May the Fourth Be With You: Interview with Ang Han Wee

Managing Director and Founder of Esprimo, Han Wee shares about the inaugural Star Wars Run.


Ang Han Wee is the Managing Director and Founder of Esprimo, the events firm responsible for the Star Wars Run and the Star Wars festival that will be starting today till Saturday May the 6th. We find out more about his team has prepared for this May The 4th, from the man himself.

Q. So how did you get into the business of organising runs and what events have you done? 

Han Wee: I have been in the sports industry for 13 years. These 13 years have been fantastic and I’m enjoying every bit of it. I have had the privilege of directing and organising runs since 2002 and I’ve done runs like the Swissotel Vertical Marathon, the New Balance Real Run, and the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. This year I have worked on multiple runs, like the Income Eco Run, along with a few upcoming runs like the New Balance Run On Singapore and the Performance Series.

I have also held managerial and leadership positions in established sporting and non-profit organisations.

Q. With this much experience in the sporting industry, tell us: how has the local sports events scene changed over the last decade? 

Han Wee: The running industry has taken a quantum leap in areas of race technology and race quality, and locals and regional participants are pampered with a big pool of race choices.

In the last 3 years, event organisers have been feeling the pressure to drive and meet targeted race numbers, and yet create good. unique selling propositions for the respective races to ensure continuity.

Recently, participants have been extremely focused in choosing the race they wish to attend. It is now more than just which run has the best-looking race t-shirt or the most attractive registration fee.  It is about the experience of the runners during the race.

Q. How is the demand or response like for competitive and theme runs in Singapore and how does the Star Wars Run hope to change that?  

Han Wee: Themed runs cater to a wider audience, while competitive runs target more serious runners.

For the upcoming Star Wars run, we wanted to bridge this gap, so we have offered two routes for both types of runners. What we want to market is a theme that spans across generations and is more than just a recognizable character or two; Star Wars is an entire universe and some may even say, a way of life.

Q. How did discussions for the Star Wars Run begin, and how did all parties agree on the licensing issues for such an iconic brand? 

Han Wee: In the midst of planning for our usual runs, we always have one thought at the back of our minds – to one day create our own brand and our own identity, like for example a run that we can truly own.

Through countless sessions of brainstorming and speaking with brand owners, we worked out that what we were looking for was not just a franchise to ‘buy over’, turn into a mass run and make money.

We wanted to work with a partner on a long-term basis, which we could form a partnership with in the long run, and who would be heavily involved in all the planning so that we ensure the franchise/brand is accorded in its own right in every way possible.

When the opportunity to meet with Disney came about, we were overwhelmed with all the possibilities and franchises under the Disney umbrella which we could turn into a popular run.  In the end, Disney and Esprimo agreed on a franchise that could appeal to all and the Star Wars Run was conceptualized.

Q. What are the future plans for the company?

Han Wee: With the exciting inaugural Star Wars Run this year, we plan to make this an annual event in Singapore.  Star Wars aside, we will continue our annual events and hope to grow our partnership with The Walt Disney Company.

Q. What unique activities can we expect at the first Star Wars Run?  Will a Star Destroyer pass overhead or will there be a Death Star in the sky? 

Han Wee: We will be holding a three-day celebration starting on May the 4th. It will culminate at the Star Wars Run on May the 6th.  The Star Wars Day:  May the  4th Be With You Festival seeks to celebrate the Star Wars Fandom and mark the 40th anniversary since the release of Star Wars: A New Hope.

The festival will take place at the Supertree Grove, at Gardens by the Bay from May 4th to May 6th.  It is organized by us at Esprimo and supported by the  Singapore  Tourism  Board.  You can expect many fun activities, such as a Multi-sensory STAR WARS Light and Music Showcase, with the Supertrees glowing to resemble lightsabres while set to music through all three nights; character appearances from the movies such as Chewbacca and Kylo Ren that you can take photos with; a life-sized All-Terrain Scout Transport  (AT-ST) replica standing  guard at the Supertree Grove; and many booths selling items related to the franchise.

The three-day celebration will then conclude on a high note with pyrotechnics as we flag-off the inaugural STAR WARS Run with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca, followed by a movie screening of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

We are excited to partner Walt Disney to bring the festival and run to life.  This is a partnership that has been more than a decade in the making, and we hope to bring many more magical Walt Disney themed experiences to the sporting industry.


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