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Entrepreneur Patrick Grove's bold move to sell S$100,000 a table at Amber Lounge

(PHOTO: Amber Lounge)
(PHOTO: Amber Lounge)

All eyes are set upon Singapore as stars of the Formula One Grand Prix arrive on our little island come Friday, 30 September to Sunday, 2 October 2022. Of course, after the Formula One cars return to base, fans are expected to continue the revelry at the after-parties – Amber Lounge being one of the most-talked events around town.

Following the sold-out success of Amber Lounge’s Monaco F1 weekend events in May this year, for its relaunch in Singapore – the ultra-luxe post-race event will be held within the iconic waterfront jewel of the Fullerton Heritage precinct – unveiling its grand and luxurious new home at The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s, The Clifford Pier.

Over the Grand Prix weekend, Amber Lounge will be offering exclusive by-invitation-only VIP yachting experiences, including private sunset cruises onboard a luxurious 80ft Princess Yacht in collaboration with its official luxury yacht partner Boat Lagoon Yachting. Guests can also enjoy specially curated entertainment and refreshments whilst exploring the scenic beauty of Singapore’s coastline.

To re-introduce Amber Lounge and the new team behind this lavish party, I sat down with Patrick Grove, one of Asia’s highly successful serial tech entrepreneurs and Group CEO and founder of Catcha Group, to understand why he decided to invest in the brand, the proposed ticket price of S$100,000 tagged to a single table, which only the richest one per cent of people can splurge without batting an eye, and how fatherhood has changed him.

Patrick, we've always known you to be an entrepreneur, and your interest lies in digital business. So why are you venturing into the entertainment industry?

Patrick Grove: It's a really good question. Most people don't realise that I've been a shareholder of Amber Lounge for about five years now. Amber Lounge was founded by a lady called Sonia Irvine.

We've always had the vision to bring Amber Lounge outside of Formula One. We knew that Amber Lounge was the world's most exclusive after-party, but it was only available at Formula One. So when you think of so many other great events that don't have an after-party, like World Cup, NBA, NFL Champions League – so we go, ‘why can't we bring Amber?’

It was always our vision to bring it beyond (Formula One). I guess, one of the things that happened during COVID-19 was that Sonia resigned. And so I took full control of the business and brought in a new team.

So back to the question, why digital? I've always been a digital entrepreneur, and this (entertainment industry) is kind of a unique, but passionate spot. In our portfolio, I was always about working hard, and playing hard. I was a big sporting fan, so I'd go to sporting events, and then I'd be like, ‘oh, there's no after party. Like, why not?’

But when I went to Formula One in Monaco, there was Amber Lounge, which was done so well. I guess like any entrepreneur, it's more of where you see a problem that needs to be fulfilled, and you do something about it.

I always have this fear that I don't think big enough.Patrick Grove

From left to right: Cher Ng, Jeanette Tan and Patrick Grove. (PHOTO: Amber Lounge)
From left to right: Cher Ng, Jeanette Tan and Patrick Grove. (PHOTO: Amber Lounge)

This kind of alludes to my next question because I thought if this was going to be a passion project for you or are you looking to expand to other events?

Patrick: You know, Amber Lounge is not a small business. Like it's a serious business, right? When you see some of our tables sell for S$100,000 a night, we are probably the most expensive event in the world because of the types of people we attract.

When you look at the people that we've hired or brought on board as partners – for example, CEO Cher Ng is the founder of Zouk Malaysia, Zoukout and a property developer of TREC KL – he's a serious player. We’ve also hired Jeanette Tan as our Group Managing Director, who is also, a very senior player. So we're putting together a dream team of people who, I now believe, can bring Amber Lounge to operate beyond just Formula One.

You mentioned the price tag is about exclusivity, so who do you intend to attract?

Patrick: We've always attracted top A-list celebrities. We've had tonnes of Victoria's Secret models, singer, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Sir Richard Branson; so it's a nice mix of A-list celebrities, supermodels, business titans and entrepreneurs. It’s really like a holistic mix of the who's who lives that kind of jet-set lifestyle.

I guess like any entrepreneur, it's more of where you see a problem that needs to be fulfilled, and you do something about it.Patrick Grove

So what can we expect from the line-up and performance for this party?

