The Art of smart business

  • Everyone should be an entrepreneur once in their life, to find what they love
  • Found clarity of purpose in revolutionising acting, worldwide, as an art form

The Art of smart business

FROM singing in his high school choir to hosting children’s television shows to acting in theatre, Chief Executive Officer of Arara Entertainment Sdn Bhd, Razif Hashim (pic) is no stranger to the entertainment world.

It would perhaps seem like a big jump to know that Razif co-founded a technology startup. Peek behind the curtain however and it becomes clear that he has instead created a bridge that connects the seemingly unrelated worlds of art, technology, and entrepreneurship. The result is Tablework.

By actors, for actors

Tablework is the first revolutionary technology designed by actors, for actors. Its name is drawn from the term ‘tablework’, a traditional acting term used for when actors break down a script to understand their character better. It’s the work they do at the table as opposed to on set, hence the name, tablework.

Razif’s online Tablework platform helps actors do their tablework and includes impressive features such as virtual rehearsing, character creation processes, and shared online rehearsal spaces that bypasses the nightmare of coordinating rehearsal times with other cast members.

Life-changing words

Of all the roles that Razif imagined playing, entrepreneurship was not one of them. The story of how Arara Entertainment and Tablework begins like many other startup stories — with an inspirational spark.

During his days as actor, TV host and events emcee, Razif made his living mostly from freelance contracts. This wasn’t always a stable source of income. After going through a difficult period where he struggled to find a job as an actor, Razif decided it was time to step out of his comfort zone.

He decided to join a business course called “Guerilla Business Intensive” by T. Harv Eker under Success Principles. It was there that he heard a Bill Gates quote that changed his life. The quote was, “If you want to be rich, you have to have a business, but if you want to be really rich you have to have an internet business.”

The quote inspired Razif to build his own company. One thing led to another and not long after in 2012, Razif and his sister Nadzirah Hashim co-founded Arara Entertainment together. At first, the sibling duo didn’t even know what they were going to do or sell exactly. The only thing they knew for sure is that they wanted to embark on something together, and through the company develop themselves by trying out what they were good at while finding out what they loved doing.

Roughing it to revolutionising it

The early days were difficult and uncertain. Without a clear direction yet, Razif worked with whatever came his way while keeping an open heart for guidance and clarity. Leveraging his creative background, Razif began producing short advertisement videos while his sister explored her passion in fashion.

While producing advertisements, Razif worked with a lot of acting talent. He noticed that many of them needed support to improve their performance. He slowly came up with ideas on how he could help actors nurture their talent independently and quickly. One of those ideas was an online platform that could help actors work on developing their characters in their own time and at their own pace.

The idea really struck a chord with Razif and he realised that his passion for acting had seamlessly translated into a passion to help fellow actors. With that as fuel, Razif went full steam ahead to develop Tablework.  With his product ready, he finally had the clarity of purpose he was looking for: to revolutionise acting, worldwide, as an art form.

Technology trendsetter

Most performing artists are usually the last to accept or even adopt technology. Yet here was Razif, leading a team that would be the first to merge classical acting training with technology and stepping onto the stage as a technology trendsetter.

During time spent with the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP), awareness was sparked to validate his idea with entrepreneurs and corporates. The enterprising actor realised that Tablework could simultaneously open up a whole new market where actor-based training could be made accessible to entrepreneurs.

Razif developed this idea further during his time at the CGP and worked with Renuka, co-founder of the CGP, as well as Coach ‘CB’. With their coaching and guidance, Razif created a program that allowed actors to further improve their acting skills by helping businesses and entrepreneurs learn about acting and body language. Entrepreneurs on the other hand would benefit by learning how to understand customer psyche and how to use role-playing to become more effective salespeople through the art of story telling.

After piloting this idea during the CGP, Razif took it to the public through his Code School of Acting that provides free acting classes to corporates and entrepreneurs, helping to nurture both the teacher and the student in a symbiotic partnership.

Take one, two, three

Success doesn’t always strike the first time. It may not strike the second or even the third time. Tablework initially went through three failed launches, causing Razif to lose a lot of his own money as well as grant money. Razif recognised that these failures were a result of his lack of knowledge about how to manage people.

Just like acting, Razif had to learn to pick himself up and do the next ‘take’ every time he stumbled. Through the CGP, he developed his managerial skills by hanging out with other entrepreneurs as he learned and observed how a well-managed team functions. It also came as a great relief to Razif to connect with other entrepreneurs in the same boat, giving him a welcome sense of camaraderie.

Once in a lifetime

The day Tablework launched successfully was one of the proudest days of Razif’s entrepreneurial journey. Even though it was a journey that was filled with turmoil, it was all worth it in the end.

Razif shares encouraging words to those wondering if entrepreneurship could be something worth considering. “Everyone should be an entrepreneur once in their life. It’s a given right that everyone should find what they love and do it for the rest of their lives.”  

For Razif, he will continue doing exactly what he’s born to do: connecting performing arts to the world. “With the work that we do,” Razif says, “I like knowing that our team could change the world or at least in our own small way, revolutionise something.”

Discover Arara Entertainment at www.arara.my and please register your interest to apply for CGP Season 4.

The above is an excerpt from the book Startups to Scaleups published in October 2015 by Cradle Fund and Proficeo Consultants, the programme manager for Cradle’s Coach and Grow Programme. DNA will be featuring every entrepreneurial story from the book in a special commercial arrangement.

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