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44.From BAFTA to Tech: SerEn's Unconventional Path to Innovation and Connectivity in a Post-COVID World

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Podcast with Ser En Part 1



Podcast with Ser En


Intrigued by stories of entrepreneurship that emerge from unexpected places?

Tune into our latest podcast, where
BAFTA-winning filmmaker turned tech entrepreneur, Ser En, reveals how she's
revolutionizing the way we connect and engage in a post-COVID world. Discover
her transformative journey, the innovative ventures she's helmed, and why
innovation is more essential now than ever. Your perspective on adaptability
and creativity is about to be completely redefined. Don't miss out! In this
podcast, award-winning filmmaker and entrepreneur Ser En shares her journey
from the film industry to tech entrepreneurship. She discusses her ventures
SendJoy, the challenges of COVID-19, and the significant role of innovation in
connecting people and offering services in new ways.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew Weida: Hi, everyone. Welcome tothe AI of mankind show where I share anything interesting about mankind. I'm
your host for this season. My name is Andrew Liew. I work across four
Continents and 12 international cities. Also, I work in tech startups across a
range of roles from selling products, making customer happy, figuring out
fundraising, making finance tick, building teams and developing sticky product.
Apart from building startups. I've also worked in fortune 500 companies as a
chief data scientist or technologist or people leader. You can call me Jack of
all trades or master of learning. I hope to make this podcast show [00:01:00] a great learning experience for us In eachseason, there is a series of interesting things where invite guests to share
their views about their life and interests.

[00:01:09] Andrew Liew Weida: Now let the show begin.

[00:01:26] Andrew Liew Weida: oh, thank you everybody forcoming to the show. Kindly allow me to mention my guest. Allow me to do a bit
of short introduction here. So my guest today is my wonderful mate, Ser En. So
Ser En is a film maker and entrepreneur. She's the first Singaporean to win a
BAFTA, which is the British Academy of Film and TV Awards, and an Emmy Oscar
for Animation for a short animated film she produced, called Paul's Part.

[00:01:51] Andrew Liew Weida: Starring Helena BohemanCarter, which is this series in Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd, about climate
change in the Arctic. [00:02:00] She was also selectedfor Entrepreneur First, one of the world leading talent incubators slash
venture capital company, where she explored various ways in which media and
technology can work together to move the industry forward.

[00:02:14] Andrew Liew Weida: Fast forward into 2020,with co founder Lin Liang Chun, she started this company called SendJoinNow.
com, which is a company that aims to provide join messages and is incubated by
the Singapore IMDA, which stands for Info Media Com Development Authority. So
let us welcome Ser En.

[00:02:34] Andrew Liew Weida: So Ser En how are youtoday?

[00:02:35] Ser En: Hey, thanks Andrew for having me.Yeah, I'm having a good day. I got COVID and today I got released, so I had the
smell of freedom. Woohoo!

[00:02:43] Andrew Liew Weida: That's good for you. Yeahthis is the season where everybody is now trying to tide over this COVID 19.

[00:02:49] Andrew Liew Weida: Let's, let me ask you oneinteresting question tell us more your backstory. How do you get from when you
were doing film school to eventually... Tell [00:03:00]us the story, please.

[00:03:00] Ser En: Yeah I was a filmmaker for about 10years. I've done all sorts of different kinds of production, from film, TV, to

[00:03:10] Ser En: And the journey came about when Iactually met my I actually was thinking about how a lot of things in the film
production world can be done more efficiently. Yeah, like for example, people
are still using pen and papers on set. So I felt like hey Isn't there supposed
to be a program somewhere that we can use to try improve this process?

[00:03:32] Ser En: And I also remember like using Excelsheets that went up to Excel sheets has a column A to Z. Yes. So I worked on
Excel sheets that went from A to Z, then A A, B, until A, Z, and then it starts
from B, A, B, C, until... So it was like crazy hundreds of columns of of things
that I felt like, while as a producer, I didn't get to do much creative work.

[00:03:53] Ser En: I ended up doing, So much of thesethings that that is not interesting to me. Yeah,[00:04:00]maybe there is a software out there that can help me with all this. So that's
why I got interested in tech.

