Monday, July 15, 2013

SIDM Graduates Turn Daydreaming into Reality

Zhen Siang at work at his very own company
School of Interactive & Digital Media (SIDM) students really do seem to have exciting career paths after graduation, don’t they? With job offers from top-notch design firms such as Pixar, LucasFilm Animations and Blue Sky Studios, they may very well be producing the next Ice Age movie!

Despite the attractive job opportunities in the industry, four SIDM graduates from the Diploma in Digital Media Design (Animation) chose the road less travelled – they decided to become their own bosses instead of being employees. Frandy Tan, Derwin Chan, Hui Zheng Siang and Lawrence Xiao have started their own animation and design company – Daydreams Studio.

Little did they know that three months after their business registration, they would do so well – clinching  a documentary deal with Channel NewsAsia, and even winning the top prize in an animation contest hosted by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS)!

Watch their winning submission here:

We spoke with the founders of Daydreams Studio.

What made you guys decide to start your own animation business?
Lawrence: My team and I are very passionate about creating great animations and sharing our ideas with business clients, so we decided to start something of our own. We love to explore new grounds and like challenges, so I guess starting up our own business comes naturally. We are really excited about taking on new projects and enjoy upgrading ourselves.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Derwin: We have meetings every morning to discuss the tasks we need to do for the day, and set deadlines for certain projects. We also have one-hour lunch breaks (like in most jobs) and always have lunch together as a group. To relax during lunch, we avoid topics that are related to our work.

How did you source for your office?
Frandy: Fortunately, one of us had some contacts and rented a place for our business at a discounted rate. The place is great for an office and we did not need to renovate it. We do our own accounting to manage the rent and utility bills. We also keep track of revenue and ensure that we are profitable as a business entity.

How do you advertise your business/brand name?
Frandy: We mainly advertise through Facebook, so do check us out at We are still working on some marketing strategies to promote our brand and services.

Have you had any challenging customers/requests? How did you deal with them?
Derwin: So far, the only request was some extra work that is out of the client’s budget. Mostly, we try to come to an agreement and provide our clients  good service.

Give us an example of a mistake you made during the course of your work, and how you managed to recover the situation and learn from that.
Derwin: As new entrepreneurs, we are still new to the design business industry. One of the mistakes we made initially was under-charging one of our client’s projects. From that incident, we learnt how to charge appropriately with the market rate as our base. Also, this mistake has taught us more about the business marketing process for the design industry and I believe that it is a good thing; we became wiser and gained more business experience.

How long do you guys work?
Derwin: We work our full 8 hours (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)! For certain projects, we will need to meet our clients. We will assign someone to meet the client while the rest of us will continue working on other projects. We always try to avoid doing last-minute work.

What is unique about your business?
Every company has its own unique selling point (USP). If you were to really ask me what ours is, I would say that we are a group of animation enthusiasts who like to take on new challenges. We are always brainstorming and finding creative solutions to meet people’s design problems.

Is there any common goal/vision you have for the company?
Our goal is having our company recognised by our target market.

To whom do you attribute your success to, having clinched a deal with Channel NewsAsia in less than three months since incorporation?
We are successful because NYP SIDM has trained us well, in terms of managing projects, time management and encouraging us to think out-of-the-box. From our diploma course, we also learnt that the quality of work and building trust in our clients are key to making a positive impression in the minds of our clients. We are thankful to have had this opportunity to make a mark for ourselves.

What are the things you wished you knew before starting the business?
If we knew more about management principles and financial concepts before jumping into this enterprise, it would definitely aid us a ton. Right now we are slowly picking them up along the way.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Keep yourself open to ideas and accept feedback from your partners and clients.

We wish Frandy, Derwin, Zheng Siang and Lawrence every success with Daydreams Studio.

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