Sean Seah’s long and winding road … upwards: Page 2 of 2
By Goh Thean Eu December 12, 2014
Obstacles and wins
Seah (pic) believes that going into the business of providing theme park ticketing management systems in China was a ‘no brainer’ decision.
“China is such a big market, the potential is huge. If you don’t penetrate that market, where else can you go?” he argues.
Although decision was a no-brainer, the journey wasn’t entirely a stroll in the park.
“I must say, it was tough during the early days. Nevertheless, we managed to secure our first customer in China, the Chimelong Group, within the first year of our establishment,” he says.
About a year later, it secured another customer: OCT Group, the largest amusement park operator in China and which is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of about £4 billion (US$6.3 billion).
But having two major players in the industry did not mean that days of hardship were over. This is because the China theme park industry at that time (2005-2006) was still in its infancy stage, according to Seah.
Visiting theme parks in China had yet to become a big trend, and not many people visited on an annual basis – and when the market is not growing at a fast enough pace, it gives theme park operators less of a reason to upgrade their ticketing management systems.
“We just had to ride through the tough period,” says Seah.
Despite getting big amusement park operators in China as customers, Galasys still had challenges in securing big deals in its home country.
Without wanting to reveal names, Seah says he approached one of Malaysia’s most popular amusement park operators, but was not selected as the vendor of the ticketing management system.
“The company picked an American vendor instead,” he adds.
Journey to IPO
Still, with their perseverance, Seah and his team at Galasys were able to profit from the theme park boom in China.
“In fact, during the early days when we secured the two customers, I didn’t know they were going to be that huge.
“In some ways, I think the timing was good. They (the customers) came to us when the industry was still new – at that time, there were not many people offering similar services like ours.
“This gave us time to prove the quality and reliability of our solutions, and gain their trust for the longer term,” says Seah.
OCT and Chimelong started as a real estate developer and restaurant operator, respectively. Today, they are two of the largest amusement park operators in China measured by tickets sold annually. In 2012, OCT alone attracted more than 23 million visitors to its amusement parks.
Now, Galasys is offering its solutions to 15 out of the top 20 water parks, as well as 13 out of the top 20 theme parks in China (as measured by the number of visitors). These major attractions include Changzhou Dinosaur Land and Shengyang Royal Park.
In Malaysia, its ticketing management solution is used by Zoo Melaka, Melaka Wonderland, Sim Leisure Escape and OWG Haunted Adventure, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
“We had captured a strong position in the region,” says Seah, recalling the times. “We now needed to expand to other parts of the world … hence our IPO plans.”
Earlier in 2014, Galasys announced that it will be placing up to 13.87 million shares at 22.5 pence each to raise a gross proceed of up to £3.1 million (US$4.9 million).
For Seah, the decision to list on AIM was driven by three main factors. First is that it allows the company to raise the necessary funds to drive its next phase of growth. Second, by being a listed entity, it will be in a better position to attract and retain talented employees.
“Third is to raise the group’s profile, in particularly in the United Kingdom, as it is one target market we aim to expand in,” he says.
In fact, he proudly declares that taking Galasys to AIM is one of his biggest achievements to date.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
Although Seah’s entrepreneurial journey has been filled with ups and downs, he says he never once regretted jumping onto the bandwagon.
In fact, he has a few words of wisdom for young entrepreneurs. “There are three things that entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs-to-be, need to know.
“The first is never give up; the second is to believe in yourself,” he says.
He says the entrepreneurship journey is never easy, and believes that every obstacle has its own set of solutions – one just needs to be perseverant enough to grind through the bumpy roads.
“The third is, develop products that can sell globally. With these three formulas, I believe entrepreneurs can find success,” says Seah.
DNA article brought to you in partnership with MaGIC – Building Great Entrepreneurs