When thinking of fancy mineral water, you might think of FIJI Water sourced from Fiji, Aqua Panna from Italy, or Evian water from the French Alps.

But have you ever thought of our very own Pulau Langkawi as a source of premium-grade mineral water?

Well, neither did Simon Wang before he founded MC Gemilang Natural Water in 2016.

Quenching a thirst for entrepreneurship

Prior to MC Gemilang, Simon had worked in the steel industry, and was reportedly known as the “Iron Man”. However, he’s since changed his tune and now refers to himself as the “Water Man” and CEO of MC Gemilang.

The change began in 2016 itself when his father told him that he came across a very rare opportunity. The elder Mr Wang shared that his friend, Zainol Husin, was conducting research in Langkawi that managed to uncover a potential mineral source.  

Image Credit: MC Gemilang

Zainol Husin (who has since passed) had been the director at the Department of Minerals and Geoscience Malaysia (JMG) that oversaw the industry in Perlis, Kedah, and the island of Penang.

“I didn’t take it seriously initially as [I’ve] always known Langkawi as a great place for holiday,” Simon admitted.

That was until he actually looked into the history of Langkawi and its UNESCO Global Geopark status.

UNESCO Global Geoparks, as described by the UNESCO website itself, are “single, unified geographical areas” that are of international geological significance. These areas are intended to be managed with a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development.

Currently, there are 195 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 48 countries, and Langkawi is home to one of them.

Learning that, Simon said he “had the wildest thought”.

“This will be the purest mineral water sourced from Malaysia and the one and only one in Langkawi,” he realised. “This is a hidden gem in Langkawi.”

Searching for the source

Locating a suitable mineral water source, as you might imagine, is no small feat. It requires thorough understanding of the geology of an area, expertise that Zainol Husin had been able to provide.

“Identifying the water source was not an easy task at all, days and nights we were at the site to check on different sites and finally discovered the source,” Simon said.

With help from the University of Science, Malaysia and through the use of ultrasound technology, MC Gemilang discovered a source of water.

Image Credit: MC Gemilang

But the capacity wasn’t enough. Simon shared that he almost gave up then. The sunk cost was high, but they had nothing to show for their work.

Yet, he persisted. Simon acquired another piece of land within walking distance from the previous site. Lo and behold, they hit the jackpot a few months later.

After getting permission from the JMG, they pumped out the water for 72 hours straight and got almost 800,000 litres of water. That meant that the team would be able to produce seven million litres of water per month from that source.

“The aquifer is a renewable source where water runs through it,” Simon explained. “If we don’t use it, the water will go into the sea.”

With that, MC Gemilang was set to truly start, launching the LWI Blue water in 2019.  

More than just your usual H2O

Located in the granite mountain of Gunung Raya, the water reserve they found was 130 metres deep and filtered by layers of granite rock. Passing through all these layers, the water in this reserve is high in minerals.

“Our water was sent to Germany to be tested and it was done by Dr. Garner & Partner GmbH,” Simon shared.

Image Credit: MC Gemilang

The lab found that the LWI Blue water was naturally alkaline with a pH of 7.85, and had an exceptionally high amount of silica. In fact, MC Gemilang claims their water has one of the highest silica content in the world.

To most people, silica (or silicon dioxide) might just be the major constituent found in sand, but it’s also considered an essential nutrient that helps humans produce collagen.

In turn, collagen is essential for the health of bones, skin, blood vessels, and all the body’s organs.

According to Spritzer, silica can contribute to smoother skin, stronger nails, a sharper mind, and a healthier gut.

Image Credit: MC Gemilang

However, the general consumer won’t know that. Most people who buy mineral water just want to quench their thirst, which is why water brands such as Evian and Aqua Panna have gone the route of premium branding to set themselves apart.

So, how does LWI Blue intend to stand out on the shelves filled with other mineral water brands?

To this, Simon said that it was a good question, and admitted: “Honestly, water is just water.”

However, he continued, “We need to educate the consumers on drinking mineral water that’s definitely healthier, and the benefits of silica for the body.”

That said, the CEO shared that experts describe the taste of the Langkawi water as “very light” water, meaning it has no taste or odour, but is texturally very smooth and silky.

From blue to bottle

Other than LWI Blue, there’s been another brand by the name of Langkawi Pure that has graced the shelves of local stores.

“It’s just a difference in branding—Langkawi Pure is one of our OEM customers,” Simon clarified. “The two water are of the same quality.”

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

It’s interesting to see Langkawi Pure go for the more premium-looking route, though, from the name itself to the more minimalistic packaging. Seeing it in stores such as emart24, Langkawi Pure usually occupies an end cap, using scenic imagery of Langkawi.

Meanwhile, Simon shared that MC Gemilang has also started to distribute LWI Blue among high-end grocery stores and supermarket. This includes Village Grocer, Jaya Grocer, Mercanto, Aeon Supermarkets, as well as some online platforms like Lazada and Shopee.

The recommended retail price is RM3.90 for 500ml—cheaper compared to Evian, but more expensive compared to your run-of-the-mill drinking water.

Image Credit: MC Gemilang

Flowing into the future

Other than for drinking, Simon shared that the company has ambitions to venture into the cosmetics and even the healthcare industry.

As many skincare products are water-based, that could be a good opportunity to incorporate MC Gemilang’s high silica water.

“One of my business partners has a skincare manufacturing company in Penang, and we are sending the water there for some R&D with their products,” Simon said.

“So far the products that we have preliminarily identified are face serums, hand sanitiser, face mist, and also shampoo as well as hair tonic.”

Image Credit: MC Gemilang

That said, MC Gemilang aims to continue focusing on mineral water, with Simon saying that they will add more SKUs to their own range with products such as sparkling water.

“Our main goal is to build our distribution and let the products be found in every shop in Malaysia,” the CEO said. “We are talking to our current distributors and [having] discussions about our sales channel and product position for certain SKUs.”

Beyond Malaysia, MC Gemilang is also talking to a few parties about exporting their products to areas like the Middle East, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and Germany.

“Building a brand is never easy,” Simon said. “Especially with the product being mineral water, the road ahead will be definitely challenging. But I can see it as rewarding too, if Malaysians can know that we can produce one of the best waters in the world.”

  • Learn more about MC Gemilang here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: MC Gemilang

End

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *