Entrepreneurs share journey at LBD forum

Izah Azahari

The first of the two-day Local Business Development (LBD) Programme 2019 opened yesterday themed ‘How to Leverage the Digital Revolution.” It was held at The Empire Hotel & Country Club.

Brunei enterprise founders and owners participated in an open forum discussion titled ‘Getting to the Next Level: Competing and Winning in the Digital Age.’

Panel speakers comprised Mindplus Education Founder and Chief Executive Officer Pengiran Mohd Khairi bin Pengiran Haji Metussin, Fuel’d Co-Founder Siti Alai Shazrinah binti Haji Shazali, Track-n-Roll Founder Simon Soo and Dart Logistics Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Zul’Amali bin Dato Paduka Haji Idris. DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) International Research and Cooperation Officer Muhd Fadli bin Haji Awang Zaini moderated the discussion.

Zul’Amali explained that Dart was initially formed to assess how to make a change in Brunei by looking at the situation of high unemployment, gap in public transport and high car ownership.

With Brunei being well connected and in view of everyone owning a smartphone, the company leveraged on the available resources and saw the opportunity for improving on systems, and contributing in a small way towards the Brunei Smart Nation initiative.

FROM LEFT: Mindplus Education Founder and Chief Executive Officer Pengiran Mohd Khairi bin Pengiran Haji Metussin, Fuel’d Co-Founder Siti Alai Shazrinah binti Haji Shazali, Track-n-Roll Founder Simon Soo and Dart Logistics Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder Zul’Amali bin Dato Paduka Haji Idris at the forum, moderated by DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) International Research and Cooperation Officer Muhd Fadli bin Haji Awang Zaini. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

“The best thing about Brunei is that we have the opportunity to leap-frog as technology is all available,” he said. “What we need to do now is shift, create and innovate, and have something that the world can look at.”

Pengiran Mohd Khairi shared that his decision of moving Mindplus Education to Indonesia stemmed from two factors. The first was feeling the need to grow after facing difficulty in setting up a company in Brunei; and the second was the challenge he felt from a previous potential investor who doubted what he could offer as a Bruneian.

Pengiran Mohd Khairi shared that it took him a year in Indonesia before he saw results.

“What I went through in Brunei was nothing compared to what I had to go through in Indonesia – when talking about the competitive context,” he said. “The mindset there is very different. We had to go through a lot of rejections and I was initially very disappointed, but my team and co-founder saw it as just another day. I had to learn to adapt, so now, facing rejection is no longer a big deal.”

The founder of Track-n-Roll shared his entrepreneurship journey, noting that he had initially opened a web-development house that built over 100 websites for Brunei and overseas clients. Then he started working in China under an investors company, which opened up his Brunei business context to a global perspective.

“I learnt a lot of lessons and created many experiences, and that’s when I contemplated what to do next – whether to go back to working in a stable job, or continue the entrepreneurship life,” said Simon. “So I ended up choosing the latter and decided to work on something more solid, which is Track-n-Roll. It might not be the most exciting in the market, but it’s something every company would need.”

Shazrinah, who is a Translational Neuroscientist by training, shared the whole concept behind Fuel’d, stemmed from her interest in the whole circuitry of how we eat, eating habits, as well as people’s behaviour.

“The whole concept of Fuel’d ethically came from understanding people’s behaviour and how to trick people’s minds to eat healthily without having to think about it, and also playing with the whole psychological fun and dopamine effect of things,” said Shazrinah.

Shazrinah shared that when they first started out, they had underestimated the number of people who would walk through their doors and support them.

“That also had me thinking that I needed to implement systems to help me better my processes to make sure that we can get people to order food without having to queue,” said Shazrinah.

“We’ve adopted a lot of technology such as having software that are able to give us analytics on how much we’re producing daily, what we’re selling as well as how we manage our slots,” she said.