per cent increase as compared to the previous year.

Data scientist salary (Singapore)
Data scientist salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

Other tech roles that have seen an uptick in salaries besides data scientists include quality assurance, systems analysts, mobile engineers, and product managers.

Quality assurance salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

With a 22 per cent year-on-year increase in cyber attacks across Asia Pacific, cybersecurity engineers also see an average salary increase of 8.24 per cent. The median salary of junior cybersecurity engineers is S$4,750, while the 90th percentile of lead cybersecurity engineers makes S$16,000 per month.

Cybersecurity engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Systems analyst salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Mobile engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Systems engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Site reliability engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Product manager salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

Software engineers still remain the highest-paid tech role

Based on the report, the role that has seen the highest pay cut is game engineers, with their pay dipping by 6.66 per cent in 2023.

Game engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

This is followed by solutions engineers, blockchain engineers, DevOps, data engineers, data analysts, and software engineers.

Solutions engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Blockchain engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
DevOps salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Data engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024
Data analyst salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

Software engineer salaries decreased by an average of 0.99 per cent in 2023, compared to an increase of 7.61 per cent in 2022. Despite this dip, they remain the highest-paid tech role, with the 90th percentile of software engineer managers earning S$20,500 per month.

Software engineer salary (Singapore) / Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

Despite the decrease in salaries this year, they still surpass those observed two years ago. This indicates that the current adjustments reflect a move towards a more balanced and realistic compensation structure.

However, the report also highlights a notable disparity between the industry’s highest and lowest earners, with the former making up to three times more than the latter.

More companies are paying tech talents 20% above market median

Amid the upheavals in the tech industry, job seekers are now prioritising companies that provide stability—workers are now drawn to firms that not only offer competitive salaries but are also financially stable and committed to avoiding layoffs. 

Salary has also won over priorities of previous years, including work-life balance and employee benefits.

Top searched companies (Singapore)/ Image Credit: NodeFlair Tech Salary Report 2024

At the same time, an increasing number of companies are paying salaries 20 percent higher than the market median. Among the top 14 most searched tech companies, 10 offer salaries at least 20 percent above the market median, while most others offer salaries 10 percent higher than the median.

This represents a significant departure from the previous year, where only six out of 16 companies paid salaries 20 percent above the market median.

Remote hiring will become more prominent

Looking forward to 2024, the tech hiring landscape is poised for further evolution and innovation, particularly with the ascent of generative AI.

To address talent shortages, Ethan Ang, the CEO of NodeFlair, anticipates a notable surge in cross-border and remote hiring practices within the tech industry.

“As we step into 2024, the tech industry grapples with talent challenges amidst the rise of generative AI and financial prudence,” says Ethan. With flexible hiring strategies, organisations will be empowered to build resilient, globally diverse tech teams, driving unprecedented innovation and success in today’s dynamic landscape.

Next year will also see a notable increase in the use of AI tools in hiring. These tools streamline recruitment workflows for efficiency and unbiased candidate evaluation. Advanced AI systems, particularly in coding assessments, are set to transform interview and assessment procedures, introducing safeguards for the integrity of the hiring process.

Featured Image Credit: Unscrambled

]]> 0 Mon, 08 Apr 2024 15:36:07 +0000 856771
Pappa dah pulang: Pemilik baru PappaRich berazam membangkitkan semula kopitiam terkenal Mon, 08 Apr 2024 07:24:47 +0000

Bagi rakyat Malaysia, PappaRich adalah jenama yang tidak asing. Kedai makan ini terkenal dengan sajian makanan kopitiam tradisional dalam suasana yang lebih anggun dan moden.

Kebelakangan ini, PappaRich mendapat kejayaan yang lebih baik di luar negara walaupun ia sebenarnya jenama tempatan. Terdapat juga lebih banyak kopitiam moden yang telah masuki pasaran sejak ia dilancarkan tahun 2005.

Tetapi semua ini tidak menghalang Andy Lim, Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Pineapple Resources Berhad, daripada membida untuk keseluruhan jenama PappaRich di Malaysia dan Kemboja pada tahun 2023.

Bercakap dengan Vulcan Post, beliau berazam untuk membangkitkan semula PappaRich pada zaman kegemilangannya.

Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

Bagaimana? Bermula dengan rombakan penuh dalam tempoh enam bulan yang akan datang, termasuk memperkenalkan jenama baharu bernama PappaRich Lite.

Mengambil peranan yang lebih besar

“Kami mempunyai kepercayaan dan keyakinan terhadap PappaRich kerana ia adalah salah satu daripada 10 jenama F&B tempatan yang paling popular di Malaysia sebelum ini,” Andy berkata.

Walaupun kenyataannya ringkas, namun ia penuh dengan harapan yang tinggi untuk masa depan. Hasrat ini juga bukan tidak realistik, kerana Andy sebenarnya mempunyai pengalaman dalam syarikat PappaRich.

Kira-kira lapan tahun lalu, usahawan berusia 41 tahun itu bersama bapanya (dan beberapa rakan bapanya) memulakan cawangan PappaRich di NU Sentral Mall sebagai pemegang francais.

Dari situ, Andy dan bapanya mendalami pengetahuan mereka dalam industri F&B. Dan tidak lama kemudian, kemahiran yang mereka perolehi membolehkan mereka membuka restoran hot pot Thai bernama Bhai Jim Jum.

Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

“Kami percaya bahawa dengan memberi tumpuan kepada strategi baharu kami ditambah dengan pengalaman kami menguruskan cawangan francais NU Sentral PappaRich selama hampir 10 tahun, kami berada dalam kedudukan untuk menyahut cabaran untuk menghidupkan semula dan mengembangkan jenama ini,” kongsi Andy.

Dengan itu, mereka memulakan usaha untuk memulihkan kedudukan restoran sebagai salah satu jenama F&B tempatan terkemuka di negara ini.

Daripada IT kepada F&B

Pada mulanya, Andy memulakan kerjayanya dalam industri IT dan mempunyai pengalaman selama 15 tahun dalam bidang runcit IT.

Setelah menguruskan lebih 100 kedai runcit IT, dia telah mengumpul pelbagai jenis kemahiran. Ini termasuklah kemahiran berkaitan dengan hal ehwal sumber manusia seperti skim pengambilan pekerja dan komisen.

Ditambah dengan peranan beliau dalam menguruskan Bhai Jim Jum punya lima cawangan selama setengah dekad, Andy percaya bahawa dia mempunyai kecekapan yang diperlukan untuk menghidupkan semula jenama PappaRich di Malaysia.

“Pengalaman yang saya kumpulkan selama ini telah membantu saya membentuk strategi yang lebih baik untuk mencari lokasi kedai yang berpotensi, melaksanakan kempen pemasaran yang berkesan, dan yang paling penting, menggunakan pengalaman penyumberan saya untuk mendapatkan bahan terbaik untuk restoran kami,” katanya.

Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

Menjelaskan lagi, dia berkata bahawa mendapatkan bahan mentah adalah salah satu cabaran utama yang dihadapi dahulu di cawangan NU Sentral PappaRich sebagai pemegang francais.

