The #HighlySoughtAfter Talk Show

How to create a tipsy experience for your customers – Derek Ong

May 11, 2021 Eric Feng
The #HighlySoughtAfter Talk Show
How to create a tipsy experience for your customers – Derek Ong
Chapters
The #HighlySoughtAfter Talk Show
How to create a tipsy experience for your customers – Derek Ong
May 11, 2021
Eric Feng

In this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter, I had a chat with Derek Ong, an entrepreneur who has been making waves in the F&B scene here in Singapore.

During COVID-19 in 2020, many restaurants were struggling, some were even forced to shut down, but Derek was busy setting up new restaurants and his existing five were fully booked every day.

What I enjoyed most about my conversation with Derek is the level of detail he goes into ensuring that every single customer who steps into his restaurants has a “Tipsy” experience that makes them come back again and again. And the key to creating that experience is understanding the subtle difference between service and hospitality.

Hint: Listen in at 10:58 where Derek shares his “secret sauce” that creates the Tipsy experience, and his advice to service professionals on how they can replicate this to turn their customers into raving fans.

Also listen out for Derek’s answers to the following questions:

  • What got you started in the F&B industry as an entrepreneur Derek? - 0:58
  • After your initial culinary experiences, what was your first F&B restaurant that you started? – 3:57
  • What are some of the struggles you face as an F&B entrepreneur – 6:15
  • In 2020, when people were closing down in covid, you were still fully booked and even set up 2 new restaurants. What’s your secret sauce? - 7:55
  • Share with us one of your bustling restaurants and let’s analyse the value so that people listening can learn to stack value for themselves? – 10:58
  • Would you say that customer experience is a big part of your customer differentiation? – 13:25
  • How can we approach personalisation as a service professional? – 14:43
  • What do you tell your staff? – 15:43
  • How did you navigate the COVID period with your restaurants so smoothly? – 16:43
  • How can we have your kind of intuition and anticipatory leadership skills to pay attention and adapt to changing circumstances? - 18:03
  • What are some practical tips to make sure that we don’t get blindsided and destroyed from the next pandemic? – 19:57
  • Why the name Tipsy? – 26:21
  • How can the rest of us listening to you increase the hospitality as business owners or solo entrepreneurs? – 22:04
  • How can we balance serving from the heart and not being burdened by the pressure of running the business? – 23:02
  • How did you come up with this concept of animals for your restaurant names? – 28:06
  • Do you think mascots are only relevant for restaurants, or do you think they’re relevant for individual personal brands? – 30:50
  • Why Tipsy Bird? – 31:25
  • What can we do as a brand, personality, how can we make our customers tipsy as well. How can we be their alcohol? – 32:10
  • How has social media played a part in your brand success? – 34:38
  • What is some of the best social media content that you’ve created under Tipsy Collective? – 36:45
  • How can you still create the tipsy experience in spite of the current limitations? – 37:49
  • To summarise, what will contribute to your Tipsy experience overall so we can emulate and model? – 39:40
  • In 2021, what’s coming up for you and Tipsy Collective. What are we to expect from you? – 42:05

If you want to keep in touch with Derek, you can reach him on Instagram @dereeeeeeeek, or Tipsy Collective (and their various brands) @tipsycollectivesg.

Thank you for listening to this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter! 

If you enjoyed this episode, please help me hit the ‘subscribe’ button if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts or hit the ‘follow’ button if you are listening on Spotify. 
 
I would also love to hear your biggest takeaway from this episode! Here’s how: take a screenshot of you listening to #HighlySoughtAfter and tag me on Instagram. My handle is @ericgoesglobal. This way, I can personally thank you!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter, I had a chat with Derek Ong, an entrepreneur who has been making waves in the F&B scene here in Singapore.

During COVID-19 in 2020, many restaurants were struggling, some were even forced to shut down, but Derek was busy setting up new restaurants and his existing five were fully booked every day.

What I enjoyed most about my conversation with Derek is the level of detail he goes into ensuring that every single customer who steps into his restaurants has a “Tipsy” experience that makes them come back again and again. And the key to creating that experience is understanding the subtle difference between service and hospitality.

Hint: Listen in at 10:58 where Derek shares his “secret sauce” that creates the Tipsy experience, and his advice to service professionals on how they can replicate this to turn their customers into raving fans.

Also listen out for Derek’s answers to the following questions:

  • What got you started in the F&B industry as an entrepreneur Derek? - 0:58
  • After your initial culinary experiences, what was your first F&B restaurant that you started? – 3:57
  • What are some of the struggles you face as an F&B entrepreneur – 6:15
  • In 2020, when people were closing down in covid, you were still fully booked and even set up 2 new restaurants. What’s your secret sauce? - 7:55
  • Share with us one of your bustling restaurants and let’s analyse the value so that people listening can learn to stack value for themselves? – 10:58
  • Would you say that customer experience is a big part of your customer differentiation? – 13:25
  • How can we approach personalisation as a service professional? – 14:43
  • What do you tell your staff? – 15:43
  • How did you navigate the COVID period with your restaurants so smoothly? – 16:43
  • How can we have your kind of intuition and anticipatory leadership skills to pay attention and adapt to changing circumstances? - 18:03
  • What are some practical tips to make sure that we don’t get blindsided and destroyed from the next pandemic? – 19:57
  • Why the name Tipsy? – 26:21
  • How can the rest of us listening to you increase the hospitality as business owners or solo entrepreneurs? – 22:04
  • How can we balance serving from the heart and not being burdened by the pressure of running the business? – 23:02
  • How did you come up with this concept of animals for your restaurant names? – 28:06
  • Do you think mascots are only relevant for restaurants, or do you think they’re relevant for individual personal brands? – 30:50
  • Why Tipsy Bird? – 31:25
  • What can we do as a brand, personality, how can we make our customers tipsy as well. How can we be their alcohol? – 32:10
  • How has social media played a part in your brand success? – 34:38
  • What is some of the best social media content that you’ve created under Tipsy Collective? – 36:45
  • How can you still create the tipsy experience in spite of the current limitations? – 37:49
  • To summarise, what will contribute to your Tipsy experience overall so we can emulate and model? – 39:40
  • In 2021, what’s coming up for you and Tipsy Collective. What are we to expect from you? – 42:05

If you want to keep in touch with Derek, you can reach him on Instagram @dereeeeeeeek, or Tipsy Collective (and their various brands) @tipsycollectivesg.

