HOW do we usually spend our weekends? Most city folks would agree that visiting the malls or dining out with friends and families make up a typical weekend activity.
But Bryan Tan Ter Wei, co-founder and managing director of MyWeekendPlan, has found that people are increasingly looking for more avenues to de-stress and pick up new skills.
This bodes well for events company MyWeekendPlan. The firm organises baking classes and other short courses to cater to the weekend crowd as well as for team building exercises.
As the working environment becomes more hectic, Tan notes that the idea of getting away from the daily grind to de-stress over the weekend is gaining popularity and acceptance among Malaysians.
“Our weekends need to feel worthwhile, industrious and focused. There’s been a huge resurgence of interest in home crafts, cookery and gardening as we find pleasure in growing and making our own things.
“Weekends are also a great chance to reflect and be more introspective about bigger issues, and many people will need weekends that rejuvenate their energies and mind, rather than exhaust or stress you out, ” says Tan.
Tan found this to be true for himself.
He shares that while working as an engineer in Singapore, the competitive working environment there had made the job a stressful endeavour. One of the things he did to unwind then was to go to the library, which he found to be therapeutic.
“The experience of going to the library to unwind was something new to me, but in places like Singapore, it is actually quite common. What people tend to do is seek out activities that can help to enhance their skills and knowledge, ” he says.
While Tan is the main person behind the business, the person who inspired MyweekendPlan was his sister. When Tan came back to Malaysia in 2013, he had started a digital marketing company with a few partners. During this time, his sister had expressed her wish to take up courses to level up her baking skills.
Tan went online in search for a suitable course but found that most of the posts and information available were outdated or difficult to verify.
Convinced that there were many other young working adults in his shoes, Tan started MyWeekendPlan to help them search for suitable activities or skills training to fill up their leisure time.
Tan says MyWeekendPlan is still very much a work in progress. But the venture has come a long way since the beginning when it started off as an informal club for people to engage in activities that could help enhance their knowledge and provide useful skills.
Pulling off a noteworthy event can be an enormous task, more so if the courses or events are paid for by participants. Naturally, there will be expectations and standards to be met, which can be somewhat stressful for the organisers.
While there were ready participants for these weekend classes, Tan recalls that the company had some initial challenges with getting the trainers for the courses. And given that these trainers were mainly part-timers, there were a lot of things that were not within their control.
“We had issues such as last minute cancellations or the trainers simply did not show up.”
Notably, that led to them hiring their own full-time trainers.
“By taking in our own in-house trainers, we can have much better control over the management of events, scheduling and the level of professionalism, ” says Tan.
Over time, the company expanded into more courses and moved into a larger space, which Tan says enabled them to acquire better equipment and facilities to offer full-fledged life skills enhancement training. This includes popular and essential skills such as make-up, photography, yoga and a wider range of cooking classes.
Lately, there has also been a growing interest from the corporate sector for such classes. Larger companies, mostly banks, are increasingly looking at alternative ways to enhance the wellbeing of their workers. These activities are also suitable for team building events.
In fact, corporate clients currently make up to 70% of MyWeekendPlan’s revenue.
Some of its courses run from Friday to Sunday, while others like those designed for corporate clients last for just a day. Prices for the courses range from RM150 to RM480 per session.
Tan says many of the courses actually give its participants the impetus to try out a new hobby or skill. Some might even provide a springboard for a new business opportunity.
“Rather than just as a hobby, many of our customers are also taking up the weekend lessons as an opportunity to learn skills that can be used as an extra source of income, ” says Tan.
Above all, he adds that these weekend courses can be great fun, and provide participants with the opportunity to meet like-minded people.
Some of the more interesting programmes available include Macarons and art and craft classes.
While Tan still provides digital and email marketing services to his existing clients, he intends to devote more time and effort into expanding MyWeekendPlan, with plans to go big into the creative lifestyle and living skills learning services segment.
He is mulling another funding round to help finance its expansion plan. Tan says the company might go for another crowdfunding exercise to raise around RM2mil.
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