Singaporean

When Filmmaking Meets Tech: She Created A Platform For S'poreans To Book Celeb Video Messages

Many know Low Ser En as an award-winning filmmaker. After all, she was the first Singaporean to win a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) award in 2018 for her animated short film Poles Apart.

She has also produced local movies and TV shows like Zombiepura and Fried Rice Paradise, and coordinated visual effects (VFX) for Hollywood films like Godzilla, The Exodus and The Muppets.

The 30-year-old Prestige 40 Under 40 awardee has since channelled her storytelling skills to Sendjoy, a startup that she founded right before the circuit breaker took place this year.

Exploring New Possibilities In Storytelling

In 2019, Ser En joined the accelerator Entrepreneur First as she “saw an opportunity in the democratisation of filmmaking knowledge and tools.”

Back in her university days, she was editing on “video tapes and 16mm film”. Today, almost everyone she knows have smartphones that can shoot high quality videos with complex video editing tools.

Thus, she wondered how she could combine her knowledge of filmmaking with the technology available today.

The Nanyang Technological University graduate shared that she has always been interested in technology, and Entrepreneur First gave her a platform to explore building a team around a technological product.

Filmmaking as an artform has always been the product of technologies that give us the ability to encapsulate moments in time. As a film producer, I want to explore the new possibilities of audiovisual storytelling that mobile video technologies afford us, like those before me who explored TV as a medium.

Low Ser En, co-founder of Sendjoy

To explore merging technology with storytelling, she founded Sendjoy with her co-founder Lim Liang Chun. The duo had met during their time at production company mm2 Entertainment.

“Sending” Joy During Circuit Breaker

sendjoy celebrity video message booking platform
A reaction to a celebrity message on Sendjoy / Image Credit: Sendjoy

Sendjoy is a platform where anyone can book personalised celebrity video messages to surprise their loved ones.

Two days after the idea was conceptualised, the circuit breaker was announced in Singapore.

Due to the circuit breaker, many were unable to visit their family and friends, and Sendjoy seemed like the perfect solution for people to keep their spirits up.

Ser En mentioned that “as long as communication was prudent”, the circuit breaker measures managed to serve as a larger business opportunity, and opened up the possibility for them to “to work with incredible talent from other parts of the world.”

One of Ser En’s greatest inspirations to start Sendjoy came about when Liang Chun couldn’t make it back to Kuala Lumpur to spend Mother’s Day with his mother.

Liang Chun had wanted to get a celebrity to tell his mother not to worry too much about him in Singapore, but had trouble doing so because of the unclear processes.

The team then wanted to create a more user-friendly experience for everyday people to engage celebrities and talented folk.

According to Liang Chun, Ser En started reaching out to all the agents and celebrities they knew. Those who agreed were shown on the Sendjoy website, along with their profiles.

In an interview with Vulcan Post, Ser En shared that Sendjoy is all about creating video messages that are tailored to an individual’s requests, and are “special and memorable”.

In our Asian society, we may find it awkward to utter phrases like “I love you”, “I miss you”, “I’m proud of you”, to our friends and family. As such, we envision our talents to be missionaries who help people express what they want to say.

Low Ser En, co-founder of Sendjoy

To achieve these goals, the team invited a “diverse array” of talents to come on board.

Since the startup’s launch in mid-June, the number of talents on the platform has grown from 20 to 70.

sendjoy celebrity video message booking platform
Some artistes on the platform / Image Credit: Sendjoy

Artistes on the platform range from household names like Gurmit Singh and Nat Ho, to people with unique talents like illustrators, artists, designers and magicians.

There has also been a steady 10 per cent week-on-week growth in the number of videos booked.

The startup has also joined Quest Ventures as a portfolio company in June.

A Startup Built Completely Remotely Via Zoom

According to Ser En, she has been able to apply her business skills and knowledge from producing movies into her startup.

Even though the technical content has presented her with a “steep learning curve”, she has managed to adapt quickly “thanks to Google, books and a lot of conversations with friends in the field”.

She mused that Sendjoy started in a very “interesting way”, as it was built completely remotely via Zoom.

The team’s initial idea however, was an employer branding mobile video platform that they had been working on for six months.

They noticed that everyone was talking about how Covid-19 had impacted their livelihoods, and had to quickly pivot as they felt it was unlikely to gain traction in a Covid-19 world.

Without any clarity on how the markets would change, they went back to the drawing board and came up with what would become Sendjoy.

“With Sendjoy, I want to use technology to help everyday people work with talented people, just like I did, to create meaningful video content for the people they care about.” said Ser En.

Moving forward, the team will be inviting even more talent on board, while improving the customer request experience.

This way, the talents will be able to create better, more comprehensive and personal video messages for customers.

Featured Image Credit: Prestige Online and Sendjoy

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