Gerald Sebastian, co-founder of Kok Bisa - Youtube channel with 4.4 million subscribers

Ep 108: How To Build a 4.3 million YouTube following in Asia | Gerald Sebastian (co-founder, Kok Bisa)

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Welcome to Episode 108!

STIMY Episode 108 features Gerald Sebastian.

Gerald Sebastian is the co-founder in Kok Bisa – the biggest education media in Indonesia with 4.3 million subscribers

Gerald won a number of national and international awards. From awards in Hong Kong to San Francisco, from the Astra SATU Indonesia Award to Google Inspiring Stories, Gerald has won these achievements for 5 years building Kok Bisa.

This STIMY episodes charts Gerald’s journey from wanting to be a superhero as a child to becoming one of the biggest YouTubers in Asia today.


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    Who is Gerald Sebastian?

    Gerald Sebastian grew up wanting to be a superhero as a child. His father was a teacher and impressed upon him the importance of education – which had a full influence over him!

    • 2:30 Being a superhero
    • 5:00 Asking questions nonstop
    I think we just need an alternative for people to actually like this entertainment content.
    Gerald Sebastian, co-founder of Kok Bisa - Youtube channel with 4.4 million subscribers
    Gerald Sebastian
    Co-Founder, Kok Bisa

    Building Kok Bisa to 4.3 million followers

    We dive deep into what it takes to run one of the biggest education YouTube channels in Asia:

    • 7:54 Finding his YouTube co-founder, Ketut Yoga Yudistira
    • 9:54 Creating a different kind of content
    • 11:19 What it takes to produce YouTube content
    • 12:25 Going from 14 to 25,000 subscribers with 1 video!
    • 13:35 Making videos to answer questions from the Kok Bisa audience
    • 18:18 The reiteration process
    • 19:21 The secret to going viral on YouTube
    • 21:00 Humour
    • 21:42 Indonesian meatballs
    • 24:24 The importance of YouTube Shorts
    • 25:25 How do you grab attention?
    • 29:20 Becoming a full-time YouTuber
    • 31:48 Deciding on the equity split
    • 32:42 Questions to ask a potential co-founder
    • 33:51 Navigating burnout & mental health issues
    • 34:55 The different monetary streams they’ve created
    • 36:23 How do you get sponsorship?
    • 43:20 What’s next?
    • 48:16 When do you use the “talking head”?
    Gerald Sebastian, co-founder of Kok Bisa - Youtube channel with 4.4 million subscribers

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Eric Toda: Global Head of Social Marketing & Head of Meta Prosper, Meta
    • Kyne Santos: Glamorous drag queen who teaches math in viral Tik Tok videos
    • Red Hong Yi: One of Malaysia’s most well-known artists who paints with every day objects. Clients include Google, Facebook, Jackie Chan, Nespresso, TIMES Magazine etc.
    • Richard Lui: MSNBC & NBC News TV Anchor, and Peabody & Emmy award winner
    • Adrian Tan: King of Singapore & President of Singapore’s Law Society

    If you enjoyed this episode, you can: 

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    If you’d like to support STIMY as a patron, you can visit STIMY’s Patreon page here

    External Links

    Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:

    • Kok Bisa: YouTube
    • Subscribe to the STIMY Podcast for alerts on future episodes at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher & RadioPublic  
    • Leave a review on what you thought of this episode HERE or the comment section of this post below
    • Want to be a part of our exclusive private Facebook group & chat with our previous STIMY episode guests? CLICK HERE.

    STIMY 108: Gerald Sebastian [co-founder, Kok Bisa]

    Gerald Sebastian: [00:00:00] Let's say you want to make an education video with live action. So you just have the camera on it, so prices like script storyboard, and then the shooting location if you want to like renting right?

    the camera that you rent.

    If you already had the camera, How much do you want if the camera is renting to other people? You can always find reference of how much these c amera price renting. How much is the camera? How much is the place? How much is, let's say the lighting if you want, how much is the pay price for like the microphone.

    So you break down all that kind of stuffs and then see if you can find some profit around it.

    Ling Yah: Hey everyone!

    Welcome to episode 108 of the So This Is My Why podcast and happy Chinese New Year.

    I'm your host and producer Ling Yah. And before we start, a special thanks to Descript for sponsoring this episode. Now Descript, if you don't know, is the app that I use to edit this podcast, and without it you wouldn't have STIMY.

    All you [00:01:00] have to do is just take any recording that you have, whether it's audio and video, dump it into the program, and within a minute you'll have everything transcribed. And the best part is you can edit the transcript and you will ultimately edit the corresponding audio or video.

    I highly recommend Descript if you happen to be managing any audio video files. So do check it out. The link is in the show notes below.

    Now onto today's guest, Gerald Sebastian. Gerald is one of the biggest YouTubers you'll find in Asia. He runs Kok Bisa, a popular animated YouTube channel that has over 4.26 million subscribers and answers questions about pretty much everything.

    For instance, which came first, the Chicken or the egg? Why does gasoline smell good? Why donations not print as many bills as they want? And what exactly is the economic crisis? Gerald shares in this episode how he wanted to be a superhero when he was a child, and how he ended up becoming a [00:02:00] YouTuber, how they create content, their growth and monetization strategies, and so much more.

    So if you've ever wondered what it's like to be a professional YouTuber, especially in Asia, then this is the episode for you. So are you ready? Let's go.

    When you were in kindergarten, you wanted to be a superhero. Why ?

    Gerald Sebastian: I'm gonna start with every question that kindergarten student have been asked by its teachers.

    When we are kids, it's always be like someone asks you, Hey, what do you wanna be when you grow up? It's always be like that questions . And the answer is always the template that we have: a pilot, teacher, a lawyer and right now you have another job that you can have. It's like become [00:03:00] podcasters. Become YouTuber.

    When my teacher asked me that day in my classroom, I cannot forget about it because it's so ridiculous. When she asked me, Hey, Gerald, what do you want to be when you grow up? I was like, I wanna be a superhero. I want to be a Superman . I want to be Batman .

    Everybody in the classroom was laughing because I was so serious answering that. I don't want to be like a template answer on become a teachers anything. It doesn't mean that become a teacher is bad.

