Hubert Burda Media

Bryan Loo, the 21st century entrepreneur

The world knows no boundaries for Bryan Loo and Tealive

Our interview with Bryan Loo took place a couple of weeks before the Malaysian courts dismissed the injunction brought by La Kaffa International Co Ltd, owner of Chatime, to halt the operations of Tealive, the recently unveiled venture by Bryan’s Loob Holdings. Following the news, Bryan in a Facebook post stated, “Let us now focus on serving our customers to the best of our ability and let our products and passion speak for themselves.”

That means that with the fracas now laid to rest, Loob Holdings can now focus on building on the early success of Tealive by looking to the region as the next phase of expansion.

“Right now it is our own brand and we are very excited,” said Bryan during an interview with Prestige. “We feel the new horizon has almost no boundary.”

As the first step, Loob Holdings is looking to Vietnam with the goal of setting up its first outlet by the end of August, and approximately five outlets by the end of year.

“We are a little different from other brands,” Bryan explained. “When they talk about going international, they are usually selling a franchise overseas. For us, we are going there to set up our own base.”

The plan is to build that base from scratch and establish 20 outlets in 2018. It is challenging, he admitted, but it is what the company does best.

“We have never been good in franchising because we are very protective of the brand,” Bryan said. “Our first thought of going international was to directly own and operate. The thing we need to do is find very strong local partners and do a JV but still lead the operations.”

Vietnam, he emphasised, is a booming market. Apart from the fact he personally is quite fond of Saigon, he added that the country is made of a young population with a high disposable income.

“It is the most relevant market for our category,” he asserted.

That is reinforced by the fact that Bryan just had that “comfortable feeling that something is going to be right. I think a lot of time investments are 50% what you can control and 50% what you can’t control. That has a lot to do with how you feel.”

The young entrepreneur candidly admitted that “numbers” are not his thing. In fact, the  Biotechnology graduate good-humouredly said the reason he decided to pursue the subject was because there was no math involved.

“I hate numbers,” he said. “But the way I compensate for that is I have people around me who are very good with numbers, which in my case is my sister. She is very good at numbers and very good at processes. I am in total contrast of her. I am about the big picture. I like the big vision. Intuition plays a big part in my life but I feel that you constantly be mindful that intuition can be good and can be bad. Intuition backed by numbers make perfect decisions. My intuition must always match with my sister’s numbers. I am always the one giving a lot of wild ideas and she is always the one to reject most of them!”

Six years after entering the market, spearheading the bubble tea craze, Bryan is now experiencing a bit of déjà vu, tasked with the goal of growing a brand once again. It is, however, something that he embraces.

“I cannot accept being relaxed,” he affirmed. “In the working world, I cannot be sitting without telling myself the three things I want to achieve each and every day. I push myself by asking what I was not here today? Being an entrepreneur, there is already a mindset that there is no turning back. There is no full stop. There is a constant speed consistent with the things you want to achieve. You have to go all the way, good or bad, it doesn’t matter. You have to keep walking.”

For more on Bryan Loo’s journey as an entrepreneur, get a copy of Prestige Malaysia’s June 2017 issue