Co-founders of OnMic from left to right: Bảo Khánh, Kim Lâm and Trung Nguyễn. -- Photo courtesy of OnMic
The recent long social distancing period in HCM city and some provinces in Việt Nam saw the emergence of many new hobbies and habits among the public. Of these, podcasts and audio streaming have been popular. Việt Nam News talks with the founders of OnMic, a real-time audio, voice interactive social club application to find out about the new trend.
OnMic, a content platform that can realise real-time interactive sharing. -- Photo Courtesy OnMic
Inner Sanctum: Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Trung Nguyễn: OnMic is a content platform that can realise real-time interactive sharing. Users can create topics to express interest through real-time interaction, or add other topics, listen and speak, learn knowledge together, and transmit wisdom.
OnMic has three co-founders. Nguyễn Bảo Khánh is Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer of the company.
Upon working eight years in consumer marketing across different sectors including FMCG, F&B, Consumer Electronics and Pharmaceutics, Khánh has developed a broad view of the consumer market and deep insights of the locals. Moving forward, he started deeply engaging with tech startups by holding marketing and growth position in a pan-ASEAN AdTech startup and founded a venture builder. At OnMic, he leads strategies, operations and products.
The second member is Kim Ngọc Lâm who is co-founder and chief technology officer.
Lâm has eight years of experience in software development and leading technology teams who launched 7+ products in both Việt Nam and Japan. Lâm is where technology intertwines with business. He is the heart of OnMic's technology as well as the product vision.
The third co-founder is me, Trung Nguyễn. I am Chief Growth Officer and has always been a familiar name in the marketing and advertising industry for eight years. I founded Advertising Vietnam and Adjob, a multi-platform ecosystem of more than 300K members, partnering with more than 400 creative, media and communication agencies in Việt Nam. I held the position of Client Solutions Manager at Facebook in Singapore. At OnMic, I am in charge of growing the user base and building a tight-knit community of OnMic users.
Inner Sanctum: Why did you decide to develop OnMic and what challenges did you face?
Bảo Khánh: Two years ago, my co-founders and I had an observation that people were starting to listen to spoken-word content while multitasking. For those who have never heard of spoken-word content, it’s literally words which are spoken like radio, audiobooks, podcasts. Imagine when you turn on the TV while staying at home alone or focusing on something else. That’s the key use of spoken-word content but it is not limited to that. Hence, we had an idea of building a “voice-streaming” platform where everyone could go and stream solely their voice. However, we didn’t start building it until early 2021 due to market readiness.
As the first mover in Việt Nam (and probably in Southeast Asia), OnMic finds it tough to educate a new behaviour with limited resources. At the same time, big global players have started to set their foot in this area, making competing with giants and winning the local market an exciting challenge.
Inner Sanctum: What are the differences between OnMic and audio podcast?
Trung Nguyễn: Simply put, imagine podcasts but live. All the shows on OnMic are live and interactive. They are conversational, authentic, intimate and minimally scripted. Therefore, hosts or speakers have less pressure opening their heart and mind. OnMic plays in the space of “interactive spoken-word content”. You can invite audiences to join your show during live session as well.
Inner Sanctum: Audio streams and podcasts have been used for years now in the world. What do you think about this trend? What do you think about its development in Việt Nam?
Bảo Khánh: Going back to the reason why we didn’t build OnMic in 2019, although spoken-word content market share had risen by 20 per cent between 2014 and 2019, we thought Viêt Nam's market was not ready for it until the end of 2020. End 2020 and early 2021 saw a drastic increase in spoken-word content in the country, especially podcasts and audiobooks, so we decided to build OnMic right after Tết (Lunar New Year) and launched it on June 1.
About 325 million people listen to audio content 1.5 hours a day on average in Southeast Asia and 58 per cent say they are tuning in audio content every day. Viêt Nam is not an exception. Moreover, Việt Nam is on the way to be a car-dominant country, which facilitates the consumption of audio content. We believe audio content in general and spoken-word content in particular is the inevitable trend in the near future.
Inner Sanctum: What do you think about the impact of audio and podcasts on people’s life as COVID-19 has prevented people from physical contact? Based on the development of OnMic, what topics have Vietnamese been interested in during social distancing?
Trung Nguyễn: Depleted of physical contact due to the pandemic, people tend to seek digital connection and content which makes them feel less lonely and more sociable. Audio-only content, or better known as spoken-word like audiobooks, podcasts and voice streaming, can be the right fit since it is intrinsically authentic, intimate and personal. Hence, not only is it a new type of content to consume but it also provides a feeling of meaningful connection between listeners and creators.
We can proudly say that OnMic has made life more breathable, sociable and less lonely during the pandemic where physical contact is a luxury. OnMic provides a safe, warm, fun, exciting and intimate space for people to express themselves, with topics varying from industry knowledge-sharing in marketing and finance, mindfulness and spirituality practice, educationally intimate conversations around sex health, untold travel stories or discussions on how to talk to parents among high school students. Mental wellness was rising as one of the most attractive topics during the four-month social distancing, which is a good sign that people are now paying more attention to mental health.
Inner Sanctum: Some say that audio and podcasts are not as attractive as livestreams or social media networks. What do you think?
Bảo Khánh: Well, OnMic is also a social network and a livestreaming platform without video and text. I believe each platform has its own groups of users who are attracted by different types of content. The growing community of OnMic users and creators has strengthened our belief in what we are doing.
There are many industry experts who never thought one day they would join OnMic as a speaker, and they now love it. Audio allows them to speak freely, with less worry about preparing for videos or slides. VNS