Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Afterschool.my
Imagine the perfect scenario for yourself right after graduation: Securing that stable 9 to 5 job, steadily clocking in your hours and experience, a regular monthly salary waiting for you at the end of the month. It’s every graduate’s dream, right? Plot twist: You decide to team up with a final year medical student from Taylor’s University, hand in your resignation and the two of you decide to open a gelato bar on one of the most competitive streets –Jalan Telawi 2, called Joy St. Yes, that escalated rather quickly. But this isn’t the premise for a new Netflix TV show, well not yet anyway. Rather, this is the story of Brian and Kuan Lin, two budding entrepreneurs who have taken the leap so many think about making every single day, and lived to tell the tale.
Before Joy Came into Their Lives
Brian took up mechanical engineering at university and ended up working as a project engineer in an industrial boiler manufacturing company, dealing with products that towered three to four stories high. Not what you would call dreary then. But something was missing for Brian. He always wanted an adventurous life, a craving which he could no longer ignore now that he held a steady but monotonous job.“In a business world, your value depends on you and you alone, as opposed to a corporate world where your worth is defined by what your bosses think of you,” says Brian.
“In a business world, your value depends on you and you alone, as opposed to a corporate world where your worth is defined by what your bosses think of you,” says Brian.
In his view, the sky was the limit, but his job was a ceiling that got in the way of that. While he may have come across as exceedingly sanguine, it was probably no coincidence that Brian immediately clicked with Kuan Lin, who in his own words, considers himself to be stupidly optimistic. The doctor-to-be already had his plate full with pathology and internal medicine, but somehow still yearned for some dessert on the side, literally. Both agreed that finding a suitable partner was by and large the biggest obstacle they each faced. “It is crucial to find an individual who you know will have your back, even if things begin to sour,” says Brian. Upon finding a partner, however, the rest of the journey wasn’t in the form of a fast-forwarded movie montage that saw everything magically fall into place, with a catchy tune playing in the background. They had to first deal with the elephant in the room, telling their parents.
I Raised You to be an Engineer, and Now You Want to Scoop Ice Cream for a Living?
Brian notes that the above-expected reaction, in his own words, is not how his parents reacted. On the contrary, his parents turned out to be rather supportive, their only request was for him to be certain of his choice, pray about it, and be sure of the change in direction his career was about to take. Even Kuan Lin’s parents were amazingly understanding! And with their approvals in tow, the duo began what could be one could call the longest few months of their lives.
Their first stop? A course on making gelato in Singapore. It was love at first sight, as the two finally decided on healthy dessert as their product of choice. Armed with knowledge and skills they picked up from coaches, who they now affectionately call their mentors, Brian and Kuan Lin set out to create their gelato masterpieces. Once the decision was made on the location for their sweet n’ sticky journey, Brian spent his days in the empty shop lot, meticulously overseeing every aspect of the renovation from the first few nails, to the last coat of paint. Kuan Lin meanwhile, began his juggling act, medical books in one hand and gelato in the other, with a stethoscope slung around his neck. Cook days saw both stay till the wee hours of the morning, slaving away to perfect the signatory taste they were aiming for; and only the best was good enough. After all, they knew the kind of effort required to pull off the monumental task ahead of them when they took up the reigns as the new kid on the block along the merciless Telawi stretch.
Foregoing Academics in Pursuit of Your Passion
Asked about students who want to forgo their academics in pursuit of business ventures, both were in firm agreement that the very idea is half-cooked. Brian says students who are conflicted about whether to stay in their chosen field or take the plunge should at the very least get their degree and a job in the field first, so as to get a taste of what it’s actually like.
“Because at the end of the day, you would want to know that you tried it for yourself. Only then can you conclude that it’s not for you”, says Brian.
Kuan Lin, who doesn’t seem to be slouching in his medical journey one bit, echoes Brian’s sentiments on the importance of obtaining a proper education first, especially in the current economic climate. His insistence on not taking the foot off the pedal on both fronts stems from wanting a safety net in the event things don’t go as planned. For students contemplating dropping out of college, Kuan Lin has some wise words that may anger some, but only because of how true they are:
“If you cannot finish your degree, what makes you think you’d be able to sustain a business?”.
And if the urge to get your business off the ground while you’re studying is just so enticing that it renders it irresistible, Kuan Lin says to do both simultaneously, a sly reference to himself possibly.
What’s their Secret? Well if they Told you, they Would Have to Kill you.
Joy St. may have only been open for 1 and a half months, but a singular Google search will yield rave reviews from the many customers they’ve had visit, over, and over, and over again, from your regular joes, to some notable faces that can be seen constantly popping up on your Instagram feed. Asked about the secret to their early success, Kuan Lin methodically explains a three-step plan:1: Feed yourself the right information, surround yourself with the right people.2: Act on your ideas. Ideas are nothing, execution is everything. Believe, and then just act.3: Stay humble and keep learning.
Kuan Lin methodically explains a three-step plan:
1: Feed yourself the right information, surround yourself with the right people.
2: Act on your ideas. Ideas are nothing, execution is everything. Believe, and then just act.3: Stay humble and keep learning.
3: Stay humble and keep learning.
Brian, on the other hand, feels that whatever input you log in, will eventually be your output at the end of the day. He goes on to explain there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those who are content to with their 9 to 5 jobs and comfy offices. But if you do dream of owning big houses and flashy cars, then stepping out of your comfort zone, and surrounding yourself with people who have successfully broken into the field you’re interested in is paramount. He implores those who dream to study and emulate the lives of these hugely successful people, from their business mottos to the first thing they do when they wake up.
What does the future hold for the two? Both have their feet firmly planted on the semi-cobbled flooring that streams through the middle of their brightly painted shop, walls adorned with the softest of colours and wooden tables sprinkled with minimalistic deco that sees you transported to an old ice cream parlour somewhere on the streets of London from the years of yonder, and then no sooner, pulling you back into the now once you get your first taste of the healthier ice cream alternative, inevitably forcing a smile out of you, maybe even a chuckle.