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From dream to reality

What initially began as a university project turned into a full-fledged animation studio

04 May 2020 / 11:57 H.

For Dion Chua Lok Yan, Puteri Sabrina Affenddy, and Lee Shey Lin, it all began with a final year project at MMU – an animated short about a naughty cat. After a year, they started a company, and since then they have been winning awards and accolades in the industry.

In a joint statement, the team said: “Pogo: Jar of Guilt was our final year project in MMU back in June 2017 ... it led us to create Poggo Animation Sdn Bhd with our first IP being, Poggo Cat!

Surprisingly, Poggo Cat! (with two g) has no connection to Pogo: Jar of Guilt (single g).

“When we made him, we honestly didn’t think that far [ahead] as we were having fun creating him however we wanted, but also still taking into account suggestions and comments from our lecturers,” added the team.

“Along the way, we got an opportunity to enter an entrepreneurship programme by MMU’s Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) where EDC paired us with an industry mentor”.

That mentor was Juhaidah Joemen, the founder of Giggle Garage Animation.

“She guided us to become young entrepreneurs in the animation industry. We were speechless because our hard work was recognised by the CEO of an internationally well-known animation company,” said the team.

After their final year project was over, the original team of four students set up Poggo Animation in June 2018. They were selected by MDEC as one of only four Malaysian groups sent to pitch at the Asian Animation Summit 2018 in Seoul, Korea. It was their first-ever experience in the international market.

Poggo Animation’s latest work Poggo Cat!. – Poggo Animation
Poggo Animation’s latest work Poggo Cat!. – Poggo Animation

They returned to Malaysia as runners up for Best In Show. “It was a big achievement for us as there were broadcasters that expressed interest, and we were also in articles of magazines like Animation Magazine and Kidscreen.”

Sadly, in the middle of 2019, team member Farah Aina left the company due to other commitments, but the remaining three continued on.

In July 2019, they decided to take the next step by pitching their IP (Intellectual Property) to the Children Media Conference. This time they were one of the five international finalists.

At the end of 2019, Poggo Animation won Silver in the 21st TBS Digicon6 Asia with their sizzle episode (trailer).

The team stated: “Certainly at one point of our lives back in university, every one of us must have dreamt of making their own cartoons, thinking that: ‘Hey, my cartoon will certainly make it big in the industry!’

“The design looks good, and the storyline is interesting too. What could go wrong? Little did we know, making animated content is an art, but selling the content is a whole other form of art as well.

“Basically, it is an art form that not all of us are used to. The way you speak and present to the clients is essential. Yes, you have great ideas, but can you convey [them] and convince others? And how do you make yourselves look capable of bringing the idea into a successful show?

A still from Pogo: Jar of Guilt. – Poggo Animation
A still from Pogo: Jar of Guilt. – Poggo Animation

“At that point in your life, rejection becomes a regular thing you will face. What keeps you going will not just be your passion for animation. What you need is also to be open-minded in learning from mistakes and the motivation to become better after each fall. Other than that, knowledge on how to play the business game is also crucial.

“Thus, we are thankful to have [Juhaidah] by our side. She has been mentoring us in terms of the business side of the industry, which is something that is not easily obtained for a fresh graduate such as us who came from a creative background.

“Having this opportunity got us thinking deeply about what we want to be. Do we want to [create] the animated content, or do we want to be the ones who own the animated content?

“Certainly, both are a different ball game. Even though we still [get] help from our mentor, that doesn’t mean we are doing less. In fact, to not let others or ourselves down, we spend our time gaining additional knowledge like administrative and business-related [ideas].

“So keep learning and stay humble. On this journey of entrepreneurship, you tend to burn out a lot, maybe even cry a lot, but these phases are crucial for you to grow.

“Take breaks, celebrate your wins, keep practicing your craft, and someday it will be worth it. Do not give up if you truly believe in it! You’ll eventually surprise yourself with what you didn’t know you were capable of.”

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