Five years ago, Sarawakian Heineken Laluan founded an e-commerce website, Timogah with no actual idea on what to sell. Fast forward to today, Timogah has evolved into a platform that bridges small, rural farmers to local communities.
Bridging small farmers with the community
dedication, determination and perseverance. Those are the things that made Timogah the brand that it is today. Founded by Sarawakian Heineken Laluan, the brand name simply means ‘famous’ in Bidayuh. Heineken said that he chose the name in hopes of becoming a local brand that can inspire Sarawakians to be innovative and aim big.
Having a knack for entrepreneurship since a young age, he became interested when he saw his parents selling vegetables at the market. “From there I trained my entrepreneurial skills, learning to trade with the locals, surrounded by agricultural resources.”
Recalling his days being a student from 2005 to 2007, Heineken shared that he had fallen in love with the concept of e-commerce. “During the time, e-commerce platforms were on the rise. I learned about it through reading books and explored the variants of e-commerce.”
The former Science teacher then took a leap of faith and quit his day job. “Few years down the road, I tried my hands at many businesses. However, my mind was always on e-commerce but back in 2012, it was not sustainable.”
Having tried for many years, he opined that technology was not as modern and the internet was not a common tool back then. “I tried several times, but in my opinion, we are still lagging behind when it comes to modern technology. It was quite a challenge for me then.”
Nonetheless, Heineken said 2017 saw the rise of e-commerce platforms. It was then he decided to register ‘Timogah.com’ as a domain. “I had my previous businesses then, but my head was still wrapped up with the idea of having an e-commerce platform.
“In 2017, I registered Timogah.com as a domain with no actual idea on what to sell. I was thinking that I could blend agricultural produce with e-commerce. And after much observation, I realised that there is much fresh produce from the jungle and small rural farmers with untapped market potential,” he added.
According to Heineken, the concept of Timogah is to be a platform to introduce and provide a place for small farmers from rural areas to market their fresh jungle produce.
Focusing on them, Timogah as a brand helps market and distribute their cash crops. “They don’t have a space to market or sell their products like existing players. Most of them don’t even have internet connection.
“To me, these products are uniquely Borneo. And over time, many of us had learned to explore each other’s food culture. Hence, it is now even more on demand,” he shared.
Starting in 2017, the inception of Timogah.com started to penetrate communities through Facebook. “Since we are new at the time, I promoted the brand via Facebook, starting with a lot of local produce.”
Currently, Timogah’s on-demand vegetables include Terung Dayak, Daun Sabi, Daun Timun, bamboo shoots and many others. “We have different farmers from different communities in Bau, Serian, Puncak Borneo and Semarahan.
“We will reach out to them and have them list out their crops on our website. We also appoint vendors in different markets around Kuching. So when people make an order, we will pick it up and deliver with a charge,” shared Heineken.
Data analysis via mobile application
“As business grew larger, we no longer take orders through our website, but we upgraded so that orders can be made via mobile for more real-time interaction. From vegetables to household items, we also introduced jungle produce recipes in our application,” he revealed.
From the orders made through the application, Timogah conducts data analysis to predict market demands. “With the data, we will be able to know how much the farmers community can produce and when will they harvest. At the same time, we are also able to suggest farmers what can they produce based on current demands.”
Elaborating more on this, Heineken said that through data analysis, farmers can produce accordingly which is a more prudent step. “They will not blindly produce as we can educate and guide them to produce crops based on demand. In my opinion, this can avoid over-production which leads to a price drop in certain products.”
Hoping to grow the Timogah brand, Heineken foresees expansion in the future, especially to other regions in Sarawak such as Sibu, Miri and Bintulu. “I am also planning wto expand to other parts of Malaysia.”