Alvin Lee’s entrepreneurial journey was not an easy one. He knows personally of the frustration brought by searching for answers. His book, Castles Can Fly, tells of the challenge he faced in Singapore, and then in the United States, as he sought backers for what was, at the time, deemed a crazy idea – a modular sandcastle construction kit.
But Alvin was able to find the answers, and in 1998 his family hobby project ended up in the world largest toy fair, the New York Toy Fair and won the major toy award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, the ‘Oscar’ award equivalent in the toy industry. His idea, which began on a beach in Singapore, was featured in NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s A Stroke of Genius, and other major news programs.
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In 1993, when Alvin Lee was the general manager of an electronics factory, Alvin and his family invented and patented the construction set to build better sandcastles. His dream is that children around the world can build better sandcastles with better tools. In the beginning, the project started out with great enthusiasm and energy, but soon enough he started encountering a long series of rejections and obstacles. Unable to get any head start in Singapore, he ventured into USA looking for a suitable partner.
In 1995, he found such a partner, Eagle Affiliates. They got into a 10 years partnership and launched the product, Beachworks. Not long after, in 1998, this family hobby project ended up in the world largest toy fair, the New York Toy Fair and won the major toy award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, the “Oscar” award equivalent in the toy industry. It was featured in MSNBC’’s Today Show, ABC, “A Stroke of Genius”Talking Point, and many other major news programs.
From a simple dream, it turned into a success. Today, some 20 years later, Alvin Lee runs a corporate training company Castles Can Fly that uses the same equipment to help corporate and youth program to make their own dreams come true. He also started Castle Beach, a volunteer-run social enterprise movement, promoting the joy and benefits of family building sandcastles together.