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If you think that companies are big just because they have always been big since the beginning, well you might just be in for a surprise. Whether it’s zero to hero or rags to riches, most giant corporations in the world have their humble beginnings before making it big in the scene.

Not too long ago, we have started a thing of our own as well. We call it One Nation Fits All (ONFA) – a movement that seeks to unite the Malaysian people. There was no date more fitting than 16 September 2015 to launch the brand, which was in conjunction with Malaysia Day.

We’ve been Malaysians for 52 years, however most of us still label ourselves by our races – Melayu, Cina, India or Dan lain-lain. But we know we are more than that, which is why ONFA intends to act as a platform for Malaysians to express themselves and to share with people about what they would like to be known, as it’s closer to their hearts.

Just over the weekend, ONFA held its first on-ground booth at Bangsar Village II in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. We had the first-hand experience of being on-ground and were there to engage people and explain to them the concept behind ONFA, which is to unite Malaysians one t-shirt at a time.

As a company that started out from social media, we hope to make our mark in the market as well, therefore by going out there and made ourselves seen and heard was a great step that we’ve taken.

As we go about building our brand ONFA, let’s take a look at some of these companies that built its own empire from the ground up.

Secret Recipe

Secret Recipe is a lifestyle café chain in Malaysia, which was founded by Datuk Steven Sim in 1997. The café is best known for its extensive range of cakes and fusion meals.

At that time, The Kelantanese born entrepreneur found a gap in the food business whereby hotels were serving fine dining and regular food outlets only offered simple dishes and were less hygienic. There wasn’t a casual dining place where people can enjoy good food in a nice ambience, which doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket.

And that was how Secret Recipe started. Its first outlet was opened in SS2 Petaling Jaya. Due to a lack of budget in advertising, Sim took marketing into his own hands by serving free coffee to his customers. Sure enough, the café slowly gained rave reviews and has since established itself as one of the fastest growing lifestyle café chain in the region with over 300 café outlets to date including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Australia.

What began as a single newsstand in 1Utama has now become the retail press-and-convenience store that we came to know about in shopping malls that is Founded by Dang Tai Luk, its first store was opened on 25 December 1996.

Dang got into the newsstand business sort of by accident because he was mainly motivated by the fact that the lot was created for a newsstand and tit-bits store and the budget limitation. MagBit was the initial name of the store but decided to change it to as he intended to incorporate online business to the brand as well.

To date, it has more than 200 stores across Malaysia and has over 600 employees.


Founded in August 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a website for people to list, discover, and rent lodging around the world.

AirBnB was the braindchild of roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. At the time, they couldn’t afford the rent for their loft in San Francisco so they made do with their living room and turned it into a bed and breakfast. They were able to accommodate three guests on airbeds and providing homemade breakfast.

It was initially named and was then shortened to in March 2009. As the company continued to experience growth, it has since expanded their accommodation listing from airbeds and shared spaces to a variety of properties including homes, castles, boats, igloos and even private islands. As of today, it has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

What we can observe from the above success stories is that they started off having a physical presence and later on leveraging on social media. No doubt we’re now living in a digital world where it’s all about social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But we can never deny the fact that being on-ground and physically present is equally important as well and in fact it makes a bigger impact than it is online. We need to be able to engage our customers not only on social networking platforms but also on a face-to-face setting.

Speaking from experience, nothing beats the human touch to a product because when you communicate and interact with your customers, you’re able to sell your idea and concepts in a more authentic way and it’s also a way for your customers to experience your brand.

How would you grow your brand using social media as well as being on-ground?
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