There cannot be a better poster girl for women in technology than the remarkable Gillian Tan.
Starting with $10,000, a mini video camera and an old Macbook, this persistent young woman faced a slew of disappointments while navigating the local media landscape to become the proud founder of Clicknetwork, Singapore’s first channel on YouTube to reach one million subscribers.
“I felt quite surprised when we hit that milestone. When I started the channel in 2007 it was not even something that I was aspiring towards; getting to a million was never an end goal,” she says.
“It seemed like such a long shot to reach that number. I’ve always liked telling stories in a visual format so it’s really nice to be acknowledged, but I have so much more that I want to accomplish.”
It’s an earnest response from a woman whose company almost never made it to this point. “In the early days of Clicknetwork, we were asked to get a broadcast license, which financially we couldn’t afford,” recalls the 36-year-old.
“I thought we would have to fold but we managed to get around it through a legal technicality,” she says triumphantly.”
Clicknetwork has gone from strength to strength since that early setback, despite being labelled as financially non-viable.
“It was financially difficult in the beginning. No advertiser would put money into it. The platform didn’t have a lot of viewers, it wasn’t tried and tested,” says Gillian.
But the public had a different opinion because the channel soon attracted thousands and thousands of views for each ‘webisode’ uploaded. According to YouTube statistics, Clicknetwork racked up an average of 200,000 views per day in the month of July alone.
The triumph all serves to culminate in the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the Munkysuperstar Pictures founder.
“When I was a kid, I used to love watching movies. I would try to make home videos of my parent’s birthdays and things like that but at such a young age I didn’t have the technical know-how,” she explains.
“So from way back as then, I knew I wanted to study video production at university and learn how to work with cameras properly and learn how to edit. It was very clear to me that I wouldn’t do anything else.”
The passion has steered Gillian on in her quest for greatness in the tumultuous media landscape that exists in our content-starved society. “There are some days when I tired and I feel like giving up, but then I think ‘What would I do if I didn’t do this?’ and nothing even comes close to what I really love and what I enjoy doing, which is making meaningful content for our viewers.”
Words to live by: “Don’t care too much about what other people say.”
Next up: “Getting to the next million? If we get there, it’d be great but if not, we have other projects in the works, too, like a movie! We’re trying to do more things offline because there’s a lot of untapped areas there that we’d like to explore.”
The Great Women Of Our Time 2017 is proudly presented by Lancôme.