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Schaffen Watches - 联合早报 Zaobao's interview with Nicholas Han & Jonathan Han!

Thursday Jun 22,2017 | Startup News


More about Schaffen Watches


The Han brothers, founders of Schaffen Watches, want to involve their customers in creating their own watches

Encountering some degree of scepticism is hardly unusual when one tries to start a business.

But university undergraduate Nicholas Han, 25, and his brother Jonathan, 22, had to take some sneers and derisive laughter along with that as well.

Nicholas, 25, recalls the trip they made to Hong Kong, where they told some big suppliers about their plan to set up a watch company selling customised timepieces and were laughed off, "maybe because we look young".

"We told a supplier we were going to inscribe certain details like a person's signature onto the timepiece, and he asked: 'How are you going to do that? Are you going to use your own pencil to write it on?'"

But more than a year on, the brothers have set up Schaffen Watches, an online retailer that invites its customers to personalise timepieces. Customers pick the dial, hands, straps, markings and inscription on the dial and case back. (Said inscription is done by high-quality engraving equipment, by the way.)

Schaffen was incubated at the Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE) of the Singapore Management University (SMU), which has given the brothers access to key investors.

The brand's website was launched last October, and to date, counts 15 per cent of its sales from beyond Singapore - Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and the US.

The brothers' journey began when Jonathan struggled to find a timepiece for his 21st birthday that ticked all his boxes. His efforts took him and his brother to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Watch & Clock Fair, where they met watchmakers and suppliers.

Jonathan eventually dedicated the finished timepiece to his father. The watch, with the older Mr Han's signature and name inscribed on the dial, caught the attention of friends and family, who began asking for personalised timepieces.

When Nicholas and Jonathan saw this as a business idea, they again visited Hong Kong, where they met 40 suppliers over two days.

Last year, they made their pitch to the IIE at SMU, where Nicholas is a final-year student. In the months following their acceptance into the programme, they raised S$100,000 through angel investors, including their mentor Virginia Cha, a veteran tech entrepreneur.

Read full article here.


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