Bercakap terus terang, Andy berkongsi dengan kami bahawa pada satu ketika, mereka tidak mendapat bahan masak dari dapur berpusat PappaRich. Masalah ini menyebabkan kedainya bergelut untuk mengekalkan rasa makanan yang dihidangkan dan seterusnya, menyebabkan kehilangan ramai pelanggan setia.

“Mujurlah, beberapa pemegang francais, termasuk bapa saya, bertukar idea dan berkongsi sumber untuk mengatasi krisis ini,” kongsinya.

Disebabkan kejadian ini, pasukan Andy di NU Sentral terpaksa mencari bahan sendiri. Dan dengan masa, mereka berjaya mencapai citarasa “yang paling hampir dengan versi asal” setelah beberapa percubaan.

Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

Memperkenalkan jenama baharu di bawah kumpulan

Dengan itu, sebahagian daripada rancangan Andy untuk memberi kehidupan baharu kepada jenama itu akan menumpukan perhatian pada prinsip PappaRich, iaitu menawarkan makanan yang enak kepada pelanggan.

Andy enggan mengulas terlalu banyak mengenainya supaya tidak membongkarkan kejutan yang telah dirancangkan. Tetapi dia mengusik bahawa menu akan bertumpu kepada masakan Malaysia yang klasik dan nostalgia.

Lebih menarik lagi ialah pengenalan jenama baharu tersebut yang dipanggil PappaRich Lite kelak nanti. Jenama makanan ini adalah di bawah kumpulan PappaRich tetapi ia akan mempunyai cawangan kedai sendiri.

“Dalam usaha kami untuk menambah [kehidupan] baharu kepada jenama, kami akan ada perubahan dari segi rasa dan persembahan makanan,” kongsi Andy.

“Perubahan ini akan menjadi lebih jelas dan tonjol untuk Papparich Lite kerana kami menyasarkan pelanggan yang lebih muda, khususnya golongan muda yang bekerja dalam lingkungan umur 25 hingga 35. Kami bermatlamat untuk menjadi pilihan utama mereka untuk makanan tempatan yang selesa pada harga yang lebih berpatutan.”

Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

Pada masa ini, konsep PappaRich Lite masih dalam peringkat percubaan dan anda boleh melanggannya di Wangsa Walk Mall. Sebuah cawangan sudah ditubuhkan di sana dengan lebih banyak lagi dalam agenda, termasuk peluang francais juga.

Optimis tentang apa yang akan datang

Walaupun teruja dengan rancangan baharu ini, Andy mengakui bahawa ia bukan satu jalan yang mudah untuk jenama ini.

Dalam kata-katanya sendiri, PappaRich telah bergelut sejak beberapa tahun lalu, namun ia agak mencabar untuk mendaptkan kembali keyakinan pelanggan.

Sebagai kedai yang berusia lebih dari 20 tahun, satu lagi halangan yang mereka jangkakan ialah mendapat penerimaan dan pengiktirafan daripada penonton yang lebih muda. Ini adalah kebimbangan yang wajar kerana terdapat banyak kafe yang tumbuh subur di seluruh negara yang menawarkan makanan tempatan yang enak.

Apatah lagi pesaing pasaran yang lebih ketara ialah Rich Kopitiam, yang dimulakan oleh pengasas PappaRich, Rich Tan.

Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

Tetapi Pengarah Eksekutif PappaRich yang baharu tidak berundur dari tugas sukar yang menunggunya di hadapan. Matlamatnya untuk jenama ini adalah untuk mengekalkan legasinya sebagai restoran yang menawarkan hidangan Malaysia, tetapi kini dengan rasa gabungan yang dikemas kini.

“Kami percaya ruang pasaran cukup besar untuk semua orang,” kata Andy.

“Kami berharap untuk mempunyai sekurang-kurangnya 50 cawangan di seluruh Malaysia dalam tempoh lima tahun akan datang. [Dan] memandangkan kami juga pemilik jenama untuk Kemboja, kami juga berharap untuk melihat 10 cawangan di rantau itu melalui francais induk yang berpotensi sebagai rakan kongsi.”

  • Ketahui lebih lanjut tentang PappaRich di sini.
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Kredit Gambar: PappaRich

Mon, 08 Apr 2024 15:24:57 +0000 856694
Kedai pai segar ini hampir gulung tikar 11 tahun lalu, kini mempunyai 6 cawangan di S’wak Mon, 08 Apr 2024 03:41:49 +0000

Dilahirkan di Sibu, Sarawak, pertemuan pertama John Sim dengan pastri adalah ketika dia melawat Kuala Lumpur bersama keluarga pada zaman sekolah rendah. Waktu itu, dia menemui pelbagai pastri yang menyelerakan di rak Délifrance, terutamanya croissant kecil.

Apabila John memasuki alam kedewasaan, cintanya terhadap pastri menjadi semakin kukuh. Beliau memasuki industri pemasaran dan pembangunan perniagaan F&B, di mana dia khususnya bekerja di sektor makanan sejuk beku sejak 2002.

Pada satu ketika, dia menceburi bidang perdagangan makanan laut yang membawanya ke seluruh dunia termasuk Amerika Selatan. Di situlah dia didedahkan kepada budaya kafe sana. Mengimbas kembali, John berkongsi bahawa dia memesan espresso double-shot dan pastri yang baru dibakar selama 22 hari berturut-turut.

Kredit Imej: John’s Pie

“Apabila saya kembali ke negara kita, saya berimpian untuk mempunyai kafe yang menghidangkan kopi dan pastri untuk persaraan saya,” katanya. Ketika itu, dia hanya berumur 21 tahun.

Kini pada usia 44 tahun, John menjalani impian itu melalui John’s Pie.

Tetapi sudah tentu, impian itu tidak direalisasikan dengan mudah.  

Semasa beliau berkhidmat sebagai usahawan dalam perdagangan makanan laut, John melalui titik rendah dalam hidupnya. Pada masa itu, seorang kawan baik telah membuat pai untuknya yang mengingatkan John tentang impian itu.

Menyedari bahawa pai yang enak sukar didapati di Malaysia, dia memutuskan dia mempunyai peluang di sana. Walau bagaimanapun, John sebenarnya tidak mempunyai banyak pengetahuan tentang buatan pai walaupun berdekad pengalamannya dalam industri makanan dan pemasaran, jadi dia merujuk buku dan YouTube untuk belajar.

Dilengkapi dengan pengetahuan pai baharunya, dia menyewa kiosk kecil seluas 60 kaki persegi di sebelah pintu masuk pasar raya. Dengan demikian, ia menandakan permulaan John’s Pies.

Pai dengan ayam goreng

Berbanding dengan negara-negara Barat, pai nampaknya belum menjadi makanan popular di Malaysia, terutamanya jenis yang savuri.

John menyokong pemerhatian ini. Beliau berkongsi yang hanya sebilangan kecil pelanggan yang telah mencuba pai yang benar, biasanya mereka yang berpeluang untuk merasainya di luar negara, menghargai hidangan tersebut.

