Ng rolls out a portal to bowl over sports fans

SHE shows no fear in taking on the best in bowling. As it turns out, world champion Shayna Ng is also a pretty bold entrepreneur.

The 24-year-old has partnered two bowlers – Kristel Oh and former national team member Denise Chan – to set up SportSanity, a first-of-its-kind portal that provides local enthusiasts with access to resources for 22 sports.

With an updated directory of coaches, retailers and facilities as well as an Ask An Expert section, it serves as an in-between for those looking to pick up and learn more about a sport, and the experts and coaches involved.

The website also includes a marketplace, forum discussion board and articles featuring interviews with athletes like multiple- Paralympic medallist Laurentia Tan.

The idea for the start-up, said Oh, was born last year when the 24-year-old struggled to find information for her mother, who was keen to pick up shooting.

“That’s when I found that it’s very hard for anyone to pick up a new sport here, unless they do it in school or have a friend who knows about it,” said the 2011 Asian Championships bronze medallist (team), who also holds a Masters in Business Management.

The trio spent months cold-calling, sieving through outdated databases to consolidate the information needed for the portal and persuading merchants to come on board.

Other than the three founders, the website now has one full-time and two part-time staff.

“It seemed easier at the start because, being athletes, we thought we had knowledge in the sporting scene,” said Ng of the project which is estimated to cost about $70,000 to start.

“But as we moved along, we realised there was so much that we didn’t know and the amount of things I’ve learnt from doing this is so much.

“It’s a lot of responsibility and it’s taught me the risks and challenges of being my own boss.”

But the 2010 Asian Games team gold medallist, who is gunning for glory again at this year’s Asiad, knows where her priority still lies.

She said: “When I have a competition and training, I don’t get involved in SportSanity at all. At the end of the day, bowling comes first.”

maychen@sph.com.sg


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