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Suthan Mookaiah : Bringing technology into a traditional industry

While the pandemic may have shut down his international mobile content service provider’s tech office, Suthan Mookaiah has opened another door to a pandemic-proof business – BeliGas Malaysia, a gas delivery service that allows you to order cooking gas online.

Suthan Mookaiah is the founder and CEO of BeliGas Malaysia. He is also an Adjunct Professor (Adj) at Taylors University’s Subang Lakeside Campus, where he teaches Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

He began the company with no prior experience in the operation of a gas delivery business and gradually improved along the way. BeliGas Malaysia has managed to bring in their first RM1 million in revenue within 6 months after selling 2 barrels of gas per day for the first week of operation.

Most Malaysians are accustomed to picking up the phone and dialling the number of the nearest shop that sells cooking gas in order to arrange for gas delivery. Suthan, taking context from many other businesses that have gone digital during the pandemic, seized the opportunity to revamp this traditional industry by founding BeliGas Malaysia, a gas delivery service that allows you to order cooking gas through their website or the BeliGas app.

Suthan decided that since he had to close the local tech office of an international mobile content service provider due to the pandemic in March 2020, the next business he wanted to start should be one that is not affected by the pandemic. His reasoning led him to consider cooking gas, which is a necessity in many Malaysian households. With his experience in the tech industry, where lifetime value (LTV) and customer satisfaction are important, he brought these values to BeliGas Malaysia, allowing people to not only easily order cooking gas online, but also to have a good experience doing so.

The first BeliGas Malaysia outlet opened in Bandar Mahkota Cheras in July 2020. Suthan had to learn and adapt during the early phases of his firm because he had no network and no experience in the logistics and operation of a gas delivery business. For the first week, he delivered two barrels of gas each day, and within six months, his company had grown to include one warehouse, ten outlets, and 40+ employees, bringing in their first RM1 million in sales. To date, an average of 9,000 gas cylinders have been sold per month, with internet orders accounting for 30% of total sales. Before the first year anniversary of BeliGas Malaysia’s operation, he wants to increase the size of his company.

To demonstrate their dedication to social principles, BeliGas Malaysia is registered as a social enterprise with MaGIC and accredited by MPC under the Shared Prosperity Organization (eSPO). With many Malaysians losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic, Suthan wishes to give back to society by hiring solely Malaysians for his company; more than half of his employees are from the B40. In addition, last year he implemented the CSR BeliGas Prihatin Program, which provided low-cost cooking gas to NGOs, frontline organisations fighting the pandemic, and places of worship.

SUthan end the interview with a word of advice, “The most important part of the business is the fundamentals. You need to know your numbers, keep a sharp eye on profit margin after expenses, and start with a scale that the individual is comfortable in. Don’t be shy to start small, or take baby steps. What matters is that YOU take a step forward daily!”

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