“Untuk mengekalkan impian saya, saya mula menjual ayam goreng Taiwan menggunakan resipi asli ciptaan kami, yang mendapat lebih populariti berbanding pai,” katanya. “Tetapi tidak! Saya mahukan kedai pai, bukan lagi satu kedai jual ayam goreng.”

Dua tahun berlalu, dan keadaan tidak bertambah baik. Perniagaan John hampir kehabisan modal, malah tukang pai pun berpisah dengan perniagaannya. Pada ketika itu, John sudah berfikir untuk gulung tikar.

Tetapi selepas perbincangan dengan isterinya, Joleen, dia mengabaikan pemikiran tersebut. Joleen mendapat tahu yang Rainforest Music Festival di Kuching akan diadakan tidak lama lagi dan berjaya meyakinkan John untuk memberikan perniagaan painya peluang terakhir.

Kredit Imej: John’s Pie

“Jika pelanggan antarabangsa benar-benar mengatakan makanan anda tidak sedap, kami akan menamatkannya dan menutup perniagaan,” John teringat kata-kata Joleen.

Jadi, mereka membayar yuran masuk dan perbelanjaan yang sekitar RM2,000 hingga RM4,000. Memandangkan perniagaan itu mengalami kerugian sejak dua tahun lalu, John dan isterinya terpaksa mengais wang tersebut untuk mendaftar dalam acara pesta muzik itu.

“Saya memberitahu diri saya bahawa ia adalah ‘do or die’, jadi pergi dan lakukannya saja,” kata John.

Ia sememangnya satu perjudian, yang tidak membuahkan hasil pada mulanya. Pada hari pertama, dia hanya berjaya menjana RM700 hasil jualan.

Namun begitu, dia terkejut apabila mendapati ramai orang beratur di kiosknya pada keesokan pagi walaupun kedai belum dibuka. Permintaan pada hari tu sangat besar di mana kru John harus melayan pelanggan sehingga tengah malam, dan jualannya menjadi 10 kali ganda lebih dari hari sebelumnya.

“Apa?!” John terkejut. “Apabila pesta muzik berakhir pada malam Ahad, jualan yang kami perolehi adalah seperti kutipan jualan beberapa bulan dari kiosk kami di bandar.”

Dengan itu, impian John dihidupkan semula, dan John’s Pie mula berkembang menjadi sebuah perniagaan yang lebih besar.

Kredit Imej: John’s Pie

Mendapat sekeping pai yang lebih besar

Selepas beberapa tahun bekerja keras dan dengan permintaan yang semakin meningkat untuk pai, John memutuskan bahawa sudah tiba masanya untuk menawarkan lokasi yang lebih kekal dan selesa untuk pelanggan beliau.

Oleh itu, mereka membuka kedai pai pertama mereka di Wisma Phoenix, sebuah bangunan lama yang merupakan mercu tanda di Kuching menurut John. Lokasi itu adalah kawasan trafik tinggi, di mana John juga meningkatkan potensinya dengan membangunkan papan tanda setinggi lima kaki untuk menarik perhatian orang yang lalu lalang.

“Kosnya lebih murah daripada membuat iklan di akhbar,” katanya. “Selepas setahun, kami tutup sebab objektif untuk mendapatkan perhatian telah dicapai. Kami memerlukan ruang yang lebih baik dan lebih besar untuk memberi perkhidmatan kepada pelanggan kami.”

Jadi, mereka berpindah ke lokasi yang berkeluasan dua kali ganda dari cawangan sebelumnya di Wisma Phoenix. Dari situ, jenama pai ini membuka lebih banyak cawangan. Kini, mereka boleh dijumpai di Universiti Teknologi Swinburne Kampus Sarawak, The Spring Mall, dan Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kuching.

Menunya termasuk pai daging, quiche, cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, serta pilihan yang lebih manis seperti tart keju dan pastri buah-buahan.

Anggota krew dari John’s Pie di Kuching / Kredit Gambar: John’s Pie

Untuk memberi perkhidmatan kepada lebih ramai pelanggan, John’s Pie juga telah memperoleh sijil halal, yang bukan satu proses yang mudah.

“Perjalanan itu sukar,” jelas John. “Saya mengambil masa empat tahun untuk mendapatkan pensijilan kemudahan kami di bawah MeSTI KKM untuk kebersihan dan keselamatan makanan, kemudian baru memohon pensijilan halal dari JAKIM.”

Sepanjang proses memohon pensijilan halal, pengasas berkongsi bahawa mereka mendapat galakan daripada ramai orang Islam yang mendorong mereka untuk meneruskan usaha tersebut.

Menambahkan kopi ke dalam adunan

Selain dari pastri, John mengembangkan perniagaannya dengan pembukaan bahagian kafe. Maka, pelawat boleh menikmati minuman seperti kopi bersama pai mereka.

Biji kopi pertama yang diperkenalkan di John’s Pie ialah biji kopi Liberica daripada pemanggang kopi artisan di Malaysia Barat.

Kredit Imej: John’s Pie

Untuk mempromosikan lagi biji kopi tempatan, John’s Pie mula memanggang biji kopi sendiri dengan panggang tangan. Sejak tahun lepas, mereka telah menaik taraf kepada mesin pemanggang kopi.

“Pai atau pastri bersama kopi adalah seperti padanan yang sempurna,” John berkata.

Selain daripada kopi espreso, John’s Pie juga menawarkan minuman dalam botol, iaitu Kopi Susu Ais Siri Nanyang dan Teh Susu Ais Siri Nanyang, yang telah menjadi minuman istimewa jenama itu.

Masa depan bisnes

Di luar Sarawak, John’s Pie telah membuka sebuah cawangan di Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

Pengembangan ini dilakukan melalui perjanjian pelesenan dengan seorang peguam bernama Dato Edlin Ghazaly yang telah cuba John’s Pie apabila menghadiri majlis perkahwinan di Kuching.

Menurut John, seorang rakan Dato Edlin membawanya ke lokasi Jalan Song mereka, di mana dia jatuh cinta dengan pai. Ini membawa kepada panggilan telefon dengan John, diikuti dengan mesej WhatsApp selama beberapa bulan. Akhirnya, mereka memutuskan keputusan untuk membawa jenama itu ke KL.

John dan Joleen bersama Dato Edlin di cawangan Publika (kiri) / Kredit Imej: John’s Pie

Perkembangan ini berlaku sekitar penghujung tahun 2022, dan akhirnya kedai di KL dibuka pada Julai 2023.

Kini, terdapat enam cawangan John’s Pie di Malaysia Timur, dan dua cawangan di Malaysia Barat.

“Kami merancang untuk mengembangkan lagi, mungkin melalui pelesenan,” John berkata. “Bagaimanapun, kami akan sentiasa mengutamakan kualiti dan keaslian.”

Sementara itu, pasukan John sedang melancarkan proses pengeluarannya agar ia boleh ditingkatkan dan mereka boleh berkembang maju lagi.

