It could all have been very different for Dasmond Koh. While serving his National Service (NS), he had set his heart on becoming an Air Steward. Coming from a modest family background, he had to prioritise starting work, and being able to travel the world was an attractive prospect.
Just before he finished his NS stint, he got a phone call that changed his life. The person on the other end of the phone was responding to Dasmond’s application as a Radio DJ on Yes 933. Only thing was, he never applied.
Unbeknownst to Dasmond, one of his army buddies, who saw the potential in him, had registered him upon seeing a Chinese DJ recruitment drive. Without much to lose, Dasmond went through with the application process.
Needless to say, it went very well. Within 6 months, Dasmond was a DJ at the radio station. Soon after, he crossed over to become a TV host. This was the unlikely start of his 20-year stint as a full-time MediaCorp artiste.
Crossing Over To Venture Out As An Entrepreneur
If his entry into MediaCorp was unplanned, his exit was much more calibrated. As Dasmond puts it, “after 20 years in the industry, you start to feel contented, and you start to think what else”.
Having spent his entire career at MediaCorp, Dasmond had two main thoughts: first, he was getting too comfortable and needed a new challenge, and second, how he could contribute to make the local media industry more vibrant. That was how NoonTalk Media was born in 2011.
Instead of being in the limelight, as an artiste, he was on the other side this time – managing artistes, producing content and running events. His two decades as an artiste gave him a deep appreciation of all the other functions – on top of what the artistes had to do – that go into making a good programme.
Dasmond shares that “when I crossed over into entrepreneurship, it did not feel like a totally different world. Rather, it feels your responsibility is enhanced and scrutinised much more”.
He gave me a simple explanation. As an artiste, he just had to know who the advertiser was and what he needed to say to give them the mileage they needed. The responsibility is creative in nature. As an entrepreneur, you have to answer for the actual results.
From An Entrepreneur To An SGX-Listed Company In Less Than A Decade
Less than a decade after leaving MediaCorp to embark on his entrepreneurship journey, Dasmond’s NoonTalk Media was listed on the SGX (on 22 November 2022 to be exact).
Prior to listing, NoonTalk Media posted a revenue that more than doubled since financial year 2020, from $3.0 million to $6.4 million in 2022. Its gross profit has also improved from $1.1 million to $1.8 million in 2022.
NoonTalk Media’s Production arm, which raked in $4.2 million in financial year 2022, is its largest revenue contributor. Revenue in the segment increased over 66% from the year before. This was due to several reasons including a broader scope covering Chingay 2022, selling the copyright to the drama “Victory Lap”, and additional revenue from filming a drama titled “Dear My Happy Working Life” and a movie titled “The Antique Shop”.
NoonTalk Media was also appointed for its marquee production Chingay 2023.
It’s Management and events segment achieved $1.8 million in revenue. This segment spiked 80% following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on events and public gatherings in 2021.
NoonTalk manages artistes such as Xu Bin, Kimberly Chia and Zong Zijie. It also manages a state-of-the-art in-house studio, as well as events and other projects.
During it Initial Public Offerig (IPO), NoonTalk Media raised $4.8 million, selling shares at $0.22 each. This will be used to pay for its IPO expenses ($1.6 million), extend regional footprint in film and drama production ($2.3 million), investment into multimedia technology ($0.5 million) and general purposes and working capital ($0.5 million). Today, its share price has eased to $0.16.
Continuing To Stay Relevant In One Of The Fastest-Changing And Most Brutal Industries
Dasmond’s first rule to staying relevant in the media industry is “don’t do the wrong things”. My interpretation of those 5 words is that the world of show business can be harsh. One minute, you’re at the top and the next, you’re out of fashion. On top of that, everything a celebrity says and does is scrutinised.
In Singapore, local artistes and media entrepreneurs also have to survive in a relatively small market size. The benefit of this is that everyone must double-up or triple-up. You can’t “do only one job that you’re good at”.
For those who take it the correct way, Dasmond reckons “we see more things”. He started off having to oversee his own hair and make-up. Over the years, he began understanding the scriptwriters’ roles and difficulties, and learning what the successful producers had to do.
Testament to his commitment to doing more than just his one job, Dasmond continues to ply his trade as a host of Live TV Show, the Sheng Siong show on Channel 8 every Saturday, for about half the time each year.
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