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The Rise of Young ‘Digitalpreneurs’

Despite COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) said that the unemployment rate in Malaysia has witnessed a decline of 0.1 percent to 4.6 percent in April. The number of unemployed persons dropped to 742,700 in April while in March it was 753,200.

According to DOSM, many have jumped into the trend of entrepreneurship. The number of self-employed or own-account workers rose by 2.48 million persons in March. One may ask, why? With many things losing momentum because of the unrelenting rampage of the pandemic and many businesses barely pulling through, some young people somehow seem to thrive in this turbulent time.

Online marketing appears to be the way forward for them.

This proved true when two university students, Jaime Teh and Jimmy Eu started an online cake shop, PieceofCakebyJJ in Ipoh right before the pandemic hit the country in January last year. 

Jimmy Eu (left) and Jaime Teh (right)

“It wasn’t all smooth sailing as our brand was fairly new and it took us a while to build that recognition in the community,” said the engineering and medical bioscience students.

Starting a new business or working for oneself is not that easy, as one has to personally manage from top to bottom; from logistics to marketing and even the production of products. One can wear many hats but solo ventures are definitely not for everyone. Yet, there is a growing number of young adults dabbling in entrepreneurship. Let’s find out why from home-based bakers duo, Jaime and Jimmy, and fine artist Kareem.

It takes more than a good idea to run the show. The ability to execute the plan is crucial. According to Jaime, being passionate is one major key in sustaining a business. “Without passion, we wouldn’t have made it this far and of course, having the culture of generating new ideas and concepts also plays a part in keeping things in motion. We believe our passion for baking reflects in our work.”

Line Bear macarons

Having received a fair bit of positive response for their signature molten lava cake, hot chocolate bombs and macaron cake from their customers, the passionate duo enjoys adding a little flair to their products. Because who doesn’t love personalised gifts, the same goes for food. “We believe that we have our very own niche in the homemade cakes market in Ipoh and we create desserts that are not commonly found in Ipoh,” she expressed.

Some may not agree but online business is a good alternative as it incurs less money to build an online platform. “E-business has continued to flourish during this pandemic. Consumers are increasingly relying on online services. We’re grateful that our business is doing well despite the outbreak,” the 22-year-old home baker added.

Jaime shared with us some tips to a successful startup, the most vital highlights being customer satisfaction, customer service and product quality. “Don’t be afraid of experimenting with new things and exploring new ideas. Also, share content consistently and make sure the posts/pictures are of quality in order to capture your audiences’ attention. Besides, feedback is essential for growth, too!”

Buttercream cake
Lemon Blueberry cake

Check out @pieceofcakebyjj on Instagram for more customised cakes. One may place an order via direct message on their page or contact them at 010-2281447.

Fine artist Kareem

Another successful ‘digitalpreneur’, fine artist Kareem, says his parents were the key in making art a major part of his life and over the years, his passion has expanded into a business. He highlighted that it is important to be passionate about what you do in life and he would like to continue sharing his love for arts with the community for as long as he can. 

The 26-year-old artist said social media platforms have allowed him to connect to the world at large and helped bridge the gap between people and cultures who live in different parts of the world. “But there’s no substitute for human contact and human touch. I know my clients want to see human creativity, ingenuity and technical ability while my students want someone to understand their needs and wants which cannot be replaced by technology.”

When asked what his opinions are on the stereotypes being projected on solopreneurs as ‘taking the easy way out’ and arts being so frowned upon, he said it is a matter of perspective. “A business, in spite of its location or how it operates, should perform its duty to help customers fulfil their wants and needs. Businesses should be more than just profit, it should include creating products or services to aid the community.

Wira Melayu (watercolour) 2020

“I believe introducing anything new comes with its own set of challenges. Starting an online platform for art has allowed me to share my interests with a wider audience beyond borders which has been crucial in a time where industries have had to evolve and embrace digitalisation to succeed. 

“As for the belief that ‘you can’t make a career out of art’, that’s a matter of opinion. In this modern age, art is not only a medium of self-expression but has been heavily utilised across the economic landscape in marketing, product designs, fashion and film. Personally, the possibilities of art are endless,” he explained.

With the right strategy and planning, digitalised businesses will blossom even during this bleak time.

Kareem takes orders via Instagram for paintings and customised artwork. He meets with his clients virtually to discuss their requirements and the paintings are collected from his home upon completion.

The Supreme (mural) 2018
Crystal Lotus (watercolour & gold) 2020

Interested readers or art enthusiasts may visit Kareem on Instagram @kareem.artist.ipoh/@fineartclass.ipoh or Facebook at Kareem or The Ipoh Fine Art Class.


Gisele Soo 


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