Sepanjang perjalanan John’s Pie yang berjangka 13 tahun, John telah melintasi rintangan yang berbagai. Malahan, John telah menimbangkan bahawa sesetengah rintangan ini adalah punca kejayaannya.

“Ini petikan saya yang meringkaskan pengalaman saya,” katanya kepada Vulcan Post. “Saya mempunyai idea, dan saya hanya mahu membuktikan kepada orang ramai bahawa ia boleh berjaya. Orang akan sentiasa mentertawakan anda sehingga anda berjaya.”

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Kredit Imej Pilihan: John’s Pie

Mon, 08 Apr 2024 13:27:40 +0000 856702
The RM1,699 Samsung Galaxy A35 gives its mid-range peers a run for their money, here’s why Mon, 08 Apr 2024 01:38:47 +0000

To be honest, Samsung’s A Series devices have always struck me as the kinds of phones you’d get for a tween or a hip grandparent—they get the job done, they’re well-rounded, but certainly nothing top-of-the-line.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Someone’s gotta serve the tweens and the elderly.

But is there something wrong with my opinion? Are Samsung’s Series A phones actually better than what I’m giving them credit for?

Well, I got my answer after testing out the new RM1,699 Samsung Galaxy A35.

A for attractive visuals

A step up from its predecessor (the A34), the Galaxy A35 has a glass back instead of plastic, giving it a polished finish. The frame of the phone is still plastic, though, but for our Awesome Iceblue colourway in particular, it has a slight metallic sheen that makes it look classy.

Overall, the build of the phone feels nice and durable. I might even say that it feels better than the Galaxy S24 FE, which launched with a more expensive price of RM2,999.

With an IP67 rating, the phone is water-resistant up to a depth of about 3 feet for up to 30 minutes.

The 6.6-inch AMOLED display allows for sharp and crisp quality, and the 120Hz variable refresh rate makes for a fluid experience for the most part.

Paired with the speakers on the phone, which boast pretty good audio quality, watching content from the phone is rather satisfactory.

An improvement in the display, compared to the A34, is that there’s no longer a notched design where the front camera is, but rather a hole-punch cutout. This makes for a more seamless display. That said, the bezels still feel a little chunky, especially on the top and the bottom.

Something I noticed about the A35 is that it’s quite fingerprint resistant, from its glass screen to its plastic frame. This might be thanks to the very pale blue colour we got, though.

In any case, as someone who smudges everything from my glasses to my camera lens, this is something I greatly appreciate.  

A for above average cameras

And that might be understating it.

The cameras on the A35 aren’t necessarily jaw-dropping, but they’re certainly not lacking.  

With a toggleable 50MP main camera (you can switch to a 12MP), pictures taken on the Galaxy A35 are clear and I do like the colour balancing, though it tends to be on the warm side.

My expectations for the phone’s night photography were low, but I’m glad to say it surpassed them. Once again, it’s nothing wow, but it does balance light and dark well, capturing street lights nicely without becoming overexposed.  

At 5MP and 8MP respectively, the macro and ultrawide cameras function well enough. But with the specs they’re given, don’t expect to get DSLR-level crispness, especially when shooting close-ups.

If you love taking selfies, the 13MP front camera is decent—no criticisms, but I wouldn’t shower it with compliments.  

Sadly, the A series does not come equipped with most of the Galaxy AI features, meaning you won’t be able to play around with the generative fill features just yet on the mid-range phone.

A for acceptable performance

Equipped with the Exynos 1380, I wouldn’t consider this to be a powerful phone for gaming purposes.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t handle some demanding games with high-quality graphics. It definitely can.

Don’t judge me, but I tried out dating simulator Love and Deepspace on the highest picture quality (Ultra), and what can I say? They—um, I mean it—looks pixel perfect.

But I can still feel a difference between this phone and the S24 Ultra that we reviewed earlier this year, which has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 under the hood. With the image quality set so high, I did experience some lag and choppiness with the A35, but not to an unusable degree.

As most phones do, the A35 did get warm after sustained usage, but not unbearably so.  

One of the highlights of the phone, though, is its impressive 5,000mAh battery. As someone whose phone is always dangerously low on battery when I’m out and about for events, I love the ease of mind that the Galaxy A35 gives me.

Speaking of ease of mind, the latest Galaxy Series A phones, which includes the A35 as well as the A55, are the first in the series to come with Samsung Knox.

Specifically, it features the Samsung Knox Vault, designed to protect users’ sensitive information, such as their PIN, password, and pattern. The encrypted data can then be safely transferred to the Samsung Knox Vault storage, which is completely isolated and separated from the main operating system.

A for affordable all-rounder

With a price tag of RM1,699, the Galaxy A35 is a value-for-money device that has all the basics down pat.

There are many other phones in the market in this price range (like the new Nothing Phone 2(a) which we’re currently reviewing), but I would say the reliability of Samsung makes the Galaxy A35 a competitive mid-range phone.

Coming with Samsung’s One UI 6.1, the phone will get four years of software updates and five years of security patches, which is great for a mid-range phone.

All this to say, I think the Galaxy A35 is a really solid phone. And I don’t mean just for tweens and grandparents, but for everyday users.

Impressive performance from the cameras, especially given their specsSome lagginess after sustained usage
Bright, crisp, and vivid display as well as long-lasting battery life, making it great for gaming and streaming content
Affordable with great value for money
  • Learn more about Samsung Galaxy A35 here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Samsung here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.

Mon, 08 Apr 2024 09:39:04 +0000 856250
S’pore TCM brand Eu Yan Sang to be acquired by Japan’s Mitsui, Rohto in an S$800M deal Fri, 05 Apr 2024 04:32:20 +0000

Japan’s trading and investment company Mitsui & Co announced yesterday (April 4) that they have joined hands with Rohto Pharmaceutical Co to buy Eu Yan Sang International in a deal valuing the brand at S$800 million (US$594 million).

According to a press release, Mitsui & Co stated that a special purpose company jointly owned by Mitsui and Rohto would acquire around 86 per cent of Eu Yan Sang from investment firm Righteous Crane Holding.

The Japanese investment firm also added that a takeover bid for the remaining 14 per cent of the homegrown Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) brand will be made.

In a separate statement issued yesterday, Righteous Crane Holding is owned by a fund managed by Tower Capital Asia, a unit of Temasek Holdings and founding family members of Eu Yan Sang, who will also reinvest partially into the Misui-Rohto special purpose company following the deal.

In their statement, Mitsui & Co shared that the acquisition is expected to be completed by 30 June 2024. Deutsche Bank and UBS will also be acting as financial advisers to Eu Yan Sang, with WongPartnership as the legal counsel.

The acquisition aims to spur greater growth for Eu Yan Sang

Eu Yan Sang 1800s
Image Credit: Eu Yan Sang

Eu Yan Sang first opened as a medicinal hall in 1879. Since then, it has grown to be a mainstay TCM brand, operating over 170 retail outlets and 30 clinics in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

Prior to the announcement, Mitsui & Co. indirectly invested in Eu Yan Sang in November 2022, which helped to increase the brand’s value and spur overseas expansion.

