Alaric Choo (Secretlab)

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Alaric Choo (born 1988) is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of gaming chair brand Secretlab.[1] In 2014, Choo founded Secretlab with chief operating officer (CEO) Ian Ang. Within five years of founding Secretlab, the pair was able to transform it from a startup into a global brand.[2]

As of 2021, Secretlab is estimated to have a valuation of USD 224 million.[3] Following Ang’s purchase of two luxury properties, Secretlab’s valuation could potentially increase to USD 1 billion.[4]

Background[edit | edit source]

Alaric Choo. Photo from Tech in Asia.

Education[edit | edit source]

Choo attended Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) from 2005 to 2006.[1] He later graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 2012.

He candidly shared that he knew his course of study in university would have no bearing on his professional career:

“It wasn’t a decision I spent much time deliberating on. I decided that I wanted a degree as a fallback as well as to give myself time to explore what I wanted to do career-wise. Back then, I knew that whatever I was going to end up doing was unlikely to be related to my degree.”[5]

Former career[edit | edit source]

Choo was the founder of modbot. Photo from Yahoo! News.

Prior to founding and managing Secretlab with Ang, Choo founded modbot, a hardware modding and painting startup based in Singapore.[6]

Competitive esports gaming[edit | edit source]

Choo played StarCraft II semi-professionally.[7] It was here that Choo befriended Ang, and this in turn led to the birth of Secretlab.

“It was Starcraft II that I ended up playing semi-professionally for about a year. I then had to take a step back to helm a leadership-come-management position for the team that I had founded – sourcing sponsorships for my players who were performing at a much higher level and needed the support.”[8]

Collector of Flesh and Blood trading cards[edit | edit source]

Choo is known to be one of the largest collectors of Flesh and Blood, a trading card game.[9] His love for collecting trading cards stems from his childhood:

“Growing up, one of my favourite things was visiting comic stores near my house, rifling through miniatures, drafting and collecting Pokemon cards. [My] love of collecting has always been deeply rooted in me.”[9]

Secretlab (2014 to present)[edit | edit source]

Beginning (2014)[edit | edit source]

(From left) Choo and Ang photographed with the Secretlab logo. Photo from Secretlab.

In 2014, Choo and Ang started Secretlab with SGD50,000 in savings.[10] According to The Business Times, the pair did not draw salaries in their first year and had to lead a frugal life as they had invested all their savings in Secretlab.[11] The bulk of their investment went into research and development.[12]

Launch of Secretlab Throne V1 (2015)[edit | edit source]

The Secretlab Throne V1 in Spectre White. Photo from Secretlab.

In March 2015, Choo and Ang launched their first gaming chair: The Secretlab Throne V1.[13] They saw resounding success with this chair, selling 200 units within the first week. Secretlab was able to break even within a month.

Choo attributed the success of Throne V1 to customers growing wary of profit-driven businesses:

“Our customers were becoming increasingly disenfranchised with businesses trying to make a quick buck. They recognise that we are focused on the long game [which is] harder and takes longer [but] we believe that it puts us on an entirely different level.”[14]

Top honours at the 2017 Emerging Enterprise Awards (2017)[edit | edit source]

(From left) Ang and Choo receiving the top honours at the 2017 Emerging Enterprise Awards. Photo from SG SME.

On 2 October 2017, Secretlab achieved top honours at the 2017 Emerging Enterprise Awards.[11] Organised by The Business Times and OCBC Bank, the awards celebrated promising fledgling businesses with an annual sales turnover of up to SGD20 million.

Named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list (2018)[edit | edit source]

In 2018, Choo and Ang were named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.[15] Figuring among 22 other Singaporeans,[16] Choo and Ang were selected under the retail and e-commerce category.

Investment by Temasek Holdings’ Heliconia (2019)[edit | edit source]

On 13 August 2019, Secretlab announced that Temasek Holdings subsidiary Heliconia Capital Management would be investing in it.[17] The investment was valued between SGD200 million and SGD300 million, with Heliconia taking up a minority stake in Secretlab.

Surge of sales during COVID-19 (2020-21)[edit | edit source]

Secretlab experienced a surge in demand for its chairs during the onset of COVID-19.[18] This was attributed to more people working from home. Secretlab had to hire more staff to handle the uptick in orders - in Singapore alone, more than 30 Singaporeans were hired for positions in operations, customer service, and product development.

Setting up of global HQ and R&D Centre (2021)[edit | edit source]

Secretlab’s new global HQ and R&D centre. Photo from Secretlab.

On 24 May 2021, Secretlab shifted to its new global headquarters and R&D centre at Braddell Road.[19] This location comprises a showroom and a dedicated R&D centre. This is in keeping with Secretlab’s focus on research to further develop its products, complementing Choo’s efforts to aggressively expand the company’s headcount in Singapore.[20]

References & Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Alaric Choo." LinkedIn. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  2. Lee, U-Wen. "Game on: Secretlab goes from startup to global brand in 5 years." Garage. April 27  2020. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  3. Yeo, Stefanie. "Could Secretlab be Singapore's next unicorn?" Tech in Asia. March 16 2021. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  4. Cordon, Miguel. "Secretlab's CEO buys 2 properties worth $38m." Tech in Asia. June 30 2021. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  5. Chan, Melissa. "6 S'pore Founders On What They Studied Before Starting Up." Vulcan Post. March 23 2018. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  6. Lee, Mary-Anne. "How a competitive gamer became Southeast Asia’s premier artist for custom computer paintjobs." Yahoo! News. February 15 2015. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  7. Hayward, Andrew. "Secretlab CEO Ian Alexander Ang on His Youthful Education in Gaming and Esports." The Esports Observer. June 21 2019. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  8. Stubbs, Mike. "How 2 StarCraft pros created a top gaming chair." Red Bull. October 5 2017. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Interview With One Of The Largest Collectors of FAB (Alaric Choo of Secretlab).Youtube. June 5 2021. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  10. Stewart, Melissa. "Secretlab co-founder Ian Ang spends S $51 m on two properties." CNA Luxury. June 30 2021. Accessed 12 September 2021.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Shiao, Vivien. "Shining a spotlight on the secret life of entrepreneurs." The Business Times. October 2 2017. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  12. Bhagat, Rahil. "Game of Thrones: how two men plan to conquer the world with just chairs." Stuff. November 18 2015. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  13. Salim, Zafirah. "How Secretlab Founders Grew A S$300M Gaming Chair Company." Vulcan Post. July 23 2020. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  14. Tay, Samantha. " Secretlab's 6 Secrets From The Throne - How A Singapore Startup Made Millions Selling Gaming Chairs." Vulcan Post. April 27 2017. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  15. "30 Under 30 Retail & E-Commerce - Reinventing how we shop, online and off." Forbes. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  16. Sregantan, Navin. "24 in Singapore make it to Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list." The Straits Times. March 27 2018. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  17. Choo, Yun Ting. "Temasek's Heliconia to invest millions in local gaming chair company Secretlab." The Straits Times. August 13 2019. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  18. Low, Youjin. "Covid-19 pandemic a boon for gaming chair maker Secretlab, as demand from home office market grows." Today. August 2 2020. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  19. Z., Yna. "Secretlab Singapore moves into massive 44000 sq ft global HQ." AsiaOne. May 24. 2021. Accessed 12 September, 2021.
  20. Yip, Aaron. "Secretlab marks its next phase of growth and expansion with new Global HQ and R&D Center." Hardware Zone. September 2 2021. Accessed 12 September, 2021.