Thank you for listening to this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter! 

If you enjoyed this episode, please help me hit the ‘subscribe’ button if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts or hit the ‘follow’ button if you are listening on Spotify. 
 
I would also love to hear your biggest takeaway from this episode! Here’s how: take a screenshot of you listening to #HighlySoughtAfter and tag me on Instagram. My handle is @ericgoesglobal. This way, I can personally thank you!

Eric Feng (Host):

In this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter, I had a chat with Derek Ong, an entrepreneur who has been making waves in the F&B scene here in Singapore. During COVID-19 in 2020, many restaurants were struggling, some even forced to shut down. But Derek was busy setting up new restaurants and his existing five were fully booked every day. So let's find out in this episode what his secret sauce is to making all his restaurants so highly sought after. Let's have a chat, Derek Ong.

    So Derek, this is really awkward for us, don't you feel?

Derek Ong (Guest):

It is, it is.

Eric Feng (Host):

This is the first time we have an official conversation, right? We tend to have a lot of drink sessions. But today, Derek and I, we're super sober, we're drinking water, so we're going to have a good chat.

Derek Ong (Guest):

It's so unusual!

Eric Feng (Host):

So unusual, I know. We'll do drinks later. So Derek, I've known you for a while. I've been a huge fan of your Tipsy Collective.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Thank you.

Eric Feng (Host):

But I'm very curious. I've never asked you this question before. How do you even get into the F&B scene?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So I think I started when I was 15 years old. So I just want to share quick stories, that I was working in [inaudible 00:01:08] as a banquet waiter. And on the first day of the work, so we are all told to line up to carry the, you know the opening dishes, right? Yeah, the full presentation and all that stuff. So back then, I was quite a big boiler. So they can't tell I was 15. They thought I was a quite big size, so they put three big cold dishes on my plate, on my tray. And then they asked me to hold it, they asked if I'm okay. So I carried out, my [inaudible 00:01:31] if I say cannot, everybody also carry, right? So I said, okay, I can! Can I? I just carried the whole thing there. So I thought just carry, go out for supper then done, right? But what happened was because it's a [foreign language 00:01:41], a thousand, there's a thousand-

Eric Feng (Host):

Thousand people in a restaurant.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, so they made us wait in line holding the thing for at least ten minutes.

Eric Feng (Host):

THat's good workout!

Derek Ong (Guest):

But that was the longest ten minutes of my life [inaudible 00:01:51] basically. And I was holding there, and before the door even opened, my hands was already shaking. And the jellyfish was even rocking, wobbling already. So I was like, "Oh, my God. This is probably my first and my last day." So then nevermind, just [inaudible 00:02:08] right. So when the door opened, I'm like, "Oh, thank God! I'm going to go now, I'm going to go now." So I walked, "Let me just walk one big round." But lo and behold, when I walked to the center of the board, right at the center, somehow my hands just gave way. Everything just went floating down to the floor.

Eric Feng (Host):

Three plates of cold dishes!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Three big plates of cold dishes, the jelly fish no longer wobbling it was just [inaudible 00:02:27] on the floor. So I think that was how I started my F&B career like. And I thought that would be my last day as well.

Eric Feng (Host):

Can you tell us, when that happened, what was the response of the people around you?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Well, everybody was like on a [inaudible 00:02:44], "Who's that boy? Who dropped the plates? Who's this? Who's that?" So I think I was just trying to find a hole to bury [foreign language 00:02:53]. Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh, my God. And so, do you get hired back or that was your last job?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Luckily, they didn't even dock my pay. They told me that the next time, you carry less [crosstalk 00:03:03]. You just carry one plate.

Eric Feng (Host):

Yeah!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Two plates [foreign language 00:03:06].

Eric Feng (Host):

Two plates.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, two plates, yeah. 

Eric Feng (Host):

And that was how Derek Ong started his career!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, oh my God.

Eric Feng (Host):

With crashing plates of jellyfish! 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah!

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay and then after that what happened?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So working in Banquet for a while. After that, after my O levels, I actually went to work with NTUC Group. So that was when I was really very involved and fell in love with F&B, because I became a bartender back then and I guess that's where I learned to be tipsy [foreign language 00:03:33]. So I still remember my master back then was telling me, "You must learn how to drink, and even when you drink< you must learn to be able to still work after drinking." So I had a very different outlook about drinks, about the whole industry.

Eric Feng (Host):

I have to testify to that. I've drank with Derek before, and it's amazing, I don't know how you do it. Also, you started very young. "Yeah, I start young, you know? Drink a lot when I'm young. [inaudible 00:03:54] very young." So then after that, what was your first restaurant that you started or the first F&B thing that you started?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So right after IORD, I sat down and I looked at some of my options. To me, maybe because of the influence of my dad, I really wanted to also be an entrepreneur, to start a business. So what I did was I wrote a business plan to Spring Singapore, back then it was Spring, to get a business grant. So I started with a fish bakkwa idea. So I made sure-

Eric Feng (Host):

We have to explain it, because we have a lot of non-Singaporeans. Okay, what's bakkwa? Bakkwa is like a barbecue meat-

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes, it's a barbecue-

Eric Feng (Host):

... But it's barbecue fish meat.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Fish meat, yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

So interesting.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. So that's how I started. Got awarded for the grant. It was $50,000 back then.

Eric Feng (Host):

Wow!

Derek Ong (Guest):

So what I did was I used the money to start a food store, right? So I want to defray operating costs, because if you're just running a festive product, bakkwa is usually a festive product in Singapore.

Eric Feng (Host):

Right, Chinese new year.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. But I just needed to run, I still had fixed costs every day, right? So I wanted to run a concept that can defray my costs. So the idea was that I have a pizza and burger place by day, and at night, I would turn it into my production kitchen for my R&D to do whatever I need to do. So that it what I started doing.

Eric Feng (Host):

At 15 years old?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Oh no, that was after my ORD, so that was about 22. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Ah, okay! So your restaurant at 22 would be your first business?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes, yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay. And then after that, I was told that you started a lot of other businesses as well. Just give a quick list of what are the other businesses that you were in.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Sure. So the pizza and Burger business, we continue with that. I sold it in 2014, it's still operating today by someone else. And then after that, I started my own café. I was also given an opportunity to work on a very big brand called Friends.

Eric Feng (Host):

(singing)

Derek Ong (Guest):

(singing) Yes, that's the show!