Through these activities, Mitsui reconfirmed EYS’s strong business potential and how Mitsui could contribute to its business expansion, which led to Mitsui’s decision to re-invest in EYS with ROHTO and the founding family through the SPC.

Leveraging the competitiveness of EYS’ brand and products in Asia and ROHTO’s R&D and marketing capabilities, Mitsui will work to create an innovative new business.

Mitsui & Co in a press release dated 4 April 2024

Righteous Crane Holding took the company private after the brand was delisted from the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2016. The deal valued the brand at about US$196 million at the time.

In January, Reuters reported that Mitsui and Hillhouse had emerged as the final bidders for Eu Yan Sang for a deal valued at US$700 million, according to sources.

Featured Image Credit: Eu Yan Sang

Fri, 05 Apr 2024 12:38:51 +0000 856630
Samsung’s new Galaxy A55 doesn’t stand out but it’s still worth the upgrade, here’s why Fri, 05 Apr 2024 04:24:00 +0000

There’s a common misconception that new phone models nowadays need to have the latest technological advances. But that’s just not realistic. 

Why? Because not everyone wants them.

Think of your grandmother or less tech-savvy aunts and uncles, do you think they care much about these updates? And would they want to pay more than a few thousand ringgit for it?

Chances are they just want a good phone with good specifications that’s an upgrade from their last device. Nothing too fancy (as new tech can be confusing) or anything that will break the bank.

This is where mid-tier phones like the latest Samsung Galaxy A55 shine bright. 

Starting off with the basics

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Coming at the decent price of RM1,999, the newly launched mobile phone is one of two latest additions in Samsung’s Galaxy A series. The Galaxy A55 is an improved version of its Galaxy A54 which launched last year, featuring more upgrades internally rather than externally.

On the outside, the phone sports a sleek look thanks to its aluminium metal side frames. This is a step up from its predecessor’s plastic material. The back panel is made of Gorilla Glass Victus+, so don’t worry about dropping it or getting scratches. 

The phone is rated IP67 which means the phone is durable and can last up to 30 minutes while submerged in water. But only at a depth of a metre, so you shouldn’t bring it for a swim.

The 6.6-inch FHD display wasn’t a far cry from my own daily driver which I believe is a good size, but it was a little bulky for my small hands. Typing with one hand felt more secure but gripping it for long periods wasn’t very comfortable.

The screen still looks clearly visible and comfortable to look at even under bright sunlight / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Similar to the Galaxy A54, this new model is still equipped with Super AMOLED, Samsung’s Vision Booster technology, and a peak display brightness of 1,000 nits. Together, they ensure clear visibility under direct sunlight. 

But the actual highlight of the phone is…

Good photography at a decent price

If you’re looking at the hardware camera’s specifications, you’ll find no significant differences between the Galaxy A55 and the Galaxy A54.

Selfie camera21MP, f/2.2
Wide camera50MP, f/1.8
Ultrawide camera12MP, f/2.2
Macro camera5MP, f/2.4

However, you’d be sorely mistaken to think there haven’t been any improvements since the last model.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

A core focus of the Galaxy A55’s camera is its better nightography with its image processing abilities. Specifically, the phone uses an AI depth map and AI ISP (image signal processing) to make photos look clearer in low-light conditions. 

Note that the keyword here is low-light and not no-light.

If you’re in a dimly lit environment, the AI features do a great job at enhancing the clarity of your photos. The images come out looking high-contrast and detailed. The latter depends highly on your ability to stay still while the camera snaps a photo.

The nightography’s outcome depends on how steady your hands are. The left image is how the environment looked like, while the middle image is with the Night Mode turned on. The right image is what it could look like using flash / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

You can see how important this is based on this image of a flower I took at night. 

I don’t have the most stable hands and sometimes struggle to take photos without something to lean on. This was one of those times and it’s very evident in the photo because the details can’t be captured. But if you put that aside, the AI features enhance it pretty well.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that the darker the environment, the worse the photos come out. So you shouldn’t expect the AI tech to be a miracle worker. My recommendation for dark rooms is to just use good old-fashioned flash.

You can see that the details are more prominent when the environment is low-light (right) instead of no-light (left) / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

It’s what’s on the inside that matters

Another highlight of the Galaxy A55 is the Samsung Knox Security that’s built into the phone. For the Galaxy A series, it’s currently only available in the other new addition, the Galaxy A35.

This is Samsung’s secure mobile solution that provides real-time protection for your data, such as:

  • Blocking unknown apps from unauthorised access to your phone 
  • Labelling unknown and unsafe phone numbers that are potentially scams or fraud phone calls 
  • Providing end-to-end encryption for data storage on Samsung Cloud 

Essentially, it provides safety against hackers who will perform malicious acts. This includes gaining access to personal data like messages and documents, location tracking, extracting passwords and login credentials, and even remotely controlling your phone.

Samsung’s Secure Folder that’s part of its Knox Security feature / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Although, this isn’t to say the other Samsung models aren’t protected from such threats. The Knox security system simply enhances this protection, since it has multiple layers of security across hardware and software.


The Galaxy A55 uses an improved Octa-core processor that is supposed to make multi-tasking, gaming, and streaming more effortless. 

Personally, I’m not a gamer girl so I didn’t really test this out. But when it comes to multitasking and streaming videos on YouTube, it certainly lived up to these claims. Even when I streamed YouTube videos for four hours straight with my Bluetooth earphones connected, the phone didn’t heat up or hang.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Like the Galaxy A54, this new model has a 5,000 mAh battery that lasts up to 28 hours before it needs to be charged. So, you don’t have to carry around a powerbank for outings.

Sporting 5G capabilities and an internal storage of 256GB, you can choose between three colourways: Awesome Violet, Awesome IceBlue, Awesome Navy. 

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy A55 is a reliable phone with tools that are useful for daily needs. So if you’re someone who likes a good phone without too many frills, this might be a suitable choice for you.

Improved nightography abilities for better quality images in low-light conditionsFeatures are quite basic, might not be the best option if you’re looking for more tools to play with
Has built-in Samsung Knox Security to ensure device is safe from hackers
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Samsung here.
  • Learn more about Samsung Galaxy A55 here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.

Fri, 05 Apr 2024 12:24:08 +0000 856547
Forbes 2024 billionaire list: Who are the richest people in Singapore right now? Fri, 05 Apr 2024 01:35:20 +0000

The Forbes 2024 list of the world’s richest people, which was released on Tuesday (April 2), revealed that there are now more billionaires than ever: 2,781 in all, 141 more than last year and 26 more than the record set in 2021.

They are richer than ever, worth US$14.2 trillion in aggregate, up by US$2 trillion from 2023 and US$1.1 trillion above the previous record, also set in 2021.

French luxury goods titan Bernard Arnault topped the ranking for the second consecutive year after his net worth grew by 10 per cent to US$233 billion, while Elon Musk remained in the second spot, with a fortune of US$195 billion, up 8 per cent from 2023.

There were also 265 newcomers to the list, including fashion designer Christian Louboutin, with a net worth of US$1.2 billion, and pop star Taylor Swift, whose wealth stood at US$1.1 billion.

