We’ve all grown up hearing and having been to the Aladin Amusement Park, however, few know the hidden mastermind behind several entertainment endeavours by the name of AA Joyland.
Having spent a good day of play is often a human need after either a stressful day of work or even for kids who’ve spent colossal hours of their day on academics (the whole school to tuition and then double homework drill!). Most of what we can find to entertain ourselves is going out for food or a movie – in times like these, creative solutions for entertainment are a bonus and required soul salvation. Inam, a young entrepreneur has transformed the outlook for entertainment from a static amusement to a riveting portfolio of multipurpose facilities, from gaming zones (Lasertag), arcade games, Bounce, high tech 3D experiences and then the mastermind of Superspace Pakistan, starting off from Hyderabad, moving towards karachi , Lahore, rawalpindi and beyond. This one stop approach for providing entertainment allows a complete solution for weekend activities, corporate retreats and other occasions.
The creator of reviving indoor play and arcades for both children and adults, Inam Abdullah speaks to Edition about his dreams to create unique innovative entertainment activities and experiences all over Pakistan including the struggles made to put entertainment at the forefront of the interests, subsequent investments and the simple joy of the return in the smiles of people who experience this entertainment!
Edition: Inam, can you tell us a bit about yourself, how did you choose the entertainment industry as your area of passion? How is doing so in line with your own experiences growing up?
Inam: I graduated from the London Metropolitan University in the U.K, however before leaving for university, I was already involved in the family business by the age of 19 - having seen my father in his financial endeavours, I was always driven by the same impetus and had already had great exposure to the practical workings of a business. At that time 2nd generation of the family has taken over Aladdin Park and plunged itself into the entertainment industry, despite the main focus of the family business in textile. Whilst in school, we had limited outlets for entertainment and the need for them was more dire than it is today. With the exception of the Aladdin park, which was often frequented by school students, including myself when I was younger, there were no other outlets for amusement rides or arcade games. This made me even more interested in expanding the scope of entertainment in Pakistan, starting with Aladdin Park, now with the grace of God, our parent companies, AA Joyland and Joyland have under its belt several initiatives not only in Karachi but in all other major cities of Pakistan – these include but are not limited to expansion and up- gradation of existing Aladdin Amusement Park, Bounce Karachi, Lahore and Pindi. Pavilion end club (a fully equipped sports and recreation centre aimed at trampolining), Superspace (an Indoor Theme park experience based) and SuperBus (karaoke, lazer maze and VR) party bus rental experience. Ever since I realised there is so much potential in the densely populated city of Karachi, I began to travel and take a real interest in the evolution of the entertainment industry around the world, through expos and conferences – this is how I developed my love and passion for the amusement park and entertainment sector as a whole...and frankly, it is still evolving!
Edition: What projects are special to you from all that you have envisioned and conceptualised and why?
IA: Our brand’s favourite creation and conceptual masterpiece is the Superspace, an area which functions as both a space for amusement park rides and also experiences such as haunted houses, laser maze and mirror maze and laser tag. The fact that people can have so many choices when visiting an amusement park is fascinating to me, and a concept our brand was inspired by during our team’s many visits to amusement parks around the world – and especially those that catered to a wide array of interests. For example, people who may be scared of amusement park rides, or adults who would like to gain amusement through arcade games, escape room experiences and experience-based activities. Even though it seemed like the need of the moment for a bustling city like Karachi, we first opened the Superspace experience in Hyderabad, where the concept prospered. Moreover, it lead on to creating and visualising a magical experience for the rest of the cities in Pakistan, and now we can say that we have successfully made operational six superspace centers in major cities in Pakistan. Something we are proud of as a brand is that Superspace is not only an idea which has been conceptualised in Pakistan after much deliberation and due diligence, but also built and structured in Pakistan – making it one of the most unique experiences in the country.
Edition: What do you think will be key in revolutionising the entertainment industry in Pakistan?
IA: I truly think that the amusement industry was focused on just rides – our brand and conceptualisation borrows from different concepts outside of Pakistan, where globally, rides and rollercoasters are not the only way for the amusement industry to thrive. I truly believe that this paradigm shift is important, if at all, we would like to tap into people’s growing interests, cater equivocally to the advancements in technology – I believe that amusement / entertainment industry experiences are based on new experiences and innovations – understanding this to formulate better working solutions is key to growing as an industry in Pakistan, especially in this realm.
Edition: How is the price point for the entertainment provided by the facilities you run?
IA: Our prices have been surveyed after doing much research work in the industry as a whole, we believe we offer competitive prices to cater to the masses. We are currently operating three outdoor parks, six indoor facilities such as Bounce and Battle Station. Prices for our outdoor parks range from Rs. 200-300 per head and average amount spent in the indoor super spaces ranges from Rs. 300-500. All these prices are kept keeping in mind the current disposable income of the country. Many a times people forget that these facilities should be aimed to serve the masses of the country which is 95% of the population who can't afford luxury entertainment.
Edition: What’s next? What are you innovating and working on at the moment?
IA: Currently, there is a lot of innovation happening behind the scenes. Our minds are always working on new solutions – ideas we see and ideas we get when we travel are probably ones we would like to find a niche for and develop here. As far as our audience is concerned, we have seen that our local population is receptive to all kinds of experiences – and because Karachi does not offer too many fun experiences, we have a blank canvas to play with and experiment. This is probably the MOST exciting part of our journey! We have some unique escape room experiences, pay as you go sports facilities (superspace extreme), a ninja course, some international ventures and collaborations (we can’t let spill at the moment!), a new co-working space called Joyco and Joytainment – a new arts company. So as you can see this is a very busy year for the powerhouse and hopefully one which will prove to be a really successful one!
Edition: What is a good piece of advice to give to young entrepreneurs who want to innovate and be bold in starting up their own businesses?
IA: Honestly, I would likely give advice on innovation – always create, always look to upgrade existing concepts and tweak them with your unique touch – do not just imitate an already existing successful model, but actually do some trial and error – in doing so, you learn. Always be open to new experiences, through travel or within the city – savour the untrodden path. Also, be prepared – once the conceptualising phase is over, you need to give your project a lot of time and, attention, effort and GRIT – do not fall into the trap of seeing results fast and getting frustrated when you don’t. Patience is key! I also want to say that whatever you do - follow your passion as I have been very lucky to have a mentor ( CEO of the company) who have always had faith in me and let me experiment with my ideas – always listening to them and encouraging me. You always need someone like that to believe in you. I get great pleasure to serve my country through these local innovations and further take up the policy of the current government to bring tourism to the country. I am very hopeful that in the future the Government will notice our efforts and try to understand the bottlenecks we face running these recreational spaces across the country and help in easing these for the sake of the people of Pakistan!