ULTRON RISING TO THE TOP
It’s been a rapid rise to the top for Ultron, but founder Marc Chua already has his sights set on higher ground
THE YEAR WAS 2015, and Marc Chua saw an opportunity arise. “That was the year I noticed how the running and triathlon scene was booming, and with that the potential that was mass participant events in Malaysia was seized, which ultimately led to the birth of Ultron.” Since then, Marc hasn’t looked back. Ultron has since become a leading homegrown sportswear and lifestyle brand in Malaysia, winning multiple prestigious awards, most recently being crowned Malaysia’s Superbrand by Superbrands International in 2018.
On the success of Ultron so far, Marc can only gleam with pride at how far the brand has come in the space of just a few years. “I’ll always remember our first apparel sponsorship was to the Viper Challenge in 2015, and since then I dare say we’ve come leaps and bounds. I am beyond proud of how the brand has grown over the years.” And proud he should be, at the time of writing, Ultron has already worked with 3 thousand running, cycling, duathlon as well as triathlon events which includes internationally renowned events such as the Powerman Duathlon and Ironman. That’s an approximate of 3 million t-shirts produced. Imagine that.
To conceptualize an idea is one thing, to will it into existence is another. This won’t be the first article and it definitely won’t be the last to tell you that the entrepreneurial path is one that takes the utmost bravery, as it requires putting all your chips on the table. For Marc, it was a game of chance. “Of course
in addition to taking advantage of the growing market of mass participant events such as running, cycling, duathlons and triathlons, the idea of Ultron also came from a decision I made to transform myself. In all honesty, I was never an athlete in my younger days. In fact, I wasn’t in the greatest of shape due to the unhealthy lifestyle I had. Through running and proper dieting I got back into shape, and it was through the countless feedback I got from avid runners that fueled my resolution for Ultron. In addition to that I was lucky enough to already have been involved in the family business of apparel manufacturing. The biggest lesson here really is to grab your opportunities.”
“People always say that a pair of running shoes is all you need to run. That is true to some extent, but let’s say you take running seriously, and it’s at that point you realize how it takes more than just a pair of shoes. The shirt you wear matters so much in how it weighs before and after absorbing sweat. Those small factors really attribute a great deal to overall performance.” Taking this into account, Marc, who sees constant innovation as the ultimate means to stay ahead of the competition, ultimately led Ultron in producing the lightest t-shirt in Malaysia at only 75 grams, an achievement that has been recognized by The Malaysia Book of Records in September 2018. “Business aside, to be recognized for our work on innovation itself is to me one of the biggest achievements Ultron has had thus far.”
When asked about the biggest stumbling block Ultron has to endure, his answer was one that left me with a tinge of guilt. If anything, it really is something that most of us Malaysians are guilty of. “I’d say the biggest challenge in introducing Ultron to the Malaysian market was, and still is, to convince them that the quality is there. If you pay attention to the tags of the sportswear from international brands, you’ll notice how it’s mostly made from countries like Vietnam, even Malaysia! In my opinion, what we have here in Ultron stands toe to toe with the international brands. Changing the general perception of the public has been somewhat difficult, but it also motivates me to continue producing quality products. No doubt it’ll be a process, but I’m sure one day Ultron will prove them wrong.”
Besides being Malaysia’s leading local sportswear brand, what most people may not know about Ultron is also how they do their part in championing an active lifestyle through sports such as running, cycling, duathlons as well as triathlons. Besides the flagship store in Nu Sentral, Ultron also has outlets located outside of Kuala Lumpur such as Kuching and Kangar, with Kota Kinabalu being the latest outlet to join the fray. “Having worked on so many sporting events, I have realized how running is gaining more and more traction not just in Kuala Lumpur, but also in the suburban areas across the country. We aim to not only introduce more outlets, but also have more running clinics and grassroot program to promote the sport in these areas. I strongly feel that as a Malaysian brand we have to not only leave our mark in Kuala Lumpur, but the whole of Malaysia.”
So what’s next for Ultron? “A lot of people have asked me regarding plans for international expansion. We have of course left an impression of our brand in the Middle East through our collaboration for the GulfBank 642 Marathon 2017, but for now my main focus is to grow Ultron in Malaysian soil.” He emphasized the importance of having a strong foundation in home soil. “To enter the market of another country is to enter a totally new arena. That being said, imagine how we’d fare in a new arena when we have yet to conquer our own arena, that being the Malaysian market? International expansion will come in due time.”
“Change the Game.” It’s been just a little over 3 and a half years, but Ultron have stayed true to their tagline since its inception, making waves rather than mere ripples. With them slowly taking over Malaysia, it’s only a matter of time before Ultron lands in international shores. Trust the process. AM