Singaporean celebrity couple is seeking their fortune in Malaysia by setting up a chain of cupcake outlets in the Klang Valley.
So far, former beauty queen Jaime Teo and radio deejay Daniel Ong already have two cupcake outlets, known as Twelve Cupcakes, in Petaling Jaya. The third one is opening in Kuala Lumpur this weekend.
The first outlet is located in Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre. It was set up late last year. The second bakery is in 1Utama, which was opened last Monday. The third one will be launched in the Mid Valley Megamall.
The Malaysia chain marks the Twelve Cupcakes fourth Asian country.
However, they are not going to just stop there. The couple saw big money in the little cakes and next on their list are United Arab Emirates, China, Japan, Korea and India.
They also don’t see their Malaysia venture as an entry into the red ocean or intimidated by the already existed local cupcakes businesses.
“I believe our cupcakes taste different from others. Besides reducing the sweetness to suit the Asian palate, we are baking our cupcakes fresh daily. We do not sell overnight cupcakes,” said Ong.
“Using more expensive ingredients, we bake our cupcakes in small batches for fluffier cakes with homemade feel and taste.
“We know the consistency in our cakes will win the discerning cupcake lovers across Asia.”
Teo concurs, saying that customers always looking for more choices and there was always room for “quality” gourmet desserts.
Aside Malaysia, Twelve Cupcakes has 12 outlets in Singapore, nine in Jakarta, four in Taiwan and three each in Hong Kong and Manila.
In Singapore alone, they have sold over three million cupcakes since July 2011.
Featuring more than 60 flavours, the trademark concept and design of their outlets carry a white simplicity theme in order to highlight the colourful display of their cupcakes.
“The name, Twelve Cupcakes signifies the number ‘12’ which is significant in our lives — for 12 strikes in a perfect game of bowling, 12 months in a year, 12 numbers on a clock and of course, the 12 holes in a typical baking tray,” said Ong.
He said they saw good business opportunity in Malaysia after looking at the market surveys.
Teo, one of Singapore’s favourite TV personalities and crowned Miss Singapore Universe 2001, said their basic strategy was to deliver only freshly baked cupcakes.
“This is our promise. No gimmicks — just a really good cupcake.”
The couple hopes Twelve Cupcakes will grow through word of mouth.
“We usually don’t open with a big bang. We like to fine-tune our operation first. We like people to discover us rather than advertising our business. It doesn’t really take long before anyone know about our cupcakes – through their friends.”
Teo said their cupcakes have survived the test of time.
“What is great about our cupcakes are that one could get a taste of different flavours at a manageable size without having to share.”
Teo has a love for baking and it was a television show that spurred her to start the business.
“When I saw DC Cupcakes programme on the television, I told Dan that I love to own a cupcake shop just like the one in the show. Being an entrepreneur he is, he immediately got down to the “cupcake project,” she said.
They complement each other to start the business. Ong is the business strategist and Teo works on the creative aspects of the cupcakes – creating flavours and coming up with marketing and promotional features.
But despite the long hours in running their own business, the couple managed to find balance and time for their one-year-old daughter, Renee.
They also found they have more time now, given the flexibility, than what they were doing previously. It also gave them the ultimate sense of self-fulfilment and satisfaction.
Ong, who admitted of being a foodie, said the setting up of the business was timely and together with his interests in construction, interior design and food, it has given him the added advantage to be really in charge of the entire project.
“So far, there are no regrets even though there have been many sleepless nights,” he said.
He said they also like to see happy customers.
“It is rewarding to see the Likes on Facebook, the over 10,000 tagged pictures (#twelvecupcakes) on Instagram and the look of happy faces of customers enjoying the cupcakes,” said Teo.
To remain competitive in the market, Teo said they have to find new flavours, with imported ingredients and overseas trips to shop and look for new recipes, every month.
But the challenge, she said, is to get the right ingredients, taste and flavour the people like.
She said it takes a bit of a risk sometime to ensure they have the right formula.
Teo said she got her inspirations from everywhere to create the taste for their cupcakes.
“Call me obsessive, but I’m constantly thinking about the next flavour,” she said.
She said in one of her promotions, they offered chilli chocolate cupcake but only the adventurous customers tried and liked it.
To ensure Twelve Cupcakes gets the attention, the freshly baked cupcakes are decorated and displayed in such a way that customers would get the “free smells”.
She said all their cupcakes undergone stringent baking and handling requirements to ensure quality.
To reward and inform loyal patrons, Twelve Cupcakes will also launch its smartphone apps soon said Teo.