[00:04:06] Andrew Liew Weida: Ah so you are strugglingwith all this mundane paperwork and Excel and then eventually you stumble in, I
mean after that like what was the first path or first encounter that before you
actually eventually joined SendJoy or started SendJoy was it Entrepreneur First
or was it somewhere else or what?

[00:04:24] Ser En: Yeah, so actually Entrepreneur Firstwas my first entry into entrepreneurship So before that I just read a few books
on entrepreneurship like the Airbnb story, the Uber story

[00:04:34] Ser En: So I thought okay, It's a little bitsimilar to filmmaking So how I met my current co founder was that we were we
were actually ex colleagues at the film production company, MF2. So one, one
day he sat down he doesn't really know what a producer does. So he asked me,
what does a producer do?

[00:04:50] Ser En: So I said, oh we go and find fundingfor the short film. We look for people to come about the film, like writers,
directors. We write a script. We have the blueprint. Then we go into [00:05:00] production and then we do the marketingand distribution for the film. So he said, oh, you are an entrepreneur. Then
I'm like, am I?

[00:05:07] Ser En: What's an entrepreneur? So that's whenhe gave me all the books to read. Then I read it. I was like, oh yeah, actually
these are quite interesting. He was the one who suggested that, hey
entrepreneurship is similar to the process that you are doing, except that it
iterates a lot more and a lot faster, because a film product has an end goal,
but a company doesn't really have the that the clear end, like you keep
reiterating according to what the consumers want.

[00:05:32] Ser En: Yeah that actually got me quiteexcited. I was like, okay, what would be a film that never ends? Let's try
doing this. Yeah, and so I applied to entrepreneur first and that was my first
entry into entrepreneurship. Yeah I explored a couple ideas in there Including
using AI to do like a script breakdown so we can help to schedule things more
easily yeah, so I've thought of a couple ideas at Entrepreneur First, but they
didn't really [00:06:00] pan out So actually Iwent back into filmmaking for a couple months.

[00:06:04] Ser En: Yeah, it's only towards 2019 That mycurrent co founder he was leaving his company back then and we're like, oh,
okay since both of us are like like jobless now, okay let's try do something
together yeah. That's when we started the first company. It was called UNEC.

[00:06:21] Ser En: It was an like an employer brandingcompany. So we are helping young startups teach to young people using videos.
Yeah, but because of the COVID hit so it didn't really work out. A lot of the
startups, they couldn't afford to hire us anymore. Yeah, so that's when we
decided to, do something else.

[00:06:41] Andrew Liew Weida: Yeah, because I rememberthe days when I met you and Liang Chun, maybe you guys were trying to do some
employer branding videos. And then, like you said, because of COVID 19 maybe
startup companies, they were strapped for cash. And so you guys have to pivot.
So tell me, tell us more about what happened to the second idea?

[00:06:57] Andrew Liew Weida: How do you, came about thesecond idea?

[00:06:59] Ser En: It was actually [00:07:00] a consortium of different things that werehappening at the same time. Yeah, so one of the triggers was my co founder, LC,
he wanted to send something special back to his mom in Malaysia. Because they
were like in different countries back then.

[00:07:15] Ser En: He didn't get to see his mom forMother's Day, wanted to send her a special gift. And he thought of sending a
greeting from one of the, her favourite TV actresses. Yeah, so we, we wrote to
the actress. Because we are insiders of the industry, so I even went to the
extent of contacting the top of the agency.

[00:07:32] Ser En: But they said they will help us, butdidn't hear back. Even the actress herself on Instagram, she said that she's
happy to do the message. Yeah, but it was just The process was too complicated.
Yeah, and we didn't get the message in the end. I'm just curious what's so
complicated about getting a friend or paying some way to, to send a reading

[00:07:53] Ser En: Because when a celebrity or actor isrepresented by an agency, they cannot take up jobs on their own. [00:08:00] So they have to go through theirmanagement. To get the, to get a video, that's why it's more it's quite
complicated. Yeah, that's why that was one of the triggers.

