In conversation with
Mr. Donny Pramono
Founder & Director | Sour Sally
FDI Spotlight: What would you say is the identity, or DNA, here at Sour Sally?
Mr. Donny Pramono: Innovation is truly at the heart of our business as our company vision is: “Think different, not only better”.
Many would say that we are in the frozen dessert market in the same category as ice cream however we are in the niche subsection of that. We set our target to launch pioneering new products at least every 2 years. That is why we launched the Black Sakura 2 years ago, the world’s first black frozen yogurt. For this year we have launched White Gold, the world’s first and most expensive gold yogurt gelato, incorporating real 24k gold leaf, a delicate and crunchy langue-du-chat cookie cone, luxury valrhona chocolate and premium gelato and yogurt ingredients to give it a luxurious creamy taste and look.
The colour of our new product launches is so important as our target market, the millennialswho are very quick to pick up and drop new trends are heavily influenced by the fashionability and exclusivity of a product. In the day and age of the social media phenomenon, consumer groups are looking for brands that reflect their values, so we position our brand to help our customers express themselves and as such we receive a lot of tags and acknowledgement over social media such as Instagram and Facebook making our products viral. As part of our new White Gold launch in April 2017, we started a competition called “Gold Diggers” whereby our customers have to post their best photo with themselves and our White Gold yogurt gelato, This concept was all to celebrate our 9 year anniversary and more than 9 million tubs of yogurt sold. In the same way that technology is constantly changing, so too is the food and beverage market, that is why we are always looking to develop new product lines to fascinate and satisfy our customers. Innovation for innovation’s sake is simply not good enough. Here at Sour Sally, we benchmark from the successes and failures of others businesses to learn the lessons for our own development, which is why we are always prioritising our own customer’s needs when investing into any new innovation. Innovation for us in not about reinventing the wheel, but more about copy, paste and improve.
What was the inspiration to start your entrepreneurial journey to enter into the Frozen Yoghurt business?
Mr. Donny Pramono: I studied at Penn State University in the United States and then went over to California for my further education. From those days I was always interested in retail and consumer goods, and it was back then that I set a vision to become a player in the consumer goods and mass market retail. At 25 years old I moved to Jakarta as I am originally from Surabaya, I had never lived here before so to move to such a crazy and chaotic place took some adjusting!
Over the course of my entrepreneurial journey so far, I have gone through different stages of progress. In the beginning, I would say that I survived on persistence and dreams, and not much else to be honest! But as we grew larger and more successful and had more resources to play with I realised I had to lead from the front in terms of encouraging innovation as the DNA of our identity.
Another business role model of mine is Steve Jobs. I have studied, watched and read many of his articles, movies and speeches to benchmark how we managed his teams. It’s clear that from the way he thought and acted differently it resulted in Apple becoming the global success story it is today.
I had to show to everyone in the company that I was not afraid to do things differently. That is why our company motto is, “think different”. In everything we do, we must be pioneers so the innovation cannot come from 1 person alone. This is why we started employing people who had a unique perspective and who weren’t afraid to go out and try something differently. When you reach a critical mass of people in the company who are thinking and trying new ways to get better and different results, this is how we bred our own culture of innovation.
What new trends excite you at the moment in your sector?
Mr. Donny Pramono: As I mentioned, we have a young audience, so of course it needs to taste good and look good, but that alone doesn’t cut it. It needs to be pioneering in order to stand above the competition, this is why for example in developing White Gold, we made the world’s most expensive yogurt gelato, to create that exclusivity and excitement. It is this level of pioneering mindset that we need to implement in our newest developments and creations. The next big step for us as a brand is to follow the steps of leading premium mainstream ice cream vendors and to move from just selling in the parlour outlets to selling as well in retail outlets for the mass market. The millennial group wants accessibility and by stocking supermarkets and convenience stores, we can tap into the 250 million population of Indonesia. We will launch this mass-market consumer goods offering next yeat to celebrate our 10th anniversary.
Can you see the potential to leverage your success here locally to become a regional player in ASEAN?
Mr. Aris Boediharjo: First and foremost we want to continue to develop and strengthen our position here in Indonesia. However, we also would be interested in international expansion through finding the right partners. Our current team is the perfect size for Indonesian expansion. That is why we are looking for international expansion with like-minded local partners who like to think differently and want to lead in a market. Ideally, I would like this to start as franchise collaborations in retail outlets. When Sour Sally is eventually sold as consumer goods in convenience stores and supermarkets, the Sour Sally parlours will also act as brand ambassadors, generating awareness and excitement of our brand. These parlours would then strengthen the position of the retail consumer goods aspect of the business, increasing our visibility and selling more frozen yogurt.
It is important to know that here in South East Asia; a special significance is placed on shopping malls. The burgeoning middle classes of this region do not want to spend their days off in the baking sun, they would much prefer to come into a fashionable, air conditioned area with activities. When I lived in the States, there was so much to do outside, but in this region, you can see that developers are building integrated condo-hotel-office block-entertainment district-malls. So in this way, each mall yogurt parlour will start off life as a profit centre, but then as shopping malls are such an ingrained part of everyday life here, by focusing marketing activities in each parlour, our parlours can become self-sustaining marketing centres.
This is exactly how our prospective international partners could minimize marketing costs when introducing the Sour Sally products into regional convenience stores and supermarkets. As the continued marketing activities would already be visible from the parlours in the shopping malls, so costs could be kept to a minimum while maximizing revenue from the profit centres which invariably will be the consumer goods sold at convenience stores and supermarkets.
How do you see your role in encouraging entrepreneurship here in Indonesia?
Mr. Donny Pramono: I made the realisation recently that in order to impact society, we need to have a vision that is bigger than ourselves, and that vision is to be a difference maker. In Asian culture we are often shown how to fit into societal expectations however it is completely natural that everyone is different, I want to help those around me realise their potential and to become difference makers.
When I first came back from the states, no one believed that the frozen yogurt business could be successful, the fro-yo business was non-existent, had to educate the market and make people believe.