Success did not come instantly to local entrepreneur, George Ang, whose company today owns more than 35 restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Boasting an annual turnover exceeding RM75 million, Revenue Valley Sdn Bhd is a holding company that owns some of the popular casual dining restaurants in Malaysia like The Manhattan FISH MARKET, Tony Roma’s, London Fish Tales and TOKYO.g.
“While studying in Australia, I was also working at several established restaurants to partially fund my own education,” he said. “I have worked as a cook, a kitchen hand, a waiter and even a dishwasher. Therefore, I am not ashamed even today, if you happen to visit one of the restaurants under my care, you may just be lucky enough to have me, the waiter, serving you!”
On being an Entrepreneur
It took a dream to become an entrepreneur – especially a successful one!
“I always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur (although not necessarily in the food business) and for the first seven years of my career when I was involved in the corporate banking, I was always reading and exploring what business to get myself into,” he recalled. “There are always the ups and downs in being an entrepreneur, but I have always enjoyed the ride and not regretted anything.” Ang started his business when he was still a bachelor boy. There were fewer commitments then, and the fear of failing was much lesser.
In retrospect, he admitted: “If you asked me to start all over again today, maybe I may think twice! If I had the opportunity to reverse the clock, I would have chosen to get married earlier, start my business when I was younger and make better plans!”
Having become a successful entrepreneur, Ang encouraged students to be more enterprising. “Seriously, if you are aspiring to be an entrepreneur, you first must enjoy the process, instead of thinking of becoming a millionaire overnight. To me, it is the process of learning and to pick one self up after falling that is more fun,” he said.
His two other close friends, Dr. Jeffrey Goh and Dickson Low, joined him to start the first Manhattan FISH MARKET brand outlet in MidValley Megamall in 2002. Within the span of seven years, the Group has grown by leaps and bounds.
In 2005, his company was nominated for the Golden Bull Award as one of the emerging SMEs; at the same time, he managed to secure the Master Franchise for the popular American casual dining restaurant chain famous for its ribs and steaks called Tony Roma’s. In 2008, the Manhattan FISH MARKET was awarded the winner of SMEs Best Brand in Asia Pacific for Western Seafood category. His motto has always been: “Failure is a step closer to success; therefore, never ever give up at the first sign of failure! If you have that attitude, you will somehow succeed.”
The former old boy of Gajah Berang Secondary School Melaka does not forget his roots, especially people who have made strong impressions in his teenage years.
His time at Sunway
“You always remember the people who made an impact on your life,” he told us. He attributes whatever knowledge he now has in Accounting to one accounting lecturer, Mrs Lim, whom he describes as being “very strict.” Other names like First Year Economics lecturer, Ms Wong and English Literature lecturer, Ms Siva, still stick on his mind until today. In fact, he still remembers a famous line from his Mathematics teacher, Mr. Manaf, who used to say that, `life can be much more interesting than just Mathematics!’
After spending two years at the then Sunway College, Ang then left for Perth to pursue his Second and Third Year undergrad studies and finally graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (major in Finance & Accounting) in 1993.
When he first joined the then Sunway College in 1990 to do his TEE (now known as Australian Matriculation), he was a young man hailing from Melaka. “It was a huge learning curve for me. My first impressions were that people seemed more complicated, well-to-do, and showy,” he said.
Gradually, he began to love student life. His favourite hang out was at the snooker centre across the old Sunway College building in PJ New Town. “There were quite a lot of distractions to our studies, compared to the campus at Bandar Sunway that we have today. Almost every weekend we would end up going to DV8, a disco near the college for dance and drinks.”
The Manhattan FISH MARKET brand is gaining popularity. Recently, another outlet was set up in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
With the aggressive growth, Ang expects Revenue Valley Sdn Bhd will hit a turnover of RM100 million for the financial year ending 2009. The company currently owns 100% of MFM Restaurants Sdn Bhd which operates The Manhattan FISH MARKET restaurants in Malaysia. It also owns 100% of MFM Restaurants Pte Ltd, which operates The Manhattan FISH MARKET restaurants in Singapore, besides owning 50% of MFM Restaurants (Thailand) Co. Ltd which operates The Manhattan FISH MARKET restaurants in Thailand.
In 2005, the company set up Grandpolitan Sdn Bhd (with 100% equity) to operate the Master Franchise of Tony Roma’s in Malaysia. Revenue Valley now owns 100% share of Sushi Groove Sdn Bhd, which operates TOKYO.g restaurants in Malaysia.
“I hope to continue building great retail brands, which again may not be necessarily in the food business. Despite an accounting background, I enjoy reading Marketing books more than any other literature, and recently, I had a rare opportunity to meet Mr Philip Kotler, the Father of Modern Marketing himself!”
As far as Ang is concerned, he is prepared to face any challenges in bringing his business to new frontiers. For young entrepreneurs, he advised: “If you have to swim against the tide, it’s better than to give up and end up in the fish market.”