Since coming out as one of our Men of the Year in 2013, Loob Holding CEO Bryan Loo has had quite a rollercoaster ride in business. Throughout this trying time however, the spirited entrepreneur took adversity in his stride and has successfully turned setbacks into new beginnings for his F&B company, in the form of the widely popular Tealive beverage brand, accompanied by Spanish frozen yogurt brand Llaollao, Takoyaki chain Gindaco and fusion restaurant Define:Food, among others.
When asked about what usually drives him to rise above the occasion, Bryan shared, “When I first came into the business, it was extremely challenging because bubble tea had already long died out, and there was a lot of discouraging feedback from people around, some would say that this would only work at the pasar malam, so it was a long journey, with a lot of hardships and legal issues. But we knew that all this is part of the equation of success. Most people are usually held back by paranoia, uncertainties, etc. But we’ve realised from then that this is exactly what you have to go through to be successful.”
Following last year’s expansion into Vietnam with 10 outlets, as well as Melbourne, where he used to study, the graduate in Biotechnology is currently working in earnest with his team and is determined to reach his over 250-outlet milestone by year-end and penetrate the China market the following year. The grand plan also includes an accessible gourmet burger joint, a new Yunnan-style noodle place, and a Jamaican double-friend chicken eatery.
“What also drives me is the desire to learn about other people’s culture, the curiosity to see how you can best build your products and brand to resonate with the local market. When I enter a new market for the first time, I’ll deep dive into it myself and work out the structure, find the right positioning for the brand, and find the A-team and build on them, and then roll out the outlets,” Bryan explained his strategy, adding, “We have a very strong R&D team capable of custom-making our drink profiles to best suit the local taste. In Australia, for example, we are targeting this segment called Tea Latte. Latte is something very close to Australians, so a lot of them can easily relate to this, like the Turmeric Latte, Chai Latte, etc. I think that’s what we are good at doing, keeping the brand as adaptable as we can. Every time we enter a new market, we keep a very open mind and wonder what we can do to make the brand more familiar to the locals,” said Bryan.
What’s more inspiring is the strong following the young enterpreneur has received over the years. We asked him what his secret was to gaining the confidence and loyalty of his followers, to which he replied, “Transparency and teamwork have always been what we try to cultivate in our company. Our four organisational values that have really shaped who we are today also include entrepreneurship and passion. We can set a good example by exhibiting these values. And I personally feel that I’ve got to be the benchmark of all these four values. If I can’t walk the talk then I won’t be able to lead the team as well. And by honesty, I mean we’ve got to be honest to one another, to ourselves, about our capacity, in our conduct, etc. We’ve got to be honest about our own mistakes be able to own up to it.”
Photography by Kahmun Ho
Styling by Ibnu Aswan
Grooming by Joey Yap, Mavis Ow + Wanning