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Leveraging on his experiences in food technology and pharmaceutical sales, dynamic entrepreneur Wallace Teoh went on to establish his own health supplement brand based on olive extracts. In an interview with TMV, the founder of Nutriva International Sdn Bhd talks about the reasons for the success of his olive supplements enterprise and the brand values that he had created.
“I wanted to create a brand that will make people think about my company immediately. When people think of olive extracts or olive supplements, they would think of my company,” says Wallace Teoh, the founder of Nutriva International Sdn Bhd.
Based on his past experience in food technology and pharmaceutical sales for many years, Teoh believes that, in addition, to developing product quality and assurance, creating value for the brand is essential in building a successful business.
Nutriva International Sdn Bhd produces health beverages and superfoods, Nutriva, and olive extracts supplements, Oliferin. Since olive extracts are known worldwide to have health benefits and olive trees cannot be grown in Malaysia’s tropical weather, Teoh seized the opportunity to create a demand and value for olive-extracts supplements in the country. His company imports olive extracts from Spain and produces and distributes Oliferin supplements in Malaysia.
As soon as Teoh had graduated from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) with a food technology degree, he secured a research and development job in Unilever. During his two-year career in Unilever, Teoh learned a lot about consumer products, from R&D formulations, factory production processes to quality assurance, control and branding.
“But I soon realised that a working career at Unilever was not what I wanted. I had always wanted to run my own business. I knew that sales were very important in business, but I had very little sales experience as I was mainly at the back-end doing research in the company. So, I left my job at Unilever and moved on to a sales job of selling credit cards,” says Teoh with a smile.
After three months of selling credit cards, Teoh landed a job with Pfizer Malaysia Sdn Bhd. During his six years there, he gained sales knowledge and experience in pharmaceutical products, scientific studies, clinical results, health regulatory standards, and most importantly, built trust and rapport with pharmacies and doctors. “As expected, I lost sight of my original ambitions to set up my own business,” laments Teoh. “However, I met an ex-colleague of mine who spurred me to have a go at entrepreneurship. He had a similar goal and regretted for not pursuing it when he was younger.”
Teoh then quit his job at Pfizer and realised that health supplements were high in demand among consumers. “Rather than starting my business in supplements right away, I worked for a supplements company. There, I studied the intricacies of running such a business, including the effective way to sell supplement products to major pharmacies and payment terms and conditions,” says Teoh.
“I left the company after some nine months there to set up my own company specialising in olive extracts supplements. Within three months of my first engagement with a company based in Spain, I started production. My company chalked up some RM800,000 in sales six months after our first production,” reveals Teoh.
“We also entered into exclusive partnerships with our European contacts where our company would need to meet their orders. With that, we produced a wide range of olive extracts-based products for different health categories from prevention of cardiovascular diseases, relief of joint and muscular pain to children’s health and immunity, skincare and skin whitening.”
As consumers continue to value the benefits of olive extracts, Teoh is working towards exporting his supplements across Asia and expanding his product offerings in different health categories. With the expansion, the company is planning to increase its production capacity and to eventually manage their entire production and quality in Kuala Lumpur.
“We want our products to be effective and beneficial to consumers, potentially to be at par with those of drug companies. We aim for our products to be used as treatments rather than just as health supplements only,” says Teoh.