How to Introduce a Proven Hit to a New Market

Meet Victor Cui, the man fighting to bring mixed martial arts to Asia—a market in which UFC is a brand of ketchup

Written by As told to Richard Warnica

Victor Cui was born in Edmonton. He moved to Singapore eight years ago to take a job with ESPN. In July 2011, with the backing of seven entrepreneurs, he launched ONE FC, with the goal of becoming the dominant mixed martial arts organization in Asia. Here’s what he has to say about what he’s learned so far:

“I was shocked at the business opportunity that was available around mixed martial arts in Asia. Here we were, looking at the world’s fastest-growing sport. And there’s this behemoth of a sports property [the UFC] that is hugely successful in North America, generating tons of revenue, generating tons of fans and it’s exploding. And this brand, it was at zero in Asia. There’s a brand of ketchup in the Philippines called UFC, and that had more brand recognition than the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Looking at this opportunity, all the revenue and possibilities, it just seemed insane to me how big it was. I actually thought I’d made a mistake. I was, like, my numbers must be wrong here. And then I realized that they weren’t.

Read: Learn to Tell a Hit from a Flop

“In Asia, doing business is all about building relationships. And it’s hard to really grasp that until you’re out here. But my grandfather had this saying: €˜By the time you need a relationship, it’s already too late to build one.’ So, in everything that you do, every day, build relationships, make friends, before you need them. If I had not been living here for years, this wouldn’t have been an opportunity for me. Because I had to know the general in Indonesia; I had to know the minister in Malaysia; I had to know the governing bodies in different countries.”

What’s the secret when it comes to introducing something that’s popular in one market to another? Do you agree that relationship-building matters above all else? Comment below to share your thoughts.

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