Like I said, food and education were star attractions at the recent Franchising and Licensing Asia exhibition in Marina Bay Sands.
As we passed by one booth, this girl came by with tiny cups of drinks. She egged me to try one so I took one and saw that it was made by Sundrop. Now anyone who’s lived in Kuching would have grown up with the famous Sundrop orange drink. So I ask her casually if she’s from Sarawak. She smiled and said no. Then her boss comes by and we strike up a conversation and I tell him that Sundrop is a big name in Kuching and he looked more confused than the girl! They’ve never heard of its history and now they’re attempting to market this at an exhibition? Very odd!
But what’s even weirder is that the Sundrop packaging of its drinks is really embarrassingly amateur! I told Nic he had to email this Sarawak company and tell them to brush up on their packaging design. The drinks may be good but the packaging is lousy!
As we strolled from booth to booth, we saw lots of food franchises from Singapore itself and also from countries like Vietnam (Trung Nguyen Coffee), US and the Philippines (Figaro Coffee). One particular sandwich chain (resembling Subway in most ways) had a name that was so hard to pronounce! They invited us to try out their sandwiches but we weren’t in the mood to eat things we couldn’t even pronounce.
Besides food sampling (which were plenty), we also met some officials from Malaysia who were exhibiting under the Malaysia franchise umbrella. They got excited when we told them we were Malaysians. One said that Malaysia was going to have an even bigger franchise exhibition next year in PWTC. I don’t doubt the size of the Malaysian version but I doubt if it can be organized as seamlessly as this one in Singapore. I mean, look at the Singaporean transport system. It’s efficient. It’s punctual.
Besides food, there were lots of education franchises. After all we know how Asians love everything to do with making kids smart and ultra competitive! We stopped by music education franchises, kindy franchises, all types. Each one seemed different yet each one felt quite the same to me.
The 3-day exhibition also had a few interesting talks. We sat in during one by a franchise consultant, TK Lee, who gave very good pointers for people looking to buy a franchise.
Buying a franchise is running a business. Most people think they can escape their bosses or get out of a boring job by buying a franchise. Lee warns that it’s not a way of getting out of a job. The proper mindset is to think of “getting into business”. (More of this in an upcoming post on how to evaluate a franchise business so come back for more.)
Was the exhibition fun?
Sure! We spoke to lots of people who assumed we were Singaporeans (now why are Singaporeans so local in their thinking? Can’t we be from other countries?).
While Nic’s professional camera was not allowed into the exhibition area, I could use my Canon point-and-shoot to take photos inside! What’s the rationale anyway?