    No, it just, my preference is to become a superhero I think it looks cool that I can have a superpower like flying and then have super strength that you can lift a thousand kilograms of pounds.

    I think that's the reason why. It just looks cool. But the meaning of the superhero has changed. Maybe I can like answering it about a superhero that I the meaning of the superhero for me now.

    Ling Yah: You came from a mid low economic background, but your father was a teacher in secondary school. I imagine that kind of exposure really influenced [00:04:00] your awareness and the thought that education's very important.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. First thing first, I'm not a good student. .

    You might say I'm an a bad student. I'm very naughty when I was like in elementary high schools. And My father was a teachers and he's actually teaching in a good private school. That's why I attending a good private school for free.

    Actually, it's not for free. I still have like to pay I tuition, but it's cheaper because that's the privilege of my father become a teacher. My father always put the education first in our family.

    A good private school means that you have to like studying a lot.

    I think you have like a Singaporean term for it. Kiasu, is it?

    Ling Yah: Yes, that's right.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah, that's right.

    So, yeah, I think I'm coming into like very cramming school. I'm excited.

    That's what happened when you actually come into school with this kind of standard. And then you have to like learn from A to B, and then finally when you take a test, it's gonna be like Z.

    It's gonna be like, why? So a lot of things that you [00:05:00] need to learn by itself.

    Ling Yah: So I imagine you felt kind of lost then because that wasn't really your thing, right? Were you more of an art student because you end up doing graphic design after that?

    Gerald Sebastian: No. I was lucky enough when I was like, in elementary, I have a teacher who actually can answering all my questions.

    When I was a kid I was like asking a lot. Asking Nonstops about anything that, that I saw. Anything that I listened, anything that I, that I curious to.

    I think everybody in the world when he or she was a kid , they ask questions like they just like curious. I think it's our human nature as well.

    So I met my elementary teacher who can like answering all my questions and you know, what happened when someone asking question in the middle of the class. And I'm the one who like always raised my hand, always asking about anything. So a lot of people was just like, Hey, what are you doing?

    Ling Yah: How do you go from always asking questions to doing communication science then at University Indonesia?

    Gerald Sebastian: Before I jump into the university, I'm gonna go back a little while on how the [00:06:00] education things that really changes me. So when elementary, I have bunch of questions that can be answered, but I think it coming from middle school when it's all become broad learning.

    It's just like memorizing all the things because it's much easier than you like understanding about the subjects. So the point is when I was in high school, I fell for one year. So I have to repeat for one year.

    The thing is I always thinking that maybe if I memorize this formula, maybe if I memorize this kind of histories or else maybe I can get the good score. But at the end of the day it, it doesn't work.

    So I'm gonna change the way I learn from memorizing, it's quite a big changes because I fail at school and I want to know what happened in my learning process. So I need to be more critical. I need to be like asking a lot of questions.

    I need to be like, understanding rather than memorizing all the things. I think memorizing is not bad. There's a thing that you have to memorize, but memorizing is not the only thing that you can do.

    And finally when I was in high school, so the funny thing [00:07:00] is I really like to go for design, like digital design. I like to doodle a lot, but my hand drawn is not really that good when compared to other artists.

    I learn digital design by the internet. Because I'm curious. I want to know like if I cannot draw with my hand drawn, is there anything that I can do in digital? After I found out things, it sparks me a lot and I really like it.

    The next things that I thinking is, okay, when I finish my high school, I wanna go to graphic design major. But because I'm from middle, low income, I don't have the money to pay for college.

    After I talk with my parents, they said maybe you just have come to a public college because it's cheaper.

    So, the reason I go to University of Indonesia because it's cheaper. Not because it's good. .

    Ling Yah: That's fair. Yeah. I mean, like at the end of the day when you went to University of Indonesia, that's where you met your co-founders. So it all worked out in the end.

    So how did it work out because you were freelancing already as I understand it, and then [00:08:00] you were also with your co-founders and then this idea of Code Visa came out. How did it start?

    Gerald Sebastian: After I got accepted in University of Indonesia, I'm quite happy because University of Indonesia is one of the good university in Indonesia.

    And also I can afford it. I also got a scholarship. After I got a scholarship, I also asking for cheaper tuition as well because I cannot pay. The other thing that I did is I also do a freelance design in my spare time.

    And because of that a lot of peoples knowing that I can design. When somebody are good at something everybody will always ask you to like do this. So when you're good at design, all the college team asking you to like, Hey, can you do a design poster for me? Can you do this logo for me?

    Yeah, I've been asked a lot and that's when I found my co-founder. I met him when I did something with him.

    The first time I met him, he's like, Hey, are you playing guitars? Yeah. Oh, we should jam sometimes. And then we're just like jamming maybe once or twice a week, and everybody enjoying playing the musics.

    One day he just like [00:09:00] asked me, Hey, do you want to like helping me with my YouTube projects?

    And I was like, oh yeah, sure, sure. What is that? I have like a YouTube project that's similar to the educational content in US or UK and explaining things with animation. And I'm thinking that you also can do a design, right? And I was like, yeah, I do design. Maybe I can help you with that.

    I really like the missions on how he built the things. The name of the channel was Kok Bisa.

    I cannot find any videos of Kok Bisa. Kok Bisa meaning is "how come" in English. So, you know, when people are talking about how come, so it's just like maybe a click wait title that you can find on YouTube.

    And I cannot find the YouTube channel.

    People said that our YouTube channel now have a big subscriber. But at very first start, you cannot find our channel.

    I really like the missions of how the entertainment and also the education content can also fill up the gap and also become an alternative in Indonesia content.

    Ling Yah: And just to set the context at the time with Kok Bisa. What kind of other educational [00:10:00] content was there and how were you gonna be different?

    Gerald Sebastian: That's the funny part. I was like maybe the first acknowledged by YouTube audience.

    There's a lot of educational content, like teachers teaching in front of the class. The objective is quite different because we want to like spark curiosity of people and entertain so people can, like asking questions and also curious about the things because that's the things that I miss in Indonesian content.

