Junandus, a bakery in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, is a paradise for baked goods where you will be spoilt for choices.
Let’s talk about cakes, shall we? Cakes have always been a part of our lives where birthdays, weddings or special days would not complete without them. Oh, how I wish there was a ministry of baking where I can bake and eat all the freaking time!
And that is why…
We here at The Cool Bears got an exclusive interview with the founder of Junandus, where he was pleased to share his success story with us. Get ready to crave for some cakes after this article!
Can you introduce yourself?
Hello, I am Jun Chong, the founder of Junandus. I pretty much started my career in banking and finance. Upon graduating, I was tied up to an insurance company where I was mastered in corporate insurance and personal banking.
How did you push through starting over a new career?
Banking wasn’t my first choice. Back then when I was young I did not know what career to pursue or even what subject to choose. But one thing that I surely knew was “I like maths”. Perhaps, that was when I decided to continue my journey in finance.
I wanted to work in a bank, accumulate some money, and then start up my own business.
Where did the idea of starting a bakery come from?
I am very passionate about food, basically, I have a sweet tooth! Besides, ever since I was young, I have been a sweetaholic and I began to bake my first cheesecake at the age of 16. As someone who grew up with the forte of baking, by all odds, I wanted to go for culinary arts after completing my SPM.
Despite having almost three generations of family members as chefs, I still wasn’t able to convince my parent s of my plan to start baking, even though my father, grandfather and great grandfather are all chefs!
How did you venture into food and beverages?
After 4 years of serving in the insurance line, besides making good money and having savings, I did not feel satisfied because I knew this was not where I belong to. On one pleasant day, I got a second bite at the cherry when my aunty opened her cafes. I grasped this opportunity to indulge more in F&B (Food and beverages) and decided to leave my full-time job.
Since my aunt owned local cafes, at the initial stage, I was making ‘roti bakar‘ (french toast) and ‘teh tarik’ (milk tea) and did some chores such as cleaning the table and mopping the floor. As time passed by, I was promoted to supervisor and progressively to operation manager. Almost after three years of successfully running the cafes, my aunt sold them off to another party. And this was essentially the stepping stone for Junandus.
How Did Junandus Came To Be?
Not long after that, I became aware of the trend of setting cakes online that was an absolute hit in Taiwan which was rare in our country. So, I took that as an encouragement to start an online bakery or probably a shop for cakes.
1st year (2013) – It all started with Crepe21. I spent around eight months coming up with new recipes and baking cakes at home. I would bake nearly 3-4 cakes in a day. At times, my neighbours will also have the chance to taste them, I mean, I would give the cakes to them if they do not turn out good…*laughs*. After many trials and attempts, I was not happy with my product henceforth I continued baking french crepe cake, something that was very rare in the market.
2nd year (2014) – A year later, I felt like I was a burden to my family and that urged me to move out. However, I must emphasize the role of my mother and grandmother who were willing to wake up just at four or five in the morning to help me out in the kitchen by simply washing the dishes or cleaning the mess. Then, I took the initiative to hire two part-timers and concurrently our orders started to soar rapidly, creating a pathway to supply to cafes as well. When it comes to holidays like Chinese New Year, we will bake a storm as we could not afford to lose the sales.
3rd year (2015) – From a double-storey terrace house to a shop lot. There were five workers including me and we did put a lot of effort in promoting. Whenever I was free, I learnt how to build websites as it is one of the most crucial elements in a business.
5th year (2017) – We moved into a new place and YES! THE RISE OF JUNANDUS! There were around 30 of us where I was extremely grateful to look back at how it all has transformed. Many of the customers came back to us and their support was indescribable. We are glad and looking forward to come up with new exquisite cakes.
Current year ( 2020) – Nothing can be replaced with the happiness that I get, waking up to things that I love doing. I just can’t describe how I feel, it just feels as if I am in seventh heaven!
“We did mess up sometimes, but we always take in complaints from customers to grow better and better”– Jun Chong
“Jun (me) and us! I have always wanted to create a company that isn’t only me, it’s always us!”– Jun Chong
The customers and my team members are all in this. I want to make sure that my employees experience a sense of belonging, perhaps a second, comfortable home where they will be able to contribute and be a part of this journey as well.
What Makes Junandus Special?
The products that we use in our cakes are mostly premium ingredients. For instance, vanilla is from Madagascar, chocolate is from Belgium and the cream is from New Zealand. Our products are imported to ensure that we give the best to our customers.
