We go behind the scenes of the latest F&B openings to find out the challenges and highlights.
Who: Rodney Tang, Managing Director of RTG Holdings
Hometown: Sibu, Sarawak
Brands: 11 in total, including LiHo (own concept) and franchises for Ne Ne Chicken, Paik’s Bibim, Paik’s Coffee and Bornga.
What did you do before you became an F&B entrepreneur?
I was a project manager at Nokia. It gives me great satisfaction when I solve customers’ needs.
As an entrepreneur, what motivates you?
I’m always on the lookout for new challenges as that keeps me on my feet. Becoming too comfortable with where you are doesn’t only breed complacency—it’s boring too. I brought Gong Cha to Singapore in 2009, and after the agreement expired on 31 Dec, I decided not to continue under the new terms.
This is your first brand created from scratch. What was the hardest part of this process?
The point of decision. As much as it was a personal desire to set up LiHo, I wanted my team to be comfortable with the decision to start a new brand and give up another; one that we’ve grew for the last eight years. It’s important that we work together and support one another to make LiHO successful. Once we decided that we wanted to do this, it definitely involved lots of hard work such as sourcing for our own suppliers, creating our tea blends and the cheese mix etc. Having everyone on the same page really helped.
What gave you the idea for cheese tea?
Cheese is popular in Singapore, so we wanted to create something different with it. This won’t be the last time we’ll be introducing interesting twists. For the cheese drinks series, I enjoy the hot Cheese Jing Syuan Tea very much. Once people try it, they’re sold. I’m a foodie who will not sell something I personally wouldn’t eat.
How hands on are you with LiHo?
I can’t draw, so thankfully for all of us I engaged a designer to create the logo! I give the direction in all aspects of my business—this applies to LiHO and all the other brands RTG manages. I already had something in mind for LiHO’s logo, the brand’s look and feel (which translates to the designs of our marketing collateral), the taste of our tea blends, the consistency of our cheese topping, right down to the type of quality and feel of the cups.
What’s one creative aspect you are happiest about?
That I now have the creative freedom to do whatever I need to do to please my customers. The lion in the LiHO logo reflects my personality perfectly. What’s the best business advice you’ve heard? Stay focused, because we all have limited resources.