[00:08:07] Ser En: Like we felt, hey, this process can besimpler. Also a lot of our friends are looking for similar service. They have
been DMing people on Instagram for videos and they never got anything back or
didn't hear back or they said they would do it but it didn't happen.

[00:08:21] Ser En: Yeah, so that, that was one trigger.The other trigger was I looked around me and a lot of my friends in
entertainment, they suddenly lost their jobs overnight. Yeah, so I felt that,
hey, maybe this, there's an opportunity there because firstly, there are people
looking for such a service and there are people who currently need need to have
some jobs. Yeah. So I thought, okay, let's marry both together. Yeah. And
that's when SendJoy was born.

[00:08:47] Andrew Liew Weida: Oh, and then you guysstarted it. And then tell us more like the first experience when the first
SendJoy message was sent out. Tell us that story.

[00:08:55] Ser En: Oh, the first SendJoy message wasactually very very touching.

[00:08:58] Ser En: Yeah. It [00:09:00]was a friend who actually came across our website. She just went onto the
website on her own. We told her about it a couple months ago. So it was still
eunek back then, but when she came to the website, she saw, eh, how come we're
offering a different service now? It's completely different from what she was

[00:09:14] Ser En: So she just clicked around, and shesaw one of the one of the singers that she really liked Jean Seizure. And she
just went ahead and booked it on her own, without telling us. Because when we
got the email that, hey somebody made an order, we were quite surprised. We
were like, wow, we got our first order just like that.

[00:09:32] Ser En: And she was having a difficult timebecause of COVID. So she asked Jean whether she could sing her a song and give
her some words of encouragement. Yeah. So initially when we got these creators
on board, they, our requirement was like, okay you just make a 30 seconds

[00:09:48] Ser En: Like just cheer somebody out in 30seconds. But Jean made the video and came back with something that's five
minutes long. Yeah. Then she even sang an original song. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. It
was called [00:10:00] Scarce. It's a verycathartic song.

[00:10:02] Ser En: In fact later that year Send Joy, wecommissioned her to make a full song out of this. Yeah so now there's a full
song on Spotify.

[00:10:10] Andrew Liew Weida: Wow! Okay, Unbelievable

[00:10:12] Ser En: yeah, because it was the first SendJoy video and she wrote that beautiful song. So we're like, okay. Let's
commission you to write the whole thing. So a couple months later Quest
Ventures they came in, and they were one of the first people who believed in
us, and we were quite grateful, ah that so early on, we had some interest..

[00:10:28] Andrew Liew : We hope you enjoyed ourengaging discourse with the BAFTA-winning filmmaker and tech entrepreneur, Ser
En, in today's podcast episode. We've traversed her unique journey from the
film industry to tech entrepreneurship, reflecting on the transformative
ventures she's launched. One thing's for sure, in a world reshaped by the
COVID-19 pandemic, innovation is key, and Ser En exemplifies that through her
endeavor, SendJoy. This thought-provoking discussion undoubtedly redefines your
perspective on adaptability, creativity, and the necessity of innovation in
these unprecedented times.

[00:10:58] Andrew Liew : Now, as we [00:11:00] transition into Part 2 of our rivetingconversation with Ser En, prepare for a deep-dive into the digital future of entertainment.
Our discussion will cover everything from the rise of NFTs to the digital
transformation of the film industry in the cloud era. You'll also hear Ser En's
unique insights on the challenges and opportunities of these paradigm shifts,
including the potential role of NFTs in supporting creators, and the
double-edged sword of digitization in tackling piracy while revolutionizing the
industry. If you thought today's episode was a game-changer, just wait until
you hear what's in store for Part 2! Be sure to join us for another
electrifying episode as we continue to challenge the status quo and redefine
the entertainment landscape. Stay tuned!

[00:11:37] Andrew Liew Weida: Hi guys. Thanks forlistening to this podcast. If this is the first time you are tuning in.
Remember to subscribe to this show. If you have subscribed to this show and
love this. Please share it with your friends, family, and acquaintances. See
you later and see you soon.