    When we create kok Bisa, the content in Indonesia is a lot of dramas, prank .

    I'm okay with that content .

    Ling Yah: So not strictly educational. It's more prank and humorous.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah, I think we just need an alternative for people to actually like this entertainment content and also the education content. For fun. For your knowledge.

    We have some like national tv, but it didn't work.

    So it's like 20 14, 20 15 the TV is still on in Indonesia and nobody knows about YouTube. Nobody really want to become YouTuber.

    At first no one know about it and from 2014 until 2015, we just waiting. Maybe [00:11:00] someone or some big TV station will make an educational content, but no, so we just have to start somewhere else.

    Actually start from my co-founder, Ketut. He have this concept for like a year, 2014 to 2015. He want to execute, but I think it's quite hard for him to making it alone. So he asked me to help on the graphic design.

    Ling Yah: So you knew what was already out there. You wanted Kok Bisa to be fun, animated but also educational.

    What did that actually look like when you come to producing the video? Did you know exactly what it was going to look like? What kind of content you were gonna do?

    Gerald Sebastian: We have a lot of influence from other YouTubers as well.

    Ling Yah: Mark Rober?

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. One of them, one of them is like Mark Rober.

    If you can also watch Za. So in the nutshell, there's like the animations and also explaining what science things. The Green Brothers, hang a John Green. They also have like CREs scores.

    It looks so good. It looks so good. It's so entertaining. It's so educating.

    It just like taking the [00:12:00] inspiration and we can like implementing in Indonesia and then make it our own.

    Ling Yah: So you were always clear that, okay, these are all, say Americans who are doing this fun educational videos.

    You wanted to do something that's local just for Indonesia, but dealing with the same topics.

    Gerald Sebastian: Not dealing with the same topics. We also dealing with localized topics.

    Ling Yah: And one of those topics is why is the rupiah weakening? Right. And that's the big turning point?

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. Yeah. That, that's the big turning point.

    Ling Yah: How did the idea come about? Because didn't you start in around like August, 2015 and then you shared this video on September.

    So within a month you went viral. Yeah. And you went from 15 subscribers to 40,000 subscribers. So what's the behind the scenes of this video?

    Gerald Sebastian: Oh, By the way because Ketut already made like five to six videos so I can imagine how the videos is gonna looks like.

    Someone had paid the Kok Bisa from very first start this and then he asked me to become a co-founder.

    You know, making an animation video is hard . [00:13:00] When we discuss in August, it was just like hey, do you read the news that our rupiah gateway tend to be like US Dollar? A lot of people like scared because the last time when we hit the rupiah two US dollars, like 14,000, is Indonesian crisis like 1998.

    A lot of people doesn't want to like, experience the crisis, right? so lot of fake news attacking the government.

    That's why we just like, okay, maybe we should make this video based on people's questions about how the rupiah get weakened.

    I remember the date when we upload it. It's 23rd August, 2015.

    Yeah. That's a life changing moment.

    Ling Yah: Wow.

    Where were the audiences asking the questions?

    Gerald Sebastian: On the comments section in the YouTube channel.

    Ling Yah: In the previous videos, they were asking you, please create these sort of videos Yeah. Answering this question. Yeah. Yeah. So they were responsive even back then.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. It's just like 50 people. 30 people. So we can read all the comments, you know, . Like 2015 we uploading the videos and we don't have any [00:14:00] kind of expectation to become huge.

    We made because we want to actually address this concern. We just want everybody to know what happened. To be more credible on the source. If you want to like criticize or anything, yes you can, but please look at the source of what your you have been saying. So it just, yeah, just that.

    And then when we upload it, it's like boom. We didn't expect that. It's become our first viral video, our first trending video.

    Ling Yah: And what was the feeling like? I mean, was there an instant change to what you guys were doing?

    Gerald Sebastian: I might not say it's an instant change because we do a lot of EV videos before.

    I still remember that the 14 video. So I might not say this is like an overnight success. It's more like, we've done a lot of videos before but it's just like, some people watch and some people maybe just like doesn't watch this video.

    The very first few was like 12 people watching the videos . It was like, oh, it's already good. And now we have like 500 [00:15:00] views, not 500,000. 500 views. It's good at that time.

    Ling Yah: I'm happy with 250 right now.

    Gerald Sebastian: I mean whatever you're doing when you create content or anything you have to like start somewhere, right?

    When we hit hundred thousand views, which is like mind blowing. The feeling that I still remember is just like, I'm spaceless. So we are uploading the videos at night maybe at like 7:00 PM 8:00 PM and then we are sleeping.

    And then When we woke up, we are so shocked because everybody's on like, social media. We just like reposting a lot of our videos like, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, everybody just talk about it. We are just like, are we doing the right thing? .

    Ling Yah: I imagine maps have been very exciting too, because, I mean, on LinkedIn I also experience a virality and the immediate thought for everyone is, okay, how do I leverage on this?

    What do I do next? What's my next post? Right. Were those thoughts running through your head? What do you guys do?

    Gerald Sebastian: We know that. We don't want to be like [00:16:00] one hit wonder kind of thing. So after that moment we just like, Hey, we still have a bag of scripts that we can produce now.

    We don't want to like, okay, because of this success, we just wanna stop and become star syndrome of yeah, having the things that excite us a lot. The things that we really think after that is we wanna do it again and then we want to do something bigger afterwards.

    Maybe also happened to you, right? Maybe when you just like hit the link and pause when everybody was reposting and like it a lot and you want to like, I wanna create more of it.

    Ling Yah: For sure. But how do you guys decide, what were the next videos?

    Do you already have say, three or four in the bank and you were already gonna release it and just follow the schedule? What did that look like for you?

    Gerald Sebastian: I'm laughing because I think we only have like two bag of script .

    Ling Yah: That's still very good.

    Gerald Sebastian: Another funny thing is we, Oh, so this is it.

    When you want to become a successful YouTube content creators, you have to upload it like consistently. [00:17:00] Consistency, one of the key for any content .

    Ling Yah: And the same day, same time.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So the thing that we have in our minds, we should make once a week.

    That's the worst decision ever.

