By the SMU Social Media Team
According to the Time Out City Life Index 2018—a poll of 15,000 people—Singapore takes the second last spot when it comes to ranking of the world’s most exciting cities. We know Singaporeans love to complain that there is nothing to do in the city other than to eat, shop and catch a movie. But is Singapore really that boring?
To challenge this notion, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business alumna Natasha Toh, together with her husband Ryan Ho, started The Fun Empire— a one-stop events platform and organiser—to bring more fun and interesting experiences to Singapore.
Bringing the Most Unique Activities from Across the Globe to Singapore
In the three short years since The Fun Empire’s inception in 2015, Natasha and Ryan have organised a whopping number of more than 5,000 events for over 300,000 participants—many of whom are returning customers.
With their hopes to bring more happiness through the power of fun, Natasha and Ryan set out to introduce a wide range of activities suitable for a wide range of customer profiles and interests. To date, they have over 30 specially curated activities from adventure-based ones like Bubble Bump, Combat Archery, Laser Tag and Virtual Reality, to creative workshops like Art Jamming, Terrarium Making and Leather Crafting.
“Most of our clients engage our services for company team building, school programmes as well as birthday parties, bachelor/hen parties and friend gatherings,” co-founder Natasha mentions. “It is difficult to find fun and interesting group activities, and that is where we come in to help provide a one-of-a-kind experience for our clients.”
It’s all fun and games, but with so many events companies competing for the same pie, how do they keep things fresh and their customers coming back?
Natasha admits that the market is not an easy one, especially when it comes to competing head to head with companies that are more established, and with a loyal clientele. So, for The Fun Empire, they bank on ‘innovation’. Natasha says that they stay innovative by constantly creating new concepts and activities that are fresh and different.
“We’ve developed and trademarked several unique activities such as the Saber Tag® and SaberFit®—both of which are first-of-its-kind concepts,” says co-founder Ryan, who is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer.
“Saber Tag® is a unique team game that incorporates neon combat sabers and proprietary electronic scoring vest technology. Players duel with sabers in a fun and safe way. It’s like being in your very own Star Wars movie!”
“We also have SaberFit®, a group high energy fitness workout that combines combat sabers, saber striking techniques and HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval-Training) fitness exercises. It’s a full-body toning experience for both beginners and exercise enthusiasts.”
Entrepreneurs At 18
Natasha and Ryan first met in Raffles Junior College, where they started their very first business venture—an online fashion company. With the experience gained from this, the couple then started another company in the education industry, while Natasha was pursuing her Business degree at the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business.
“Starting a business while studying at SMU was one of the best learning experiences. The entrepreneurship modules and workshops organised in SMU helped to shape my business acumen, and I applied what I learnt in the classroom to the real world of business,” reflects Natasha.
The idea for The Fun Empire first came about when Ryan—who was then travelling extensively as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company—commented to Natasha about the limited activities in Singapore, as compared to other countries. The pair then explored several trending and interesting activities, such as Bubble Bump, and decided to bring the idea back to Singapore.
Things took off quickly as Bubble Bump became one of the most popular activities in Singapore, attracting extensive press coverage from The Straits Times, Channel 8, Channel U, The Smart Local, and other media outlets. From there, the company expanded their offerings to include more unique activities such as Poolball, Combat Archery and Ninja Tag.
Growing the Empire
“SMU gave me the perfect platform for entrepreneurship. Its cross-disciplinary curriculum and seminar-based approach provided me with the skillsets required as an entrepreneur to be adaptable and quick on my feet,” reflects Natasha.
But Natasha is all too aware that when it comes to growing a startup, having a strong network is crucial—especially so for The Fun Empire which relies heavily on word-of-mouth and referrals. In fact, Natasha has since organised several events for her alma mater, such as a SaberFit workout session for SMU staff members, as well as Bubble Bump activities for Patron’s Day.
“I am glad that SMU provides a strong community network that promotes interaction opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs, faculty, staff and alumni. It’s definitely helped put The Fun Empire name out there, and also allowed me to tap on the mentorship of experienced individuals,” she says.
Besides the traditional marketing route, The Fun Empire has also focused efforts in digital and social media marketing to broaden their clientele base. Says Natasha, “The marketing modules in SMU helped tremendously in shaping our brand positioning and lead generation strategies.”
As The Fun Empire’s 40-member team continues to grow, Natasha feels that one of the greatest takeaway on the journey of entrepreneurship is people management.
“At the start, we had to do everything ourselves, from operations to sales and marketing. But as we grew, people management became a key priority. A company is only as strong as its people, and we are really blessed to have a wonderful and dedicated team.”
When asked where she sees The Fun Empire in the next five years, Natasha says that their aspiration is to make it go-to platform for all things fun and interesting.
“We are in the business of bringing happiness, fun and smiles to people. So, we will continue to develop and introduce even more unique and interesting activities in our product portfolio. The Fun Empire also has plans to expand regionally, so as to continue impacting more people in Asia with our fun experiences.”
But no matter where or how big The Fun Empire grows, the one thing that Natasha says will remain constant is her and Ryan’s dedication to and appreciation of the team.
“I will never forget our humble beginnings—of how we started in a small little room that could barely fit 3 people, to where we are today. The Fun Empire would not have achieved any of its successes without our team’s hard work and contribution.”
[All photos courtesy of The Fun Empire.]