Interview with Zulfadli Sofian




Md Zulfadli Haji Md Sofian has built his customised aquarium manufacturing business on a solid foundation of commitment, creativity and skill.

How did you get the idea to start your business?
I collected fish as a hobby during my childhood years. After completing the fisheries course at IBTE I decided to turn this hobby into a business. In 2011, instead of following the crowd and going into the food industry, I decided to think outside of the box. I came up with the idea of making customised aquariums because I realised that most shops in Brunei sold ready-made aquariums. I wanted to give customers the opportunity to buy one-of-a-kind aquariums in different sizes and styles – that’s how Aqua Tec Enterprise was started. In the beginning I made aquariums out of used glass because I had a small budget. Eventually I saved up and learnt more about cutting glass from the internet and since then I have made over 300 tanks, the biggest one being 8’x3’ which I made for a company. I am currently collaborating with a new shop in Tungku called Aqua Blue Lifestyle and making customised aquariums for their customers.

What role did your training and education at IBTE play in helping you to establish your own business?
I found that the Fisheries course at IBTE was a very enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I gained a lot of practical experience in fisheries studies together with an understanding of how to start, manage and market my business. Besides giving me support and advice, the Principal and teachers at IBTE also helped me to advertise my products to the public. This publicity was invaluable as it helped to get my business off the ground. Today my customers include both individuals and companies, who enjoy the beauty and benefits of having their own customised aquarium. In terms of the future, I intend to use the knowledge gained from one of my favourite subjects, Aquatic Animal Health to eventually expand my business to include ornamental fish breeding. I hope that I will someday be able to export fish to countries in the region.

Photo courtesy of Zulfadli Sofian

What advice would you give to students who are thinking about following your career path?
I believe that Brunei definitely needs more young people to come up with different kinds of business ideas in order to develop the economy. I think that no matter which career path you choose to follow you should be confident; learn as much as you can about your chosen filed; work hard and be able to manage your time efficiently. What is also important, is if you are making a product you need to maintain high standards and to keep the prices affordable in order to successfully compete in the market.

Instagram: @aquadec

This article was published in the IBTE Special Issue (Oct-Dec 2016) of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!