PETALING JAYA: They say you’re never too young to go into business. Well, entrepreneurs Teh Chun Kai and Teh Qiu Xuan from Penang are living proof of this.
When he was 12, Chun Kai and his sister would sell stationery and comic books to schoolmates and neighbours to earn extra pocket money. With the advent of social media, the George Town-born pair moved their venture online.
Chun Kai, now 30, credits these early experiences for instilling in him the foundations of running a retail business, including working with suppliers, social selling, logistics, and customer retention.
He and his 26-year-old sister continued to run a micro-business while attending university. Even then, they had already planned to expand their business upon graduating, instead of pursuing other jobs.
“Gradually, we set out to transform our little comic book and stationery shop into something more,” Chun Kai told FMT Lifestyle.
Today, the siblings run Komic, a highly successful online store selling merchandise – including apparel, bags, stationery, and home appliances – from popular local and global brands such as Disney, My Little Pony and Hello Kitty, as well as Malaysia’s own Boboiboy and Mechamoto.
The store officially launched in 2009, after Chun Kai and Qiu Xuan raised enough capital from investors. “We deal in and distribute authentic international brands, catering to fans and collectors of all kinds in Malaysia,” he explained.
Business has been brisk: with over 18,000 unique items on sale, Komic saw approximately 50,000 customers over the past year alone. Their personal record is more than 22,000 transactions over 11 days for the Disney Tsum Tsum brand.
The company went through choppy waters at first. “Our early days were chaotic as we worked to fulfil orders, in addition to managing other aspects such as marketing, customer engagement and after-sales service,” Chun Kai recalled.
An even bigger challenge soon emerged: as they sold trademarked products, Komic needed to provide evidence to online platforms and customers that they were authorised sellers who offered genuine products.
In 2010, the siblings decided to approach the Walt Disney Company to pitch themselves as an official brand merchandiser.
Many felt this was an audacious decision – but to their delight, the US entertainment giant agreed, and Komic was given the official rights to sell Disney items.
Three years later, Komic set up shop on the Lazada online platform. Attaining verification from the site proved to be a game-changer: it established they were authentic sellers of online merchandise, providing customers with the full confidence to buy from them.
Today, Komic employs a permanent in-house team of 30 staff, alongside about 70 contract workers. Last year, they opened their first physical store in Penang’s Sunway Carnival Mall.
The company also organises pop-up events all over the state about eight times a year, and hopes to launch more physical outlets in the Klang Valley soon.
For Chun Kai, the best part of the business is in seeing the delight of their customers with their purchases, especially children. After all, Komic’s mission is to deliver joy and help bring people’s dreams to life, he said.
“When I reflect on our journey, it’s incredible that something that started as a childhood passion project for me and my sister has become a thriving omni-channel business,” he added.
“For other young aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as established brick-and-mortar sellers out there, be brave and expand your wings – just find the right e-commerce platform that can support and empower you towards success.”