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh, my God! I can't believe it. You did it!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes. We started that place in 2016. I left the partnership in 2018 with some of my shareholders. Then I started my own thing in 2018 with Tipsy Collective.

Eric Feng (Host):

And that's how I got to know Derek. So Tipsy Collective started. SO I have to say that while there was a very illustrious career for you. You started 15 years old as a banquet guy and then 22, right now it's probably about 10 years? 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, 10, 11 years.

Eric Feng (Host):

Been doing this business for 10 years. So I'm curious to know, what were the struggles that you faced as an F&B entrepreneur? Because we all know this. F&B, some days you're up, some days you're down. How do you do it? What were some of the struggles?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Well, I think specific to F&B, one of the very big issue that we face, it's definitely man power. So revenue, let's say you look at revenue growth over the years and labor costs over the years. The labor costs has always been growing faster than revenue growth. SO for example, if you look at the prices of beer, 10 years ago, beer price is the same as today, if not even lower at some places, because of its competitiveness, more people entering the market. So prices are not able to be more premium, to be high. So I think that has been a challenge. I think man power side, because obviously labor costs. I think that's a big one.

    The second one I would say also would be the low barriers to entry. So because of that, you have a lot of competition, fresh new competition. And you're noticing our parents are rich, right? They make money, "Okay let's open a café, let's open a bar." So the barrier to entry is actually low. And if you compare per capita basis to Hong Kong, I think we have a lot more choices compared to the Hong Kong list. It's almost like a one is to two ratio for choice of F&B in Singapore. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Got it. So you have more competition and yet you have to manage the increasing cost, labor cost in this case. And somehow in Singapore we have this law, that you have to hire locals first before you hire foreign talent.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Exactly.

Eric Feng (Host):

So then I'm curious. These are the same challenges that your peers and competition are facing as well. But somehow or other, I noticed that the Tipsy Collective, and we'll talk more about the Tipsy Collective later, it has different animal's names, this is very cool, but you're thriving! And not only just thriving, but in 2020 during COVID, when people were closing down restaurants, people were suffering from not having enough people, you were still fully booked and you actually started two more new restaurants, they are coming up. How do you do it? WHat's your secret sauce?

Derek Ong (Guest):

My secret sauce would be san bal, I love san bal. So having a good hearty meal makes me happy.

Eric Feng (Host):

I wanted to think like san bal is an acronym, you know? You must give us S-A-N-B-A-L, six principles. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Oh yeah. Probably, I'll work it out next time.

Eric Feng (Host):

That'll be a good speech, yeah.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah!

Eric Feng (Host):

But jokes aside, what do you think were some of the reasons that your restaurants were thriving?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I feel that over the years being in this industry, I feel that as with any business [foreign language 00:08:47] that is sustainable, we need to provide real value to our consumers. And I think over the years, what I learned to do for this industry as a business is to build this thing into a product that has real value for our consumers and stakeholders. And this comes in many, many, many forms. It comes in, of course, equality food, it comes in service, it comes in ambiance, it comes in even a proper location, that people find it easy to assess. Yeah, I think it's just all these different elements that put together forms a certain product that really offers real sustainable value to our consumers.

Eric Feng (Host):

So interesting. It's the first time I ever heard someone who owns a restaurant seeing the entire restaurant concept as a product itself. So let's talk about one, shall we. Which is your, I hate to do this to fathers.

Derek Ong (Guest):

I know that [crosstalk 00:09:35].

Eric Feng (Host):

Which is your favorite child? You know what I mean? 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Oh no!

Eric Feng (Host):

I guess probably because I have no children, so I don't really see the difficulty in answering that. But okay, I'm going to give you a chance. So first of all, let's walk everybody through what are the big five. So we started with-

Derek Ong (Guest):

Tipsy Penguin.

Eric Feng (Host):

Very nice. And then after that, Tipsy Penguin is in Tampines, by the way, it's in the east of Singapore. And then after that?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Lady Wu.

Eric Feng (Host):

Lady Wu, I go there every Wednesday night, in a pass for drinks and live music. So that's more like a, would you say like a bar?

Derek Ong (Guest):

It's a rooftop bar concept, yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

A rooftop bar concept. And they have this hidden room, where you can think, "Ah, okay, it's very cool."

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. Back in the day [foreign language  00:10:11]. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Back in the days, before COVID-19.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

All right. So that's Lady Wu, and then what's the third one?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Takeshi Noodle Bar.

Eric Feng (Host):

Takeshi Noodle Bar. Where is it?

Derek Ong (Guest):

This is in Gyeongsan [inaudible 00:10:21].

Eric Feng (Host):

Gyeongsan?

Derek Ong (Guest):

[inaudible 00:10:21], yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

[inaudible 00:10:22]. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

It's within the hotel called Hotel Soloha.

Eric Feng (Host):

I tried that. Yeah. Okay, great. And then so there's a third one. And the fourth one?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Tipsy Bird at PLQ.

Eric Feng (Host):

Big fan of that one! Shout out to all your staff at PLQ. I have to say that I know you're doing well, because I love bringing my friends to the one at PLQ, Tipsy Bird, and it's always fully booked. People are always queuing up, that's how I know you're doing well. So that's Tipsy Bird. And then the fifth one?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Tipsy Bunny at Gem in Jurong East.

Eric Feng (Host):

So he has taken care of the people in the east, the south and then the west. All right, we need to ask him what's happened to the north. So out of these five products as you call it, right, can you share with us one?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Okay.

Eric Feng (Host):

And let's analyze the value. What was the value? So that even though not all of us listening to you are F&B entrepreneurs, but now we understand that it's all about stacking value. So tell us, which one would you want to pick? 

Derek Ong (Guest):

I'd probably pick my first baby, which is tipsy penguin.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, cool.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So I think when we started there, first of all, there was a pretty lack of bars and proper dining and drinking places in the east. So we thought that we wanted to create a concept that is a bit different that really offers true value to our consumers, in a sense where we have a very good chef, we have a very good food, but we are not pricing it ridiculously high. We are pricing it very affordably, with enough spread for us to sustain our business. Because I want you to come back, not one time, right. So I want you to be comfortable as well. So I think that' sone thing that we've brought in there.

Eric Feng (Host):

Good food, affordable price. And the concept is different as well.

Derek Ong (Guest):

And the concept is different.

Eric Feng (Host):

Because it's bar plus real food, dining food.

