If recently we shared an inspiring story of Malaysian entrepreneur who won RM3.36mil deal with Shark Tank investors, this time another Malaysian entrepreneur succeed in getting an investment for his Mak Tok’s chilli paste pitch. But, it’s on another BBC reality show, named Dragons’ Den – it is somewhat like Shark Tank’s older sibling. The reality show is where entrepreneurs come and pitch their business ideas to potential investors with the hopes of getting some capital to take their business to the next level.
William Chew’s personal story made the judges cry and impressed them
William Chew was the last of five startup entrepreneurs in the programme’s episode three to try their luck in getting an investment. His pitch impressed one of the judges Sarah Davies who found the similarity between them as she founded a retail business while at university – same goes to William.
She then offered William RM257,000 with William’s cousin who works together for Mak Tok’s chilli paste and also offered a stake in the business.
How did he end up selling Mak Tok’s chilli paste in the UK?
Hailing from Penang, William majored in Psychology at the Department of Psychology, Sunway University from 2010 to 2013. Upon graduating from Sunway University, did a Master degree in the Psychology of Music at the University of Sheffield, UK. As he completed his Masters Dissertation, he did musical learning consultant business but he found that he had a lot of spare time because it is seasonal.
One day, he went on to recreate his mother’s sambal because he was homesick. From a simple cooking, he got an idea to make it as a side business and bring the Mak Tok’s chilli paste as one of the most recognisable brands in the world.
The story how his chilli paste got its name
As he was recreating his mother’s chilli paste, he found that something was missing but he couldn’t find the missing ingredient. William shared that he was teaching music to the grandson of a kind Malay lady, whom he called Mak Tok. It was Mak Tok who came to his rescue and sent him the best quality anchovies that were missing from his chilli paste. As the chilli paste is completed, he gave the honour to the late Mak Tok for the name.
From a humble kitchen to supermarkets in the UK
William started the chilli paste business with his cousin after he completed his studies. Mak Tok’s Chilli paste is made at a friend’s factory. They can be found in farm shops and local delis as well as a chain of supermarkets across Yorkshire.
He almost got rejected by all judges in the BBC show
William said that the nerve-wracking moment was when he couldn’t come up with his sales figures when the judges asked so. However, he didn’t give up and pinning his final hope on Sarah Davies the fifth judge. As Davies offered him the funds he needed, he broke down in tears.
The Mak Tok’s chilli paste had won several awards
William was the winner of the 2017 Evolve Business Competition, Fine Food Digest Editor’s Choice in 2018 and finalist for The Pitch by Deloitte. He was also awarded the Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award. Furthermore, he was also a finalist for the Sheffield Business Award in 2017. Just recently, he won 2 Launchpad awards – Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 and Most Inspiring Entrepreneur Award.