Authored by: Alison Wong, Raja Aided, Pharveish a/l Selvam, Chuan Wei Jian, Lim Wei Han
Johor Bahru, 20th June 2022. -UTM’s course SCSD3761 TECHNOPRENEURSHIP SEMINAR provides students with the guidelines and knowledge to organize a number of entrepreneurship talks with the involvement of successful entrepreneurs to share tips and knowledge in starting a new business. The talks were open to all UTM students through the group’s preferred platforms. One of the talks was ‘Journey to Agropreneurship’ by Good Group on 16 April 2022, which introduced us to the establishment of a company called the Mush. Co Sdn Bhd.
The founder of Mush.Co Sdn. Bhd, Mr Mohamad Faiz bin Zainudin, was born on 17 September 1996. He is from Segamat, Johor and was a student taking a Bachelor’s of Management (Technology) degree at UTM Azman Hashim International Business School (AHIBS). Mr Faiz is also the President of Pertubuhan Usahawan Industri Cendawan Malaysia. Mr Faiz shared that he is actually skilled and possesses knowledge in the shipping industry, as he has worked for the industry before. After studying for one year, he planned to set up his own company. Previously, Mr Faiz is the owner of four companies. Unfortunately, due to an unexpected outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), he could not continue running one of the company’s operations because it was an event management company. Mr Faiz shared that he is now focusing on Mush.Co Sdn Bhd, which ventures in agrobusiness. Mush.Co Sdn Bhd was registered as a private limited company (Pte Ltd) in December of 2021 and has grown very much since.
Mush.Co was established in November of 2019. However, Mush.Co was not registered as a company in the first year. The brand was officially registered as Mush.Co Sdn.Bhd. on 14 December 2020. Based on the sharing from Mr Faiz, the naming of Mush.Co is divided into two parts, where ‘Mush’ stands for mushroom and ‘Co’ stands for cooperation. Mush.Co is an agricultural-based company that provides different types of products and services. The main products of Mush.Co is a variety of fresh mushrooms, mushroom growing services, platforms, and sawdust by-products. Other than that, Mush.Co also provides training. Their team will usually conduct training every month, sometimes even every week. There are 8 people that are considered to be working under Mr Faiz, but he has always treated them as his teammates. There is a business consultant that always helps him to develop his company, which is UTMXcite. The team is constantly undergoing research and development projects to make Mush.Co more compatible in the local market. One of their innovations includes their mushroom houses using an IoT system. The IoT used is a system that can control the humidity, temperature and ventilation of the mushroom houses by using smartphones. This innovation enables Mr Faiz to control, conduct and give instructions to his teammates wherever he is.
Mr Faiz shared how he managed to start and maintain his business while studying. Mr Faiz said that he previously worked for a shipping company. He remembered that the working mode in that company was really exhausting as he needed to work for about 12 hours a day. In addition, he was planning to further his study at that time. Hence, Mr Faiz quit his position and continued his studies at AHIBS UTM. He joined Kooperasi Mahasiswa UTM and attended some events conducted by the Kooperasi. At the end of the day, Mr Faiz got some ideas to start his first business. When we asked why Mr Faiz had the intention to kickstart his business specifically in the mushroom agriculture industry, he answered that the failure in operating his first event management company because of the COVID-19 pandemic taught him that agricultural-based business would be easier to survive in the current market. He also mentioned that this pandemic has actually helped his team develop and increase business sales. After two years of hard work, Mush.Co now has three branches, located in Kempas, Bandar Dato Onn and Pasir Gudang, Johor. At the moment, Mr Faiz and his team are doing some collaborative projects with the government. They received funds of about RM300,000 from the government to help develop the urban farming project in Johor Bahru. The team is now targeting to export their products to our neighboring country, Singapore. Nevertheless, Mr Faiz shared his view that his team still faced the problem of insufficient mushroom supply. Mush.Co could currently only fulfil 20 per cent of local mushroom demand. As for the other 80 per cent, they are still imported from other countries like China and Thailand. In addition, Mush.Co is undergoing some construction on mushroom projects, for instance, the building of a mushroom house. Thus, Mr Faiz hoped that Mush.Co could get more tenders from the government.
The biggest challenge he faced was definitely during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown period. The government made the decision to lock down the whole country including all of the business areas to reduce the infection rates. At that time, the supplier of Mush.Co had no choice but to close their doors and thus become unavailable to provide the materials for the company during the Movement Control Order (MCO). This caused the production to a halt and the company had to stop their operations for about 2-3 months. However, Mr Faiz was able to overcome this hard time and increase the sales after the situation had become better.
Mr Faiz claims that the biggest factor that aids him in being successful is his mindset as it plays a major role. To become a leader or the owner of a company, you need to possess a strong mindset and also the willpower to never give up even if the odds are against you. He also stresses that young entrepreneurs should not be afraid to venture and try new things. Besides that, Mr Faiz started the company as a 4th-year Technology Management student at (UTM) and prioritized both his education as well as business. He balanced the two by planning out his schedule so that he would be able to excel at both. He is also thankful for having two inspiring and motivating mentors, Mr Mokhtar and Mr Najib, who gave him valuable guidance at the start of his journey in indoor mushroom farming. One of the most important concepts that he learnt from them and still practices today is to always share your knowledge with others. Through this, you will be able to expand your network and gain insights from the people surrounding you. In terms of future endeavours, he plans on growing Mush.Co by expanding his business and becoming one of the pioneers and leading businesses in the mushroom industry. Mr Faiz is also focusing on mushrooms with medicinal properties as they have higher value and potential in the market and will be able to cure a number of illnesses.
Some advice that Mr Faiz gave during the talk is to ask yourself questions when you are in doubt. Is entrepreneurship for me? Is this the right time for me to become an entrepreneur? What do I need to achieve? He recommends that we divide our time wisely, as time management is the most important factor that leads your business to success. Schedule your plans and write down a daily goal, and arrange them into three parts which are studies, personal life, and business.
In conclusion, Mr Faiz’s inspirational journey yields inspiring and positive lessons that the audience could learn so many things from. The key points gained from this talk will prove useful and worthy of learning when any students plan to start their own entrepreneurship journey.