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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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YULU International Limited bags Designed in Hong Kong Awards for Toys and Novelties

Operation: Escape delivers the escape room experience right into people’s living rooms.

YULU International Limited's Operation: Escape combines skill, strategy, and teamwork needed in escape rooms and takes it right into players' living rooms. Family members as young as six years old can search, solve, and ultimately “escape” in the game. YULU Toys co-founder Thijmen de Shipper said they rode the escape room trend with their game. 

Operation: Escape has been a huge success for YULU Toys from the start. It was named to the Target 2017 Top Toys last year in the United States and featured in numerous stories on huge international outlets like Yahoo! Finance and AOL.com. YULU Toys has even recently opened its sales and marketing office in the United States. Because of their explosive growth, YULU International Limited bags Hong Kong Business Designed in Hong Kong Awards for Toys and Novelties.

"We saw that escape rooms had definitely arrived. Born here in Asia, they quickly spread throughout Europe and the UK ultimately making their way to North America. Their growth was explosive with escape rooms popping up at an exponential rate," says De Shipper.

De Shipper and his partner Jochem Van Rijn originally met in University during their masters' studies. They first worked on an app about the rules of Games & Sports, which was launched just before the 2012 London Olympic Game. De Shipper says the app opened a lot of doors for them and was eventually purchased by the Dutch government. This led both of them to go into the games and toys industry. "We decided that our passion was to try and create new game play experiences that people had never seen before and despite recognizing that the games business was difficult to break into, we moved forward with their plan because we so deeply believed in our games concepts," says De Shipper.

As for Operation: Escape, De Shipper says the game's design is inspired by James Bond films. "As you can imagine, there were quite a few steps before we were successfully able to package the excitement and action of escape rooms into a game box! It was certainly challenge, and we went through several different variations and designs. But the resulting product was Operation: Escape, which we believe does just that," he says.

De Shipper believes that it is their mission to continue to create interactive games. "As we move forward, we want to continue to advocate the fundamental need for cognitive, physical, social and emotional development by creating indoor and outdoor toys and games. We believe that through active play, children nurture their creativity and develop problem-solving skills and subsequently become inquisitive about their surroundings and more interactive with people around them," he says.

He also says winning the Hong Kong Business award has validated all their hard work. "As a new company in the toy industry, recognition by this award is validation that we are heading in the right direction! Winning the award allows us to connect with a broader base and help us to continue to grow YULU Toys both externally with new customers and internally by attracting creative new people to be part of our YULU team." 

The Hong Kong Business Awards was held on April 19, 2018 at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong.

This year’s winners were judged by Charbon Lo, Director at Crowe Horwath (HK) CPA Limited; Kevin Lam, Partner at ShineWing; Matthew Tong, Audit and Assurance Director at Baker Tilly Hong Kong; Zhang Tian Bing, China Consumer Products and Retails Sector Leader at Deloitte; and John Poon, Head of Accounting and Outsourcing Solutions at Mazars Hong Kong.

If your company would like to join the 2019 awards and have your product recognised as one of the most excellent in Hong Kong, please email eleonor@charltonmediamail.com.

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