As APAC executive vice president of Waggener Edstrom, Ko used to lead operations comprising offices in China (Beijing and Shanghai), Hong Kong, Singapore, and India (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore), as well as joint ventures in South Korea and Australia. He took a sabbatical in February 2013 after almost eight years at the PR agency.
Ko has since teamed up with Angelo Umali, who hailed from Agilent Technologies, to start Daylight Partnership. "I want it to be a new kind of digital agency that does work that is talked about," Ko said. Offerings include digital strategy, website content creation and development, mobile applications, social-media training and community management.
"I think the market today is crowded with a lot of companies that do basic websites for $20,000, but there's not a lot of strategy involved about how to drive traffic and engagement," Ko told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"There's a formulaic 'sameness' in many of what I call 'living dead' websites (not dead and not alive), and we feel there's a niche for websites to be more than just HTML engines, but part of the brand story that the website tells," he said.
Creating a website is 10 per cent of the work, according to Ko. "90 per cent is—this may sound hokey—about creating emotional connection and resonance with site visitors. And you do that by telling a story. Instead of talking about your product, tell a story about the struggle involved in the creation of your product, or anecdotes that happened along the way. Why should people care about your brand? They will, once they are wowed by the story of your company."
Ko named the startup Daylight as he wanted it to be about creativity. "When we designed the logo, we wanted it to convey a sense of ideas," he said. "Where we're coming from is: when you have the right idea, a lightbulb can outshine daylight. A really, really good idea is very bright."
As both Ko and Umali came from large corporations where "you're a cog in the machine", Daylight was set up as a partnership that is meant to "feel like an internet-startup". Every employee will have equity, and thus, a sense of ownership, added Ko. Up to 10 such partners will be hired in the first year.
Talks are underway with FMCG clients before Daylight is officially launched on 1 October, while the agency is currently in bootstrapping mode in a Sheung Wan building together with fellow boutique agencies such as Sandbox. Ko and Umali are looking to expand the business into Singapore and China at a later stage.
"We're also thinking of developing a lot of location-based mobile apps, that will be either marketed directly to consumers or licensed to clients. An imminent one is about making travel more interesting and accessible," Ko said.
On the technical side, Daylight will initially be outsourcing programming to partners in India, China and The Phillipines, but "stuff like strategy, wireframing and UX design will be done in-house in Hong Kong".