Restoring health and hope
By Renuka Sena October 17, 2016
- "The biggest challenge we face, however, is financing a biotechnology venture in this part of the world"
- Set for an IPO and hopes to promote health benefits of Malaysian fruits and herbs all over the world
When it comes to innovative technology in the 21st century, biotechnology is at the forefront of producing cutting edge, life-changing discoveries. One Malaysian company has carved a name for itself on this exciting new frontier.
Furley Bioextracts Sdn Bhd. may be a renowned herbal research and biotechnology company with its own extraction and manufacturing facilities, but it is first and foremost a family business.
At the helm are Stuart Soo, the company's Managing Director and his son Kelvin Soo (pic above), their Sales and Marketing Director. Together, the father son duo lead an in-house team that researches local fruits and herbs, such as mangosteen and kadok leaf, in order to develop a range of nutritional and pharmaceutical products. They also provide clients, across various industries, with manufacturing facilities and innovative nutraceutical product development.
When the company started out in 2006, it served mainly as a food ingredient trader and while the entire operation was run by just two people, this did little to hamper growth. Due to expertise in coming up with precise and effective formulations, Furley Bioextracts quickly evolved to become a full-blown manufacturer.
As there was increasing demand for nutraceutical powders and beverages, Stuart and Kelvin started to cater to this growing customer base. Within a few years, Furley Bioextracts had established itself as a premium formulator and manufacturer of functional foods. Besides specialising in nutraceutical beverages, it also became known as an expert in producing healthy fruit juice concentrates and powder blending. Today, Furley Bioextracts manufactures an amazing array of nutraceutical powders, beverages and sprays for osteoarthiritis, as well as acne and skin whitening products.
Products that care
Driven by the desire to provide people with affordable access to wound care, Furley Bioextracts developed Spray8, a wound-care spray that provides healing and comfort. Formulated to be all-natural and alcohol free, with bactericidal properties, Spray8 works by reducing inflammation without any pain.
Besides making a product that can help provide relief, the Furley Bioextracts team also wanted to ensure that it could be sold at a price anybody can afford. Explaining why they did this, Kelvin says, "When people who have lost almost all hope of recovering from a condition like apotheosis eczema or cancer use our products and see results, it makes me love what I do."
Road to recognition
Furley Bioextract’s role as a formidable player in the biotechnology industry has now been firmly established, thanks in part to Kelvin’s deft navigation and smart decisions. The company has received numerous awards as well as recognition.
Known for their high manufacturing standards and quality products backed by science, Furley Bioextracts was awarded the Best Innovation Award for Biotechnology & Agro-technology for their low temperature liquid to powder conversion technology in 2013. Their products have also been featured in numerous publications, including The Star, Woman's Weekly, Travel 3Sixty, Going Places, Kunang2, EH!, as well as various media such as Focus Malaysia and BFM.
Despite their stratospheric rise in the industry, Furley Bioextracts still faces a number of challenges. One of the main ones is sourcing a consistent and traceable supply of raw materials. To address this, the company is going into agriculture to ensure that they can solve the supply issue.
Limited resources for marketing and staff for servicing is also another hurdle they are trying to overcome. However, Kelvin has been quick to use his business network to enable them to gain exposure at minimum cost. "The biggest challenge we face, however, is financing a biotechnology venture in this part of the world," says Kelvin. Furthermore, he explains, in trying to strike a promising collaboration, at times things can turn ugly.
For example, there have been occasions when Furley Bioextracts had created a formula for a multinational corporation, only to have them steal their original concept. So while Malaysian companies can certainly create innovative and exciting products with great potential, Kelvin warns that plagiarism happens. "Be sure to safeguard your ideas and innovations," he advises. Despite these pitfalls, Kelvin believes that the right attitude and a positive outlook will always lead to a favourable outcome.
Key to perseverance
Kelvin says that his time with the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP) helped him gain a different perspective and way of thinking. As a result, Furley Bioextracts has become more focused on establishing their brand. “The CGP also helped me have different perspectives of thought because the coaches constantly challenge us to justify our strategies,” says Kelvin.
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As a firm believer in perseverance, Kelvin looks up to business gurus like Li Ka Shing and Robert Kuok. “Though highly successful and respected, they are also humble and low-profile,” says Kelvin. He also finds it admirable that these magnates have never failed to place an emphasis on caring for their families and employees.
Over the past few years, Furley Bioextracts has aggressively pursued Southeast Asian markets, as they expect to see their products distributed to more neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, in the near future, Kelvin says that the company is set to list an IPO and hopes to promote the health benefits of Malaysian fruits and herbs all over the world. Kelvin also expects Furley Bioextracts to pioneer the upstream supply management of raw materials in Malaysia, as well as being actively involved in discovering numerous innovations from raw materials.
The ultimate vision, however, is to be recognised as the premium formulator for functional foods by the public, as well as by key industry players. "We aspire to reach a level where people will think of our formulations and manufacturing services as the gold standard and then be inspired to achieve that standard," expresses Kelvin. Furley Bioextracts also has plans to expand their agricultural division, with continuously standardised advanced tissue culture for bio-actives.
Integrity is everything
Prior to running his own company, Kelvin taught at a university. He has since embraced the life of an entrepreneur and gained a lot of experience in the process. The successful entrepreneur has some sound advice for aspiring up and comers. "Have an open mind and don't let disappointments stop you," he says. “If you should fall down, just dust yourself off and stand up again."
Entrepreneurship, says Kelvin, is for those who want a kaleidoscope of experiences and while there are no fixed answers or ways to do things in business, one thing will stay the same — always do everything with integrity.
Discover Furley Bioextracts at www.furleybio.com
The above is an excerpt from the book Startups to Scaleups published in October 2015 by Cradle Fund and Proficeo Consultants, the programme manager for Cradle’s Coach and Grow Programme. DNA will be featuring every entrepreneurial story from the book in a special commercial arrangement.