01 Jun Meet the Founders of Niko Neko Matcha
1. What is your business about, and what inspired you to get started?
Co-founder Syun Hattori is half Japanese half Malaysian. He was born and raised in Japan, and moved to Malaysia with his family during his teenage years. Back when he was living in Japan, his grandfather used to prepare and serve Matcha tea during special occasions for important guests who came to house. His mother was a kindergarten teacher. Interesting enough, the kindergarten was part of a Buddhist temple, where his mother learnt Japanese tea ceremony (Sadou) for 7 years. With his early exposure to Japanese tea, Syun decided to do something related to his background as personal way of appreciating the background and to contribute back to home country by providing awareness of Japanese traditional culture to people in Malaysia. He brought the proposal of coming out with Matcha brand to Izzat Iskandar, former collegemate who happened to be an avid tea enthusiast. In 2015, they formed Niko Neko Matcha.
We formed Niko Neko Matcha not just to provide the finest Matcha, but the ultimate goal is to make Matcha as a lifestyle. We want modern people to be able to incorporate this traditional heritage into their lifestyle and to be portrayed in the everyday living. Hence, the reason we call our brand Contemporary Artisan Matcha Brand. The whole concept is also illustrated through Niko Neko Matcha’s branding itself; the aesthetic, packaging design, concept and visual with the motto of ‘Embracing Tradition in Modern Lifestyle’.
2. What are some of the challenges you face as a small business owner?
One of the challenges of running Niko Neko Matcha is the education part, or in creating public awareness about what Matcha really is. As a brand with unique and new approach, we always do our best effort to explain and provide as much information as possible through the balance of both the traditional side of our products as well as the modern aspects of our brand via our online and offline platform.
3. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Seeing the brand grow as what we wanted and seeing the acceptance of public towards our brand’s approach are two most satisfying moments in our business.
4. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
There are plans that did not work as we expected. We learned to always consider things from a lot of perspective before we make a move. There are also times when we were too deep into our planning that we think it is right when it is actually not really feasible and practical. That’s when talking to people and getting others’ opinion helps the most.
5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Perseverance, consistency and creativity.
6. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Syun: Listening to music, playing electric guitar, watching Japanese comedy shows, spend some quality time with our beloved cats: Niko & Robin.
Izzat: I read all kinds of reading materials: comics, manga, novel, self-help books, magazine etc. just to keep my brain running.
7. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Find a good team, talk, discuss and converse. Always remember that there is no one way in doing things, there are millions of possibilities and every single time, collective ideas and understandings lead to progress and success.
For more information about Niko Neko Matcha, visit http://www.nikonekomatcha.com/
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