Success does not happen by accident, it is the product of hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, learning, studying, a little bit of luck, and above all else, the love and passion for what you do.
Business partners and long-time friends, Roen Cian and Dax Lee recently celebrated ten years in the Malaysian hospitality industry. The much celebrated, The Roof in suburban Bandar Utama, Kuala Lumpur, just one of their successful ventures, is perhaps their best known but there several others.
According to Roen Cian, business partnerships are like a marriage as while they still enter into partnership with some new projects, they also allow each other to have the freedom to work on individual interests outside the partnership.
Unique Rooftop Concepts
Now over five years old, The Roof covering over 4,650m2 is still the most successful rooftop complex in suburban Kuala Lumpur. Both partners think the concept is successful because of its diversity and without sounding clichéd; it really does offer something to everyone.
Its seven concepts range from bars to restaurants and clubs and include Stratosphere, Signature by the Hill, Ye Zi, Play Club KL, Score, Malt & Leaf and Ballers.
Patrons can enjoy a range of experiences from dining on steamboat with the family at Ye Zi to watching football with a few mates over beer, to some serious clubbing well into the wee hours. The partners claim there is strength in diversity and their long-term success is based upon micro tweaking each concept on a regular basis.
Roen states, “We put in a lot of hard work before we opened and are still very hands on with the management here. While you don’t always get things right at first, nothing happens by accident.”
They also claim that there is a need to continually update their patrons with news on the latest activities, promotions and events and to work with social influencers especially on new activities and changes to each concept.
Bringing Out the Best in Each Other
The journey is a continual learning curve for both these young entrepreneurs who come from very different backgrounds. While Dax has a background in finance, Roen studied in Canberra, Australia and was initially destined for professional football before he decided upon a career in advertising.
Dax and Roen have been friends since a young age and went into a business partnership ten years ago. After a stint setting up Tom, Dick and Harry’s, Roen teamed up with Dax to start the very successful, The Hill in Damansara Heights. The bar-cum-bistro extended over three floors and included a Japanese garden, bar and kitchen and a loft-cum-lounge.
The Pool on Jalan Ampang was their next venture where a swimming pool formed the centrepiece of this open-air concept that featured many lively theme night events.
To them, the best partnership is one that brings out the best in each other. “Partnerships need healthy debate and both partners need to take constructive criticism when offered. We tend to overlook each other’s shortcomings while celebrating our successes either in partnership or as individuals,” remarks Roen.
Success through Diversity
They both realise that the best friendship is one that allows each other the freedom of being themselves. As such, they still do joint projects but both also have made individual investments enabling them to explore areas that work best as a solo investment.
Circa Bar on Jalan Batai (off Jalan Beringin) in Damansara Heights is the latest venture. The speakeasy, hole-in-the-wall with a spiral staircase, cool vibe, specially curated cocktails, creative lighting and hip-hop and R & B music as the evening unwinds. There are many elements to their successful partnership but a life-long and strong friendship forms the backbone to their business relationship. They both accept that the businesses they are in are never easy and the need to innovate is as important as perseverance.