Your backgrounds are pretty similar: Charlz in music events, Gary in entertainment production. How did you meet, and why did you decide to start Hybrid together?
Gary: We met in a professional context. We worked together on an event and later our two companies collaborated on another. By doing this we realised we wanted to go in similar directions and thought, “why not combine the talents and start something bigger?”
We started doing events that were more focused on live entertainment, but after finding that our main interests lie in health and fitness, we started pursuing that.
Are there any difficulties that come with founding a company as a joint effort, rather than tackling the venture solo?
Charlz: There are difficulties, but I would call them challenges rather than problems. One of the main issues is communication: whatever you want to do you’ve always got to tell the other.
You’re never going to get two people with the same mind, so we’ve got to compromise. The good thing is that we 100 per cent trust in what we think and that what we’re doing is for the best of the company.
You’re both under 27. Did you find that age was an obstacle at any point?
Gary: In the beginning, yes – especially in meetings. People tend to judge you by how you look in Hong Kong, but once we started gaining confidence and we’d got some experience of dealing with rejections, it got better. Confidence is very important; because slowly people start to judge you by the work you produce rather than your image.
Is there any advice you’d give to other young people hoping to start an events management company?
Charlz: My advice is simple: trust in what you’re saying, think before you speak, and really believe in what you’re doing. If you do that, people will feel it.
They want to get a feeling rather than just read it on paper.
Did IRIS, Hong Kong’s largest yoga and wellness festival, and Spartan Race arise because you saw a gap in the market, or are you simply passionate about the concepts?
Gary: I’d say both. Right now, the global market is leaning towards fitness, but Hong Kong is slightly slower than elsewhere. It was pretty easy to spot the gap. We saw that the UK and US were doing big yoga festivals, and so we thought, “we do events in Hong Kong; there aren’t such events in Hong Kong; why don’t we try and do fitness events?”
That’s how we started, and slowly it merged into our interests. We really enjoy this and we love the lifestyle. Our work feels like a hobby.
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing a global event like Spartan Race to Hong Kong?
Gary: Something we really struggled with was finding the location. We had site visits to pretty much everywhere you can think of. Licences are also very important, especially for an outdoor event.
What’s next for Hybrid Group?
Charlz: Right now, the expat community is responding slightly better to us than the local community because our main communication channel is English. In terms of the overall direction of the company, that’s what we want to develop. We want everything to be bilingual – we want to make sure we respect local culture and offer the same in Chinese.
Gary: We definitely want to continue what we started – Spartan Race and IRIS. It’s the first year for both of these projects and we see huge potential.
We want to take IRIS elsewhere in Asia Pacific because we think it’s a good idea. Spartan-wise, we want to continue working in Hong Kong providing two races per year. We want to bring more categories and we even want to launch a kids’ race.
Charlz Ng and Gary Wan are CEO and managing director, respectively, of Hybrid Group, an events and creative solutions company