BLACK BUDDHASCALING CULTURE + CONNECTING HUMANITY
Black Buddha is a premium digital content network focused on illuminating the best destinations and experiences in Asia. Their high-quality videos are the source for inspiration, entertainment, and insight for the millennial-minded explorer. Black Buddha amplify’s Asia’s most unique voices – city by city, from the inside out.
Black Buddha 讚揚創新也欣賞經典，我們重視品質，更重要的是，我們追求最極致完整的體驗。
Whats the story behind Black Buddha? More specifically what was the start like for you?
With the ascension of social media, the travel market is evolving right before our eyes. What it comes down to, is the way people explore & travel has changed. When people go to a city like Paris, it’s less and less about seeing the Eiffel Tower or tourist landmarks. Today’s travelers are more interested in the local experience, and going to the stylish cafe or hidden speakeasy in the back alley, they once saw an influencer, celebrity, or friend post on their social. Aspirational.
With this in mind, we realized:
1 – There is a lot of clutter. Lots of platforms with user-generated, low-brow content. But nothing beats traveling with a trusted friend. He or she might not be analytically driven or big data backed, but it’s human. It’s about trust and trusting one another. It’s focusing on one voice, versus millions of strangers.
We know there’s an opportunity to build trust with our audience in the New Age of Travel.
2 – Cities are often times inherently misrepresented. For example, everyone that comes to Taipei, wants to eat street food and see the night market… because that’s all they know or that’s all they can find online without sacrificing too much time and effort. But there’s so much more creativity, innovation, and heritage – that goes unnoticed. We wanted to illuminate the invisible cities. We want the right stories, and the right voices to be heard. The best experiences in a city don’t always have an SEO strategy or marketing department. But the streets know.
At the start, we set out to prove to ourselves that we could efficiently build a thoughtful brand, propped up by high quality, professional video production, and make the jump from a Text-heavy City Guide, to a video-driven one.
We felt people trust their own eyes. Seeing an experience for oneself is the perfect way to actually look-before-you-leap in today’s cluttered and dubious world.
The inception of Black Buddha like any new startup was clouded with uncertainty, pivots, team culture building, and continuously becoming more efficient. But moving forward, growing, and innovating is one of the most enjoyable adventures for me — finding ways to break through, and coming out of the “fog of war” makes the team battle-hardened, and often times the brand culture gains clarity and momentum. Problem-solving + reaching for goals.
What did you hope to create with the brand and has it formed in the way you imagined?
The parts, Black + Buddha, are significant in its design. Not as objects but as “meanings”.
Buddha teaches that all things are spiritually connected.
Black represents the unknown, yet is the only color that is comprised of every other color… so in a way it is the most inclusive.
We want to connect people to the unknown, and illuminate the true colors of each city.
Was a passion for film at the forefront of this endeavor or was the need to showcase the vast culture in Asia the driving force?
Both are crucial because we set out to bridge the cultural disconnect we saw in travel+lifestyle media, thru digital video.
So really, what steered the way was the hope of “fixing a problem” for ourselves, and solve something that was inefficient in our own lives. Quality of travel. Quality of experience. Optimizing our time.
For many people, the true value of travel is beyond just about being hyper-economical. Rather, more and more people are looking to learn and grow from new cultures and experience. Not everyone is looking to rush thru and sightsee a city. I think a cities’ real magic lies in its depth and its people. Discovery is the best journey.
What were you doing before Black Buddha?
Part of another startup focused on developing the night-time economy in Taipei. Our first product is a hip-hop nightclub called: Chess Taipei. I believe it’s one of the best hip-hop nightclubs in Asia.
Was there ever a point you felt things wouldn’t work? We all struggle with doubts and fears that hold us back from our best selves? How does that manifest for you and how would you say you overcome that inner dialog?
Every day there is fear and doubt. Was that the right move? Did I say the right thing? How could i have done better today? These are questions I ask myself every chance I get, on a daily basis.
I think it’s important to know why our doubts and fears are there, so we can appreciate and understand them. Not taking the time to interpret them correctly can cause a downward spiral.
The same goes with failure. I think it’s important to consider the possibility of failure at every decision and turn. Knowing that the success or downfall of a company lies in the thinnest of margins. The decisions we make at any given moment, based on how we foresee the result, the trends, and the winds shaping the world, can make or break us. Recognizing a company’s mortality certainly instills a sense of mindfulness, urgency, and gratefulness; powerful companions for any new venture.
Whats next for Jon Lin? Whats next for Black Buddha?
The focus is simple, continue to grow the business. We have so many exciting new advancements, being accomplished by such a small and talented team, I’m excited to see where we can take this.
Who do you want to collaborate with? Do you want to cross over into other platforms?
Birds of a feather flock together. Like minded people, with similar outlooks on business and life. Believe in what we are doing and the brand we are creating.
We definitely have plans to cross over into other platforms.
What drives you creatively?
Scaling culture. There’s a tremendous joy in spotting the voices in the crowd that are often times drowned out by the shouting of others, yet are so like-minded and underappreciated. The new ideas, the thinkers, the “be different” crowd, the dreamers. The bold minds. Learning something new, or seeing something original for the first time….
The opportunity to innovate and evolve the industries my projects that I are in, is very much the same. Stay in something you like long enough, hopefully you’ll be the one to change the game.
Will you venture into the rest of the world? IF so where are your first 3 places?
Bit of a side thought: Someone at a wedding once asked me, what’s your favorite city in the world? I thought of every city I’ve been to, and every city I hadn’t been to. I realized my favorite city is the one I live and work in: Taipei. If my mind is free to imagine the possibility of living anywhere, I would imagine living in my favorite place would make the most sense. Guess I’m lucky, but my goal in sharing the story is to show that my impulses are here at home. There’s so much to do, so much to accomplish, so many more places to venture within my hometown.
But objectively: I actually haven’t been to the Maldives yet, and I’d like to head there at some point. However, 3 places that I have a great interest in at the moment are Chengdu, China; Osaka, Japan; and Canada.
What do you value in a creative when looking for people to collab with?
I think the most important value I look for in people to collaborate with is “original ideas”. Too much of media is monkey-see-monkey-do; and although it’s safe and smart for business, it does not challenge, it does not encourage evolution/innovation.
Simultaneously, the ability to bring the right ideas at the right time is just as crucial. It’s the magical unicorn: a creative who also understands business. Deadlines. Structure. The ability to think outside of the box, and yet re-construct that idea within a framework. That’s the magic right there… Highly creative, fast-moving minds.
Any advice for those starting out?
Find a partner who is stronger than you at certain things, and who you can learn from.
– Design a lifestyle where you’re forcing yourself to grow and learn constantly.
– Stop talking so much. Learn to use your words concisely to express exactly what you want, and what you’re after.
– Don’t be passive aggressive. It helps nothing.
– Always see and focus on the big picture, but don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and micro-manage – it’s your fucking company.
– Work harder than anyone else.
– Action versus motion. Take action… make action. Don’t just appear to be busy.
– Cut out the distractions. Emails, Texts, FB, IG, small talk….. Protect yourself, protect your company.
– Scale culture.
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