It’s funny how things happen by chance, and how some of those chances can change our lives.
This happened to a fellow alumni of Singapore American School, Kevin Ho. Kevin’s love for magic came about at the age of 13. A year later he was introduced to the art of cardistry. “This all came about rather serendipitously, to be honest,” he said, as he explained what had happened during that particular summer when he was working in a magic shop. “One day, this tall Vietnamese guy came into the shop and we got around to talking about cards. I asked him what kind of stuff he did, and he basically showed me cardistry for the first time in real life.” Kevin continued, “My mind was completely blown, and from that point on I knew that I wanted to do stuff like that, no matter how much practice it took.”
As an entrepreneur, Kevin faced challenges moving towards a path that was completely different from his fellow classmates. After graduating from SAS, he took on the risky business with a close friend, Huron Low, and started a cardistry group that came about through a local film competition. Although faced with members flowing in and out, the goal was always the same: “to push the limits of what was possible with a deck of cards, and capture this process in a way that would inspire people to start the same journey we embarked on.”
And finally, Virtuoso was born.
Going into a business of card tricks and visual illusions was surely a risk. It needed a great amount of dedication and perseverance to guarantee success with Virtuoso, but then again, it was difficult to know what the future had in store for their startup business.
Starting a business requires commitment and passion. In Kevin Ho’s case, he knew he wanted to do something related to cardistry since the day that tall Vietnamese man came over to his shop to tell him about shuffling a deck of cards.
But what helped Kevin push through with it? His friends and business partners. “It was a scary thought to know that if this didn’t work out, there wasn’t really a fallback plan. But what gave me the confidence to push through regardless was that the rest of the group was taking this exact same risk that I was, so there was support in that solidarity that encouraged me to keep at it,” he said.
One of the many unique things about Virtuoso is their use of angles, lighting, and camera footage. It’s what allows them to show cardistry in a visually aesthetic view and integrates the marketing of Virtuoso and cardistry itself. During Kevin’s senior year here at SAS, Mr. Clemens encouraged him to go to a film school in California. While taking a couple of film classes, he continued on in hope of grabbing an audience, and eventually, used his well refined skills for Virtuoso.
After years of shuffling, filming, editing, and marketing, Kevin realized all this hard work finally paid off. In 2012, their three person cardistry video called “Test Room” went viral. Originally a video for the cardistry community, it appealed to Internet viral websites like The Awesomer, 9gag, Boing Boing, and others. Later on, they were contacted by Discovery Channel Canada to feature Virtuoso’s video on one of the TV shows.
For Kevin, it was reassuring to think that something like cardistry would capture the interests of a larger community of people outside of just the cardistry community.
Today Kevin is an advocate of entrepreneurship. If you want to become an entrepreneur, pursue your passion and take any opportunity you can get and use that to your advantage. Fame or money should not be foremost in your mind, he says, rather focus on what it can do to a community of people instead.
Finally, when asked for advice for future entrepreneurs here at SAS, Kevin said, “I don’t have any advice to give that will work 100% for everybody, but if I could go back to high school me and tell myself something that would save me a lot of time from having to learn it the hard way, I’d tell myself to choose my pursuits based not on the result, but on the process.
I’ve had many goals in life, but the ones I actually ended up fulfilling were the ones where the work it took to get there was rewarding in and of itself: filming with friends, meeting and collaborating with people in different countries, fiddling with a pack of playing cards late at night and trying to discover new possibilities with them. The kinds of things that make time seem to not matter anymore. This kind of intrinsic motivation – the kind that comes out of a mixture of innate curiosity and finding the process itself fun – is an immensely powerful force when harnessed, and I feel that if I had only realized this sooner then I would’ve gotten so much more done at a younger age.
One other thing: If you’re ever in a position where you can help someone less experienced or knowledgeable than you are in your field… do it. Encouragement and guidance go a long way, and are probably the reason why you’re doing what you do now. So take the opportunity to pay it forward whenever you can – you never know who’ll you inspire next.”
Virtuoso website: http://thevirts.com/