Among the world’s wealthiest, 39 Singaporeans have made this year’s Forbes list, with one-third of them amassing their wealth from real estate.

Out of the 39, we have compiled a list of the 10 wealthiest Singaporeans, with a breakdown of the businesses they helm:

1. Li Xiting

Mindray Li Xiting
Li Xiting/ Image Credit: Mindray

Ranking No. 126 globally, Li Xiting, founder of medical equipment firm Mindray, remains the wealthiest Singaporean on the list. He was born in Anhui, China, but relocated to Singapore and obtained citizenship here in 2018.

The 73-year-old co-founded Mindray in 1991 and achieved his wealth by selling ventilators and medical devices. Due to high demand, Li witnessed a significant increase in his net worth during the Covid-19 pandemic, however, since its peak in 2021, his net worth has seen a steady decline.

According to Forbes, his total net worth of US$15.1 billion this year is down from US$16.3 billion reported in 2023, and his global ranking has also slipped from No. 103 last year.

2. Goh Cheng Liang

Goh Cheng Liang
Goh Cheng Liang/ Image Credit: Ghoul

Following closely behind Li is paint manufacturing tycoon Goh Cheng Liang at No. 154, with a total net worth of US$12.7 billion. He earns most of his wealth from a majority stake in Japan’s Nippon Paint Holdings.

Goh wasn’t always on top of the world. Born to a jobless father and a mother who did laundry for work, he grew up in poverty and sold fishnets and rubber tappers for income. After stumbling into the paint business after World War II, he started making paints in a small factory in Singapore before he partnered with Nippon Paint in 1962. From then onwards, he dominated the field in Singapore and beyond.

Today, his companies, Wuthelam Holdings and Yenom Industries, include a wide array of businesses, from retail and distribution to golf courses, logistics, a Chinese mining company, marinas, hotels, and housing developments worldwide.

3. & 4. Philip Ng and Robert Ng

Philip Ng (pictured left) and Robert Ng (pictured right)/ Image Credit: Tatler

The third and fourth richest Singaporeans to make the 2024 Forbes billionaire list is Phillip Ng at No. 373 and his brother Robert Ng, at No. 385, with net worths of US$7.2 billion and US$7.1 billion respectively.

Philip Ng and his brother control Far East Organization, Singapore’s largest private landlord and property developer—the company produces one in every six houses sold to the public. Philip oversees the Group’s Singapore interests, while Robert runs their Hong Kong arm, Sino Group.

Far East Organisation was founded by the siblings’ father Ng Teng Fong, who moved from China to Singapore in 1934 and came to be known as “The King of Orchard Road.”

5. Jason Chang

Jason Chang/ Image Credit: Nikkei Asia

Jason Chang, the 79-year-old chairman of Taiwan-based Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), a provider of independent semiconductor assembling and test manufacturing services, comes in fifth. Jason ranks No. 417 globally, with a net worth of US$6.6 billion.

ASE was founded back in 1984, opening its first factory in Kaohsiung, Taiwan–where it is now based. Its other plants are located in China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, with offices and service centres in China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Belgium and the United States

Along with his brother Richard, Jason is also a major investor in Sino Horizon, a commercial real estate developer.

6. Zhang Yong

Zhang Yong/ Image Credit: Forbes

The sixth richest Singaporean and No. 624 on the list is Zhang Yong, the Chinese-born Singaporean business magnate behind the Haidilao restaurant group.

Despite dropping out of high school and lacking a culinary background, the entrepreneur has grown the chain to nearly 1,500 restaurants today. The restaurants are mostly located in China but also in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

Haidilao’s HK$7.6 billion initial public offering in 2018 made Zhang a billionaire, and his net worth is valued at US$4.9 billion today.

7. Jason Jiang

Jason Jiang
Jason Jiang/ Image Credit: Deposit photos

Coming in at No. 871 is Jason Jiang, the founder, chairman and CEO of Alibaba-backed Chinese outdoor advertising firm Focus Media Information Technology, with a net worth of US$3.7 billion.

The firm boasts elevator screens and movie theatre media networks in 300 cities across China, and 70 overseas.

The 51-year-old’s company went public on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in 2005. However, following negative publicity from a short seller, it was taken private in 2013. In 2016, it went public in Shenzhen through a backdoor listing.

8. Forrest Li

Forrest Li
Forrest Li/ Image Credit: Olympic Council of Asia

The ninth richest Singaporean on this year’s Forbes list is Forrest Li, founder of online gaming and e-commerce firm Sea. With a net worth of US$3.6 billion, Li ranks No. 896 globally.

Li first entered the ranks of Singapore’s richest after listing Sea on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2017. Since its IPO, the firm reported its first-ever quarterly profit of US$423 million in the fourth quarter of 2022.

However, Li’s net worth has steadily declined since its peak of US$12.4 billion in 2021. In 2022, it more than halved to US$5.3 billion, and further declined to US$4.6 billion last year.

9. Kwek Leng Beng

Kwek Leng Beng/ Image Credit: Hong Leong Group

Hotel and property tycoon Kwek Leng Beng is the ninth richest Singaporean to be featured on this year’s Forbes list, ranking No. 949 with a net worth of US$3.4 billion.

He heads the Hong Leong Group, which his father founded, and is the executive chairman of the property and hotel group City Developments Limited. In 2018, the 83-year-old’s son, Sherman Kwek, took charge as City Developments’ group CEO.

Kwek came into prominence in the 1990s after acquiring a string of hotels to found the Millennium & Copthorne chain. In 1995, he and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal acquired the Plaza Hotel in New York, which was a high-profile acquisition.

10. Choo Chong Ngen and Kuok Khoon Hong

Choo Chong Ngen (pictured left) and Kuok Khoon Hong (pictured right)/ Image Credit: Forbes

Tying at No. 1143 with net worths of US$2.9 billion each are Choo Chong Ngen, the founder and chairman of Worldwide Hotels, and Kuok Khoon Hong, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Wilmar International.

Choo made his fortune in textiles before launching his Hotel 81 budget hotel chain in Geylang in 1993. Since then, it has grown into Singapore’s largest budget hotel chain. Hotel 81 is one of six hotel brands in his portfolio, the others being Value Hotel, Venue Hotel, V Hotel, Hotel Boss, and Hotel Mi.

Currently, Worldwide Hotels operates 38 hotels in Singapore, with over 6,500 rooms contributing nearly 10 per cent of the country’s total hotel inventory.

Meanwhile, Kuok cofounded Wilmar in 1991 and built it into one of the world’s largest palm oil producers. The enterprise launched an initial public offering on the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2006 with a capitalisation of S$2.38 billion.

Kuok has long dabbled in the industry prior to starting up Wilmar International. In fact, the 74-year-old had been involved in the grains, edible oils and oilseeds businesses since 1973, playing an integral role in many projects involving the establishment of oil palm plantations across Asia and Africa.

