10 June 2021,
Aida’s eagerness to learn and grow throughout the LIF programme allowed her to pivot from her original product idea, Energy Gum, to recognising that an energy drink product had more potential. Her energy drink, UnaCoffee, quickly scaled from its pilot stage, developing into a commercialised business within 6 months, with a revenue of $131k.
UnaCoffee is a low caffeine, high protein energy drink infused with vitamin B complex to boost energy at the molecular level. UnaCoffee also uses nano sugar which is a low in the glycaemic index and has little effect on blood sugar levels.
In 2020, UnaCoffee won three awards: Gold Medal at the International Invention and Innovation Exhibition (ITEX), Gold Medal at the Invention, Innovation and Design Exposition (IIDEX) and selected as a Finalist, Malaysia Commercialisation Year (MCY2020) organised by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).
UnaCoffee’s growth has also see Aida significantly expand her network of agents and resellers to over 110, whilst also creating additional employment to support increased production demand. Through UnaCoffee, Aida has employed stay-at-home mothers who can now work remotely whilst securing an income. This is something she is particularly proud of because she’s been able to give back to her community by employing people whose livelihoods were directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst the pandemic impacted everyone in one way or another, Aida turned the challenge into an opportunity to think about strategy, structure and business, moving her sales online. The lockdown affected her business supply chain but this presented an opportunity for Aida and her team to re-strategise in order to respond to a steep spike in demand, with over 2000 bottles of UnaCoffee ordered in a week following their new online marketing and media campaign.
Partnerships and collaborations have increased visibility of UnaCoffee products through specific channels to their target markets. At the heart of UnaCoffee and Aida’s vision, is a powerful sense of giving back and supporting local communities. UnaCoffee is a brand under Aida’s startup, Fav Food Industries. She’s passionate about supporting others as well as having her own successful business. Through Fav Food Industries, she has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian Academy of Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development (MASMED), Universiti Teknologi MARA and with their joint sponsorship, Aida will be leading the ‘FeedYourFuture’ programme to develop the culture of entrepreneurship and increase employability skills across the state.
Aida is aware 2021/2022 will likely be a tough year for all entrepreneurs and businesses. She hopes to sustain the business in the year ahead and benefit others around her, including her agents, resellers and community. She also has visions for 2022, when she hopes to open her coffee café and export UnaCoffee to international markets.
Aida’s advice for budding entrepreneurs are:
- Know your target market – make sure your product solves a problem for them.
- Stay positive, optimistic and opportunistic.
- Never give up!
We are thrilled with Aida’s success over the past year and wish her, UnaCoffee and Fav Food Industries all the best in the future!
Aida is a senior lecturer in the Food Science and Technology Department, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia. She holds a PhD in Food and Enzyme Biotechnology from Universiti Putra, Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia.