How The Tech-Savvy Journalist Accepts Challenges to Make a Difference.

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July 2, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

I am Lawrence Ng, the Founder of A Singapore-based tech media outfit that covers stories from around the world. We also get to review some of the latest gadgets before they even hit the market. We are almost 4 years old and the journey has been exciting yet humbling. The brand came about because we wanted a name that was easy to remember and needs no second-guessing as to what we do. I think being a media platform you want people to focus on your content and not try to oversell your brand with a fancy name. We are now a team of 5 and growing. At the same time, we work very closely with many passionate part-timers, freelancers and also a community of creators. We have close relationships with almost all tech brands and we are lucky to have some of the biggest brands as clients. These brands include Samsung, LG, BMW, Huawei, Linksys, Microsoft and many more.

FOX Days - Shooting the Walking Dead

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

My early career was a mixed bag. I was once a bistro chef and also a club DJ and looking back, I realize they all had something in common - I was constantly creating, be it a new food menu or new music mixes. Only in my mid 20s did I realize that I needed to focus and hone my skills in order to be considered a true professional. That's when I furthered my studies in film production and started my career as a current affairs TV producer with Channel NewsAsia in my late 20s. Since then, I was lucky to work on other genres of content (e.g. Ch5 - Variety Shows, Studio Shows) and also had the opportunity to work with regional brands producing content for them (FOX, Starworld, National Geographic Channel). 

It was an interesting time in the content industry because I witnessed the change happening - the drop in TV viewerships, the rise in social media, the growing dominance of VOD services (e.g. Netflix, Hulu) and the rapid advancement in technology. I saw a gap and I knew there was an opportunity to build my own platform. To put it simply, you don’t need to own a TV satellite to own a channel. But here’s a secret, wasn’t my first shot at trying to build a channel. In 2011, I actually wanted to build a profit-sharing VOD platform to house short films and foreign films. It didn’t happen because investors that I spoke with didn’t understand the business. Lesson learnt: There is such a thing as being too innovative and being too early in the game. 

In 2016, was born. As a geek, tech was a topic close to my heart and during my stint with CNA, I managed to build a strong network in the tech industry. That helps when you are trying to sell a new platform. We are mainly on your usual social media sites (e.g. FB, Youtube, IG) and we also have our website that houses over 1000 videos that we have created. Just last year, we finally started producing more written articles, either paired with our videos or standalone. This helps to increase our website SEOs.

“Make change and accept change” is a mantra I live by. Change is the only constant in life and it is inevitable. There will be ups and downs in life and I think one needs to embrace the ride to fully appreciate life. I lost my dad 2 years ago and it showed me the fragility of life. Understanding the fragility in life accentuates the fact that life is short and you can’t just live it. You need to appreciate it and make the best of it. Change is like the advancement in technology, it excites me and keeps me going. 

Getting inspired - Melissa Tan and I interviewing Mr Nadiem Makarim, Minister of education and culture of the Republic of Indonesia and founder of Gojek 

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

I think being sensitive to our environment and people around us helps with creativity. I was never an outspoken person so I spend a lot of time listening and observing. When we stop to listen and observe, you will be surprised at the amount of things we can learn and get inspired by.  I am also always curious about how things work so I do spend quite a lot of time listening and asking questions from the people that I have access to. One lucky thing about being a journalist is that you get to speak with some of the most inspirational leaders. is an online business, I think we need to understand our playing field and embrace the solutions that come with it. We are increasingly researching and improving the way we produce content using analytic tools. The research that has been done not only changes the length of the content but also affects the topic, the way we structure our content, and even the caption and title of it. 

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

In our business, it’s all about creating content that our viewers trust and when they trust our content, they naturally share and help us promote our content, which is also our brand. Our main platforms are Facebook, Youtube and Instagram but we do occasionally try out new social media platforms to connect with our viewers. It is important for us to understand how our viewers want to be connected through these different platforms. Understanding that also helps us to better tailor our content to meet their needs.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

I guess moving from jobs in big name companies to freelancing was a humbling experience but I couldn’t care less about what others thought. When I first started, I was more worried about the sustainability of the business, paying salaries and also delivering our promise to clients. I believe there will be people that don’t buy into our ideas and I think that’s ok. We can never please everyone so we would rather channel our energy towards building relationships with those that believe in us. 

We also get viewers that are extremely critical but we usually take it positively as they also do put in an effort to engage with us. 

I personally don’t have any fear of creating content. On the contrary, I love the challenge. I guess it helps that I have experienced worse.

Class of 2019 - Amazing team 

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

It takes a lot of time and effort to get the right people onboard. A startup is a very dynamic place and not many understand the stress that comes with it. Presently I have a very strong and reliable team and this allows me to concentrate on developing the business instead of worrying about the day today. 

Building trust with our viewers and clients also takes time. We just have to bite the bullet and focus on delivering quality work and services. It gets easier after a while but we are constantly shifting our target upwards because as a startup, our strength is our speed and flexibility. It would be foolish to think that we are untouchable because the truth is that with money, anything can be replicated. 

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

The big takeaway for me personally is people managing. With the right people onboard things can move forward very quickly but with the wrong people onboard, the company takes a few steps back. We made tons of mistakes along the way but I think these mistakes are important for us to make because it helps us grow individually. 

If you are creating content as an individual, I would advise you to jump into it, make mistakes and continue to make new mistakes. I have seen many seasoned content creators that stop being creative because they relied heavily on their experiences. I think that’s a mistake because the world doesn’t stop revolving just because one stops evolving.

Like anything in life, you only lose when you stop trying. 

If you are doing this as a business, you have to be careful the business doesn’t consume you or affect your personal life. I feel one needs to set his or her priority and constantly check on it. I am very lucky that I have a very supportive wife who allows me to live my crazy dreams but she is also the practical one that keeps me in check. 

My partners in crime - My wife Joy Foo and my friend/business partner Timothy Go

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

The best milestone is always the next one. I feel that we should constantly push ourselves forward and not rest on our laurels. In this day and age, things are moving very quickly and for a small outfit like us, we do not have anything to fall back on. We can only continue to evolve and make a difference. 

There is certainly a fair share of sacrifices one needs to make when running your own business but the sacrifices are worthwhile in my opinion because when you look back at how your business has grown and the critical decisions you have to make that affects the survival of the business, it sort of gives you that affirmation. This is something you can’t get from working for someone or being a freelancer. 

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

I believe that good content markets itself. I guess there are different schools of thought to this but to me, the platform will constantly change and content producing is still an art and it is difficult to have a formula that works 100% all of the time. Even Netflix tried to create formulas by analyzing viewing patterns but I don't think it has fully worked for them. Some of their shows are still badly received. That said, I feel content creators should still be equipped with the knowledge of production and not just break rules without first understanding the rules. 

Paid partnership with BMW - Charlotte Mei hosting a paid content

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

Being honest to our viewers is important so we will try to communicate that to our sponsors. I think sponsors want what's best for their brands too and they slowly understand that it's important to not hardsell their products. I guess if they do want to hardsell, they wouldn’t have chosen us from the start. We do encounter some brands coming to us that are demanding and want to create content that is biased, dishonest and some will even low ball us. We usually push back. Honestly, it won’t be easy but it will be good for your own brand in the long run. You just have to accept that like any type of relationship, some work, some don’t and the longer you stay in an unhappy relationship, the longer it takes for you to find one that will make you happy.

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