Derek Ong (Guest):

And I think for us, we are quite focused on entertainment. So for our company when we go out, it's usually a social setting and we want it to be a setting where people can really enjoy themselves, have what we call a Tipsy experience.

Eric Feng (Host):

Love it! Tipsy experience.

Derek Ong (Guest):

And I think in the midst of, I myself go out a lot with my friends, I really enjoy having a good time with my friends, and we want to be that venue that we can create that kind of space. So we focus a lot of live entertainment. So we used to have live bands back in the day before COVID. Once COVID it's over, we will definitely bring back all this live entertainment.

Eric Feng (Host):

Absolutely.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Beyond just singing, we also do different games, like trivias. We also run entertainment shows, comedy shows. So I think it's really a part of a life style that I think I personally want to enjoy and I want to create that platform for everybody else to enjoy as well.

Eric Feng (Host):

Well, I love how you're thinking, that... Most of us, if you talk to an F&B entrepreneur, they will focus a lot on the product itself. "Oh, we sell food [foreign language 00:13:09], right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Feng (Host):

But yours is very different. You are telling me that every product that you create, you want to give them a Tipsy experience. And then using that as your North Star, then you think about how do you land it in that location.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

So wow, this si fantastic. Would you say customer experience is also a very big part of your differentiation?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I definitely think so. I think that this is a people-people business. So in the way we make people feel, I think it is extremely important. I would quote Danny Meyers. So I went to attend one of his talks when he was in Singapore, before he opened Shake Shack. So for those of you who don't know, Danny Meyers is the owner of Shake Shack. He is the restaunteur of the year for many, many years running in New York, one of the most interesting places for F&B in the world.I think one thing he really shared and really I caught in my spirit was that there's a difference between service and hospitality. And service is a one size fit all model, but hospitality talks about a one size fit one model. So I think that's one part that we really want to focus on in our Tipsy experience, where we really want to ensure that you come, we are hospitable to you. This is like your second home. If not, it could be your first home too!

Eric Feng (Host):

Yeah! Of course, very good. Drunk everyday, just stay there for the whole day, right? So okay, let's dive deep. Let's unpack that. So service is when you're serving many, but then hospitality is for one person. Personalizing it. How do we do that as a service professional? 

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think-

Eric Feng (Host):

How do scale it somehow?

Derek Ong (Guest):

... It's always good to have a set of guidelines and rules, which is what service is all about. So you have to do this, you have to do that, which are all good. But I think to do beyond that, that extra mile, is where you go from good to great. And that is why I would say hospitality can be and should be. And I think it's really getting the staff, I think that the staff members to understand that why are we in this industry? Because F&B is not just about passion. Passion alone, you can't sustain, because you can still get tired. But if you ask me and I would say that F&B is more of a calling than a passion alone. And if you view it like why you are designed, to do this work, to serve people, to be hospitable, then you will be able to flow in it everyday. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Wow. So is that how you tell your staff? What was the-

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think when I-

Eric Feng (Host):

First thing you give to your staff?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think when I, let's say when I interview my key staff members, there's one big question I ask myself.

Eric Feng (Host):

Which is?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Which is, "Do they have this calling in this industry? Are they designed to work in this industry, to do well in this industry, to thrive in this industry?" I think this is a very big part of how I also built the team. Back to your question about why we did well over COVID. I think over this time I really learned that, I'm very grateful to my team, to every staff member, even to my partners. I think everybody really just pulled together as a team and we pivoted fast and well to help us grow even, throughout these trying periods.

Eric Feng (Host):

So speed was also very important. Tell us a little bit about that. Especially during the COVID period, in Singapore we had a lockdown and we cannot go to physical restaurants, right. And plus I remember there was that space. Prior to the lockdown, we had to reduce the number of tables, because everybody have to be spaced out. Walk us through that experience you had Do you suffer during that period of time? And how do you overcome that?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So actually before circuit breaker happened, we know that this virus is going a bit crazy right? So as early as February, I already started telling my team to start preparing for our delivery concept, so just in case that we need to pivot, we are ready to go. So that's what we did exactly. And then on the first day of circuit breaker, we launched our brand immediately. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Hadouken.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Hadouken, yes. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Hadouken [inaudible 00:17:16]!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes. To Hadouken all the bad energies away.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, we need to talk about branding later, guys. Keep listening to us in this podcast. I'm going to ask him about his creative thinking and his process. But let's summarize what I'm hearing from you so far. So number one is about service versus hospitality. That it's about giving people an experience and it's personalized. And then number two is having a bigger mission, and your mission is not just about selling food, but your mission is about giving people a Tipsy Experience and that perpetuates down when you hire a team. Last but not least, you mentioned value. That it's about stacking value for your customers. So these were all the things that help you win. But the final thing I learned from you, it's about pivoting. That it's about speed. So can you teach us? So I want to unpack two things, okay? Since we talked about COVID, we do not know when's the next disaster going to strike us, true?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. 

Eric Feng (Host):

How can we have your kind of intuition, that in February... I mean, I heard about this whole COVID thing that... But back then it was not called COVID, it was called Wuhan virus, remember?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Right. And I clearly remember my boss, he said to us that, "You know this Wuhan thing, let's just keep an eye on it," because back then it was just China. But I totally ignore it. But you had that instinct to pay attention to it and to adapt. How can we nurture that?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think it's, first of all, to be aware of... Let's say you are leader in your business, you are leader in any position that you are. You are called to have a, you're holding a [inaudible 00:18:50] responsibility. So imagine yourself the captain of a ship. What are you doing on the breach? And what is your job on the breach? It's to steer the ship. So you need to have a vision of what's happening around you and what you're hitting into. And you need to look at the weather and you look at a lot of things. Macro and micro, micro and macro-environments. So I think as leaders it's very important to have anticipatory leadership skills. So before things happen, what if? You need to prepare, because everybody's following you. And to steer a ship that's large, you need to do things much earlier, so your ship can turn. 

    So as your ship gets larger, you need to anticipate even earlier. So I think these are things that I've learned from various people in the industry. It may not be personally, but I think I just try to catch what are these people doing great and how did they do so great. So I think these are certain things that I've been learning as well. 

