words. Amy Ang
issue 8 – behind the scenes

Tell me Alan, what have you been busy with lately?
“After selling off Amorana, I wanted to find a new challenge that is not money-driven. Back then, it was not uncommon for me to work 14 to 16 hours a day. Creating and investing in many start-ups when I was younger was time and energy-consuming and I no longer want to feel fatigued constantly.”

Since then, he has started the Alan Frei Company aimed at creating interesting content to build a community of life hackers-people who want to optimize every aspect of their lives.

“I came across a new generation of entrepreneurs, mostly from the U.S., who are driving their own brands, products, and services directly to their consumers. They own the narrative of their brands and are not satisfied with marketing through middle persons or secondary channels and having to sell ad space on their social media platforms. The most famous of such entrepreneurs is Jimmy Donaldson, commonly known as MrBeast. He is an American YouTuber with the fastest growing channel in the history of the YouTube platform. Beyond digital media, MrBeast has also created his own food company called Feastables, which launched its own brand of chocolate bars called MrBeast Bars.”

Like MrBeast, Alan wants to create unique content and build a strong community following for his brand persona, and very soon, make new gadgets for life hackers, entrepreneurs and urban travellers, and market them directly to his consumers. He explains how he aims to do so.

Alan proudly promotes “The world’s ugliest newsletter” on his website, believing that having a list of newsletter subscribers creates a direct relationship with like-minded individuals. These subscribers, who share his passion for optimizing their lives to gain more time for self-improvement and health, receive his monthly newsletter via email. This newsletter serves as a springboard, driving readers and his community to his other platforms, such as his podcast and YouTube channel.

But what kind of content does he envision his subscribers would find interesting?
He decided to focus on his strengths and interests because that would make his content authentically him.

“I don’t think I can ever be a beauty guru and write about skincare”, he jokes. “But I am always finding new ways to optimize my time and I also love to travel.”

That is why he started to share ideas about life hacks. It was also the impetus for him to try a minimalist lifestyle for a few years with only a few essential items and living out of a hotel. Apart from providing interesting content online to his strong following, Alan is also designing new gadgets that are travel-related. As we speak, he is making a prototype for a unique travel jacket.”

Alan has also set his sights on entering the Winter Olympics 2026 in curling with his personal battle cry – From Obese to Olympics.

Since September 2023, he has brought together a team made up of three other Swiss-Filipino guys who are interested in and have experience in the sport of curling. “To me, curling is like playing chess on ice. It actually requires a lot of strategy, patience, and anticipating your opponents’ next few moves,” Alan said. The first person who took Alan’s Olympic dream to heart was another half-Swiss, half-Filipino, Christian Haller, who has been curling for more than 20 years. Since they were of Filipino descent, they decided to form a curling team representing the Philippines, as the Philippines did not have a professional curling team yet. They then roped in brothers Marco and Enrico Pfister, who were also half-Swiss, half-Filipino, to join them. Within a short span of six months of intense physical training, they have already won against the Italians in a game on the World Curling Tour in Prague, Czech Republic, and have also clinched second place in Division B of the Pan Continental Curling Championships in Kelowna, Canada, last November. The Filipino team needs to win another tournament in 2024 to qualify for the Winter Olympics in 2026.

Alan is a passionate storyteller and has documented his challenging journey towards making his Olympic dream come true on his social media channels and in interviews with many news agencies. His name has been buzzing everywhere. He has been interviewed by both local and global news media, including the Tages Anzeiger, Blick, Luzerner Zeitung, and Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

It shows what a savvy marketer and innovative entrepreneur he really is. He loves sharing great personal stories, and what can be more epic, authentic, and attention-grabbing than an overweight, unathletic, 40-plus-year-old businessman pursuing a place in the biggest, most professional sporting event in the entire world?

What is the entrepreneurial environment like in Switzerland?
Alan is quick to say it is hard to be an entrepreneur or to invest in start-ups here. The first successful homegrown enterprises like Nestle and ABB in the 1980s and 90s made Swiss people comfortable working in big companies with little incentive to start something new or exciting. This cushy safety net is definitely broken with the coming of the digital age and more so with recent big banks having to merge and retrench large numbers of employees. The new generation of workers is slowly realizing that working in big corporations does not mean lifelong job security anymore. That being said, the barriers to entry for start-ups or investing in new businesses here are still plenty and arduous to break.

That is why Alan Frei’s company has partnered with Zug-based company Aktionariat AG to tokenize his company’s shares.

Can you explain what tokens are and why it is becoming more and more popular in the Switzerland?
Tokenization is a new way of making investing in companies more straightforward and democratic. Owning tokens is essentially like buying and selling shares, and this is already regulated in Switzerland. The best thing about tokens for buyers is that there is no minimum number of tokens one has to invest in a company. For small and medium enterprises, it means more opportunities are opened up for them to raise capital.

“I want owners of my company tokens to be co-owners of my brand. When they feel like active participants, it means they would feel invested in the company’s success in growing this community, and they would give genuine feedback about the content I produce as well as for the new gadgets I am launching.”

Do you ever find yourself in a conundrum where the more time you save through your life hacks, the busier you become?
“Not at all. In fact, my goal in life is to keep my calendar… empty. It takes conscious effort to not fill my day with crap. I think spending a lot of time watching senseless videos online is one of the most time-wasting activity. Instead, with the time I have freed up by optimizing my life, I want tobe more inventive and create more cool gadgets, stay in good health and connect offline with people who matters to me”.

words. Amy Ang