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Home / Business / Jom Jalan

Jom Jalan

About Jom Jalan

JomJalan is the Trivago of attractions. We save travellers money by searching the net for the cheapest tickets to theme parks, zoos and tours and compare the prices for our visitors. Believe it or not, smaller tour companies (that most people never heard of) usually give you cheaper tour prices and tickets compared to big names like Viator, Expedia or Tripzilla.

But right now, our focus is only in the South East Asian region.

How did you come up with the concept for Jom Jalan ? Was there a story, or did you simply see a gap in the market?

Like most startups, JomJalan aimed to be one thing, but morphed into another. We started JomJalan to sell our own holiday tours. And we sold tour packages to Malaysian, with focus only to just Langkawi, Bali and Singapore.

But while things were rosy for the first year, the Malaysian economy tanked and the currency tumbled during our second year of operation. The Singapore tour which was our bread and butter turned into crumbs. Those wanting to go for a holiday there, will now spend hours to save money on cheaper packages. And on top of that, my partner told me that we risk violating the law for not registering our startup as a tour company legally ( for like RM 200,000 that we don’t have).

Then, the next few years, the economy got worse because of the GST and inflation. Companies fought fiercely for the crumbs, and customers jumped to our competitors even to save a ringgit. We struggled. We even abandoned JomJalan to start another startup.

When the economy recovered a little, we came back to JomJalan. And I know we need to change.

The new JomJalan no longer sells tours of our own. But we now find trustworthy competitors who can provide cheaper tours and tickets, and tell our customers, hey look, just go here.

We decided that that’s the right thing to do.

Where did the name come from?

We just want a tour related name that can be easily remembered. The target market was the Malays, hence the Jom Jalan name, which loosely means ‘let’s go for a holiday’.

 

But while it might be good for the Malay speaking market like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, JomJalan might need a change of name/ rebranding in the future

What are the opportunities that you see in the market, and how does Jom Jalan cater to that market? Do you have any concrete strategies to fulfill those opportunities?

I see that attractions are becoming more expensive — especially for families. Going to a zoo, for example, is no longer as affordable as it was, say 10 years back. That’s an opportunity for us.

People are used to finding cheaper flights and hotels online. But as attractions becoming more expensive, the time will come when they’ll go ticket hunting during their trip.

Our strategy is just to find the best deals in a location and let our visitors choose which company they prefer to handle their tickets/tour.

How much did you spend to set up Jom Jalan ?

Overall, it was less than RM 700.

JomJalan was a bootstrap thing. We don’t know if it’s going to work. So we decided to limit our investment on just the domain name, hosting and the site. The major cost will be our time and dedication to make it work. That we have aplenty.

How did you fund the business? Do you do side jobs to fund it?

We funded it using my savings. It wasn’t a cash heavy operation, especially because it was making money in the first year of operation. I am lucky to know some SEO, so the Malay version of the site ranked pretty well for tours to both Langkawi and Spore.  

And because we got full cash payment before the start of the tours, we don’t have any monthly cashflow problem. And we avoided government issued LO or post dated cheques. All was cash and in full.

 But that was before the economy go south, forcing JomJalan to change direction to what it is now.

What has been your biggest challenge along the process?

The biggest challenge is the fact that travelling is a seasonal thing. You’ll be swamped in November and December, for example, but then site traffic will trickle for the rest of the year, except on some long holidays (like the CNY).

What are your plans for this coming 5 years, Where did you see your

JomJalan has a long way to go. We still haven’t even cover the tip of what the Southeast Asian tour market and attractions have to offer. Right now, our focus is on your average travellers. We are talking about featuring zoos, theme parks, museums and what not.

We haven’t catered the needs of adventure seekers and those above 50s. And the site is only in English.

In 5 years, we want to be able to cover 60% of all attraction tickets and tours available in the South East Asia. And we want to support native languages of the countries here — from Tagalong to Bahasa Indonesia in our site.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Those are very normal to have if you are running a startup. There’ll be days when you don’t feel like working, and times when you felt like this thing you’re doing is not going to work.

On those days, I usually either spend my time reading some motivational books, call my close friends and partner for a chit chat or just go for a long walk

Sometimes I just do things that’s different from my routine – just to interrupt the my unproductive moods.

What is your ultimate Goal.

Ultimately, I want JomJalan to help people reignite their lives. People go for a holiday to rest, recharge, rebond with their loved ones or re-think of their life choices. At the same time, during the holiday, their trip involves the bellboys, e-hailing drivers, roadside sellers and so many other people.

It is a chain of money, fuelling the lives of people. That money you spend on a tour may probably help the driver pay the medicine of his ailing mom, make a dropout get job as a ticketing clerk – when he would probably snatch a tourist’s wallet because he needs food, or help a single mom with 5 kids buy her daughter new shoes because you bought her nasi lemak during your tour. It’s like a river of life.

We want JomJalan to play a part in the chain. We want to help refuel people’s life — indirectly, without them knowing it.

What does the definition of success mean to you?

I can’t answer that because I have actually abandoned the idea of looking for success.

I no longer seek success. For me, pursuing success is a dangerously individualistic aim, because most of the time, the measure of success is tied to you having this and that — like fame, money or power. For me, that can lead you to a selfish focus on yourself.

I’ve been the victim of those taking advantage of others in their pursuit of success. Some, in the name of success, will lie, cheat, neglect their families and so on. For them their success (like having a certain amount of money in the bank ) is the ultimate trophy where they can compare their lives to others. And the more you have, the less humble you can be.I prefer to pursue the life of significance. It’s about asking myself, what am I contributing here? Have I changed someone’s life for the better? Have someone’s life improved because of what I am doing?  

Seeking significance, gives you more meaning to life, makes you more humble, and stops you from taking advantage of others. Seeking significance so far has changed the way I view life, and makes me calmer person compared to my younger years where I set a certain aim in life as my bar of success.

What’s your one piece of advice for someone about to start their own business?

Rome is not built in a day. And never think that you, can too.

Stop looking at instagram posts, promising your sexy clad spouses and Lamborghinis in front of a white mansion when you start your own business. It doesn’t work that way.

Expect to fail. Again, and again. And know that you’ll run the risk of not being able to pay rent, loans or see your car repossessed. And don’t compare your life with others – especially those friends with a monthly salary.

Working on a startup is a different ballgame. Most of the time, you don’t own a business, but the business owns you. You can toil day and night and nothing happens – for months, for years.

 

Just because you’re good in something, doesn’t mean you’ll automagically have one flourishing business. Even the PM of Malaysia now, Mahathir confessed that his business failed to make money in it’s first 5 years. And after 12 years in business, his bakery chains are closed.

 

Just do what you can, and leave the rest to the universe. As some wise person said, pray like everything is in the hand of God, and work like everything is in yours.

Any other observations or opinions you'd like to add.

We’d like to thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts and direction of what we are doing with JomJalan. We wish that Nestspace will one day expand and have a branch in Ipoh. If that’s the case, we would definitely be your frequent patron.

We wish you the best of luck in your business, and know that you are the catalyst in Malaysia’s startup universe. And that’s very significant.

Jom Jalan

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