24 hours with…Derek Tan of Viddsee

Derek Tan, the co-founder of online entertainment platform Viddsee, starts the day playing a Simpsons game on his mobile and ends it – predictably enough – with content from his own platform

7.45am: It is wake-up time, and the first thing I do is feed my 10-month-old boy before having breakfast together with my wife.

Okay, okay, I lie: I woke up playing a few minutes of Simpsons Tapped Out, as I have been every morning since 2011 — I figure that if it hasn’t ruined my life by now, there’s no harm in playing it for a few more minutes. I then check into the Viddsee app to see what short film the content team has picked for the day, and mark it to watch for later.

After breakfast, I’m onto my Blinkist app for 15 minutes to get some “reading” done.

The book for the day is Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh, which is all about how massive companies like Google and Facebook can scale in a short time frame. Of course, Viddsee is nowhere near that scale, but it is always good to learn, and start the day off with a sense of accomplishment.

10.30am: I step into the office at Block71 for the daily team huddle with the Singapore commercial team, before syncing up with my co-founder, Ho Jia Jian, on our commercial strategies. My role is primarily leading Viddsee’s commercial efforts through brand and content partnerships.

This has grown rapidly ever since we launched Viddsee Studios, our production arm responsible for making the dozens of Viddsee Originals shows and commercial projects for clients like Unilever and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

12.30pm to 1.30pm: It’s not quite lunchtime yet! There’s one more update to go through with Danny, our commercial team lead in Jakarta. He relays information collated from our audience insights from the local marketing team, feedback from shows we are promoting and story ideas from studios. Learnings from previous pitches can lead to a kick-ass proposal.

A concall with the Indonesia team

During these cross-country huddles via Google Hangouts, I learn a lot about the needs and cultural nuances of each market. We make it a point to understand why certain themes and films excel in our key markets like Singapore, Indonesia or the Philippines, and how those lessons can be used to match the client’s brief with the right film director on our platform, and what local audiences like to watch.

Being both an entrepreneur and a film geek (I also directed a short film a long time ago), I really enjoy the first half of the day: it is when I marry my passion for creative storytelling and building a business that revolves around filmmaking.

1.30pm: Everyone’s usually at their desk until the Workplace chat group pings with a hangry GIF, reminding us to eat before the food court empties out.

The ‘Hangry’ gif

Solo desk lunches rarely happen: for me, a team that eats together, stays together.

At the team lunch

2.30pm: Today I am onboarding one of our latest hires, Vivian, who joined our commercial arm as an account manager this week. Coming from a branding and advertising background, she helps us understand agency practices and mindsets that we can adopt in improving our client pitches and films’ commercial potential.

It is staggering to think that we’ve doubled in size from 16 this time last year to 30 and counting. Each hire brings a range of skills and experience that adds to our commercial and creative capabilities. It’s always great when a new hire has as much to learn from me, as I do from them.

3.30pm: Our HR lead pings me and reminds me that it’s also her birthday. I abruptly halt our meeting downstairs, tell her she’s urgently needed back up in the office, where the team waits to surprise her with a birthday cake.

A birthday party

4.00pm: “Happy birthday Vivian!” We take a little time off to celebrate before Google reminds me that I have another meeting to rush to. It’s a potential client in the travel sector who spotted our work with the STB, and was curious to see how we can work together in the Fast Forward content creator initiative.

5.00pm: Speaking of the STB, today’s an extraordinary day for us. We are screening the ‘In Transit’ music video that was made for their ‘Passion Made Possible’ campaign. I quickly run through my opening speech, and answer any urgent e-mails while on the way over to Canvas.

Presenting to the STB

It is our first joint screening party with a client, and I am glad that everyone was in good spirits (in both sense of the word). It was also a pleasure to meet the likes of Rishi Budhrani, Sobs and thelioncityboy — personalities featured in the music video — and see them perform in real life. The commercial team celebrates long into the night, and they deserve it for pulling off such a great event.

11.00pm: I am finally back home after a long day. Although I don’t expect everyone else to work at night, this is the time when I am the most productive without daily distractions.

Unwinding with Viddsee

I will catch up on emails, articles and interesting videos/films curated and shared by the team on workplace, watch good story ads, and unwind by watching Viddsee’s pick of the day via Apple TV with my wife, while the baby sleeps in the room.

Derek Tan is the co-founder of Viddsee


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