- 26-year-old Singaporean Samuel Tey started working as a freelance personal trainer and export controller right after army, but always harboured the dream of opening his own business.
- He then stumbled across a video of ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa at an axe throwing range, and was inspired to bring the concept here.
- Partners and him invested $150k each, and business has been growing since opening in August 2018.
2 years ago, I interviewed the founder of The Fragment Room, the first ‘rage room’ in Singapore that lets customers smash items for a fee.
“I saw on Facebook that this ‘rage room’ concept was a thing, like people could actually break things to relieve stress. And I was thinking if we had anything like this in Singapore – and the only thing I could think of as a way to relieve stress is to go and drink,” explained founder Royce Tan.
Just like Royce, the founder of Axe Factor, the first axe throwing range in Singapore, also got his inspiration from social media.
“I first encountered axe throwing while scrolling through my Instagram,” recalled Samuel Tey.
“I saw Jason Momoa (an actor who’s famous for his role as superhero Aquaman) drinking beer and throwing an axe at a wooden target board indoors.”
My first thought was that it would be so cool if I get to do this! I would 100% be down to go and throw axes, with or without the beer.
Just 26, Samuel is already running 2 companies – Axe Factor, and the other being a transport and logistics firm which sprouted from his family’s longtime business.
“An opportunity [to expand the family business] came to me right around the time I was about to take the plunge to open up Axe Factor. It was a tough call to decide to run 2 companies at the same time, but eventually, I decided to grab both of them.”
While he cites “good partners in both businesses” as the reason why he manages to juggle both at the same time, his work days are still long – “at the very least 13 to 14 hours a day”.
Prior to being his own boss, he was a freelance personal trainer and an export controller in his family’s previous company.
However, the desk-bound nature of the job was not his cup of tea, and he spent whatever free time he had on the job online, reading up more about the stock market and finding ideas for a new business.
“Nobody really knows, but I have always wanted to have my own businesses, ever since I was in secondary school,” he said.
I just really didn’t like working for someone else and have people constantly telling me what to do.
And after 2 years of doing research on the side, he stumbled upon axe throwing and has never looked back since.
“A Friend Even Said To My Face That I Will Fail”
Samuel revealed that it was the “manly aspect” of axe throwing that drew him to it.
“When I saw [the video], the second thought I had was: ‘I hope Singapore doesn’t have this’, because I wanted to [have] the first mover advantage in axe throwing.”
Drawing from his personal experience as a Singaporean who’s always struggling to decide on places to go with friends, he also figured that a novel concept like axe throwing could be a “good addition to the activities available in Singapore”.
While getting the support of his family, girlfriend, and close friends was easy, Samuel’s idea didn’t hit a bullseye with some others.
Most of the people were said it was impossible to get the permit to run an axe throwing range in Singapore. A friend even said to my face that I will fail.
Getting a license wasn’t exactly easy either, but Samuel anticipated that and prepared safety materials prior to the evaluation.
“It took me 4 to 5 months of to-and-fro emailing, along with presentations and safety meetings to cover everything before the permit was approved. We also have specific requirements [that are] not needed in any other countries – just to be extra safe.”
Another challenges he faced was getting a space that was both big enough for multiple ranges and still easily accessible by customers.
They eventually settled on The Grandstand at Bukit Timah, where they take up four side-by-side units.
Starting up took an investment of around S$150,000 each from Samuel and his partners, and the range was officially launched on 31 August last year.
Making Axe Throwing A Competitive Sport In Singapore
Samuel disclosed that at the beginning, business was a little slow as they were a new place offering an entirely new concept.
“But we’ve seen a huge increase in business as more and more people hear about us,” he chirped.
“After all, axe throwing for parties sounds really good don’t they!”
Samuel also assures that as intimidating as it seems, axe throwing “isn’t as dangerous as it sounds or looks”, and they have ‘axe-perts’ there to help brief customers on the dos and don’ts.
“Our main throwing axes have a wooden handle, and therefore the bouncing back of the axes won’t reach the throwers. I have tons of customers coming in and leaving saying that it didn’t feel as dangerous as [they] thought.”
The accident rate of axe throwing is really low, compared to other sports like soccer or basketball. As long as people listen to us, follow the rules, and not be an axe-hole, they will be fine!
“The main injury we get are from the splinters of the wood – that’s all,” he laughed.
Beyond getting more Singaporeans to try out axe throwing, Samuel also has plans to make axe throwing a competitive sport in Singapore.
“[I want to] work with various organisations like Sports SG [and] am looking forward to setting up a competition with real prize money and the opportunity to compete overseas.”
“There are quite a few good throwers in Singapore, and it will be really cool to have a team of Singaporeans representing Singapore in the National Axe Throwing Championship. Perhaps we will even crown the first Axe Throwing Champion of Singapore!”
I’d like to thank Samuel for his time!
The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Rd #01-32A/B & 34A/B