- Seeking ideas with greatest societal impact and a creative approach
- Works in co-creation mode to amplify and scale projects
AS, arguably, one of the few crowd backing (different from crowd funding), corporate initiatives in the world, the webe community platform stands as a central pillar that represents webe’s philosophy of co-creation and reaching out to individuals.
“It’s what we at webe believe in,” says Lai Shu Wei, who, at the point of the interview, was chief marketing officer of webe but has recently moved to a new role within Telekom Malaysia Bhd as vice president of mass market marketing with his CMO role taken over by Nazeem Nasir.
As the CMO of webe from its launch, Lai played a key role in helping to shape the message that webe took to the market and the brand philosophy of the company that is TM’s mobile arm.
As a refresher, even the name webe is rooted in the philosophy of the brand. The ‘be’ part of webe stands for something greater than ‘me,’ the individual. This insight of ‘we’ plus ‘be’ being greater than ‘me’ became the foundation for its brand philosophy: “Start here. Go anywhere.”
This concept of “we” being greater than “me” is why the projects that webe supports are actually decided by the webe community which has to express its support for the various ideas that are put forth. But because the concept was still new last June when webe launched its community platform, the first five projects last year were chosen by webe and which is why Lai is particularly excited about the fact that webe has now evolved to where the recently announced crop of projects was actually chosen by TM’s staff.
Lai calls this webe3.0 where an independent group of people within TM formed the team that filtered all the projects submitted through the webe facebook community. Shortlisted projects were then voted on by TM staff with four projects picked for webe to support. The next evolution will be for the projects to be picked by the community proper.
The marketing team from webe was not involved this time around but the criteria for projects to be selected was still the same. “We invited submissions from anyone who had a great idea they were championing themselves and our selection was then based on picking projects with the greatest societal impact and with a creative approach.”
While last year, webe contributed a total of RM800,000 for all the five projects it chose, Lai takes pains to explain that webe community is not a funding platform but a crowd backing one. The difference?
There is no set budget that webe allocates for each idea selected, nor do the promoters of the ideas come up with a set amount they want to raise. And also, the ideas already have public support which is determined by way of support each idea gets when they are shared on the webe community facebook page and through expressions of moral support the ideas get from the community.
This open ended approach works because as Lai notes, it allows webe to work with the champions of the ideas to come up with solutions that help them achieve their goals. And as he notes, “You may have an idea you are really passionate about but it is not a given that you will know how to market and sell your idea or on all the steps needed to get your activity or your product out. And that is where we come in to help with the co-creation.”
It is a deliberate choice of word, this “co-creation” as besides contributing some funds, webe also works with the idea champions to help them amplify their ideas and to reach out to more people to create awareness. And this approach is consistent with the webe’s “Start here. Go anywhere,” brand philosophy.
Lai constantly reminds his webe team that the webe community is a platform where the webe brand comes alive and tries to demonstrate all the values built into the brand through working to bring all the projects it supports to life. There is no commercial aspect for webe in working with the ideas, “and there never will be” emphasizes Lai.
For webe, success is determined solely by the projects it is co-creating being able to meet their milestones with webe not dictating but helping the idea champions reach their milestones.
The current four projects and the projects it enabled last year can be viewed here and readers can play their part as well in the current projects.