07 November 2014

A350 miniatures passion to business; My Hobby House.

In this article we have the history of Alex Yap who has been playing with model aircraft since secondary school.

Thanks to the efforts of local airlines in promoting the aviation industry as a career choice -and also to the widely acclaimed Hong Kong TV drama “Triumph in the Skies”-, Yap worked his way throughflight school. Not satifisfied with the real thing alone, Yap has also managed to monetise his passion for aircraft miniatures.

While many boys grow up dreaming of airplanes, few actually end up running a business selling model aircraft.

Today Yap is a pilot and with 3 partners he launched 4 years ago My Hobby House as an online retailer of commercial aircraft models.

“They are not cheap! It is an expensive hobby. The only way to get them cheaper was to get a supplier. But since suppliers only sell in bulk, I thought it would be a great idea if we could buy the models in big batches and sell them as a small business,” he said.

They approached 2 manufacturers to provide them with a direct supply of models for their venture. The suppliers were enthusiastic about their business idea as the manufacturers did not have any established distribution channels in Malaysia at that time. They purchased 80 model commercial planes and looked to the Internet to help sell their stock.

Source: Airbus

“We used whatever online resources available to us to promote and sell our planes. We had to make sure that our planes sold as fast as possible because there was a new release of stock from our supplier every month. So we couldn’t hold on to our stock for too long,” he explained.

While the first few months were not easy, My Hobby House started gaining some traction among hobbyists as the go-to source for model planes. The team then invested in a website to ramp up its growing-sales online. Currently My Hobby House sells more than 500 model planes a month.

“Collecting model aircraft is quite a niche hobby so it is a small market. But there are no retailers for these miniature planes and those that sell them usually source their stock from third parties. We don’t know anyone else who is getting their planes directly from manufacturers.”

“We didn’t really think the business idea would work. We were all jobless at the time and thought this was something we could try. One of the partners even had to borrow his share of the money from his father,” said Yap with a laugh.

Based on the article “Taking flight with miniatures” published in The Star Metro.

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