Patrick: One of the greatest things about Amber Lounge is that our crowd has never been obsessed (sic) it's not like the performance doesn't make or break the event. They just want to go to a very exclusive lounge that’s occupied with incredible champagne and a crowd. The suites even come with caviar! We’ve confirmed DJ Oliver Heldens, who is one of the top 10 DJs in the world, according to DJ Mag. We've also got American rapper Fatman Scoop; and Swedish singer-songwriter John Martin, who's the vocalist of Swedish House Mafia. We're super excited to bring those guys to Formula One.

(PHOTO: Amber Lounge)
(PHOTO: Amber Lounge)

Patrick, I've known you for the longest time, and I always feel like you've maintained this positive outlook in life, stay focused even though you're constantly on the road for work?

Patrick: I think one of the things I've always loved about Amber Lounge is that it's a pop-up, and you only need to go three times a year. If it was like Zouk or Marquee, like, oh my God, you're gonna go every day or every week.

The person who spends S$100,000 on a table is someone who goes, ‘I don't go out every weekend; I just go out three times a year. And I want it to be like, freaking amazing.’

I'm a work-hard, play-hard guy, and I have four kids. I don't go out every weekend, and I think I probably want to go out six times a year. And I want those times to be like, absolutely incredible. So it's really more about quality, rather than quantity.

If you want to do big things, don't worry about how to do them. Focus more on who can do it with you.Patrick Grove

Amber Lounge will be taking place at The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s, The Clifford Pier. (PHOTO: Amber Lounge)
Amber Lounge will be taking place at The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s, The Clifford Pier. (PHOTO: Amber Lounge)

I’m curious, what are you currently reading right now?

Patrick: I'm reading A Dummies’ Guide on How to Throw A Great Party…

Really, you got me there.

Patrick: I'm using Audible because then I could work out, and it’s very efficient. So I don't carry books at all; I just download them. I'm so embarrassed to tell you what books I'm currently listening to.

I’m listening to a book called The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol. It's about how to have bigger beliefs. I always have this fear that I don't think big enough.

Who Not How by Dan Sullivan, is really funny. If you want to do big things, don't worry about how to do them. Focus more on who can do it with you.

Actually, this is a good example. Because we're coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to bring Amber Lounge back, and I want to bring it to the World Cup. So I just find the best person in the world that I trust, who could do this, and empower him or her and motivate them. As long as the dream team is in place, then I don't need to worry about the details.

I'm also reading another book called Life Force by Tony Robbins, which is basically how to optimise your body from a health point of view to get where you want because we're all getting older. I can't drink champagne every night!

How has fatherhood changed you?

Patrick: My wife always teases me; I like to do things in volume, and I like to do many things. I guess, back when we were in Catcha Group days, we would launch a new magazine, every two months: Juice, Juice Chinese, Prestige Magazine, MSN Malaysia, and what else?

I don't know if you realise we've had four kids in two and a half years. My oldest kid is two and a half, and my youngest kid is two weeks old. And then I have twins that are one year old.

I think what is changing (pause) back to your point earlier, it's more about things that really need to be about quality as opposed to quantity. Because I don't want to go out. I don't even want to go out every week. I'd rather wake up every day at 6am to play with my kids. I'd rather do that.

I used to travel to three countries a week. Now I realise I don't do three countries and maybe I do like three countries a month. I'm going to Australia for like 48 hours; Sydney, one day and Melbourne, another day. My mum was like, ‘Oh, you're gonna stay overnight and see your brother?’ I'm like, ‘no, no, no, I arrive at 7am. I leave at 6pm.’ And she's like, ‘why?’

I need to fly back because I want to be there when the kids wake up at 6am. So I think when you realise that priorities change; your family is number one. It doesn't mean you drop everything, but it just means that the other things need to be more impactful.

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Patrick: Work hard, play hard. I mean, that was what we did. When I look at the types of people booking tables since it was the first time we've announced Amber Lounge; we’re already seeing 40 per cent sold out. A lot of them are entrepreneurs. And half of them are tech or crypto entrepreneurs. It's good to know that they're letting loose and coming out to have fun.

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