Eric Feng (Host):

So it's about paying attention to the trends out there, the macro, as you said, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Feng (Host):

Because I think micro, we all know that, which is about looking at the present moment, how can we grow the business? So is there any tips, very practical tips for all of us, even myself? I'm in the education business. How can I make sure that I don't get destroyed by the next pandemic. And I need to innovate, but I do not know what signs to look out for. How would you advise me?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think I can't remember where I read this, but it talks about this very huge VC and about how they have been doing business for century, a century and stuff, something like that. And it talks about what really makes you survive. The survival of the fittest is really the people that adapts well. And things can change. Your environment that changes. You can't change them, right? So for you to survive, you need to adapt. So adaptability is very important. I think in any people that want to do well in life. Yeah, I think that's really, really important. And-

Eric Feng (Host):

So in other words, I my not be able to pick up the trends, but I can train on my adaptability. Get used to being in uncomfortable situations, or trying new things.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

You know there's a saying that in today's world, it's no longer the big fish that eats the small fish, it's the fast fish that eats the slow fish. And I think that that really echoes what you just said. So it's about paying attention to signs and then anticipating that what if. I think what you mentioned was the what if. I think we need something in that way. Do you think a lot of what ifs?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think I do. I think we just need to form certain baselines, like in case this and that, so that we can protect jobs, I think, protect the business as much as we can.

Eric Feng (Host):

So sometimes being paranoid is not a bad thing, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Well, I wouldn't use the word paranoid, because that's, I think, too [inaudible 00:21:37]. But I think we have to by faith [foreign language 00:21:41]. Still need to do what we need to do as leaders to cast the vision, yet to also have a vision of everything that happens around you so you can best make decisions for the betterment of the company, for the betterment of your organization.

Eric Feng (Host):

Beautiful. I love that. So we have also covered now on speed and adaptability so that we can pivot fast. The next thing I would really want to unpack is really back to hospitality. So how can the rest of us listening to you, whether we are building our own business, or whether we are sole entrepreneurs, how can we increase the hospitality? And not just, because people always talk about customer service, right? But now you are elevating that. You are saying that hospitality is way higher than service. How can you get to that level? 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Everybody have their own style to deliver that hospitality. But the most important thing is it must be from the heart. It must be from the heart. SO I can train and train and train a certain service staff, but I can tell if they don't do it from the heart. And that's what really irks me sometimes. Even when I got to a restaurant, they could be very well known, they could be raved all about for this and that, but I can feel whether if it's from the heart. And I think that is something that permeates every single human being.

Eric Feng (Host):

You know, Derek, so sometimes when we run a business, we start off with passion and we know that we need to serve from the heart, but some times we get stressed and burdened by the need to perform and profits and cash flow, and all these things do burden us. And running a restaurant is no joke. Running a restaurant is like steering a ship. How do you balance between serving from the heart and yet not getting yourself worried and bogged down by the pressure of the business?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think one of my motivations as well to start my business, I think to really step out and do something on my own was because that, I would then be able to control what both environments. And I think the key word is really creating healthy work environments. And we have a healthy work environment, things flow in a good equilibrium. So people, yes things can happen in life which we area ll in different seasons in life. But with a healthy work environment, I think it stabilizes life. It has less entropy, so you have less things to worry about. You come to work better, and with this work environment, there are people like your manager, your supervisors, they could also take care of you if things ar ento doing well in your own personal life. And we could then as a company think, "How can we help? Is this something that we can help as well? Because I think to me, it's not about job. It's your career, it's your life. We spend more time at work than at home.

Eric Feng (Host):

Very true.

Derek Ong (Guest):

And the last thing I want is that you come to work and work is another bad environment, like politics, this and that. So I think that's something that I strive [foreign language 00:24:37]. I don't think we are going to be 100%, but I think that it's a conscious effort that I think our management pay for the staff and the work environment for it to be healthy. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Very beautiful, which in other words is that if I can start caring for other people, which is my customers, I need to start caring for myself, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Definitely, definitely. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Because if I care for myself, then I have the energy to overflow to others. So if I'm running a team then, as a leader, I need to create an environment where the employees feel cared for, then they can restaurant he favor, because you're modeling the way. Then as a solo entrepreneur like myself, then it's about taking care of myself. Making sure that I treat myself as the best customer, then I can do the same with other people. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

Do I get you right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes. I think one important thing to add here is that I've realized that over the years of leadership and with working with different people, the best way is actually what we call, you know there's a comfort zone?

Eric Feng (Host):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Derek Ong (Guest):

A learning zone and a panic zone, right?

Eric Feng (Host):

Yes!

Derek Ong (Guest):

And then I think for us, it's really pushing people to the learning zone. Different people have different shapes of how it looks like, right?

Eric Feng (Host):

That's true.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Some have a very small comfort zone, but huge learning zone. Most people have no, some have huge panic zones.

Eric Feng (Host):

Yes.

Derek Ong (Guest):

But I think we try to form that for all of whatever we can inform, and we try to push people to that learning zone, because at the end of the day, even if someone leaves us after one or two years, they must look back and say, "Wow I learned something at Tipsy Collective." Right? They did gain something there. And I think that's the least I want to do for anyone that worked with us [foreign language 00:26:02]. Yeah, they must gain something for their own personal growth. Sometimes we are just passing by, like we're not their destiny in the job sense or career sense, but we do want to make sure they take something positive away.

Eric Feng (Host):

You're like a stop in their life.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Love that.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Feng (Host):

Let's talk a little bit about your brand. Why the name Tipsy?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So I think when I started, I think brand names are very important, right. Everybody call your name. Whatever you market, your logo, everything is there, right?

Eric Feng (Host):

Yes.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So to us, I share a view, we really wanted to create the Tipsy Experience. We want our staff to have the Tipsy spirit, and we are the Tipsy folks! [crosstalk 00:26:44], yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

And it's so ironic that we didn't offer you any alcohol to give you a tipsy podcast experience.

Derek Ong (Guest):

It's okay! It's okay! I will have that later. Not too much. You asked why "Tipsy" right?

Eric Feng (Host):

Yes.

Derek Ong (Guest):

We wanted to have our experience to be Tipsy, not drunk, because we don't believe in getting overdosed but just a nice comfortable level, where we're happy, fun, we can chat, we can relax, de-stress over the day. I think that's a very beautiful experience that we want to create. So that's why we started with the name, by giving our customers, people that we're shouting out to what you wonder, like this is what I'm looking at, yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Ah very nice! You know how a lot of times when you come up with a name, it's very inward, like, "What names do I like?" But I like how you think. You're thinking about the outcome you wan to achieve and that becomes the name. So because you want every one of them to be tipsy, and now we understand there's a difference between tipsy and drunk, and tipsy is that moment where you're not too uptight. You're relaxed, you're happy, but yet it does not harm you yet.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes, and you will regret tomorrow.