    Ling Yah: Why? Too much work.

    Gerald Sebastian: Oh, that's really crazy. We are making the Kok Bisa content when we were in college, right? the last semester of college. So a lot of people when they are hit the last semester, we just like a lot of stressful thing because you just have to submit your journal or thesis or your last project, and then because we are stressful doing that, we made Kok Bisa.

    Ridiculous if I can remember. We just like, maybe once a week is quite okay. No, that's the worst decision ever. Once a week is hard. It's really hard.

    Ling Yah: How did you guys decide who was doing what?

    Gerald Sebastian: The ideas coming from Ketut once again. Actually Ketut do a lot of things at first, and then, yeah, he cannot take it anymore.

    And then he asked me to do the illustration. It's called an assets. [00:18:00] So an asset can be like animating letters. I did that a lot. And I also have one friend also doing that. His name is Arfin. He also do the scripts. So Arfin did the script at first, and then I'm doing the illustration.

    And then after that Kato is actually the one who like animating it.

    Ling Yah: So I wanted to talk a little bit about the kind of content you guys are creating, right? How do you guys go through various iterations?

    Because that's one of, again, the golden rules of being a content creator. You always have to just do the research, see what else is out there, and then try different things. So what were some of the things that you tried that didn't work firstly.

    Gerald Sebastian: I like the terms of that iteration I call it deliberate practice.

    So it's just like practice in the same way. So it's just like we're gonna do something better, maybe 1% better every time we want to do that. I think the moment is just like, Hey, maybe this video is working. I think after 20 videos?

    I think this [00:19:00] video is not working. I think this video is working, so we just like changing the method of taking the scripts, taking the voice over changing the art styles.

    My art style is getting better over time. the script is getting deeper. So we just try two things.

    The script is getting deeper or the script is getting entertaining. We just try, try it out a lot. And then finally we have like a formula on how we create the content.

    Ling Yah: So is the formula secret? Can you share?

    Gerald Sebastian: No I mean it is a secret for the formula, but the method is not secret.

    You can like finding elsewhere. One of the things that we really like a lot is like using analogy.

    When you explaining things like the economic terms, science, it's just like another planetary kind of language. You just have to like using the relevant analogy in our daily life.

    Ling Yah: Can you give some examples?

    For those who haven't watched your video, what are some of the analogies you used?

    Gerald Sebastian: I really like this analogy. Can you imagine how far is earth from the moon? It's, yeah, a million [00:20:00] kilos, we cannot imagine.

    But actually we have the analogy of like, Hey, can you imagine this instant noodle. It's just like having the instant noodle stack into the moon.

    Ling Yah: That's a lot more relatable.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. okay.

    if you want to like building a highest tower in the world, how much is that? We cannot imagine when you say like, Hey, it's gonna be like a thousand billion US dollar. No. You cannot imagine that.

    you just like maybe buying 5,000 Lamborghini and then park it in front of your house. So that's how expensive it is. That's a good analogy. I I really like that.

    So the analogy that we had a lot in our country, we, we using it a lot where we have like a flood. When a flood is just like one meter and one and a half meter , they cannot relate.

    So, using an analogy.

    So the flood is like as tall as the knee of adult person . So it's just like 50 centimeters other than like you say 15 centimeters, you cannot imagine, but you can imagine oh, an adult knee. So [00:21:00] yeah.

    Ling Yah: You also said you incorporated humor. How did you find the humor and incorporate in, because it's also a skill to be able to say something that is in a way that makes people laugh and remember.

    Gerald Sebastian: Because this is all scripted, it can be doing in the three ways.

    The basic of humor is like a tragedy plus time equal humor. We are an animation, our character it's called Kobe. We just like, makes Kobe doing some silly things in the videos. So people can relate about it. And then like, we have like a jokes that also related by our audience.

    The second thing we have like an Easter egg.

    There's a meatball in every of our video. So people just waiting for the meatball to come out .

    Ling Yah: And how did the meatball idea come from? Where did it come from?

    Gerald Sebastian: It's a coincidence, but that's a fun part. Me and pet whistles really like meatball. I just add meatball yesterday, by the way.

    Ling Yah: I love it.

    Gerald Sebastian: What coincidence, man.

    The other thing is we also have [00:22:00] an analogy, a good analogy when we start using meatball. In Indonesia it is very local. In Indonesia we have like a meatball seller.

    That's very localized because a lot of peoples buying the meatball on the streets so they can relate about it.

    So the meatball seller using a cart and you just wait in your house and then he will coming. They have like not making sound and, and you know oh, that's a meat more seller.

    That's how the street food works in like Indonesia. Not in many places, but we know about it and how it works. All the Indonesia knowing about these jokes about the meatball.

    And then the third one is actually the scripts.

    So we just see if there is any things that we can like add in the humor when we are explaining about something. Maybe we can add the humors on the analogy. Maybe when we were to like closing the videos we can like twist it into the kind of humor, a plot twist and where we explain about something. Maybe we explain about what is love

    It is a really fun to like twisting into kind of humor. Yeah, that's the three thing that we do. Easter egg. And then we [00:23:00] do the humors on the animations , on the videos, and also the script.

    Ling Yah: I noticed that the kind of content is like you've said before that works is very academic, very vocational, and also health-based.

    How did you come to the realization that these were the ones that people most wanted to see?

    Gerald Sebastian: I think we gonna separate it into three type of con content.

    When you create a content, it's gonna be like hero, hub and hygiene.

    So the hero content is like your most favorite content. Hub is the video that's mix on, on the sites or maybe under the hero content. It's just like the videos that you are currently thinking that it's gonna be like another content, like other than heroes.

    So hygiene is like evergreen content, the things that you do. So we did an evergreen content. We also did like trending content as well. So the trending content is, was like a current issue that we went to, like techs. And then actually the news explains about what happened. Maybe I might get an example of Ukraine and Russia [00:24:00] things.

    It's really hard to understand, you know, it's, it's like global politics and anything about it. We just like make a shorter videos and people can understand. So that's the current issues.

    But we also did evergreen content. So the things that you will always asking like why the sky is blue.

