Dato’ Sri Michael Chong shared about how Shogun2U – a food and beverage online business – started from nothing to reaping one million sales in three months, by the leading of God.
The idea Shogun2U came from his intention of wanting to pave a career path for his son. So, he started to learn about online business – a very popular venture especially among the Y-generation. Moreover, many young people who started online enterprises approached Dato’ Sri before with their business proposals for investment, valuing them at multi-million dollars. Bewildered with the extraordinary value, he began to research on online companies such as Zalora, mytaxi, and Lazada, and explore about the online business.
Yet, while he attempted to prepare his son’s career path, God had other plans for Aaron. Exemplifying his father who would encourage him to try all that he thought of, Dato’ Sri also wanted to do the same for his son.
“I tried to be like my dad. Whatever ideas I want to do, he would say, ‘Try lah.’ When I fail, he would say, ‘Never mind, at least you try.’ I think in his mind, he already knew I was going to fail. But he still said, ‘Try,’” said Dato’ Sri Michael.
Hence, the idea was put aside until he thought of diversifying his business from the existing Shogun Express he opened in shopping malls. Online business, he learned, can be scaled up and down. Hence, the idea of Shogun2U is birthed, upon gaining the support of all his staffs.
“I told my son, ‘Since God led you to teach, let your old man try some young man thing,’ to see whether God is telling online business is for the young or for the old,” he said.
By God’s grace, they started Shogun2U within one and a half month, lean and small. Closing some of their Shogun Express, they brought back their staffs to start Shogun2U, which kept their budget within range. The only additional management staff they hired was Ruben, an experienced staff in e-commerce for food delivery due to his background in Room Service and Foodpanda. And to kick start, they hired ten riders for food delivery.
“We were thinking of starting the cooking operation in the existing central kitchen we have, but we realized that we don’t have enough space. So, we were praying and looking for a bigger space.
“I don’t know why but there was one morning, I woke up and there was something in me asking me to call Nickque, my CEO, to ask the Mamak shop, ‘How’s the business?’
“We were already thinking of places (for the cooking operation of Shogun2U) but we cannot find one. I actually didn’t know whether it’s my idea or God’s idea. I always says it’s not from God until it is proven,” he said.
Nickque procrastinated to ask how the Mamak shop is doing, as it sounded awkward. But one day, both Dato’ Sri and Nickque worked late and decided to eat at that Mamak behind that building. They began chatting with one of the staffs there – whom Nickque knew very well – and he told them that he had not receive salary for a few months. Dato’ Sri Michael quickly prompted Nickque to get the phone number of the Mamak owner. The next day, they found out that the staff already quit his job.
“I think it’s God here. If we went to the Mamak one day later, we would not have seen the guy (staff) anymore,” he said.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:6)
They called the Mamak owner. He was so excited that he came over to the office to talk to Nickque. Apparently, the Mamak owner already owned a few businesses, and he had no time to invest in the Mamak shop behind Dato’ Sri’s office. Hence, they got the building owner’s number, called him, and eventually they took over the Mamak shop premise. In the next four days, they cleaned, painted, fixed, and started the cooking and delivery operation of Shogun2U in that premise, right when the website could be launched. The launching was delayed for two weeks. Everything happened at the nick of time.
The first week business was bad with only RM400 sales per day, made mostly by church friends. But Dato’ Sri Michael saw it as a blessing because the downtime allowed him to make adjustments to smoothen the operations. After that, the sales doubled through word of mouth of their staffs to their relatives. In the third week, one customer shared Shogun2U in Facebook, raising the sales from RM3000 per day. Finally, when the fourth week came, they were already reaping RM7000 of sales per day.
“My staffs told me that if we did not get this premise, we would be in trouble already,” said Dato Seri Michael Chong. The existing central kitchen would not have the capacity to meet the increasing orders.
Fast forward to three months now, they are already reaping RM20,000 of sales a day and a total of RM1 million sales in three months, way beyond their target of reaching RM15,000 a day in nine months. Praise God for His Ways are higher than our ways, and His Thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
“Today, besides a sharing with the bloggers about Shogun2u, we never did any advertisements. We were hibernating because we were so scared that the windows of Heaven would suddenly open,” he said.
They wanted to hire a marketing manager but when the third week came, his staffs bind his hands to hire. If the orders continue to increase beyond their capacity of production, they are in big trouble. They do not have enough riders, kitchen staffs, and even ingredients to meet the orders.
“We always say, ‘It’s not the word of mouth but the word of Internet’ now. If God is not in control, do you think Shogun2U will go viral like that?
“God is opening up His window and pouring his blessings down. We always pray for God to help us. Now, we have the walk-in chillers and staffs ready after three months. So, only now, we are starting to launch Shogun2U officially,” he said.
The growth was so phenomenal that it astounded not only him but his staffs as well. His chef, whom he called ‘Chef Loke’ would not refer to Dato Sri’s God as ‘your God’ anymore, but ‘God.’ At one point, Chef Loke also got to know a Full Gospel Business Men fellowship brother-in-Christ, Tan Tek Seng, who would come into the kitchen and talk to him, and hug him.
“Chef Loke told me, ‘At first, I (felt) very geli (awkward). But now, I long for this hug,’” said Dato Seri Michael Chong, chuckling at Chef Loke’s response. Chef Loke shared before that he felt electrocuted by brother Tan during a handshake at one time, as an unexplainable warmth engulfed his body. “Chef Loke now talks about the power of God and he always like to talk about brother Tan.”
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Cor 2:15)
Today, the menu of Shogun2U has grown to more than 100 menus, starting from only four menus. Every dish, down to its component, is made and chosen from their internal ‘Master Chef’ competition amongst the 20 chefs they have. For example, the nasi lemak sambal was chosen from the array of sambals made according to how each individual chef’s version of sambal. That is why their nasi lemak tak lemak with their Japanese rice and special-concoction sambal is one of their best-sellers.
“I always feel that God will make Shogun2U a household name, where everyone can buffet and everyone can tapau (pack food). When you want to tapau, don’t think only of other fastfood outlets but think about us.
“We cook to your order and these are things we follow – they are affordable, chef-prepared meals, and delivered right to your doorsteps – God gave me these things,” he said.
In terms of cost, they could make Japanese food more affordable because they could purchase by bulk from Shogun or Saisaki, hence making it possible for everyone to enjoy home delivery of Japanese food.
“Our corporate social responsibility is also very important to us especially for our riders. I believe that we have changed their lifestyles. I believe if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
“So, we pay them very high. We have changed them from mat rempits to becoming managers. I get very encouraged when my staffs start to relate all these things to God,” said Dato’ Sri Michael Chong who is employing about 30 riders now.
“Maybe the outsiders would say, ‘Nolah, they are trying to polish your shoes.’ I know that’s not true because they didn’t stay here if only it was just for that,” he said, relating to his CEO Nickque who went from Feng Shui to Jesus, and is now worshipping in SIBKL.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)
Reminiscing the time when he was young, he added, “Why of all businesses, God brought me to the online business? I think online is a ‘young generation thing.’ I think probably God is using this platform to give me a chance to touch the youth’s life.”
He added, “When you’re young, you always think that you’re smart and you can do it all. But when you do it, you fail. I was really flat on the floor. But I learned you got to work hard. I knew there will never be an elevator to success but I got to take the steps.”
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers in food at harvest. (Prov 6:6-8)
He thanked God for the difficult and slow way he learned to acquire his wealth. Had he become a multi-millionaire by the age of 30, he would not have appreciated life and money this much in his life now.
Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11)
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10)
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