Eric Feng (Host):

You will regret tomorrow, because you went [inaudible 00:27:50] doing things you don't remember. So that zone, that tipsy zone is where you want to get people to, and that's how you came up with the name. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

Beautiful. Then my next question is, as all of you heard in the podcast earlier, there is Penguin, there is Bird and then there is Bunny, and then the two more animals coming up soon. How do you came out this concept of animals, actually not even animals, oh yeah, yeah, animals, because bunny's an animal, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I do feel that humans can relate very special to animals. There's just this special connection with different animals. Some people love dogs, and one animal that people will never hate, in my opinion, is penguins.

Eric Feng (Host):

Really? Let's do a poll, guys. Do you or do you not love penguins? Let us know.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Do you hate penguins? You wouldn't hate a penguin!

Eric Feng (Host):

Well, it's true, I mean, I guess.

Derek Ong (Guest):

You don't love it, but it's hard to hate a penguin, [foreign language 00:28:40].

Eric Feng (Host):

Yeah. I mean, especially with Madagascar, I kind of like those penguins.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, so cute right?

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, very smart.

Derek Ong (Guest):

And actually when you are tipsy, you wobble like a penguin, right?

Eric Feng (Host):

It's such an awesome animal to think about. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

But the most interesting fact is that penguins are the most sociable birds in the world. They are the most sociable, they're always in a social environment, and a group of penguins is called a huddle, right. And like I said, when we envision to create Tipsy Collective, with our first other Tipsy Penguin, we wanted it to be a social gathering place. We wanted it to be about friends coming together in a setting, getting tipsy, having fun, listening to good music. I think that's really what I really enjoy as well. 

Eric Feng (Host):

This is so cool. I actually, guys, have been in Tipsy Penguin so many times, I didn't know all these fun facts. But I know Tipsy Penguin always do trivias, and I'm sure it would have come up quite a bit, right? Now your latest one that you set out recently, and I had a privilege to be there is Tipsy Bunny. And that was in the west. Bunny. Bunnies, sociable?

Derek Ong (Guest):

They are. They are highly active, as well.

Eric Feng (Host):

Really? I thought bunnies love to mate.

Derek Ong (Guest):

They do, they do as well.

Eric Feng (Host):

Is there some kind of implication or...

Derek Ong (Guest):

Well-

Eric Feng (Host):

... Okay so bunnies are sociable?

Derek Ong (Guest):

They are. I think the whole idea of when we came along designing these different animals, it's really about, you know we build brands? First we want to build brand awareness, right? But there's what we call brand awareness and then the next level to me, is brand love. And then the next level to me is brand advocacy. And to me, certain animals are just easier to love than others. And I think for me, I pick animals that are much cuter and easier to love [foreign language 00:30:25]. So that's how we started, yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh, bunny's cute, especially if you like the book. There's this brown rabbit, can't remember what's his name.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Bugs Bunny is a bunny.

Eric Feng (Host):

Bug Bunny, yes, it's true. It's a bunny too.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. 

Eric Feng (Host):

And about the bunny there, I noticed in your Tipsy Penguin, it has a tall hat, so you kind of remind me of Alice in Wonderland as well. So I get it now. So it's not about brand awareness but brand love and having a mascot helps. Do you think mascots are only relevant for restaurants, or do you think mascots are also relevant for individual personal brains?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think they are relevant across a lot of free [inaudible 00:30:59]. I think the way we want apply it and how we want to relate to our consumers or people that we are reaching out to. And you can use, I think mascots are an effective tools, you can effectively use them as well. 

Eric Feng (Host):

My God, something to think about. I have a community but we have no mascot, we have no animal. I need to think of a cute, cute animal. Okay, I get it. I'll probably pick a Yoda, a Groga, I don't know.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Wow!

Eric Feng (Host):

It looked like Yoda, but [inaudible 00:31:22] pay the license.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Oh, because you defeat-

Eric Feng (Host):

Now then I have to ask this question. You have Tipsy Penguin, and then you have Tipsy Bunny, then why Tipsy Bird?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So we wanted a variation of a penguin for the PLQ precinct. So we wanted a brand that wasn't so generic and when you are tipsy, you feel free like a bird. So-

Eric Feng (Host):

He has an answer to everything guys, okay? This is not prepared, okay guys. I didn't really prepare him too much, but this is so cool. Yeah, but freedom. So would you able, I will reserve that as last question, okay, which is what's your end goal? But I want to maybe end off here, because I personally have experienced the Tipsy Experience, right, and what do you think we can do as a brand, as a personality? How can we make our customers Tipsy as well? How can we be their alcohol? How do we do that? How do we make them want to drink us and be tipsy?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Drink us, I'm not too sure. 

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh, Eric, that's a horrible analogy!=, Eric! But you know what I mean right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. I think to me, tipsy is really letting your hair down. Having a very comfortable relaxed time with your friends, just having a good time [foreign language 00:32:44]. I feel that for us, it's really how we can, not too sure how to make them tipsy without drinking, though!

Eric Feng (Host):

Yes, it's so not fair. Oh, by the way, actually that's true! When I was speaking in LA two years ago, they served champagne for conference!

Derek Ong (Guest):

I see, wow.

Eric Feng (Host):

I think it's great, because if I suck they won't realize it, because they would still be very relaxed. Maybe let me ask you another way, okay. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Okay. 

Eric Feng (Host):

I noticed that you have a lot of regulars.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Okay.

Eric Feng (Host):

And we all know that. When you start a restaurant, you want the regulars, because regulars give you certainty of income, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Feng (Host):

Teach us how you do that. How do you nurture a customer and turn them into a regular?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I feel that we didn't really, to be honest, have a very specific model or framework to just really focus on regulars. I think it's really getting our basic product, like I talked about. Get it right, get it consistent and then I think that these people naturally come back. And then those that come back more, then they became our regulars. So I-

Eric Feng (Host):

This is a very organic process.

Derek Ong (Guest):

It's a very organic process. I think that my focus is till building the consistency within our service teams to do what they need to do, and our products to be what it is.

Eric Feng (Host):

Got it. So let me, step number one is think about how can we be of value to our customer at the different levels. So in your case its the food, the hospitality, the ambiance, the experience, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

And everything else that you just talked about. And then making sure that it's consistent in all your different creations. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yes.

