Boutique PC builder puts S'pore on the map

Mr Marcus Wee (above) and his twin brother Joe Wee run Aftershock, Singapore's biggest boutique PC builder. Already with operations in Malaysia and Australia, it is looking to expand to two more countries in the next year.
Mr Marcus Wee (above) and his twin brother Joe Wee run Aftershock, Singapore's biggest boutique PC builder. Already with operations in Malaysia and Australia, it is looking to expand to two more countries in the next year.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Back in 2012, Aftershock was started in a small shophouse in Serangoon Road.

Today, it is Singapore's biggest boutique PC builder, occupying nine units in a light industrial building in Bendemeer and employing about 150 staff.

The firm has expanded its operations to Malaysia and Australia and has its own showrooms and production lines in both countries.

It is now run by fraternal twins Marcus and Joe Wee, both 36.

Mr Marcus Wee, who is managing director, started the company in 2012 with a business partner, but the partner exited after a year. Mr Joe Wee, who is creative director, came on board in 2013.

The company has grown from its beginnings, when it found a niche in the market by offering customisable laptops and PCs. It now caters to a wider customer base.

As Aftershock expands overseas, Singapore will not be its biggest market for long, said Mr Marcus Wee. It is looking to expand to two more countries in the next year.

But things have not always been smooth sailing. "Once the firm started employing 60 to 70 staff, managing people was a whole new ball game," said Mr Marcus Wee.

"I tried to take on a lot of the responsibility myself earlier on, thinking it was better if I did things myself in a certain way.

"But now I feel that I could have invested in people earlier. Often, people can surprise you, they might do things in a way that is better than what you would have done, or in an unexpected way."

For their entrepreneurship and putting Singapore on the map, the Wee siblings are nominees for this year's The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award.

Aftershock's products have won dozens of awards, such as Best Gaming Notebook and Best Compact PC, from leading media players such as HardwareZone, The Straits Times and Geek Culture.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, sales have gone up by 30 per cent as more people work from home and pick up gaming.

The firm prides itself on its after-sales service, said Mr Marcus Wee.

"That has been our biggest selling point since the beginning. Our vision is that if anyone buys our products and needs help, they will get help."

This vision also shows in its hiring - 50 per cent of the company's headcount is involved in after-sales work.

Despite its success, the company is not resting on its laurels.

"One of the real trials for a PC company is to keep going after it reaches a certain scale. As we expand, we have to maintain stability," said Mr Marcus Wee.

His advice to other aspiring Singaporean business owners is to not be afraid to fail. "When you make mistakes and screw up, that's how you sort of figure out where the boundaries are," he said.

"It's very important to look at the market and look for openings where there is room to disrupt. It's very common in entrepreneurship for people to want to do a very generic kind of business, but you need to look for where you can have a niche advantage."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2020, with the headline 'Boutique PC builder puts S'pore on the map'. Print Edition | Subscribe