Founder of Rentas Health and executive director of Pecca Group Kelly Teoh on pivoting at the peak of the pandemic

The brand also launched a medical-grade and four-ply mask named Callie.

Kelly Teoh founded Rentas Health in 2019 to spearhead a healthcare technology business (All photos: Kelly Teoh/Rentas Health)

The founder and managing director of Rentas Health was not only leading a healthcare technology business but also building a record management system to allow patients and medical staff to access their medical records anytime, anywhere. Kelly Teoh Zi Yuen tells us more.


Options: Tell us a bit about Rentas Health and how you started this business. What did you hope to achieve?
Kelly Teoh: I founded Rentas Health in 2019 to spearhead a healthcare technology business, to build a record management system with the aim of allowing patients and medical staff access to their medical records whenever, wherever. However, there were huge obstacles as approvals and licences from the government were extremely difficult to get. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck and my team recognised the severe medical device shortage in Malaysia, for example, face masks, test kits and ICU beds. For face masks, not only was the country heavily dependent on imported ones, the quality was also questionable! Most did not even have the basic feature of filtering out bacteria.

I swiftly seized the opportunity to lead the planning of investments into the healthcare segment. I knew I would easily be able to tap Pecca Group Bhd, a company listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia, for its core expertise of manufacturing high-quality leather seat covers, to carry over into the production of high-quality medical-grade face masks for Rentas Health. Synergistically, Pecca as a manufacturing company can leverage Rentas Health’s sales connections and marketing creatives to innovate, trade and distribute. That’s the story of how I ventured into the face mask business.

How has Rentas Health fared during the pandemic?
We have successfully grown Rentas Health into one of the major distributors of personal protective equipment (PPE) products in Malaysia, with products such as face masks, Covid-19 test kits, face shields and jumpsuits. We have a very diversified customer base, which includes most major wholesale and retail channels, healthcare providers as well as the government of Malaysia, which have constantly sourced for our products due to our strong quality.

As the saying goes, “there are opportunities behind every crisis” and we are lucky that we found the chance to give the company a head start. I hope I can bring the company to new heights while also continuing to add more value to society. Currently, I am exploring other shortages in the healthcare industry, such as good dialysis treatment, which can really benefit friends and family, a handful of whom have been diagnosed with kidney disease.


Rentas Health also introduced the FLEX Mobile Unit, designed for office areas and corporate clients wanting to conduct in-house screening

What advice would you give to other start-ups?
Do what you love, and love what you do. Otherwise, one may get burned out quite easily, and this is certainly not sustainable in the long run. If you can’t choose what you do, try your very best to make it fun to fall in love with your work. To me, producing ordinary medical blue face masks was a job that was intrinsically boring, so I created the Callie brand with fashion elements added to keep everyone stylishly safe — my work instantly became fun.

There is no replacement for hard work and perseverance in a start-up, so accept the reality that behind every successful new set-up, there is a lot of blood, sweat and even tears to get to the glamour and high life the founders enjoy today. I’d like to make reference to one of the most successful and humble corporate figures in Japan, Kazuo Inamori, who emphasised in his philosophy of success — the “Kyocera Philosophy” — that it is important for one to have self-ignited passion in everything one does for a living, and work should be treated with passion every day.

Tell us a bit about Callie, the face mask brand under Rentas Health. What makes it different from other masks?
Although there were various mask options available, we found that a lot of people didn’t feel very comfortable wearing them. More importantly, most of the masks were imported or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) products from factories that may or may not have been properly certified by the standards authorities. The face mask brands under Rentas Health undergo very strict quality certifications by the respective authorities, which some of our competitors have not.

My understanding of customers’ needs came from my own personal experience. At first, I didn’t like wearing a mask because it was uncomfortable and my skin was sensitive to the rough material. That’s why I thought, why not design a mask myself, using good-quality materials and following manufacturing best practices? A truly comfortable made-in-Malaysia mask that would benefit everyone and help us stay safe — in a stylish way — through the pandemic.

At the R&D stage, we went through a long process of selecting a comfortable yet effective material and worked to fulfil both local and international standards in all aspects, from safety and efficacy, to comfort and wearability. As a testament to our strong R&D capabilities, we will be launching a new face mask with quantum coating self-sterilising technology, whereby the material on the mask is able to filter out 99.99% of the Covid virus, and further protect our customers.

Today, the two main brands of Rentas Health’s face masks, marketed under the Callie and RH brands, are seeing increasing visibility across the majority of the offline retail chains as well as online sales channels. We have also successfully leveraged digital marketing under to increase our brand penetration as well as customer awareness.


The four-ply Callie masks

What are your goals for the rest of the year?
My short-term goal is to continue to do what I am doing, perhaps coming out with another brand that is more affordable to benefit more people. Hopefully, we can quickly flatten the curve and end the pandemic.

However, I am also looking at new revenue streams post-pandemic to sustain the business. Hopefully, by the end of next year, I will be able to find an exciting new venture that I will enjoy and believe in to hop onto.

How has the pandemic changed the way you live and work?
The pandemic happened when I had just started on my career path. It definitely has grounded me to work more; otherwise, I think I would be travelling more than working. However, I am not complaining; I am lucky that I found a career path that I enjoy.

As companies are now forced to telecommute amid the pandemic, I quite enjoy being able to work from home. As long as an employee or each team member has a clear goal in mind, and for certain tasks that require a lot of solitary thinking, I do think that working from home is more effective. However, I think it is important for team members to meet, catch up and have some brainstorming sessions once or twice a week.

What elements in your workspace make it conducive to productivity?
A comfortable chair and a clear goal in mind. Have you heard of the Mozart Effect? I love listening to Mozart or some classical music before work; it somehow boosts my confidence. 



What are some of your go-to ways to unwind?
Candles, movies, music and snacks.

What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment, a lot of my personal time goes to reading up on news in the healthcare industry as I want to keep abreast of the latest developments from around the world in order to bring the best practices to my business.

What are you listening to, to stay inspired?
I enjoy chill beat songs with good lyrics — songs that give me positive feelings. Listening to the right song while I do my regular jog is the best way to relax, recharge my mind and stay inspired.

Once it is a little safer, where would you like to travel to?
I would love to go back to Los Angeles, to reconnect with some friends and revisit some of the restaurants for food that I miss. I do not mind going anywhere, from South Africa to Europe and China, as long as it’s with people I love.

This article first appeared on Sept 27, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.


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