Co-Founder & General Manager, Mediafreaks
Experience: 12 years
Studied: Computer Engineering, Nanyang Technological University
Earliest Tech Experience: Assembling his own personal computer at the age of 15 First Tech Gadget: Intel 386
Intrigued by: How Netflix reinvented HR Current Pet Topic: Digital marketing
For many people, starting a business and becoming a boss is like a dream come true. However, few realise that being a boss is hardly the end. It is the beginning. Adrian Chye, Co-Founder and General Manager, Mediafreaks, testifies to that little known fact by sharing with The IT Society about the ups and downs of his entrepreneurship journey over the past 12 years.
Q: Question, AC: Adrian Chye
Q: Has running your own business always been part of your career plan?
AC: Just like most University students, I figured that I would work for a technology company after graduation. But, as it happens, I attended an entrepreneurship talk organised
by the University and was deeply inspired by the speakers. Hearing their experiences, stirred my curiosity about the potential a business can bring, and – for the first time – opened my mind to the possibility that “The world may have more to offer...”
Q: So was that what got you to start Mediafreaks?
AC: While attending the talk caused the instrumental paradigm shift, it was the six-month graduate diploma I took up in the U.S. – after graduating from NTU – which really set me on the path of entrepreneurship. Just by being at the Silicon Valley, interacting with highly driven people and experiencing first-hand the charged up atmosphere, were all I needed to throw caution to the wind and start something for myself.
Q: After which, was the going all- smooth?
AC: Far from it. In fact, that was where the hard work really began. My partners and I were young and had little (or almost no) work experience behind
us; we didn’t really know how to sell ourselves effectively. To make it worse, we are the new kids on the block with no portfolio to show. I can still vividly remember going around and knocking on many doors – again and again – just to get that one opportunity. You cannot imagine the happiness and the relief I felt when I finally managed to bag my first job.
Q: Were there any other moments where your commitment was put to a test?
AC: Certainly, there were. But the beauty of running a business is that as long as we have our hearts and our minds in the right place, we can change things around. And as long as we keep trying, we will somehow overcome the challenges and, even, take away valuable experiences from these difficult episodes. For example, when our foray into China did not turn out the way we hoped it would, we learnt important lessons about the market and ourselves. These prepare us for our next venture out of Singapore.
Q: Can you share another important lesson learnt over the past 12 years?
AC: As a matter of fact, I am still learning today. The business environment is dynamic and ever- changing. Be it in the course of everyday operations and interaction with my customers and employees or during the networking and exchange sessions with other SCS members, I am continuously energised by the perspectives and insights of these individuals.
Notably, one realisation that has stuck with me is the importance of always putting customers and their needs first. Although it is easy and very tempting for businesses to prioritise profits above all else, it is the relentless emphasis on value delivery that will sustain the business and win the customers’ trust and loyalty.
Q: How about sharing some human resource management wisdom?
AC: It is a myth to think that the boss is singlehandedly responsible for the success of a business. In the real world, especially one that is getting increasingly complex, the business can only go so far with one person’s ability. A complete support system, encompassing every team member as well as both internal and external business partners, is necessary to grow the business and ensure its continued health. That is why I would often jokingly tell my people that I am working for them, and not the other way around.
Q: You have come so far. What is next on the horizon for you and Mediafreaks?
AC: We are living in exciting times. Technology levels the playing field by availing abundant information and enabling a wide reach at little costs. As a result, new entrants can get into the game quickly; at the same time it is hard for anyone to enjoy an edge over another for long. For that reason, I make it a point to allocate a portion of my resources and time looking into upcoming trends and making plans to disrupt our current offering, so as to stay competitive.
On a personal level, I find my love for this industry burning stronger than ever now. I see many possibilities and am passionate in contributing to the buildup of a robust community. To which end, I am actively engaged in teaching duties at tertiary institutions. Concurrently, I volunteer my services at the SCS Student Chapters – to share my industry knowledge and experience. Just like how many
others had inspired me, I wish to also positively influence our youths.
“You only fail when you stop trying.”