Ng Kai Yuan is the co-founder of Our Grandfather Story (OGS), a digital publisher dedicated to uncovering timeless and overlooked stories across Southeast Asia. Some of their popular works include At This Buffet Restaurant, You Pay As You Wish, Parents Who Have Lost A Child, Finding Love in an Arranged Marriage and The 12-year-old Pursuing Her Passion as a Tattoo Artist.
In this interview with Kai Yuan, we turn the table around to uncover OGS’s story i.e., how it got started and their journey thus far.
Where were you before starting up OGS and what made you decide that you want to do this?
My co-founders and I were in school when we started OGS. OGS was initially conceptualized for an assignment that we had to complete. Our videos and social media pages went viral very quickly to our surprise. At the end of the assignment we decided that we’d like to continue to build on the vision and that was when we started building it as a company.
How did the idea of OGS come about?
The idea of OGS came about as we were inspired by some of the amazing web micro-documentaries that we were seeing around the world. While Singapore might be small, there are many stories to be told. Hence that was when we decided to start making micro-documentaries in Singapore.
How did you know if the idea of OGS would work? Did you do something like what start-ups do i.e., come up with an MVP/pilot to validate your idea?
I don’t think we knew it would work 100% right from the beginning. Having said that we did do quite some research on the landscape and thought deeply about how we should shape the brand and content. Before we settled on OGS we actually had a couple of ideas that were eventually thrown out. Our MVP was in the form of a series of short videos posted on a newly created Facebook page. Thankfully the MVP worked but of course that doesn’t always happen.
What were the initial challenges you face setting up OGS and how did you overcome them?
Building a media brand from scratch is hard work. As a small start-up one of the most challenging problems was having to work with limited resources and trying to produce amazing results with them. We had to crack our heads on how we can get the most growth out of every piece of content that we do. Having a clear iteration process and a strong capable team helped us to overcome the challenge.
We noticed that besides OGS, you guys also have other sub-brands like O+, Something Private and Can Ask Meh. Can you share more about them?
Beyond OGS, our mission as a media company is create multiple media brands to reach out to serve different segments of audiences.
We’ve recently launched UNFOLD Asia, a parent media group that brings together our different media brands. As a media group, UNFOLD Asia seeks to entertain and educate Southeast Asian audiences through creative storytelling.
The group will house all digital media platforms affiliated with OGS, including animation channel O+, web comic Sincerely, Singles, and female wellness podcast Something Private, reaching over 10 million viewers monthly.
How big is the team at OGS currently? We assume that it must be quite big given the number of videos uploaded onto the channel.
We have a team of 40 people now!
What is one memorable video that was published on OGS that left a deep impression on you and why?
The Yishun HDB Cow – This was one of my favorite videos from a long time back for a couple of reasons. It was an interesting journey hunting down the story and also it was one of our first few pieces of paid content which proved our business model had potential.
Is OGS a profitable company? If yes, how long did it take to break even and start to see revenue coming in?
We broke even in the first year and yes we are a profitable company thankfully!
There are a lot of content out there in the market that is vying for eyeballs. What is OGS doing to stay ahead of competition or stay competitive?
We are constantly innovating and experimenting with content formats to stay competitive. More importantly we listen closely to our audience and look out trends in audience’s appetite for content.
On business advice:
If someone wants to start their own content production company/YouTube channel, what would be your advice to them?
Just do it! Until you start working on it, it’ll always just remain as a dream.
What are your five must-have Everyday Carry?
Phone, AirPods, Wallet, Apple Watch
Who is your favourite YouTuber and why?
Great Big Story. They’ve told some of the most amazing stories around the world.
What is that one dish that you can eat every day without getting tired of it?
Name one entrepreneur that you admire the most?
Who should we interview next?
The Woke Salaryman!