SGAG’s Journey — No Laughing Matter
Ever wondered about the roots of the popular tongue-in-cheek online media platform — SGAG? CEO and Co-Founder Karl Mak shares about the journey of SGAG, and dishes out life advice during his Kopi Chat session at THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise.
THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise played host to Karl Mak, the CEO and co-founder of Hepmil Media Group, which is the parent company of SGAG, MGAG, PGAG and the recently founded SGEEK. SGAG is a popular Singaporean social media platform that has garnered more than 800k likes on Facebook and 460k followers on Instagram since its incorporation in 2013. Karl spoke to an attentive crowd about SGAG’s journey, his inspiration and motivations, and the lessons he learnt along the way.
Karl had not always been a content creator. Before SGAG, the Forbes 30 Under 30 Award winner had tried his hand at various businesses, including a fashion blogshop, a real estate business and founding his own start-up. In fact, he had met the investor of his first start-up at a Kopi Chat at BLOCK71 years ago.
The quintessential story of SGAG started in 2012 at the back of a classroom which Karl and his co-founder shared in university. The two founders were inspired by 9GAG, and the golden opportunity to create Singaporean memes presented itself when McDonald’s stopped providing curry sauce in Singapore. Dubbed as The Curry Sauce meme, this first ever meme created by the SGAG founders went viral shortly after being posted. Other opportunities to create memes presented themselves in other local issues like the Population White Paper, SMRT train breakdowns, and bad haze. However, the response to these posts was sporadic, and their popularity rose and dipped in spikes.
Innovation and Trend-Spotting
The two founders soon saw the potential to grow their company into something bigger, by innovating and adapting to suit social media trends. When Facebook first launched autoplay videos in 2015, they took the chance to create content in the form of short clips. These videos were wildly popular, and their Pokemon Go prank managed to hit 3.4 million views, with the duo appearing on CNN.
The pair also noticed that the rise of social media made everything on demand through mobile; rendering brands unsure of how to reach consumers. SGAG thus started monetising through filling the gap in the ecosystem, by creating content that both consumers and brands alike would appreciate. This helped brands to effectively reach out to their consumers, and SGAG became a cross-pollinator of tech data and creative individuals in a single ecosystem.
Motivations, Lessons and Advice
Though Karl previously dabbled in many business ventures, they were all for a common goal — he had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Through the myriad of business endeavours he undertook, Karl realised that his entrepreneurial spark would not be complete without impacting people’s lives positively.
“It all depends on how many laughs we can generate. If we can make everyone laugh once a day, and multiply that by millions, we are really making a significant impact.”
Naturally, the audience who largely consisted of like-minded entrepreneurs and avid SGAG fans were extremely keen on hearing about the life lessons Karl had amassed throughout his entrepreneurial journey. Karl brought up three key learning points that he lives by:
1) Surround yourself with great people — Together with his co-founder, Karl scoured through universities for creative and passionate individuals to join his team. The duo looked for like-minded individuals who possessed determination, a quality that they felt was necessary. Indeed, it was the initial team of great people that propelled SGAG to what it is today.
2) Hard work and optimism always wins — According to Karl, many people fear failure, which stops them from trying. However, every failed experience is part of a learning process which will enable one to grow.
3) Do what you can’t — Ignore the naysayers who denounce your dreams. You are your only barrier to success.
Karl ended off his inspiring talk by encouraging youths to take as many risks as possible. “You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn and what opportunities you can get.”
THE HANGAR is a thriving entrepreneurial hub where diverse individuals come together, united by their entrepreneurial curiosity and passion, to brew and explore possible, even improbable ideas.
Drop by THE HANGAR’s Facebook page for more entrepreneurial news and updates, or to watch the livestream of Karl’s talk.