The last couple of years have been tough for everyone, but small businesses and those in industries that were highly impacted had it even tougher.

To come out of the economic downturn in one piece, business owners had to quickly adapt to market changes. For some, it meant going in an entirely new direction as many industries haven’t bounced back from Covid-19.

Far East Interlink is one of those businesses – pivoting to F&B when the travel industry turned critical. Dropee recently sat down with Far East Interlink’s General Manager, Syaifullah Ghani to hear how he successfully built a new company in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Before going into F&B, Syaifullah ran a travel agency – with Europe being its largest market. But that all changed once we went into lockdown. As the tourism industry declined, Syaifullah and his partner began discussing how they were going to reinvent their business. 

As many industries fell one by one, Syaifullah realised that the only business that never stopped was food. In fact, F&B was in higher demand than ever. Syaifullah used his experience in tourism and knowledge of consumer trends to create Far East Interlink – selling ready-to-eat food under the Sumatraa brand.  

“I had no F&B experience, but I had experience in travel. My partner and I started to discuss how we could relate food to travel.”

With the idea to keep the spirit of travelling alive in lockdown, Far East Interlink started producing sambal daging dendeng under the brand Sumatraa, named after the dish’s origin land Sumatra.

“When people see ‘Sumatraa’, they will think about Indonesia. Until the border starts to reopen again, we can sell the products to our guests who want to travel overseas but can’t.”

At a time when consumers were longing for holidays, Far East Interlink delivered a taste of Indonesia to relieve the cabin fever from lockdown. Keeping a keen eye on trends and reacting quickly has been the key to Syaifullah and Far East Interlink’s longevity. 

“Keep learning and keep studying the trends of businesses. We need to always follow the current trends if we can.”

Changing the Business Model

Starting Far East Interlink was only the beginning. Not only did Syaifullah need a crash course on the F&B industry, he also had to familiarise himself with B2C trade as his background was largely in B2B.

Without experience selling directly to consumers, Syaifullah participated in marketing classes and learned how to target the B2C audience. As Far East Interlink started during the online shopping frenzy, this also meant venturing into e-commerce and navigating the digital landscape for the first time.

Syaifullah lives by the quote: “We must move forward, never looking back.” With this mindset, he was able to embrace change and successfully take Far East Interlink in a new direction, which was needed in critical times. 

After just two years, Sumatraa’s sambal daging dendeng is retailing on major hypermarkets like Aeon, Village Grocer and B.I.G.. Far East Interlink has also built an online presence for the Sumatraa brand – listing on many B2C online marketplaces. 

Tapping into the Online B2B Market

Despite coming from a B2B business background, Syaifullah’s previous travel agency operated offline. Like many B2B businesses before Covid-19, sales calls, face-to-face appointments and personalised services were the norm for Syaifullah.

A big chunk of Sumatraa product sales come from online, through various B2C platforms. Coming from a B2B background, Syaifullah was keen on selling to other businesses as he believes that his business can profit more from B2B sales, as long as his customers are happy.

“B2C sales are not consistent as we need to constantly do marketing to get sales. But for B2B, if we really take care of our customers, we will get consistent sales without heavy marketing.”

However, online B2B is a different ballgame than what Syaifullah is used to. The automation of online B2B platforms does most of the work for B2B sellers. With order management and fulfilment taken care of, Syaifullah was looking for a platform that offers top-notch service to help him manage his online store. And he found exactly that at Dropee.

“I was impressed with your customer service from the moment I registered. Dropee is very patient with me and always gives fast responses.”

With comprehensive support from our customer service, Syaifullah is able to simplify Far East Interlink’s B2B trade online as Dropee takes care of the heavy lifting. This way, rather than getting caught up in administrative tasks, sellers have more time to strategise and create better business plans.

“I just need to ensure all the details are good, the allotment and the inventory is there, and it’s enough.”

Learning From Mistakes

Syaifullah defines success as the freedom to make decisions, react to market changes timely and not be afraid of failure.

“It’s good to make mistakes, but don’t repeat them. The more mistakes we make, the more we learn.”

The ability to make difficult decisions helped Syaifullaha and his team power through obstacles over the last two years. With its courage to fail forward and the right tools and strategies to penetrate target markets, the only way is up for Far East Interlink.

Categories: Case Study


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