Signature Market is the first online marketplace in Malaysia that focuses on natural and organic products.
Having celebrated its 7th year in the local market, some may wonder, whether it can even still be considered as a startup? Its co-founders, John Cheng and Edwin Wang shared that there are many definitions to a startup. Even a quick Google search would have you find out that startups can maintain its status for a decade. However, for these two men, “a startup is a company that is fast growing (ideally more than 50% yearly) and is continuously innovating and expanding. Which is exactly what has been going on with Signature Market – so much so even the co-founders can’t believe it’s been only seven years.
We chat with John and Edwin, the co-founders of Signature Market to find out more:
How did the two of you become business partners?
We became housemates 15 years ago, and managed to establish a successful tech startup, and now Signature Market is our second venture together.
We complement each other with me (Edwin) the “left brain” guy – focusing on structure, data, growth and stability, while John is more of the “right brain” guy who comes up with all the creative ideas and product innovations. We respect each other’s strengths and give space to each other to create the things we want to create. We get to be ourselves, and support each other, regardless of what happens. If we have gaps in our knowledge or abilities, we hire team members who can contribute their expertise.
What was the motivation behind starting Signature Market?
Signature Market has evolved over time and is influenced by the gaps we see in the market.
When we started there were no baked-to-order brands for roasted nuts. Taiwan is famous for it and their slow-baked technology makes their products taste delicious. Since there wasn’t one in Malaysia, we decided that we’d be the ones to bring it to the scene.
We then moved on to create Plant Origins, a brand that sells affordable aromatherapy and plant-based personal care. At that time, there weren’t any brands selling these products at accessible prices so we figured, “Why don’t we come up with something that can benefit Malaysia consumers?”
This year we started the brand Bunny-u for kids 3 years old and above. There aren’t any local brands that specifically design food for kids, which is why we came up with this.
Here are some of the product offerings from Signature Market:
What are some of the struggles faced when starting up?
Our initial struggle was not clearly defining our customer’s persona and having the wrong value proposition. Thefore in the first two years we were struggling because the value proposition we wanted to deliver didn’t impact our target customers.
In entrepreneurship, creating impact in our society is the number one mission and purpose. In 2016, we managed to pivot to adhere to this philosophy and every few years we upgrade and improve upon our mission so we can create more impact in the community.
What are some milestones the company is proud of?
Apart from having reached 500k unique customers – which means that our brand has impacted 500k households in Malaysia – we’re also proud of having finally launched our community to educate Malaysians about ways to upgrade their life. Our vision is always about empowering people towards living the best version of themselves and to upgrade their overall well-being.
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We are currently hosting weekly zoom workshops for things like yoga, breathwork exercises, meditation, and art classes. And everyone is welcome to join the free zoom workshops! It is part of Signature Market’s contribution to mental health, especially during the MCO and we’ve continued that initiative so Malaysians can learn how to upgrade their lifestyle.
How does Signature Market differ from the competition?
We personally believe that there is an abundance in this world and there are no exact competitors in business. Most businesses differentiate themselves by serving different niche markets and delivering different values to that niche. At Signature Market, we focus on competing with ourselves and finding ways to challenge ourselves and play a bigger game each time. The reason we challenge ourselves each time is not because we need to survive or beat our competitors, but simply because we want to up our level and impact more people. We have always believed that the world is truly abundant, and that companies don’t necessarily need to compete with each other for survival. Everyone is unique and amazing by just being who they are.
What can consumers look out for from the brand in the near future?
In 2022, we are upping our game by educating our customers about the power of living a conscious life. By simply being conscious about our thoughts and beliefs, we can reclaim our lives and take full control of how we work towards our dreams. We will also be educating about the importance of art and how it can help enhance their wealth. Lastly, we will be more active in contributing to the earth with our sustainability initiatives.
(All images courtesy of Signature Market)