    Ling Yah: The chicken or the egg first.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yes. . Which one go first? Chicken or eggs. So it's just like the things that we always asking.

    Ling Yah: How important are shorts? Because that's what everyone is talking about now. You've got TikTok. You know, YouTube is really leaning in, starting to allow creators to monetize shorts. How do you think of shorts?

    Gerald Sebastian: The social media is changing. Everything is easier now to make when we want to, like, make videos.

    Maybe five years ago, we have a DS l R camera or else. But now using your phone. Anything in your phone and upload from your phone. So everything is easier.

    I don't know if it's a good thing or not because the time span we have is getting shorter and shorter [00:25:00] because of the social media. When you want to grab someone's attention, you just have to grab them for like the three seconds or somebody will swipe your videos.

    But short become the focuses of the social media company now, like YouTube have shorts, TikTok have their own, and then like Instagram have reals. I really think that shorts is one of the things that a lot of people should try as well, because making a content is more easier now.

    Ling Yah: So how do you grab attention then? Because that's what everyone wants to do. And then you have so many people analyzing YouTubers like Mr. Beast and his style, how he puts everything. You see the conclusion at the very start and then makes you wonder how did he even get there in the first place? And then he unravels that whole story.

    How do you think about grabbing attention?

    Gerald Sebastian: It's different from any type of content. When you want to like driving attention from educational content, it's always answering their question first. Also be relevant like, current issue and also the effort in things.

    I think the concept is quite [00:26:00] the same.

    Ling Yah: The conclusion first, then show how you got there.

    Gerald Sebastian: It really depends. We have this formula called answer with what. So we answer the question but we are not finished.

    Do you know why the sky is blue?

    The sky is blue because of this, but and then come for the conclusion. So a lot of people was just like Koreans about it.

    Ling Yah: And then you show the rest of the video with answers.

    Gerald Sebastian: Explain yes. We have like a bunch of things that we know how to, maybe these things works on grabbing someone's attention.

    Maybe these things doesn't, so we just like trying it out.

    Ling Yah: I would love to talk more about growth and the fact that you obviously have lots of input from your followers as well. What has been the most helpful platform to basically interact with your community? Has it been just the YouTube comments?

    I noticed you also asked a lot on Twitter as well, whether your main platforms.

    Gerald Sebastian: YouTube is my main platform, absolutely. For our main audience. I think the second one is Instagram. [00:27:00] I think it's because a lot of at least a lot of audience from Indonesia using Instagram. So, yeah, we interact with them a lot there, like Instagram and then they're just asking questions and maybe we just like throw some silly questions on them on the comment section and then we pay.

    And so yeah, I think pin comment is one of the things that we can also interact with them. And is that

    Ling Yah: enough? Because I realized that interacting with my audience, say just on a virtual platform is very different from in-person as well. How do you actually build community?

    Gerald Sebastian: So the thing that we realize because of our audience style, we have like, a 4 million subscribers and lot one Oh yeah.

    Realized that oh, may, may, maybe we don't only address the problems for like educational content. So we want to address the problems of like having an education talks, having an education discussion, having a science discussion in our country because it is [00:28:00] not, I think it's not useful as well in our country to having like an science discussion or political discussion in a like credible and critical way.

    The things that we realize we making a safe space for them to like asking about anything, discussing about anything. So we make a lot of discussion. So we have this program called an Anteror. Anteror means an is Indonesian language. It means the universe. So you can like discuss about. Anything that's you want on, actually, on the topic that we have, we talk about the science of Star Wars.

    It, it, it, it is really fun. We talk about the superpower of superheroes. Is it really gonna be like a science scientific based on how we're gonna do it? And then we are talking about the climate crisis, but in the form of, is it the end of the world . So, yeah. It is fun to actually have a safe space for them to like [00:29:00] talks and discuss.

    We use other platform as well, like Twitter space and Instagram live for like a casual talks. That really works.

    So we just want to make sure that other than you watching our video, you can also discuss about it. You can also deep dive about the topics because we believe that coming from a curiosity you can like, Moving into other place and knowing about things.

    Ling Yah: I wanted to talk about money. So at the very, very start, when you're doing YouTube, you're bootstrapping.

    How was that prior to you deciding to go full-time? Cuz I understand with Ketut his parents had doubts about behaving a YouTuber. I imagine for your family same thing too.

    Gerald Sebastian: You know we are Asian, right?

    Asian parents always asking about . The things there is not on the Asian stereotype, I say . So when you are not teachers, doctor or anything the parents would just, like, why, why don't you go for a government or, or anything, right? . I, I have the same typical Asian [00:30:00] parents as well. after my parents is quite not supportive. I say questioning a lot, where you got the money and then how are you gonna live with it? And then like are you sure you underst stable question. Do you want like a more stable jobs?

    Because I think it's the same when you are starting an preneur journey or maybe you build a startups, your parents will like asking a lot that make sure that you are okay with it. even that, my parents know that I work from YouTube, so you know, Hey, YouTube is made by my son. It's, I was like, no, I'm, I'm not making a YouTube platform.

    No way , I'm just, I'm just making a content there.

    Ling Yah: At what point did you decide you were ready to go full-time as a youTuber?

    Gerald Sebastian: I think it's a little bit personal for me. The thing is I have like a steady job already on that time. I have like a day job when I was like in college as well.

    I was do the job is like a financial institution. It is paid pretty good, but I might say I am not that happy.

    I realize when I was in that position, I [00:31:00] want to do something that impacted to other people, not just like having money.

    I know having money is for me to like sustain in our, life, right? but I don't want to be like, having money but not impacted to other, I have an impact to other people. So I'm thinking of doing things because you can do a lot of things. Like, the things that I choose is I wanna focus on building schools at first.

    That's when Kato contact me.

    And then after the videos of rupiah, I'm thinking that I wanna focusing full-time on here.

    Ling Yah: That's really early on. Did you have any savings at the time or you were just going, I'm just gonna give this a go?

    Gerald Sebastian: I have savings, but not much.

    So we is just like, okay, I wanna go because like want to go like full-time. And then I was like, okay, I wanna go full-time with you and then we can build this together.

