Meet Adam Schokora, mastermind behind the growing creative empire in China called NeochaEdge. He’s dealt with all sorts of art—not a light feat, must I add, considering he’s doing it in the world’s most populous capital. But while juggling his business and creative acumen, he enjoys the simplest analog pleasures such as eating donuts and taking analog photos with friends.
What is it with Chinese culture that specifically drew you to work in China?
Originally, it’s the Chinese language. I have always been fascinated by it, every aspect…written, spoken, etc. It’s what brought me to China. I am still a dedicated student of the language.
NeochaEDGE is a mix of both the digital and analog world. But as an experienced player in the digital industry, what analog experiences do you enjoy most?
Laying on my couch and staring at the ceiling. I rarely have unplugged time, but I desperately crave it. I try to ride my bike and skateboard as much as possible. I enjoy lying on my couch eating donuts; this is likely my favorite analog experience.
Speaking of which, have you ever owned an analog camera?
Yeah, I have several. My dad recently gave me the camera he used when I was growing up; it captured my childhood. My girlfriend’s grandfather gave me an old generic Chinese brand camera from the 70s. I can’t figure out how to work it. I have a 4-frame Lomo camera, a Polaroid camera, and an old Holga.
Share with us the beginnings of NeochaEDGE. What propelled you to just do it?
Our company started in 2007 as Neocha.com, a social networking site for Chinese artists, designers, and musicians. At the time, the team had been seeing all sorts of inspiring creative content from all over China, but, it was painfully difficult to find. It was fragmented online and off…Neocha.com was engineered to be a solution to this problem…The site did quite well [but] we had a difficult time executing a scalable advertising model. All the brands, agencies, media, etc. we were meeting with to try to sell media-buy to told us they weren’t keen on placing ads on the site, but that rather, they were very interested in tapping the community for the creation of commercial art content (visual and sound), and also to get insights into what was “the next big thing” among this influential demographic – the Chinese Creative Community. This was the beginnings of a proper business model for our company. Neocha.com quickly evolved into the creative agency / design firm (and web-magazine) that we now call NeochaEDGE.
Can you tell us more about what you do?
Many people think we are an advertising agency or some sort of marketing firm. We operate mainly as four things: 1) an agency that provides creative business solutions, 2) a production house; typically meaning the execution arm of the creative solution we come up with for client. The content we create is often used to help support advertising / marketing efforts for brands, etc., 3) creative talent representation (for commercial projects) – i.e. the EDGE Creative Collective. 4) We are media – this is something that maybe differentiates us the most from similar businesses. We have a well-established and wide reaching media property. Our web-magazine is now starting to generate significant revenue from adverts (events, brand campaigns, jobs, etc.) and direct art sales. We are in the process of developing an online NeochaEDGE store where local creatives can sell their artwork and product creations…this will take a while, but it’s something we’re very excited about.
How’s a day in the life for you?
Wake up, work my ass off, go to bed. That’s what I do everyday and I love it. My work is my passion.
What makes a work of art successful?
It has to tell a story, that’s all. Storytelling is at the core of good art. It’s at the core of a lot of things, actually.
What are the most important lessons you learned as a CEO?
Be patient. Hard work pays off. Take care of your staff.
What can we expect from NeochaEDGE in the future?
There are a few immediate things we are focusing on. We are focusing on building the agency in terms of our service offering to include more strategic planning, as well as adding members to both our core in-house team and to the EDGE Creative Collective. At the same time, we are looking to take our web-magazine to the next level with perhaps a redesign, and of course, more content. We currently publish 3 – 4 original articles a day, but we would like to be doing 10 or more. As mentioned, we are also working on an online “EDGE store,” that will help scale art sales. Finally, we are also starting to think about how we can possibly extend our model to other Asian markets with creatives from all over the region…but, that’s more of a distant topic for us at this time. China is more than enough for us now!
Most creatives would want to be in your position. Imagine, doing both agency and magazine work full-time. What’s your tip to any creative stuck in the shackles of monotonous day jobs?
Quit. Follow your passion, but be prepared to bust your ass to make it work.