For Izham Hakimi Dato’ Hamdi, the managing director and CEO of DIIZ Group of Companies, a nature for excelling and exceeding expectations goes back to his earliest days. “I am a strong believer in harnessing the right attitude and determination for everything that I do. To me, anything is achievable if I commit myself to it. In a way, nothing is impossible when your only path is to move forward!”
Founded in 2007, the group initial focus was on investment property and management consultancy. However, the year 2009 saw it embarking on a new journey. Upon seeing great potentials in the F&B sector, the company participatedin carrying the then new international brand, Tutti Frutti. Since then, DIIZ has also invested in O’My Buns, 38ThirtyEight café and BarsKorea while acquiring an Indian restaurant named East India Curry Restaurant, located in the prominent business district of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“There’s no doubt I have a sweet tooth,” he heartily laughs, listing out his favourite desserts and flavours. However, DIIZ constant endeavour in seeking new and innovative business ventures eventually led him to Spinox8. “I wanted to challenge myself further to develop a Malaysian-owned product poised for global recognition and one that will ultimately benefit the human race,” Izham narrates on his quest for a viable business.
Sowing The Seed
Izham began his career as an Auditor at KPMG, Kuala Lumpur in 2003 for a period of almost 5 years. “It was tough, no joke! To become a charted accountant, you need at least 3 to 5 years to be qualified for that role. There was a lot of long hours and tight datelines involved. And a lot of people gave up halfway. But for me, I didn’t have a choice. I was almost there. I can only move forward,” he notes. However, it was in that tough environment where he honed his skills in organising and management. “As hard as it was, I really missed those time.”
“I am a strong believer in harnessing the right attitude and determination for everything that I do … nothing is impossible when your only path is to move forward!”
Izham joined NAZA Group of companies in the early 2008 and served as an Account Manager for the manufacturing division based in Gurun, Kedah. He was then transferred to the Group Corporate Finance & Business Development in 2009 to embark on a new journey. “It was during that time that NAZA Group has decided to bring in Tutti Frutti, which was the fastest-growing frozen yoghurt U.S. brand back then. The founders were looking to expand globally and have chosen our group to partner with.”
As the Managing Director of NAZA Tutti Frutti (M) Sdn Bhd, who also owned Master Franchise Holder for Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Brunei and Thailand, Izham managed to expand the brand tremendously in 2010 until 2012, with more than 100 outlets operating nationwide. The brand itself became a household name. “I was driven with ideas and passion, which led me to turn Tutti Frutti Malaysia into the fastest growing frozen yoghurt chain in Southeast Asia. For that, the company was even awarded the Malaysia Best Franchise Award of the year 2012 by the government,” Izham proudly informs.
Stand By People and They Will Stand By You
Albeit the light and glory, 2015 was a tough year for Izham. “As a result of the recession, the company had to undergo a period of retrenchment. It was the hardest thing for me. Back then, if there was any other way or if I have other stuff going on, I would have shifted my staff over. However, time was not on my side,” he replies, noting that instead of putting out a letter or memo, Izham opted to speak to each of his employees, one at a time.
Thankfully, Izham is one who doesn’t let anything stop him from moving forward. “I always view failure as a positive experience. It is something everyone needs to learn from and overcome in the future. Fear of failure is not an impregnable hurdle. There is a need to face it embrace it and celebrate it,” he passionately explains, adding that he is grateful that his team has been supportive of his vision and passion.
“I always view failure as a positive experience. It is something everyone needs to learn from and overcome in the future.”
“I may be smiling now but my journey is nothing short of struggles and hardship,” Izham says, further elaborating that it helps to remain positive in tough situations, especially when leading a team. “Leaders are doers, not quitters. If one door shuts, they find another way through it. I believe it’s my level of commitment that drives my team. And that is also one thing others can never take away from me.”
Growing More With Less
With so many products out in the market, his decision to take on Spinox8 is simple: “I wanted a sustainable brand I can work around with.” The beauty of Spinox8, according to Izham, is its game changer capability and locally made status. “When I was working with Tutti Frutti, I was pretty much restricted as it was a franchise from the US. There were so many limitations and regulations. I realised Spinox8 could be something special. I can even go global with it. If I want to do anything, this is something I can invest in,” he explains.
“I may be smiling now but my journey is nothing short of struggles and hardship,”
Spinox8 is an organic nano-tech enhancer formulated as a solution to significantly increase the production yield in the agriculture and aquaculture scene. “It not only works on plants, it can also be used on the farming of fish, aquatic plants and prawns. And the results are outstanding; 586% increase in crop yield under controlled condition verified that Spinox8 is all set to revolutionise the world’s agriculture industry!”
It was also early this year that Izham announced his plans to export it to Asian and Middle Eastern countries in the next one or two years. Currently, Izham is in the midst of negotiating and looking for potential joint-venture partners in Indonesia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea and India. “We are expanding in stages. To date, we have Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iraq, Ghana and Australia signed on. We are also in the process of registering this product in the European Union through our partners there.”
Farming For Success
While Spinox8 is making waves outside of Malaysia, it’s surprising not many local farmers have heard of the brand. “Did you know fertilisers and pesticides are subsidised items by the Malaysian government? So, the idea of penetrating into our local market is next to impossible,” Izham highlights. “I was at the end of the road, cornered even. But I know that the only way out of it is to think outside of the box. I have come this far, I can’t back out of it. I’m halfway there.”
“I was at the end of the road, cornered even. But I know that the only way out of it is to think outside of the box. I have come this far, I can’t back out of it. I’m halfway there.”
To that, Izham created allies with the strongest area in the national farmers’ organisation, Pertubuhan Peladang Kebangsaan (PPK) Kuala Langat. “If you want to grow, you need to be in the right company as well. Now, we are collaborating with 200 PPK nationwide to boost the nation’s agricultural sector by the year-end.
Excitingly, Izham’s upcoming project in farm management services is underway and is all geared up to bring this industry and local farmers to another whole new level altogether. “We want to present PPK members with business opportunities and reduce their dependence on middlemen. It’s our goal. Farmers can also use their existing plots of land instead of developing new ones, which can deplete the nation’s land reserves,” he adds, emphasising again the importance of relationship in business. “You need to support, trust and be there for each other. You can only grow together, never alone.”