Michael Murphy had to propose twice before Sau Cheng said yes.
The first time was in 2007, when he got down on one knee in Rochester’s Highland Park. Cheng took one look at the box in his hand and said, “You got me a promise ring, how nice.” She finally agreed three years later when he proposed during Christmas time in Washington, D.C. “I did it early in the morning, before she could think about it and change her mind,” said Murphy with a laugh.
“You could call our relationship tumultuous; Sau is my cougar, one year older and always one step ahead of me,” said Murphy, who hails from Marcellus, N.Y. He spent three years studying international business from 2004-2007.
Cheng, a native of Hong Kong whose family owns several restaurants in Syracuse, N.Y., was the first member of her family to go to college and graduated with a marketing degree in 2007.
Perhaps it was serendipity that Murphy often ordered take-out food from Cheng Tu Restaurant before ever meeting his future wife on the RIT campus, but a shared destiny was not evident at their first encounter.
“I was coming to interview for the Saunders College Future Business Leaders club—and was an hour late due to a snowstorm,” said Murphy. “Sau was obviously irritated by the delay, gave me the cold shoulder and there was an instant clash of personalities.”
As Cheng remembers: “He was just this annoying up-and-coming freshman who was overconfident enough to think he could become the future president of the leadership club. Everyone liked him and I ended up becoming the Olivia Pope from Scandal who later ran his campaign.”
Murphy obviously was elected to the post—and the twosome soon became inseparable. The couple exchanged wedding vows in front of “close RIT friends” and family in the Cayman Islands on Dec. 8, 2011.
After RIT, they worked in industry positions (human resources, research and marketing) before becoming globe trotters, business partners and co-founders of Wonka Lab, which they refer to as “adventure networking.”
Based in Irving, Calif., the company works with startups, corporate investors and opportunity seekers from around the globe to explore the latest opportunities in technology and business.
“Last March, Wonka Lab hosted an inaugural Totem Summit conference in Whistler, British Columbia, and it was a sell-out,” said Cheng. “We encourage people to have fun while developing meaningful connections to improve their lives and their businesses. Our goal is to make the world a better place.”
Murphy said working and living together 24/7 has made their marriage union grow stronger. “We are yin and yang, polar opposites, but we make it work. We laugh a lot; we also share a passion and belief that great success, adventure and lifestyle go hand-in-hand.”