#Asia I’m a storyteller, and tech allows people to immerse deeper into stories: Dennis Adishwara

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The actor-turned-startup-founder explains how digital is changing entertainment industry in Indonesia, and how he taps into the opportunity

Posing in front of the desk where he built the company on

Posing in front of the desk where he built the company on

When e27 arrived at Layaria’s HQ in South Jakarta, we found out that the startup has only been using the new office for two days.

“To be honest, I don’t even know where my desk is,” said CEO Dennis Adishwara, who had been on business trips.

Turned out his desk was not even assembled yet, so we had to wait before we can properly talk about Layaria. But once everything is ready, Adishwara passionately explains what the startup is all about.

“Many people would call us an MCN (multichannel network), but we prefer to call ourselves a media company with multiplatform network feature and video influencer marketplace,” he explains.

Layaria works with audio visual content creators – many are digital natives who begin their career making homemade videos for Youtube – and help them monetise by partnering with brands such as FMCG companies. It also creates contents for several celebrities’ official social media platforms.

“We are a fan of niches. For example, in Jogjakarta, we recently discovered a channel that does nothing but reviewing buses and trucks,” Adishwara adds.

Previously known for his roles in Indonesian hit movies such as Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (2002), Adishwara build his startup in 2011, beginning as a community for online video makers to gather.

It is run by a team of 17 employees spread in offices across Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Semarang, Bandung, and Surabaya. These offices also include facilities to enable shooting process.

Armed with funding from several angel investors, the startup looks forward to expand to more Indonesian cities.

Layaria also has a premium partnership license with Youtube that enables it to protect the contents posted on the platform.

The following is an edited excerpt of our conversation about content creation, the company’s first office, and starting over new career.

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What moved you to start Layaria? How did it begin?

I want people to have a wider variety of entertainment. That’s from the audience perspective. From the creator perspective, I am looking forward to see new masterpieces coming from the hands of these creators.

Up to five years ago, as we all know, channels for people to get their audio visual works seen are very limited. [Content creation] was dominated by conventional TV [stations].

And these conventional TV [stations] are all based in Jakarta, forcing creative minds across Indonesia to go to Jakarta and make works that are ‘generic’ in nature, acceptable by most people in Indonesia.

That is where the problem is. People come from all over Indonesia, each of them are bringing unique traits from their hometowns, but once they arrived in Jakarta, these unique traits disappear.

I was working as a producer for various TV series. I created a lot of series, I learned a lot from the TV industry, but I believe that there is weakness in the industry: the content is monotonous, and the work system … Well, the working hours are just inhuman.

I don’t blame people in the industry, but I think we need to fix this system.

But trying to fix a system that has already been broken since a long time ago is difficult, that’s why I decided to leave the industry. And moved towards online video with the hope to start over from the beginning.

Everybody will eventually go online.

We began in an office that was as big as someone’s grave. Let me show you the pictures.

(Shows a photo of a bedroom in his smartphone. Some employees are working at different spots in the room)

So this ‘grave’ is both a studio and an office?

Yeah, at the first floor of my house. Only big enough to bury an NBA player inside.

From that room, we developed into taking over the whole floor. Then to the office before this.

Also Read: Entering Indonesia, HOOQ aims to hook audience with local content

You mentioned about revolutionising Indonesian entertainment industry. What is the role of digital in this?

It should begin with people who are anxious over the status quo. Digital is the solution; it democratises everything.

What’s the greatest challenge you face in doing this revolution?

We started at a time when viewers’ online video consuming habit was not as intense as it is right now, where everybody owns a vlog. Come on, we have created vlogs since three years ago, and people were like, “Vlog? Oh, you mean blog?”

We tried to introduce new formats and innovations, and that’s basically the main challenge. But it’s worth it.

Which one do you like better? Working in tech, or movies?

I generally see myself as a storyteller, be it on TV, movies, or even digital [platform]. The thing is, I noticed that people were able to immerse deeper to a story through digital.

Second, with digital, everybody has the same opportunity to tell their stories. That’s what I love about it.

Does your celebrity status makes working in tech easier, or harder?

I was lucky to have been able to work in box office projects. It’s a nice ice breaker.

Do you have any advice for those who want to switch career to tech like you do?

Oh, it’s easy. First, you need to remember that if you want to build a startup, build one with values that people are looking for. So many startups failed because they create something that people do not need.

Second, you can’t do it on your own. You should collaborate. Find a co-founder or angel investor.

Third, make sure you are surrounded with those with same vision.

Also … They say if you get funding, Series A or B, it feels like winning a lottery. It isn’t.

Building a startup is hard. It’s not a shortcut to wealth. If you want to be rich, then go buy a kebab franchise.

The post I’m a storyteller, and tech allows people to immerse deeper into stories: Dennis Adishwara appeared first on e27.

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