    Ling Yah: So before we go further into that, how were you deciding in terms of equity? Because obviously, you know, tu started, but you are also coming full-time, you're a co-founder.

    How you [00:32:00] decide on how the pie is shared?

    Gerald Sebastian: It's quite equal.

    I communicate with Ketut like a lot. I contact him like every day. Really? It feels like a relationship, you know.

    But yeah. I, I think it's very important when you're like one who like married someone, you just have to know about him or her a lot.

    Just want to make sure that he's the one or she's the one. So I think it's the same with business as well. when I want to like build the business with him, I'm thinking, oh, he or she is a good person. Is she or she like a good leader? Is she or she like gonna back me up when I'm down or something?

    So yeah, it's quite the same. But the thing maybe in business is because it is include money, it's come harder, you know, .

    Ling Yah: And this is also for those who are thinking of just doing their own thing, could be YouTube. Otherwise. What do you think are the questions that need to be raised?

    If you are talking to a potential co-founder, what are the things that we must talk about and decide on first?

    Gerald Sebastian: I think it's [00:33:00] pretty obvious for like equity, your day job, maybe your concern. I think the things that I have with Q is just like we have a personal, I think we have the same personal interests and we share a lot of, I might say we share a lot of like, personal stories.

    I know his background and he know my background and then we know the vision about it. And then we always talking about the hard things. Like your family, maybe your problems, maybe your mental health problems.

    Maybe sometimes we just burn out.

    Some people are just like, oh, I'm burned out.

    I want to hide it from my co-founder. No, we just talk to each other. We just like, Hey, I, I'm very burn out now. Maybe I will not take arrest for a while. And I was like, what happened? I want to find out, maybe I can help.

    So it's just like more an empathy.

    I think that's every co-founder must do the hard talks.

    Ling Yah: So how do you navigate around that whole mental health burnout phase? Because what if that person is really burned out for [00:34:00] two months, three months? That's a lot to carry on your shoulder.

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. Yeah. I think it's when we are burned, when we are actually want to like stop doing.

    We just remember why we starting at first, but actually we, we still take rest . I think at very first when we build Cobia, we just like walk almost every day. Max say every day. So like 7 30, 4 7, like Monday till Sunday and after that we realized that we are human . So we just have to take our rest. We don't like to push until we get sick and then coming back again, heal, and then get sick again and heal again.

    It's like a circle.

    we want to be more productive. If you are tired on doing this thing, we just talk to each other. Hey, can you help, me with these things at first, because I'm totally burn out. I'm raising my concern.

    I let them know of what I'm doing and it's quite okay, at least for me and my co-founder.

    Ling Yah: So, let's go back again to the topic of money. If you go on YouTube, so many [00:35:00] YouTubers will always be showing, this is how much I made from 1 million view video. This is how much I made when I first had YouTube AdSense.

    What is the monetary income streams for you? What does that look like?

    Gerald Sebastian: Okay. It's coming from three sorts of revenue. First one, obviously from the YouTube ads sense, the one that you got when you skip the videos or when you see the banners on the top price corner. And then the second one is also coming from a sponsorships.

    so let's say this food brands or this food company went to like, advertise the things in our YouTube content. Or maybe they just want to like Instagram post. we just make a content based on what, they want, what's the campaign is all about.

    And then we upload it on our Instagram. So it's sponsorships like many are the YouTuber as well. And then the third one is a surface. I say because we can make an animation video because we can make like a live action video as well. We know the [00:36:00] basic of the video production. We can also produce a video production outside our YouTube channel, but it's more like the, the agency based kind of things.

    It's more like the production house kind of things. So there's a three sorts of revenue that we got. So

    Ling Yah: I'm probably accurate saying the third one, the video production is the biggest income source, I would say. Because it's catered specifically what do what they want.

    Gerald Sebastian: No, the second one.

    Ling Yah: Oh. Oh wow. So how does one even get sponsorship?

    Do they drop from the sky or do you have to be the one to go to them?

    Gerald Sebastian: It's quite funny because at first it's dropped from the sky . I'm gonna be honest with you because YouTube is really good platform for you to like, advertise or maybe like showing yourself, right? Maybe it's also part of the marketing things, but other than YouTube the things that we've done is also selling it ourself.

    we coming to the brand and then talk about what's your concern or anything. Maybe, maybe we can like, solve your problems. So it's not like selling things in front of your face. [00:37:00] We just want to solve your problems. That's the key of selling things. We are become the painkiller for them.

    Not just vitamin. So we just want to know, maybe because we're an educational content, the content that always be like the fabric for the sponsorship is making the videos about the public announcement because public announcement is sometimes really hard when we are hit covid. Even the Covid 19 is quite new for Isight.

    it's quite new terms. So we just want to make sure that the Covid 19 terms can be understood by a lot of people who doesn't under understand about medical terms or else, or maybe the second one is just like a PR company, things. But we don't accept, all pr. Maybe some company want to do a greenwashing or fiercely.

    We have the failure of a climate crisis or so we don't,

    Ling Yah: I mean, you can't accept them when you have Greenpeace on your client

    Gerald Sebastian: list. I know, right? ? it's more like of a failure that we have. so we don't, accept all the sponsorship. We just want to know which one have.

    Bring us the value also as well.

    Ling Yah: How do you even [00:38:00] start getting sponsors? Who do you approach?

    How do you do it?

    Gerald Sebastian: So the first sponsor that we got is they are emailing to our email. it's called an inbound and inbound sales and an inbound marketing. So the content has already been there.

    So we just like, hey, if you want to like working with us, you can email me here. You can contact us here.

    Anyone wants to sponsor me or my YouTube please also email me.

    Ling Yah: So how does one go from people coming in to you going out?

    Who do you approach? How do you pitch?

    Gerald Sebastian: That's the second thing. So we have like inbound and also an up one. The outbound is when we approach the customer. So sometimes we do like a code email, maybe also code message in LinkedIn or any other platform as well. And also we get the contact from our references.

    We get the contact from our friends as well. But the things that I learned from, like approaching for [00:39:00] people to become a sponsorship or maybe buying our services is just like we solve their problem. So we don't like selling a lot of, Hey, we, we make a video, say we make a podcast. Hey, we make an infographics in Instagram, et cetera, et cetera.

