I was in a rut at the time and I didn't know what I wanted to do, says Schulich grad Andrew Chung, reflecting on a period in his life where things didn't quite seem to click. You might call it a quarter life crisis. It was always the feeling that I wanted to do something and it always came down to money. Obviously money's an empty pursuit, but I feel a lot of people can relate to that general feeling'that of skating through life without any sort of passion, but they know they want to do something, somehow.
Through that experience, Chung was able to find inspiration. It was around the same time that I was studying film, so I actually wrote the script [for Millions] while I was in film school. Millions, which is written, directed, and produced by Chung, is a Toronto-based web series about a group of twenty-somethings who embark on a dangerous but ambitious journey to become millionaires. It's a show that embodies the 21st century urban experience through a lens that doesn't normally get much play in the mainstream: Asian Canadians.
Creating an online show is one thing, self-financing the production of it is a completely different beast. Luckily, alongside the money from his day job, Chung was able to impress the users of the crowd funding site, Kickstarter, to make his vision a reality. When we used [Kickstarter], it had only existed for about a year, and not a lot of people were using it. Now it's kind of ubiquitous with the film industry and pretty much any start up. But at the time, we were one of the first Canadians to use it for film.
Talking about his hustle to secure funding, Andrew shared how his strategy was different. I knew we had a project that I was passionate about and [within the Kickstarter funding community,] I think that kind of drives whether you get funding. Most people think that if you just put [your project] out there, people will suddenly start funding it. It really doesn't work that way.
Promoting Millions was basically like a full-time job for a month. I sent out the video and our pitch to tons of blogs, tons of press. I sent out emails to all my friends and family individually, and that's how we were able to gain traction. I personally emailed Kickstarter and asked them if they could put us on the front page .... It takes a lot of real initiative to get noticed ... and raise your funding goal.
Filming has officially wrapped up for the first season of Millions, with the show now in post-production for online release (and the festival circuit) early in 2013. It's a big milestone for Andrew and one that's helped him reflect on why he chose a path in entrepreneurship. I remember working for a film company for a few years. I think the turning point for me was when I realized one day that my boss really needed me. Then it clicked. I was providing a lot of skills for the company that was helping it grow'my skills were building [someone else's] business. So I felt like, ÔÇÿWhy am I putting so much energy, effort, and time into somebody else's business.' I felt like I could do this on my own.
When asked what advice he would give to budding student entrepreneurs, Andrew stressed the importance of being able to commit to something. Once you have an idea, commit to executing it. A lot of people have ideas. Friends tell me all the time that they had this amazing idea that somebody else did. But the difference between them and the person who did it is that the other person did it. And that's the main thing. 90 percent of entrepreneurship to me is taking the initiative to do something and actually committing to it.