By PHYLLIS HO
The British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) programme is the perfect platform to connect young and emerging entrepreneurs in creative industries around the world. Since its inception in 2005, the programme has seen 400 participants from 53 countries so far.
The YCE Awards started out with different categories, which included Design, Music, Fashion, Performing Arts and so on, recognising the talent of young and creative entrepreneurs and giving them the golden chance to collaborate with professionals from their respective fields in Britain.
But the programme will be run a little differently this year, as YCE is narrowing the scope down to two categories – Fashion & Design and Media.
Lau Hoe Yin, better known as DJ Blink from DJ collective Lapsap, was a YCE finalist in 2009 when he won the International Young Music Entrepreneur Award.
He said that after winning the award and going to Britain, he was able to expand his network of contacts.
“I met a few friends in London, and I learnt more about business models and how they work.
“I got a lot of new insights, trends, and learnt a lot about what’s happening in the UK,” shared the deejay, who recently released a much-anticipated album with fellow deejay DJ Goldfish.
This year, the local YCE Media (YCEM) Awards will be selecting Malaysians aged 21 to 40 who have dabbled in the production of any form of media; including TV programmes, animation, film production, games, mobile apps and even software development. An application must be submitted that highlights their entrepreneurial leadership, and also their contribution to the local creative industry.
The panel of judges will include local creative expert Hardesh Singh, the co-founder of PopTeeVee and also a 2008 YCEM finalist, as well as Clare Walker, the deputy director of programmes from the British Council.
“I’ve been asked to judge media entrepreneurship, which is an exciting but very challenging area. It is more relevant to my work currently as it involves everything from concepts, content, technology and audience,” said Hardesh.
“On top of that, monetizing media is not particularly easy. I bootstrapped PopTeeVee for four years before it became profitable.”
He encourages the young people of Malaysia who think they have what it takes to be a creative leader in the industry to apply for the award.
“The application forces you to think of the value of your business from an entrepreneurial perspective. Even if one doesn’t get shortlisted, the process of applying is quite an eye opener,” said Hardesh.
He decided to go for it because he wanted the chance to gain first-hand insight on the industry in Britain, which is one of the perks of being an international finalist.
“Even though it was still at a conceptual phase, I proposed a solution that encouraged free sharing of music among peers while still providing advertising revenue for rights holders.
“Back in 2008 music piracy online was still a major issue with very few legitimate solutions. We had a concept that addressed a specific need in the market,” shared Hardesh.
This year, a finalist will be selected from the pool of shortlisted applicants. The selected finalist will then get the opportunity to travel to Britain in October, where he/she will participate in a cross-cultural exchange of creative insights, ideas and plans with leaders in the vibrant creative industry over there.
“We got to meet industry leaders from all aspects of the industry – from venues, to booking agents, music labels, music colleges, and industry regulators. It gave us a depth of knowledge of the entire ecosystem that leads to a sustainable industry,” said Hardesh of his experience as a finalist in 2008.
“Parallel to that was also getting to know my fellow finalists from 10 other countries vying for the international prize and the challenges they each face in their own markets.”
The Malaysian finalist will join 16 other finalists from participating countries worldwide. Besides meeting British industry experts, they will also get to attend relevant shows such as the London Film Festival and Power To The Pixel festival in London. A meeting with past finalists and winners from the global YCE community will also be arranged.
“I was able to expand on my concept and fine tune it to cater to larger issues I didn’t consider before. Essentially, I expanded the focus from the music industry to the media industry, because the music industry increasingly draws revenue from its use in media, as opposed to music consumption.
“PopTeeVee is a good example of how we branched out to media using the platform we had already created for online music sharing. The idea is essentially the same, but packaged as video rather than audio,” Hardesh shared.
As a judge, Hardesh hopes to see applications with a keen understanding of what the market wants and good concepts to deliver it.
“The best advice I ever received, from a venture capitalist no less, was to bootstrap and decline investments. Too many young entrepreneurs give up their equity too early for an initial investment.
“The real value in a company is knowing that you have a product the public is willing to use, not how much seed money you received. Four years on, we still have parties interested in investing, and we still turn them down. We own 100% of the company. There is no greater value than that.”
For more info on the Young Creative Entrepreneur Media awards, visit www.britishcouncil.org.my. The closing date for applications is August 31.