So what’s the real story behind Darren Chan, the founder of Asia’s first sugar daddy dating site? Definitely much more than meets the eyes, Darren graduated with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. During his time there, he collaborated with fellow peers and was exposed to the F&B, music and entertainment industries.
Upon his return to Malaysia, Darren was keen on exploring different business opportunities. In 2014, he partnered with an associate to form Endeavor Capitals, which most notably funded Malaysia’s Live Entertainment Booking Platform, Gigfairy. Gigfairy is the community marketplace for users to book live entertainment and musical acts.
Within 8 months, Gigfairy was acquired by Tune Studios of Tune Group Sdn Bhd for an undisclosed amount together with Brickfields Asia College (BAC) Founder and Managing Director Mr. Raja Singham, joining in the later stages as investor.
Shortly afterwards, Darren embarked on Endeavor Standard which developed TheSugarBook. Seeking to provide the freedom and security for like-minded people to meet and form mutually beneficial relationships, Darren’s goal is to connect people by giving them the power to be honest and transparent based on their unique wants and needs.
In your own words what is TheSugarBook?
TheSugarBook is a niche social networking platform for people to connect, meet and build mutually beneficial relationships.
How did you come up with the idea of TheSugarBook?
A couple of years ago, I read a study stating that 40% of individuals chose ‘financials’ as one of the top criteria when selecting for a partner.
I then did some research and found a study by a team of health, social and behavioural scientists from UCLA, Chapman University, Rutgers University and Indiana University of over 27,600 heterosexuals which had a summarised conclusion that men favor beauty while women prioritize finances when it comes to the importance of differences in long-term partners.
That got me thinking and with the rise of online dating, I decided to build a platform for like-minded consenting adults to connect, meet and build mutually beneficial relationships that are upfront, honest and transparent. That was how TheSugarBook came to be.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up TheSugarBook?
Our very first hire was a brilliant web developer who had faith in the platform from day 1. Then came a UI/UX developer followed by another developer.
We began with building and fine tuning the website at www.thesugarbook.com before we moved on to developing the app.
In the meantime, we started curating the marketing and communications team.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
The only difficulty I recall was hiring. For starters, people thought we were crazy. Some thought we were too ambitious and wanted a regular job that is more stable instead.
Hiring was near impossible with the small amount of budget we had. It was with sheer determination and dedication that we overcame it.
How have you been developing TheSugarBook since startup?
For these first 2 years, our focus will always be on product development and growth.
What kind of feedback did you get for TheSugarBook so far?
We’ve got a mixed bag of feedback so far and we do appreciate every single one of them.
With every business, there will always be naysayers on a side and cheerleaders on the other but we’ve been thankful that we do receive a lot of support from peers in the industry and also, our loved ones.
Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?
TheSugarBook is a global company but our focus is more on Asia. That said, we have not encountered any competitors with the same concept as us in South East Asia so far. We are the 1st Sugar Daddy Dating platform in Asia.
However, we do look towards our western competitors as a mean to push us
to improve even more. The strategy is to always be improving and be proactive and able to adapt.
If we focus too much on our competitors, that will in return hinder us. We’d rather analyze certain case studies and learn from them.
What can you tell us about the industry?
The dating industry is a lucrative business. As of year 2017, the global market size in Asia alone was over USD$1.5billion with a potential growth of over 36% in the next 4 years.
Our plan is to expand to Thailand, Indonesia and the global economic superpower that is China.
How do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?
The future of online dating will probably lead to a more niche market, exploring in different sub-cultures rather than a general dating platform. Also, that we will be integrating digital and onground with events and parties in 2018.
Were there anything that disappointed you initially?
I’ve always been a positive person and can honestly say that there hasn’t been any significant incident that would affect me negatively. In every situation, one must be able to see the solution or an opportunity rather than be beaten down.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?
I studied in Melbourne, Australia and lived there for many years. When I was there, I had the opportunity to be exposed to different industries; such as hospitality and entertainment and I do not find there to be any momentous difference between being harder or easier. There are cultural and bureaucracy difference but nothing that cannot be handled with the right team on your side.
There is a huge opportunity to grow in Asia as the tech industry here still has a wide margin for development.
What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?
I wouldn’t be able to comparatively separate the 2; I think that entrepreneurship in itself takes a lot of guts; the ability to recognize an
opportunity and the courage to seize the moment. Also, being able to improvise, adapt and overcome.
What is your definition of success?
To be able to create value and grow TheSugarBook to a wider market.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I saw an opportunity and I took it.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
To never stop learning and having the patience to grow a business from its seed to fruition.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Whatever you do, do with your all, be dedicated. Wherever you go, go as a leader. Have the courage to lead. If you serve, serve with passion.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference,” – Robert Frost.