Eric Feng (Host):

Because it's easy to be nice to you once, but it's got to be difficult to be nice to you all the time. So that consistency. Social media. Before we finish up, let's talk about social media. How has social media played a part in your success, in your brand success?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think what you mentioned before, the podcast was about, something about how the media scene has changed.

Eric Feng (Host):

Absolutely, yes.

Derek Ong (Guest):

And I still remember about, I think, last year, I was talking about marketing to one of the, in the school. And I feel that in this point in time, it is the most fragmented scene, for marketing. It has been totally decentralized. If I could put it into an analogy, it's just like Bitcoin where the banks no longer are able to centralize your things. It has been totally decentralized and is like blockchain. And I think that right now, the social media is something like that, where anybody that has good content, they can create well, they are able to attract well, they get eye balls and it gets attention. And whoever gets this attention gets this influence. So the scene has totally changed. So for us, social media is the platform that we use to shout out to our customers, to where we put in our contents, we have people that want to follow us know about us, that's where we use as a platform. Back in the day, you can't do much. You go to radios, you go to newspapers, you go to SPH for-

Eric Feng (Host):

You have to pay money.

Derek Ong (Guest):

You have to pay a lot of money.

Eric Feng (Host):

Yeah. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

So it makes it very hard for smaller players to actually do things, because your cost of capital, it could be really high, to even start anything to do, to shout anything at all. SO now because it's decentralized, anybody with great content, great ideas, there can be attention taken. 

Eric Feng (Host):

What are some of the best content that you have created so far, under the Tipsy Collective?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think, to be honest, we ar every focused on creating experiences. Pre-COVID, I think ne thing that I loved to do was to create all kinds of events at my venues. So our Halloween nights-

Eric Feng (Host):

I was there!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, and I think we have the first ever pillow fight in the east.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, I wasn't there. Wasted!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. So we had a very crazy night. We just [inaudible 00:36:49] people fighting with he pillows.

Eric Feng (Host):

Are you serious? Real pillows?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, real pillows.

Eric Feng (Host):

Feathers?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Feathers all around the place. And then we awarded different awards. I think we have done, content wise, is really creating such out of the norm events, like experiences for our customers.

Eric Feng (Host):

And then capturing on video and pictures and then putting it out on social media.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. So we even, on the New Year's Eve night, one of the nights, it was 2019, I think, New Year's Eve, we had such a big party. We turned the whole Tipsy Penguin into a club, where we had a DJ, we had people dancing, we have a dance floor. And by the end of the night, there were a lot of zombies outside the place. 

Eric Feng (Host):

That one's called drunk penguins. The tipsy penguins in the room, the drunk penguins outside the room!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah!

Eric Feng (Host):

Got it. So it still boils back down to creating the experience but that social media is a way to document the experience and to communicate that?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. Definitely.

Eric Feng (Host):

Now, you have a big challenge ahead of you. 2021 is still not the time for you to organize that kind of event, because of social distancing. How can you still create the Tipsy Experience, in spite of all these limitations?

Derek Ong (Guest):

We've got to scale it down. So instead of doing it as a whole outlet, we've got to do it with eight people. Of course not on a full fledged event, but I think it is big things matter, but small things matter even more. So going into every single group of customers, making sure that their experience is good. If any kind of experience we create for them could help them at whatever reasonable cost, I think that's something that we strive to do.

Eric Feng (Host):

Give an example of that.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Example, when people celebrate their birthdays. How can we make these birthdays a little bit more special? I think these are some of the little things that we will try to do. Yeah and really, like I said, our core product, giving them the Tipsy Experience. 

Eric Feng (Host):

I testify to that. Remember last year? We had Halloween. And yes, it was pretty toned down, but it was very clear that Lady Wu was having a Halloween party. And they had every strict limitations. So there was very little people, definitely less than the usual. But me and my friends had a lot of fun, because everybody was dressed up and there was a lot interaction. There was even a best dressed competition, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

So I guess it' still possible, but like you said, downscale it. Now before we come to a closing, okay, in case people are listening to us half way and they zone out for whatever reason, I felt that today my biggest takeaway from you, it's about the experience, that when you create an experience, in your case a Tipsy Experience, people cannot help but to want to come back and people cannot help but to want to tell the world about it. So if I can summarize it, what will contribute to the Tipsy Experience, so that we can emulate, model after?

Derek Ong (Guest):

What would contribute to a Tipsy Experience? 

Eric Feng (Host):

Your Tipsy Experience.

Derek Ong (Guest):

I feel that having a very heartfelt environment where the staff is really genuine, they really want to make you happy, like really want to make you tipsy.

Eric Feng (Host):

Just Disney, remember? Disney is all about making sure you have the experience right? So happy stuff with the hot stuff.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. I think-

Eric Feng (Host):

Want to make you happy.

Derek Ong (Guest):

... To make you tipsy, sorry.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, in your case, make you tipsy! My case , hopefully, make you happy, right?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, that's one. What else?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I-

Eric Feng (Host):

Quality food?

Derek Ong (Guest):

I think it's all very important. There's really a long list of different things that are important. Food for sure. I think even the ambiance, the music, the furniture sometimes as well. I think a lot of different touch points really matters. But really, the core of it all is really when you're there and if you have a good drink that night, you will enjoy yourself. I think that's one thing, you know? I've been to a few places where I didn't really enjoy the food, to be honest. And then, but I still had a good time that night. I was still memorable for me, because I did have good time there with my fiends. So I think it's something that we try to do [foreign language 00:41:16] beyond, I think, all the food, and beyond all the everything else.

Eric Feng (Host):

I love what you just mentioned, a concept which is touch point. So something I picked up is when we think about how we take care of our customers, we need to think about where are all the touch points. And if for every touch point, we can put a little bit of hot, like how can we show a little bit more care? How can we add a little bit more value in that touch point? That itself entirety, it's already the experience. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah. 

Eric Feng (Host):

That will set things apart. Wow! Well guys, I'm sure you guys are all feeling a little bit thirsty and if you are thirsty, please go down to Tipsy, especially if you guys are from Singapore. And if you're not from Singapore, please write in to Derek and ask him to set up one in your country. So tell everybody, okay, before we close. In 2021 this year, what's coming up for you and Tipsy Colective? What were we to expect from you guys?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So I think we are still trying to grow the business. I feel that first of all, a very wise old man once told me that if you have talented people in your team and you don't grow, these people will have to leave. It's just like a fish tank. The fish will keep growing, because these are good fishes, but if your tank doesn't grow, you shouldn't keep these fishes in your tank. So I think one of the stress, or I wouldn't say stress, I think one of the thing that I really, really pursue, why I want to pursue so much of growth is because I do have great people with me and I would really hope that they have a great career, great journey of life with our company. And I really want to ensure that we don't just provide a job, but really a career, that we can go as long as we can together. 