Four Singaporeans made their debut in this year’s list

Wee Ee Cheong, Wee Ee Lim and Wee Ee Chao
From left to right: Wee Ee Cheong, Wee Ee Lim and Wee Ee Chao/ Image Credit: Tatler/ UOB/ Mitigandi

This year’s list also sees four new Singaporean entrants, including the three sons of the late banking tycoon Wee Cho Yaw.

Wee Ee Cheong, 71, ranked No. 1945 with a net worth of US$1.6 billion, while his brothers, Wee Ee Chao and Wee Ee Lim, have a net worth of US$1.3 billion each, tying for No. 2287 on the list.

The fourth newcomer was 67-year-old John Lim, the co-founder and deputy chairman of ARA Asset Management, coming in at No. 2692.

Featured Image Credit: Sea/ Forbes/ Tatler/ Getty/ Zhang Yong via Facebook

]]> 0 Fri, 05 Apr 2024 09:35:31 +0000 856460
Serving nutmeg juice with a twist is how this Penang cafe aims to preserve the local culture Fri, 05 Apr 2024 01:32:55 +0000

Originally from Penang, Moey Fu Ken began his artistic journey in 2014, enrolling in the Bachelor of Fine Arts programme at Hsuan Chuang University in Taiwan.

Majoring in short film directing and scriptwriting, Moey honed his skills in crafting compelling narratives and bringing them to life on screen. Seven years ago, he founded Filmmakers, a video production company with a presence in KL and Penang.

But when the filming industry came to a standstill during the era of MCOs, Moey found himself at a crossroads.

“It was then that I made the decision to embark on a new journey, transitioning into the F&B sector,” he shared with Vulcan Post.

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

His F&B career began with Susu Vegan Mylk Bar, a vegan restaurant in George Town with a retro concept.

Looking at the restaurant’s interior and concept, it’s clear that Moey’s creativity and affinity for storytelling still shines—but his medium has shifted away from the screens and instead towards physical spaces.

Not stopping there, the creative entrepreneur also envisioned a space where old-world charm meets contemporary flair. And this vision would manifest as the establishment of Laomei Koperasi Cafe.  

Preserving authenticity

Established in December 2023, Laomei Koperasi is a new addition to George Town’s cafe culture.

“Drawing inspiration from the collaborative spirit, Laomei Koperasi embraces the idea of uniting various individuals under one roof,” Moey said.

As such, patrons of the cafe can find spaces designed for people to join and collaborate with Laomei Koperasi themselves, as they’re all about inclusivity and community involvement.

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

In terms of aesthetics, the best way to describe Laomei Koperasi is old-school and nostalgia-inducing. The space features elements of traditional Chinese coffee shops from the 1970s and 1980s, such as old biscuit tins and rattan stools.

“Our aim is not only to offer a cafe experience but also to transport our patrons back in time to the quaint biscuit retail shops of yesteryears,” they said. “It isn’t just a cafe; it’s a testament to preserving and sharing the cultural heritage of Penang.”

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

With an initial investment of RM100K, obtained through various investors, Laomei Koperasi embarked on a mission to revive Penang’s heritage last year.

Unique concoctions

The cafe’s dedication to preserving old Penang’s essence is reflected in its menu as well, using traditional recipes that evoke a sense of nostalgia.

If you’ve been to restaurants in Penang, you might’ve noticed something unique called nutmeg juice. Common in the northern state, the drink is made by juicing nutmeg flesh and supposedly tastes tangy and a little grassy.

But instead of just serving this iconic drink as is, Moey wanted to put a spin to it.

Brainstorming with his friends for a beverage that can encapsulate the spirit of old Penang, someone had suggested creating a fusion of nutmeg, coffee, and a hint of soda water.

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

Moey found this blend to be inspired, catering to coffee aficionados as well as those seeking a refreshing drink.

“It’s moments like these, born from collaboration and creativity, that shape the unique offerings at Laomei Koperasi Cafe,” he mused.

Using nutmegs from Balik Pulau, the cafe offers drinks such as nutmeg pandan, nutmeg coconut, and of course, nutmeg coffee.

Beyond the beverages themselves, something unique about the drinks is the glassware it’s held in.

The artisan-printed glassware used in the cafe is designed by the team itself, produced locally in Penang. Similar to the brand’s ethos, these glasses are meant to capture Penang’s heritage. And yes, they can be purchased from the store.

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

“These glassware items serve as more than just souvenirs; they’re a tangible connection to the wonder and charm of Penang, allowing tourists to take a piece of our local heritage back to their hometowns,” Moey shared.

In addition to their beverages, Laomei Koperasi also offers a selection of old-fashioned biscuits and homemade buttercake.

A piece of Penang

Although only three months old, Moey said that the response, especially from tourists, has been promising, as they appreciate the nostalgic 70s vibe.

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

“However, I strongly believe that Laomei Koperasi can reach even greater heights. I’m confident that our unique concept of a 70s old heritage cafe in Penang holds immense potential,” the founder said.

Managing two shops simultaneously, Moey admitted that it can be rather demanding, especially for someone relatively new to the F&B sector. Yet, Moey finds himself invigorated by the process.

In the short term, he plans to expand their menu by adding food or snacks that were popular in the 70s or 80s, further enhancing the nostalgic experience at Laomei Koperasi.

Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe

But looking ahead, the long-term strategy involves incorporating more tourist souvenirs into the shop. Blending food, drinks, and souvenirs, Moey wants the cafe to be a one-stop shop that offers visitors a comprehensive experience of Penang’s heritage.

“Should our concept resonate with both tourists and locals, I’m fully committed to expanding Laomei Koperasi from a single establishment to a chain, ensuring that more people can immerse themselves in the unique charm of our heritage café,” Moey said.

  • Learn more about Laomei Koperasi Cafe here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Laomei Koperasi Cafe / Jin Theng

Fri, 05 Apr 2024 09:33:43 +0000 856380
It started as a project for their ex-company. Now, it’s a full-fledged keycap biz in M’sia. Fri, 05 Apr 2024 01:23:49 +0000

If you are a keyboard enthusiast and looking to level up your PC setup with customised keyboards or are planning to get a whole new setup, don’t sleep on The KapCo

Thomas Chan of The KapCo started his journey from corporate realms.

As a graduate with a degree in construction and a master’s degree in International Real Estate, he established his foothold in esteemed organisations like CBRE, Shimizu Corporation, and JLL Property Services.

Amidst his career and personal milestones like marriage and fatherhood, he sensed the need for a change and set his sights on the burgeoning ecommerce landscape.

In 2019, Thomas dove headfirst into the ecommerce wave, initially exploring the world of dropshipping. 

However, the tumultuous waters of online retailing demanded adaptability. Faced with the challenge of keeping his business afloat, Thomas and his team seized the opportunity to pivot towards branding—a decision that would redefine their trajectory.

Birth of The KapCo

The genesis of The KapCo was not scripted in a boardroom but emerged from a collective vision to create something exceptional.

They have different keycap sets to choose from / Image Credit: The KapCo

“In July 2021, our ex-company allowed each sales team to come up with a brand to launch. We then had a brainstorming session that ultimately led to mechanical keyboards,” Thomas shared.