Custom made cake orders
Besides specialising in a wide variety of baked goods, we do custom made cakes as well. Custom made cakes are baked and designed per request but as in now, we do not have much demand for them. Themed cakes are pretty trendy in Junandus. Our designers bake cakes according to special occasions such as Father’s Day, Hari Raya and you name it.
Sincerity is the basis of every virtue. We are very sincere in serving. Our employees here really take good care of customers as in doing follow-ups, checkings after delivery and getting feedback. This makes us emotionally and physically connected to our customers.
Our strong suit is our delivery service. I would say that it falls under the category of quite fast where you can start licking and picking the leftover just in 4 hours. For instance, sometimes people tend to forget their spouse’s birthday where they request for a cake at the very last minute. Thus, we will consider and let them know what can we prepare in those 2 hours.
The Best Sellers at Junandus
What are the challenges that you faced?
Nothing worth having comes easy. That is to say, you have to swim an ocean to get where you want unless luck is on your side.
Lack of support – In my early years, I didn’t get much support from my parents and family. I could not even afford to pay my salary. As a degree holder, my parents doubted me and they thought that a corporate job would be the perfect choice for me.
Business – I wasn’t sure on how to get customers, to conduct promotions and I faced a lot of challenges. Some customers sued us, turned over and complained.
What is your motto in life?
“Tomorrow will be a better day. Whatever you go through in life, believe in yourself that the following day will be a better day than today and don’t give up. All the hardship will pay off! No rain, no flowers !”– Jun Chong
Who do you see as your competitors?
To be frank, initially, I saw all those cake houses as my potential competitors. Nonetheless, as time passed by, when I indulged myself more into reading bookings and listening to entrepreneurs, I no longer saw them as my competitors. If you realise, the market is very big and it is not enough to supply or accommodate the high demand. Consequently, I look at them as an inspiration to chase after them, with the hope that someday when people ask you “What is the best cake shop that you know?” and their genuine reply would be “Junandus”.
What are the struggles that you faced During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
This pandemic leaves an effect on a lot of businesses leaving millions of people jobless during this pandemic. How was it for Junandus?
During the pandemic, our business grew better to be exact. We received massive orders and I would say that it was the best time in terms of sales. Despite being happy about the sales, I was more than worried about the safety of my employees and others as well. I make sure safety precautions are still being taken till date and so in a way they will not have to work in a fearful environment.
What about promotions or sales?
You can experience promotions from time to time in Junandus. However, our ‘Buy 1 Free 1’ promotion just ended but there are plenty awaiting you. Above all, as we are aware, during the pandemic, our country was in an extreme shortage of bread. Therefore, we, at Junandus, provided every one of them one loaf of free bread even if they purchased a slice of cake. Most importantly, giving back to society is what we have always wanted to do and we made hay while the sun shone.
What are your plans for Junandus?
We would like to serve outside of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor especially in the states like Penang, Johor, Malacca and also Ipoh.
“For now, in light of the population of youngsters and tech-savvy society, we decided to expand to these states first.”– Jun Chong
What is your advice for those who would like to follow your footsteps?
First of all, never stop learning no matter where you stand in life. This is because life is full of learning as there is a room for you to learn and improve every single day whether it is from your experience or mistakes. Save some money and invest it in self-improvement. Buy books, attend seminars or take online courses.
Then, never give up and have perseverance. You might face several challenges that might bring you down but just remember to get up and start doing. Entrepreneurship is not as effortless as you think. In the first five years, do not expect anything to be easy or to be on your side. Be prepared to meet the worst expectations, to earn less and to work more.
At the end of the day, ask yourself “ Are you willing to sacrifice?”. Finally, don’t spare any time listening to others and DO WHAT YOU LOVE!
‘The happiest moment in my life was when I saw happiness and joy on my parents faces’– Jun Chong
Review of the cakes
We manage to get a taste of the lovely cakes they have at Junandus, here is out honest verdict:
1. Oreo Crepe Cake
If you love Oreos, then it is for you! The cake was delicious. The crepe was thin and not creamy with an enormous amount of oreo crunchies.
2. Red Velvet Crepe Cake
My personal favourite! The cream cheese is to die for. The cake was light with the correct amount of sweetness and cream cheese, which made it delightful
3. Lotus Caramelized Cookies Crepe Cake
Another masterpiece of Junandus. Just as how appealing it looks, the taste was also luscious. I bet you would not regret trying them.
Woke is beyond delighted to be given this opportunity to interview the most passionate, humble and inspiring Jun Chong. The journey of Jun Chong inspired us and we hope you are inspired too. Do not forget to get your tummy full and cravings satisfied with Junandus!