Bryan Choo on what it takes to be Mumbrella Asia’s Media Company of the Year

2 July 2020

UQ Alumnus, Bryan Choo (Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) ’10), utilised his passion for travel, food, writing and film making to the create Singapore’s largest new media company, TheSmartLocal.

“When you look at sites like TripAdvisor, you can see that reviews are mostly written by foreigners and not representative of the true local experience.

“It’s the locals who know their country best but before now, there was no portal that provided a true local voice,” Bryan said.

In August 2012, Bryan launched TheSmartLocal.com – best described as a mix of Buzzfeed, Yelp and Lonelyplanet.

Today, TheSmartLocal has over 180 employees across 6 countries - and they were recently awarded Media Company of the Year at the Mumbrella Asia Awards.

Bryan has big aspirations for TheSmartLocal with a goal to become the largest media publisher in the South East Asia/Oceania region, providing useful and entertaining hyperlocal content for the masses.

We caught up with Bryan Choo to learn more about his journey to entrepreneurial success: 

Tell us about your UQ experience?

If someone asks me what the best period of my life was, it's going to be during my university days and UQ played a big part in that. I developed a lot as an individual holistically and lived a fulfilled, carefree life.

What are your tips for entrepreneurs looking to succeed?

Internally: your ability to course-correct quickly and accurately will play a big part. There's a meme that sums it up well. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Externally: connections, timing, market demand. Luck plays a part in this, but with preparation and strategising, you can create your own luck.

What are two underrated skillsets needed in an entrepreneur?

Communication: you have to be able to sell your products to your clients as well as the mission to your team.

Talent acquisition: Life is too short to work with difficult people. As your own boss, you can control that. A company's success depends largely on its people so knowing how to identify raw talent during interviews and eliminate toxic applicants will create a positive culture in your company. You can watch Jordan Peterson or Charlie Houpert videos to understand people better.

What are your future plans?

I'm now very interested in a "content into commerce" model which has succeeded in China. I want to leverage the huge reach of our publications and go into e-commerce, creating exciting new brands for the South East Asia and Oceania markets.

Are you interested in being a part of an exciting new venture with TheSmartLocal team? Bryan is currently looking for a partner in Australia who is experienced in logistics and distribution of products. Get in touch today to find out more.

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