Inspired by his team’s ingenuity and fueled by a newfound passion for mechanical keyboards, he embarked on a quest to carve a niche in the competitive market.

Armed with a team of young and talented individuals boasting expertise in design, illustration, 3D modeling, photography, and marketing, The KapCo set out with a goal to revolutionise the mechanical keyboard experience. 

Their journey began with reselling plain-coloured keycaps, gradually evolving into designing bespoke keycaps that found enthusiasts worldwide. 

They have a variety of keycap sets such as spring tea keycaps, teddy bear keycaps and skull and roses keycaps. The price ranges from RM236.99 to RM377.99.

Additionally, they have designed keycap sets in partnership with a number of brands, including Ainbell, Creative Universe, Gateron, and Mocankeys.

They also have their own collections, which are The KapCo Artist, The KapCo Colorway, and The KapCo Original starting from RM141.99.

For its Artist Collection, The KapCo worked with international artists such as Ilustrata, Elora, Onitatu99, and others.

Through initiatives like The KapCo Artist Collection, they aim to infuse their products with creativity, authenticity, and a touch of exclusivity.

Keyboard enthusiasts can customise their own keycap set based on their preferences / Image Credit: The KapCo

Defining his vision

Central to The KapCo’s ethos is a commitment to guiding keyboard enthusiasts through various levels of engagement, from novices to seasoned experts. 

By meticulously segmenting their target audience and crafting tailored experiences, The KapCo aspires to cultivate a vibrant community of keyboard enthusiasts.

Thomas and his team divide keyboard users into several levels:

  • Level 0 – Non-mechanical keyboard users
  • Level 1 – Those who have only heard about big brands such as Razer and Steelseries
  • Level 2 – People who have delved deeper into the rabbit hole and started looking for customisation for their mechanical keyboards
  • Level 3 – Enthusiast-level individuals who seek out unique and rare collectible keyboards

“For The KapCo, we envision ourselves helping people transition from Level 0 to Level 1, and from Level 1 to Level 2. As for Level 3, that’s our aim—to let our fans be the next ‘Kap’ enthusiast!” he told Vulcan Post.

Navigating challenges and embracing growth

Like any entrepreneurial endeavour, The KapCo’s journey has been punctuated by challenges and triumphs. 

From mastering the intricacies of product quality to navigating the dynamics of the global supply chain, Thomas and his team have persevered through sheer dedication and integrity.

As they gear up for the launch of their KapCo-branded keyboard later this year, they also anticipate collaborations with renowned brands like Peanuts, Nik Bental, and Ripndip.

The KapCo has collaborated with designing institute, Mobius Academy /Image Credit: The KapCo

With an eye on expanding their presence in offline retail spaces and securing bulk orders from international markets, Thomas envisions a trajectory of exponential growth for the brand.

In particular, they’re looking to expand their global footprint in China, Canada, and the US, believing that this will bring in more international collaborations and partnerships.

They are also aiming to collaborate with iconic IPs like Star Wars and Marvel to reach new heights of innovation and influence. 

In the ever-evolving landscape of ecommerce, Thomas Chan wants The KapCo to stand as a beacon of creativity in turning dreams into reality for its dedicated community of keyboard enthusiasts.

  • You can also learn more about The KapCo here.

Featured Image Credit: Thomas Chan, founder of The KapCo

Fri, 05 Apr 2024 09:23:54 +0000 856200
Lab-grown quail? Aussie firm Vow gains approval to sell cultivated quail in S’pore Thu, 04 Apr 2024 05:04:32 +0000

Australian alternative protein company Vow launched its cultivated quail meat, Quailia, yesterday (April 3) in Singapore after receiving regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

Under the brand Forged, Quailia is described as an “entirely new cultivated meat” made from the cells of a Japanese quail.

The Forged Parfait Vow
The Forged Parfait / Image Credit: Vow

According to an article by The Straits Times, co-founder and CEO George Peppou shared that the company wanted to create a product that was “distinctively different” from meat that consumers are already accustomed to, such as chicken, pork, or beef. 

“People have a general vibe of what quail tastes like, but they don’t have a very distinct impression of its taste as they would with other conventional types of meat,” explained Peppou.

He also shared that it took 15 months for the company to receive approval from the SFA for the sale of its cultivated quail as a food ingredient. The license will allow Vow to develop all kinds of quail-derived food products, including whole meat cuts, without further approval from the authorities.

The Forged Parfait will be available to the public for tasting at Mori restaurant from April 12 to 27, as part of a S$289 seven-course omakase menu with alcoholic drink pairings.

According to Forged’s website, the brand will be announcing its first restaurant collaboration in May this year and has plans to launch new flavours down the road.

Doesn’t want to compete in taste with “real meat”

Quailia is currently produced in Sydney, where scientists start by taking a small sample of cells from a Japanese quail species and isolating the cells that contribute to the parfait’s taste and texture.

Vow bioreactor tank
Vow’s bioreactor tank/ Image Credit: Vow

These cells are then cultured in a bioreactor – a stainless steel tank similar to the ones found in a brewery. To bring out the “gaminess of quail”, ingredients including butter, seasoning and cognac are added to make the parfait.

Unlike many cultivated meat companies, Vow does not intend to replace agricultural-grown meats with their products. In a self-written article, Peppou pointed out the challenges that many of Vow’s predecessors experienced in changing consumer behaviours with their alternative proteins.

You’re not going to change consumer behaviour by offering them something which is a similar enough version of what they already consume.

Externalities like sustainability or animal ethics are not enough for us to change our behaviours for very long, despite what we’d like to believe. This is why plant-based alternatives have plateaued in sales in the past three years; the ethical or moral motivations aren’t reason enough to get meat-eaters to forgo a thing they love, and any alternative is fighting against a lifetime of experience on what chicken is and isn’t.

George Peppou, co-founder and CEO of Vow in a written article on Medium

Over the past few years, the cultivated meat industry has started out with much fanfare. However, many alternative protein companies have plateaued and been unable to achieve commercial success.

A notable case in Singapore would be Shiok Meats, who garnered media attention for their cell-based siew mai and cultivated crustacean products. The food-tech startup has shared that they were unable to scale their production process and experienced high turnover rates as a result.

In March this year, the company merged with another Singapore-based startup, Umani Bioworks (previously known as Umami Meats), to spur regulatory approvals and launch its products into the market.

Despite the industry’s scrutiny, Peppou shared that he has remained confident in the firm’s commercial viability through its “one-of-a-kind” products.

The firm previously raised US$49.2 million in Series A funding in 2022, where the funds will be used to build their second factory facility and bring their products to the market.

Vow was also the mastermind behind the “mammoth meatball,” which went viral last year because it was created using the DNA of the extinct mammoth. While the meatball was not made for consumption, the firm also boldly stated the “potential of cultured meat from many different perspectives.”

Whether it is blind optimism or a new breakthrough in the cultivated meats industry, only time can tell the success of Vow and Forged.

Featured Image Credit: Square Peg Capital, Vow

Thu, 04 Apr 2024 13:07:21 +0000 856461