EDY ONGKOWIJAYA: UPS AND DOWNS IN BUILDING CULINARY BUSINESS IN SINGAPORE
Learning from Edy Ongkowijaya's culinary career in Singapore
Edy Ongkowijaya has had a wonderful childhood as the son of an automotive entrepreneur. His parents had previously advised him not to pursue his study in Singapore because his father's firm had gone bankrupt. However, his parents' company failure became his encouragement instead. The man, born in 1977, moved to Singapore when he was 18 to continue his high school education.
"My parents begged me to return to Indonesia because I couldn't send any more money. I denied their request and elected to complete my education while running my own firm," he recounts.
Edy must not only pay for his living and school expenses, but he must also send money to his parents and assist his younger sister in attending school in Jakarta. He had to rely on friends several times for a place to stay. Not only that, but Edy has seen firsthand how difficult it is to survive in Singapore on only 50 cents a day.
"I've worked in four different places. I worked as a dishwasher and server in restaurants and hotels," he explained. He also worked as a private tutor and teaches basic badminton to elementary school students.
He had to rely on the charity of the school's cafeteria owner to wrap the leftover side dishes that they were going to throw away. Edy had been living on instant noodles and white bread for nearly a month. Edy was almost disheartened when he discovered he had a girlfriend from an affluent family that did not approve of the couple's love affair.
"When I was still struggling, I dated a rich man's child. His mother called and said something I'll never forget. What do you want to feed my child, he asked? You can't have anything to do with my child from now on!" he recalled.
However, the humiliation served as a catalyst for his spirit
"I inadvertently hung her mother's photograph over my double-decker bed. Every time I open my eyes and feel very fatigued, or when I feel like giving up, I immediately become excited again, remembering the insults.”
Edy followed one life concept that his father had told him to follow at the time: what was humbled by people, God would exalt one day. One crucial lesson is that he does not feel inferior or prestigious in simple conditions.
He is now successful in the culinary business, having expanded to five nations. He owns the D'Penyetz restaurant chain, which includes locations in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and Myanmar in 2019.
A massive change
Edy earned his bachelor's degree in marketing from Nanyang Polytechnic University in 2000. He worked for a Japanese logistics company. Despite his meager wage, he was able to bring his younger sister to Singapore to finish her studies. Edy only stayed with the company for three years.
"I've always worked with a lot of movement. It doesn't feel right to be instructed to sit in front of a computer," he explained.
In 2004, Edy was interested in establishing the Es Teler 77 franchise in Far East Plaza (Orchard Road). This franchise was purchased with the help of a friend, and it was running smoothly. Edy sold the Es Teler 77 business and began selling ayam penyet at Lucky Plaza sometime in 2006.
Because of his relentless efforts and relationships with Singaporean media, ayam penyet quickly became a sensation and was increasingly known by Singaporeans. Customers who wish to eat at the restaurant must be willing to wait in line.
This has created a fresh sensation for his company. Because of the success of this business, the campus where he studied at Nanyang Polytechnic, as well as several other associations in Singapore, frequently invited him to share his entrepreneurship knowledge.
Starting with the intention of starting his own business, Edy finally chose to build his own firm in 2009 under the name Dapur Penyet, which began as a food court stall in Jurong Point Mall.
Even though he had staff, he practically did all of the tasks himself in the first year of his business. In addition to his managerial responsibilities, he works in the kitchen, at the counter, closing, cleaning, and putting out the trash.
One important thing he did was work hard and with a steely spirit. Edy continues to work relentlessly to develop D'Penyetz into an Indonesian restaurant with the potential to go global in the future. His efforts did not go unnoticed. D'Penyetz now has over 100 stores and spreads in five countries. His ambition is to be able to represent and offer Indonesian cuisine to a global audience.
D'Penyetz eventually entered Australia with future plans to expand to the United States, Canada, and the Middle East. Aside from D'Penyetz, Edy and his crew are in charge of several additional brands, including D'Bakso and D'Cendol. D'Minang is now working on various new ideas for his future vision, including the construction of an Indonesian Culinary & Hospitality Training Center.
Despite his success, Edy remains a simple character who always guides and encourages his staff to be the best they can be. Social service projects and gifts to orphanages are frequently carried out in collaboration with the team.
"Remember that what has been degraded by man will be elevated by God one day. Honor and please the parents who gave us birth. Mother's prayer is a very effective and valuable prayer in the eyes of God," he remarked.
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