Eric Feng (Host):

This is so beautiful. I've never saw it that way. I always thought it's because you just wanted to be everywhere in Singapore. But your central motivation was really your team.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Definitely. I think of course these are aligned, but I think one of the core things that really [inaudible 00:43:17] me up and really want to grow the business is because of these people that had believed in me from day one. And I really hope that they have not put their trust in the wrong ship [foreign language 00:43:28]. And I really want to grow it, so that all of us can really grow together. Many at times when I interview people or people that join my company, I look at, I ask myself one question. "Can this person retire in my company?" And this is maybe a very long term vision, but I think about that. It may not be easy. It takes two hands, it takes two, a lot of things. But I think I always think like that and I yeah... Because I myself, when I wasn't doing very well in my own partnerships, why I left some is because I don't think I can stay in this partnership for life, because I don't think I can retire, I don't think I can get whatever, you know, so-

Eric Feng (Host):

There's no future. There's no brightness or future.

Derek Ong (Guest):

There's no future. SO I think that's why I decided to change and do something on my own. But back to your question. So I think that's why we grow a lot and we are striving to grow. So next month, we are going to launch two more concepts in [inaudible 00:44:32].

Eric Feng (Host):

Yay! I stay in [inaudible 00:44:34]. Finally! Rememeber, we were just complaining about, "How come nothing in [inaudible 00:44:37]?"

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, tell us. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

SO I think this has been a few years in running, because we started in the east, then we moved to the central. We have been looking at the west outlets for many months, in fact a year. But what happened was, actually COVID was a blessing in disguise for our group, because an operator shut down and we were given a space that we really, really liked. And actually, the lease wasn't up until 2022. So we were willing to wait until 2022 to take that space.

Eric Feng (Host):

That's true.

Derek Ong (Guest):

But things were expedited for us, so we were very happy [foreign language 00:45:08].

Eric Feng (Host):

So blessed.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So we took the west, now we are moving to the north. It's called Tipsy, you all want to guess?

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay, everybody, please go guess. Okay, think of cute animals. What would be a very cute animal? Sloth!

Derek Ong (Guest):

That's very sleepy.

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh yeah, okay. I wouldn't drink to become sleepy. Okay let me think. What other animals are cute? Cute animals.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Puppy?

Derek Ong (Guest):

No.

Eric Feng (Host):

A Tipsy Corgi?

Derek Ong (Guest):

Wow, but no.

Eric Feng (Host):

Wait, I know. Panda!

Derek Ong (Guest):

That's right. Tipsy Panda!

Eric Feng (Host):

Got you. Hear it first on a podcast. Tispy Panda, oh my God! Tipsy Panda, I'm going to dress up as a panda. I have a panda pajamas by the way. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Oh nice!

Eric Feng (Host):

I think I'll dress up pajamas.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So who doesn't love a panda?

Eric Feng (Host):

Exactly! Po, from the (singing).

Derek Ong (Guest):

(singing)

    Yeah, exactly. And everybody queues up at a zoo to go and see the panda. So-

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh, that's true.

Derek Ong (Guest):

... People will love, I hope that they will queue up at my zoo too!

Eric Feng (Host):

We will. The northerners, we'll go get a-

Derek Ong (Guest):

Not we have pandas in side [foreign language 00:46:08], but you guys can be the pandas.

Eric Feng (Host):

And we stay up too late, we end up having panda [crosstalk 00:46:14] the walk to [inaudible 00:46:15]. So got it. So in the north, you're going to have Tipsy Panda and then you have a bar if I remember. WHat's the name of the bar?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So the bar is called OT Bar.

Eric Feng (Host):

OT?

Derek Ong (Guest):

So OT.

Eric Feng (Host):

Is there another animal that's very cute?

Derek Ong (Guest):

OT, you know, OT usually stands for overtime, right?

Eric Feng (Host):

Yes.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So the whole place was designed like an office kind of a theme.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So if your someone calls you, "Hey honey where are you?"

Eric Feng (Host):

Ah, OT.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Ah, I'm doing OT, I'm at OT.

Eric Feng (Host):

Oh my God! And I'm not lying.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah, you're not lying!

Eric Feng (Host):

I'm just not giving you the full information. Dude, the way you come up with names are brilliant! 

Derek Ong (Guest):

But what it actually means to us, OT, is Only Tipsy.

Eric Feng (Host):

You got me. I got to give it up to you.

Derek Ong (Guest):

So I want you to get, only be tipsy here. 

Eric Feng (Host):

You know, I'm thinking right no, I have two titles for today's podcast. The original title that I wanted to have is, "How do you create a Tipsy Experience for your customers?" Now I'm tempted to change that to, "How do you come up with creative names that your customers will remember for life. Oh my God that's so good. OT. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

OT.

Eric Feng (Host):

Yeah, I'm just going to say, sorry I OT, OT. I know people will think I'm working, but I'n changing gear in the bar!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah and the whole place is a bit like office themed kind of a style, so... 

Eric Feng (Host):

And they've got office team. And there's a big office upstairs too!

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Okay Only Tipsy. Wow, oh my God. Derek, props out to you for coming up with the best names, and I really think that you deserve to have the success you have. Today we know why. Because when you start every single restaurant, you start with your people in mind, that you take care of them, you take care of their future, and in turn, they take care of your customers. I think it was Richard Branson that said that, and even Jack Ma says this, "Of all people the first people you care about is not your shareholders. The first people you care about are your employees. You care about your employees, your employees will take care of your customers and your customers will take care of your share holders.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Yeah.

Eric Feng (Host):

Ladies and gentlemen, this si Derek Ong, from Tipsy Collective.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Thank you.

Eric Feng (Host):

Remember to go check him out. 

Derek Ong (Guest):

Thank you.

Eric Feng (Host):

And his restaurants. Derek, thank you so much for doing this interview.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Thank you so much. No problem.

Eric Feng (Host):

All right cheers.

Derek Ong (Guest):

Cheers.