We are back with another episode of Moving Forward with Venuerific and today we will be speaking with Natasha Toh, the co-founder of The Fun Empire. In this enlightening conversation, Natasha shares with us some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur, the adversities her business faced in Covid-19 and some tips to share with the budding entrepreneurs out there!
For the uninitiated, Natasha is the only Singaporean honorary of the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2019 list for the retail & e-commerce category. In this short interview, she shares with us how she built her business, The Fun Empire, from the ground up, and how she expanded to own the multi-functional event venue, Hyperspace. Natasha also covers how her young company managed to navigate the crisis brought about by the pandemic to the events industry. She talks about the adaptations made and the innovative ideas brainstormed to keep her events company afloat and well sustained in the uncertain climate of phase 3.
Photo credit to Hyperspace
You can check out their video interview here!
Natasha, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Yeah, sure. So I’m Natasha, I’m from the Fun Empire. So I co-founded a company about six years back. At Fun Empire, we are the leading events and team building company in Asia. We create the world’s most unique and interesting activities for our clients. We do a full range of services, ranging from sports activities like Bubble Bump Soccer to creating workshops like Art Jamming. And now we will also have pivoted into some virtual online activities, such as the world’s first virtual amazing race and a virtual escape room.
You are also the only Singaporean honorary of the ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ Asia 2019 list for the e-commerce category as well. What an accomplishment. Congratulations!
Thank you. Thank you. We’re definitely surprised and honoured as well to be on that list. So I think it speaks volumes of our team’s effort to really grow to such an extent within a five to six-year period.
Was it hard at first? Were there challenges that really made you..that made it difficult as an entrepreneur?
I think, as with all businesses, starting out is definitely not easy. Yeah. So I think one of the challenges that I face as well as a lot of entrepreneurs face would definitely be having to put on a lot of different hats, right.
As you can imagine, this is a very service-based business so we started off doing everything ourselves from the procurement of equipment to maintaining the equipment and fixing the equipment, as well as running the events ourselves. So, we will be running like back to back events the whole day, and we still have to go back to sales and marketing. I think, all in all, it’s definitely a difficult start to make sure that you get the full system right and the full system setup as you hire more people in scale. I’ll say that is definitely one of the biggest challenges, which is the long hours as well as the effort you have to put in right at the start.
What is one unique feature about your venue that you are most proud to share about?
I think one unique feature of it is that it’s decked out with very cool neon black lights that can kind of change the entire environment into this cool vibe, so you’ll be glowing in the dark. If you switch on the lights, and if you’re wearing something white, it will glow and light up. And because we run quite a number of our client activities stress as well so it just sets a whole mood for let’s say something that’s fun like laser tech, or maybe like neon dodge ball that we will provide for our clients. Yeah, so I think it’s something that is multifunctional and at the same time, it has both a serious as well as the fun side to it.
I think definitely during the pandemic there were a lot of restrictions involved. I think even now with phase three, it is also limited to 8pax for social gatherings. I guess we have a lot of event venues because right now for let’s say for social gatherings and birthday parties, there are still a lot of limitations to it. So we have to get around, and also still work with all these safety regulations, and unfortunately have to reject quite a number of clients at the moment. Because people will be asking, “Can I have a birthday party for 50 pax?” but unfortunately there’s not gonna happen. Yeah, so I think that’s one of the challenges I guess everyone will have to deal with at this moment.
In terms of Hyperspace, were there any different changes or transformations that actually took place for the venue and can you share a little bit more about what you did?
Sure. I think in terms of digital transformation, there are two aspects to it. One is on the Fun Empire side and one is, I will say, is related to Hyperspace side as well. So, for the Fun Empire side, like I mentioned, we have pivoted a lot into virtual events, and virtual activities. So one of these key activities, for example, is the virtual escape room that we have created. It’s a proprietary platform that we have designed to allow players to experience a whole escape room, you know escaping a room in 60 minutes kind of experience through our online platform. Yeah, so we also created a virtual amazing race and other virtual trading workshop experiences that people can still bond online despite staying apart, right now, because of the pandemic.
So how does Hyperspace come into play – for example, we can have hybrid events as well. So some of them might be using the space to do their creative workshops, while the majority of the participants might be tuning in, online via digital means while we send all these virtual home kits to their various addresses and locations.
Are there any recovery strategies in place to get Hyperspace up and running again, especially with phase three kicking in at the end of December?
Yeah, so I think in terms of strategies and to kind of overcome these challenges from a venue point of view, is definitely looking at how we can split the consumers into different timings and different group sizes. At the same time, similarly, thinking about, is there a possibility for hybrid events to go on.
Hyperspace on Venuerific
Yeah, I think working with Venuerific has been great. So I think in terms of the support that they’ve given as well as the service. They are always there, you know, for any advice, any help. I think because you guys have worked with a lot of venue partners, so I think you guys are really on the ground and know what is the latest trend within the venue space industry.
Yeah, so I think in terms of the UI, you guys also have given a lot of support based on the CRM component. For example, how to manage the bookings and inquiries, down to also obviously the marketing efforts on how to get visibility for our space. Yeah. So I think it’s a very easy-to-use platform, and then definitely in terms of visibility wise, you guys are also highly ranked on Google. So it’s like a great tool to get your venue, I would say, put your venue in front of the right customers.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out a business, what would it be?
Being adaptable and able to think on your feet and try out new ideas, I think it’s very critical. Yeah, cuz I think this has taught us that anything can happen, so you can plan for like having a 5-year, 10-year plan but it can maybe totally change cause of something.
So how do you kind of really, I would say, adapt to the new normal as well as the changes involved, and still gather your resources. And, kind of, I would say analyse your strengths and weaknesses at the current situation and how can you pivot using what you already have, as quickly as possible.
Yeah, definitely agree with your great advice. So I think we’ve actually come to the end of the episode of ‘Moving Forward with Venuerific’. I actually really enjoyed talking to you Natasha and learning about your story, and especially the kind of pivots that you’ve made during this time.
About the Fun Empire:
The Fun Empire is a leading events and team building company in Asia that develops and provides the world’s most unique and fun activities. The company delivers exhilarating experiences for all age groups through their variety of games, concepts, and packages. The Fun Empire owns Hyperspace which is an events venue perfect for hosting all types of events. Hyperspace is flexible, spacious and conveniently located, promising a one of a kind unique experience for your event. Click here to view details and send inquiries to Hyperspace.
Venuerific lists more than 3,000 venues across Southeast Asia and provides an all-in-one Venue Management CRM Software for venue operators. The platform is also a pre-approved ICM vendor under IMDA SME GO digital programme in Singapore. This is a scheme that identifies Digital solutions to help SMEs to transform and optimise their productivity through the use of Digital technology. The scheme also allow businesses to get up to 98%* support fund through the Productivity Solutions Grant and Skillsfuture Enterprise Credit. Visit this Page to find out how you can benefit by listing your venue on Venuerific.