Spirit of Enterprise Award 2008 Interview – Part 4

by Andrew Chow | July 5, 2019

http://www.soe.org.sg/files/interview2008.php?i=256&a=&c=&year=200816. When was the moment you realised the business would work and support you?
I think every businessman will set out to think the business will be self-sufficient and supporting. I never allow myself to have any safety net.
17. What are some of your proudest business achievements to date? And why are they so important and meaningful to you?
In 2000, my MICE company was ranked worldwide as the 5th best due to our excellent services, networks and track records. In my Dating and Matchmaking business, I was also proud that in 2005 when the Government wanted to give up ownership and responsibility in their industry to the private sector, I was awarded the tender to manage Romancing Singapore and the private sector pioneer to drive and lead this falling industry to greater heights. We went to create milestones events such as Dating@Sea, a 3-day event which included speed dating, treasure hunts, seminar on relationship management for the singles. We also had other popular dating concept such as Love in a Capsule, First Impression, Table For Six (T46), and Night Around Singapore Car Rally (NASCAR)that changed many Singaporeans mindsets towards social networking events. I am also very proud that NLB have identified RomancingSingapore websites, information and events to archive in their database. This shows that what I do has a place towards Singapore history, culture and future.
18. How do you differentiate your business from your competitors? Please provide specific examples.
As I mentioned earlier, for my MICE business, I focus on importing premium supplies for customers who want quality, concentrating on margin instead of volume. For my dating business, I created various brands for the various target groups. I can have a supermarket-type service that anybody can come in, for example by registering in our website, www.romancingsingapore.com. I also have boutique services for more specialised group of people, people who can better afford. I also have brands such as Table For Six (T46), Loveboat.sg, First Impression, Beulah, Goodlooks.sg, Highfliers.sg, couples.sg, Two To Tango to target the niche areas. For people who are less-networking savvy, I can arrange a table for six for you. I can also be flexible enough, such that I can have up to 3 tables, and the guys can swap tables. At the end of the day, 9 guys get to know 9 ladies and vice-versa. For the more networking savvy, I can arrange huge events like Night Around Singapore Car Rally (NASCAR), of 5-6 hours for say 150 people. However for such big events, there is a huge tendency whereby although people get to know each other quantitatively, but there is no quality. This resulted many guys forgetting the names of the ladies they met, and also vice-versa for the ladies on the guys names. Therefore, I can arrange for events stretching over a longer period, such as Dating@Sea, where we combine travel with social networking for 2 full days or more. People will have the chance to meet 120 other like-minded singles. There will be ample time for quality interaction, and bonding, which require some warm-up time. If you do not want too big or too small a crowd, and would want some excitement and personal feedback, I can introduce First impression, which combine speed dating concept with feedback elements. You will be able to talk to each participant of the opposite sex, and at the end of the day, not only everybody get to know everyone, each will also receive a personalised private feedback report, which would not be easy to get from the participants. For really niche customer base, I have brands that cater only to Christians or brands that cater only to “good-looking” people. Most Christians would want to marry someone who is the same faith as him/her. Similarly, most good-looking people would also like to meet people who are good-looking. In my line of business, I have to think long and future steps as I actually met with competitors “copying” my products and services. Therefore I always need to be able to come out with new innovate methods continually. In fact when people copy me, I am happy as this shows that what I am doing is right. I also ensured that I continually do new things, innovate to meet customer demands and create unidentified needs in my range of products and services. By doing so, my customer base will continue to follow me. I like to stress that continuity is very important, especially in my line of business.
19. What are some business ideas you have implemented that created great results in your business?
We have many well documented events, such as Cruises, First Impression, Love in a Capsule, Car rallies in the day and night, that generated huge media interest as well as helped people to open up to themselves and others. For example, our Dating@Sea event was a huge success. Not only there was huge media coverage, it is also one of the most important milestones in Singapore dating and matchmaking industry. This event is made happen by 4 competing agencies! Everybody got their fair share of media coverage which improves their business, and most importantly, we are encouraged by the overwhelming response and mindset change by Singaporeans. Another good example is “Love in a Capsule”, where we brought in a refreshing idea of meeting people, and to create a unique dating experience. This event is jointly organized by us and Cliquewise, participants paid $199 each for a ride on the Singapore Flyer, followed by a Chinese-Western dinner at Labrador Villa. Therefore who says a “blind date” should be boring? This not only provides a refreshing approach to meeting new people of the opposite sex, but also allows the participants to take scenic pictures, and clink champagne glasses while enjoying the glittering night view from the 42-storey high observation wheel, the world’s tallest, and Singapore’s pride! Our recent “survivor-style” dating competition, First Impression, received much publicity and compliments too, by the public, media and even my competitors! We had overwhelming demands for more of such competitions in future. Instead of personally marketing my services, getting my participants as spokeman is also a great idea. For example , Ms Joyce Tia, a Chief Financial Officer to speak to the media; she was the rated Most Popular lady along the guys for 2 consecutive rounds. This hugely helps in building trust and awareness in my business. In fact, in Joyce’s case, this is a 4 parties win-win case, because it benefited Joyce, my business, media, as well as Joyce makeup-artist’s company. Of course with branding, you need to screen, to bring the “right people”.For example, I set a standard for clients interested in my “Good-looking” brand.
20. I have read much about the success of 2 of your events, “Ready Steady Shop”, “First Impressions”. In fact, there was a interesting debate , both in the media as well as in the internet. Can you elaborate on the events and the rationale in them?
Ready, Steady, Shop is an event organized by us and supported by the Social Development Unit (SDU) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to create platforms for social interaction opportunities for the fun-loving and adventurous. This event is targeted to add a new dimension to late night shopping, by incorporating a quintessentially unique component of a team shopping race spanning 5 shopping malls in Orchard Road. Ready, Steady, Shop is not only an escapade that enables singles to expand their social network while having fun. In “First Impression”, indeed many people, including the media regarded it as the “most extreme” dating event in Singapore’s 4-year-old modern private sector driven dating industry. In this competition, there are a few rounds. In round 1, singles chat with each other for 8 minutes in a round-robin fashion, as in the norm in speed dating. Both men and women are tasked to rate and score each other based on 1) First Impression and 2) Personality. Participants ranked in the top 50% will advance to the next round to meet top 50% of other groups. All results and feedback will be e-mailed to each participant 2 days after the event. The voting continues throughout rounds 2 and 3 until the final 6 (3 men and 3 women) are determined, after which they will enjoy a free fine-dining activity together as a reward for surviving till the end. This is a competitive dating concept, which I like to stress, not with others but you yourself. I emphasized again that the secret is being the right partner rather than looking for the right partner. This event offers the personal feedback element into speed dating, something which we all needed but seldom obtained. We want people to think and possibly reflect and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again in dating. How did I get this business idea? Singles complain about the quality of events in the market, which tend to be formulaic and monotonous. My concept will help weed out insincere or undesirable personalities. The natural selection process will raise the quality of participants, thereby raising the quality of our events. The elimination process is always on the person mind whenever it comes to dating. Some are totally shocked to see their low scores, which did not reflect the positive body language shown (or so they thought) and the friendly conversation exchanged during the speed dating. This proves a point that the unseen feedback is often different, different from what you think. But all is not lost for those eliminated. They will still be notified on the mutual matches and their contract details as a consolation prize. And if they want to improve in their grooming and etiquette in order to excel in future dating events, we also can offer professional coaching and personal development services to them. In fact, I received praises even from my competitors, for example Ms Claire Chiang, a well-established business women and Ms Violet Lim of Lunch Actually.

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