    The things is that we listen to them. We listen to them like, Hey actually what is your problems? What, what is your goals on, this q1? What is your goals in this next year? we want to know if there's a thing that we can help.

    I think that's the key. When we had like a meetings or we had like pitching for other people, so we solve their problems.

    Ling Yah: So you basically write in saying, Hey, this is what we do, can we help you in some way? Can we have a coffee chat for 30 minutes?

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah.

    Ling Yah: Wow, that's really interesting. And how do you decide on pricing?

    Gerald Sebastian: Mm, it depends again, but for, I think we have like more fixed price on the continental sponsorships because you know, we have like a YouTube traffic, our social [00:40:00] media traffic, so it's fixed, but it's more flexible on the surfacey sites because it really depends on what they wanna do.

    if they want to make a video with like drone, with vr, ar, it's gonna be more expensive. Hey, can you take a video with your phone? It's more cheaper. So it really depends on the requirement.

    But the sponsorship deals that coming from our YouTube platform is quite fixed.

    Ling Yah: Is there a range in terms of sponsorship for those who are also YouTubers, but I don't even know how to begin to price cuz it's not like this kind of number is out there in public, right.

    Gerald Sebastian: I think you can always do three things in pricing. The first thing that you do is like, find a reference. It's really easier to find reference.

    I think you can find it in an influencer platform. Let's say they, these people have like thousand followers.

    How much they, charge for like one course, so you can have the benchmark.

    The second thing is also count for your exposure.

    when you [00:41:00] want to buy ads, let's say you have like a cpm, right? Right. You have a ccpc. So you have every thousand view is cause like $1. We have like a different example maybe based on your podcast, maybe like, Hey, we have like monthly listener like this.

    And every podcast is gonna be like reason by a thousand of people. So a thousand of people coach this much because listening. Or maybe one people is cost this much because listening is more like engaging way. You have to like fully listen into it. So yeah, it really depends on, on the platform as well.

    Making Instagram, maybe it's more cheaper than making a 10 minute YouTube videos. Obviously that's coming for the third part. So the first one is reference. The second one is the you count for the exposure.

    The third one is your production cost. You have to count your production costs. So using let's say using a camera using, I mean the DSLR camera and also when you want to, like using a phone camera is different.

    You can always count that production things. How do you

    calculate on production costs?

    There's a lot.

    I give an example.[00:42:00] Let's say you want to make an education video with live action. So you just have the camera on it, so prices like script storyboard, and then the shooting location if you want to like renting right?

    the camera that you rent.

    If you already had the camera, How much do you want if the camera is renting to other people? You can always find reference of how much these c amera price renting. How much is the camera? How much is the place? How much is, let's say the lighting if you want, how much is the pay price for like the microphone.

    So you break down all that kind of stuffs and then see if you can find some profit around it.

    So you know the cost and then Yeah. You just like raise the price for a little bit, I think the fair price is like 50 on two times based on your production cost for a 10 minute video.

    And then yeah, you can, you can find red card from there.

    it's always interesting because I found it by myself and it's really happy for me to like, share for other people to count upon. Yeah.

    Ling Yah: People don't [00:43:00] realize just how much everything costs. Right. And they'll look at one video and think, Why would a five minute video cost five figures?

    But it does.

    Gerald Sebastian: I miss one of the things, it's really important, the 4th thing. The deadline.

    The closer, the higher, the closer, the higher. Obviously.

    Ling Yah: I wonder, you have obviously been doing this since 2015. You've grown to 4,000,021, 4.2 million subscribers. What's next for you?

    Gerald Sebastian: I think we already have the media and we think that co loan is not enough for me, for me personally and also for the other teams to like I don't think the word disrupt is right. I think the, to become an alternative. For the people to watch an ED education content. So the next thing is just we want to build another Kok Bisa.

    We want to build another content creators that also can be even maybe bigger than Kok Bisa. So we just want to, at the end of the day maybe [00:44:00] my own wild, wild dream, I might say we want to make sure that Indonesian people can have an alternative of watching and education content.

    So that's why we are doing an initiative, the Academy of Education content creator.

    We want to like empower all the education content creators to make a good educational content, a high quality education content that can be taught by Indonesian people.

    And how so? Yeah, it's their next dream.

    Ling Yah: And how can listeners help you?

    Gerald Sebastian: We also want to make an English language content . It's been highly, highly, highly requested because we only make like an Indonesian language content. So yeah, I think how the audience support us is that when we drop the English Quantum, you, you guys can like, subscribe and watch all the videos.

    the other things that the audience, especially maybe outside in Indonesia, What they can do is if you guys have the source of like the science or education content that we can make together, we are really open for like [00:45:00] collaboration or else.

    And if LeBron who listened to it, please email me.

    Ling Yah: So I also have questions from people who follow this channel, and I would love to play them for you so that you can also answer their questions. Hi, it's Nick. I work in the ed tech company. Could you perhaps share a time when you thought that your viewers and the students would like something and you later found out that they in fact didn't like it?

    You know, what was that journey of discovery like and, and how did it change how you worked?

    Gerald Sebastian: Let's say I have an example that the students want to make a videos about let's say physics. Maybe the student want to want to know about gravity.

    The topic requested by the student because they don't understand and then you make a videos because of the video is sometimes you just like talking about the formula of re gravity and not give an example on it. Maybe that's where it didn't quite cancel them. I think it's more like what is the really [00:46:00] needs on the videos?

    Is it the videos or like you are teaching about the theory of gravity or is it the videos about understanding gravity? It's quite two different thing.

    If you want to like watch the Khan Academy video, that's already been expanded on that. But the things other than the Khan Academy videos, you can also watch the other type of content is actually taught about the misconception first and then the understanding about it.

    And then after that you can memorize the formula better. It doesn't mean the Khan Academy video is not good. I'm also learning about critical thinking on Khan Academy, which is quite good. I think it depends on what they need and it's not what they want actually.

