“Success is not just numbers; success is when people build people and people are happy to come to work,” states Amy Zheng when asked how she’d define success.
As she shares animatedly of her journey co-founding Amazin’ Graze and then internationalising the brand, one can’t help but notice how people are at the heart of the startup. The best companies out there are the ones that put people at the centre of their business.
“You need to make people first. You can have a great product but if you don’t have a strong team getting the products to the market, it’s not going to work. As long as they’re proud of what they’re doing; and they know they’re learning and creating an impact,” adds Amy about the importance of teaching people to take ownership of their work and celebrating the little successes along the way.
Amazin’ Graze began as a home-based venture when Amy and co-founder Ching Yi Lee realised Malaysia is never short of good food but there was a lack of access to affordable, healthy snacks. It was easier to get your hands on unhealthy snacks and they wanted to change that. The brand’s classic granola and nuts products were first introduced to the market in August 2015 at a weekend bazaar in Bangsar Shopping Centre. In November the same year, Amazin’ Graze was joined by its third founder Sabrina How and it made its entry into Singapore the following month.
The company has been growing exponentially since it started and unexpectedly while in the thick of the pandemic, it charted four times increase in employee growth as the demand for their products surged. “We started 2020 with about 50 people in our team. It was a big team already at that point and I’m happy to share that now we have nearly 200 employees, both full time and part time. I’m so proud of what our team has done. To see the company growing at such speed and to see people being so proud of what they’ve accomplished, is very rewarding.”
There’s really no shortcut to entrepreneurial success and Amazin’ Graze is a good case study of how a company filled the gap for healthy snacks in the market and then during the pandemic, developed a strategic response to the sudden surge in demand for its products. Besides that, the company has always been pushing for growth beyond its borders and it entered Australia in the last quarter of 2020 and will soon be available in the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia. You can also find Amazin’ Graze products in the US now on Amazon. This Malaysian brand is going places!
Amy says her hopes and dreams for the future is to keep building a team of young, inspiring and ambitious people. “And as you grow, it’s even more important to make sure you have very strong top management, middle management and your junior members of staff feel empowered to make decisions. Simon Sinek says this a lot: always understand your why. If your why is to just make money or financial gains, I don’t think that’s going to be sufficient. If the only thing you care about is making money and not creating impact, you’re going to face major challenges early on and you may lose motivation.” She concludes in all honesty.