    Ling Yah: In your opinion, do you think that the traditional textbook still has a place in the student learning experience? Or, or do you think we're, we're at a point through, you know, digital technology and access to video content [00:47:00] whereby actually video is going to be the new format, the main format for learning material of the future?

    Gerald Sebastian: No, the video cannot replace the book. Podcast cannot replace by video.

    There's a lot of like pros and cons in, in many things like that if the people is more like to know the concept deeper.

    And faster in, in some ways they prefer to like reading books. Let's say, if you like to read about the history, I think it's more suitable for you like to read the books because all the details is already been in the books. But compared to videos, because the script has already been edited and then like the things to be more, oh, this is more concise.

    At some point it's become the concept of learning by videos. So I think other than which one is better, why don't you combine all the things you can learn with the books When you don't understand about the concept that you know about the books, you can find the videos. Whe when you dunno about it, maybe you listen to some podcasts.

    maybe you just [00:48:00] finding on Wikipedia, find it on Google and better understanding it and then mix and match all the things. So I think it's more like complimentary. I also read some books and then I cannot understand that and then I find some videos, the summary of the books, it's getting more exciting for me to write, reading the books.

    Nicholas Siew: In your opinion, is there a difference in appeal between videos that feature animated content as opposed to the traditional talking head where it's just a, you know, a human talking to camera? Have you observed any differences in effectiveness between the animated format and the talking head format for learning materials?

    Gerald Sebastian: Oh, good question. I like it. Again the same answer for me, like is it better to use books or videos? Sequential? It depends. The talking head is gotta be more exciting when you have something that's showing, or maybe the talking hat is quite works if you want to like, Only listening to the lectures.

    So it's more like a video [00:49:00] recording podcast, I might say or the Khan Academy style. It is more easier for you to like showing the formula, showing how to, like solving the problems on this kind of task or anything. It is more effective other than animation. The animation is really good for you to have like visualize about something, do the things that cannot be done by the live action video or talking head.

    But the problem is really hard to make. The good thing is why don't you combine again, the talking head plays maybe a little bit slideshow, a little bit animation on it. I think, yeah, the biggest shoot YouTube channel doing there are these crash course by John and Hank Green. What they did is like, John Green talking with this like talking head and then they put an animation for like something that cannot be explained by talking hat.

    And it is interesting. It's really good.

    Nicholas Siew: I was just wondering if we could just hear some of your thoughts on what it's like to create content that feels very genuine to a youth and by extension is something that a youth can engage with. [00:50:00]

    Gerald Sebastian: I need to know the context of the questions.

    I think questioning big things is very engaging for our younger audience. how big is the universe? Like you thinking about how small you are in the universe as well.

    The evergreen content, the current issue, sometimes the youth want to know maybe what happened in like Ukraine and Russia, and then maybe some young audience want to know about what happened in the current issue and like global issues, maybe what happened in like in Russia, what happens in Singapore, what happened in Malaysia?

    And there's current issue. They, they want to have a better understanding why, because at some point they, they don't want to be like formal.

    They can do is like watching the videos explain about what happened in the news or maybe reading, some reading is gonna be like I might not say that reading is not an option by the young audience, but it depends on the people.

    Maybe, maybe some people just like to read just I'm the one who just like do the reading first and then watch's the video [00:51:00] afterwards, or maybe listen to podcasts and then what's the video afterwards? it depends on the people as well. But yeah, that's the answer of the question is the evergreen and then the current issues and also the grand topics. I may say.

    Nicholas Siew: Final question. Something your video content is student led features, students that are almost like teaching the lesson and others are taught by a representative from your company. How do you decide which topics are sort of student led in their teaching and which are representative or teacher led from your company?

    Gerald Sebastian: it depends on the topic.

    Let's say the topic is, talk about biology. it's gotta be more credible for like it's been teach by some teachers or maybe some like biology expert, maybe some professors.

    But when it comes to like practical way vocational type of content, it's more easier for like you to put some people who, who are expertise on their things. so I think to bear in mind, someone [00:52:00] who learning is more like about sharing not someone that who are clever than you or else it's more like the people have more information than you.

    I think you can learn from, from anywhere else. I really have a good quote from our national heroes.

    He's our national education hero. His name is from Indonesia. His quote is, make everyone your teachers, and make every place your school so that, yeah, you can learn from anywhere in the world.

    Ling Yah: I loved the fact that you ended on that, and I would love to wrap up this interview, Gerald.

    With these questions. Okay. Do you feel like you have found your why?

    Gerald Sebastian: Yeah. To become a Superman ?

    Ling Yah: Yeah. Amazing thing. What kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?

    Gerald Sebastian: Stay curious.

    Ask every questions that you want to know.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most [00:53:00] important qualities of a successful person?

    Gerald Sebastian: Humble.

    Ling Yah: And where can people go to find out more about you? What Kok Bisa is doing, support you, et cetera.

    Gerald Sebastian: Okay. So you can find my LinkedIn on Gerald Sebastian, you can find our YouTube channel Kok Bisa, K O K B I S A in the YouTube channel. You can find our Instagram as well.

    Yeah, with the same name. KO Visa, k o k b i s a.

    Ling Yah: And is there anything else you'd like to share that we haven't covered so far?

    Gerald Sebastian: The things that I learned, perhaps, don't work harder, work smarter.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 108. The show notes and transcript can be found at And if you haven't done already, please do leave a rating and review for this podcast.

    It really helps the podcast to grow and I read every single review.

    And do stick around for next Sunday, because we'll be meeting a lawyer. She was the former director of compliance at Barclays during the 2 0 0 8 financial crisis and led the [00:54:00] efforts to acquire layman brothers in the US for £1.75 billion.

    She then ended up working for Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the UK for eight years before entering the world of Web three, where she now works as the General Council for Parity Technologies.

    One of Parity's founders, Gavin Wood, co-founder Ethereum, and coined the term web three. If you wanna learn more about what it takes to operate in the highest legal sphere, then this is the episode for you.

    So do stick around, subscribe to the podcast if you haven't done so. And see you next Sunday.

    Gerald Sebastian, co-founder of Kok Bisa - Youtube channel with 4.4 million subscribers

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