Disruptr: Kenny Ooi, Founder & CEO of The Rondo Production
What inspired him to start the social enterprise?
- Established in 2019, The Rondo Production is a social enterprise dedicated to inspiring and engaging the community through high-quality music education programmes and initiatives. We believe in creating more opportunities for artistic collaboration, as well as promoting inclusivity and diversity in music education.
- We curate music educational festivals, workshops, masterclasses and outreach programmes to ignite stronger interest in learning and mastering an instrument among students, and provide music educators and graduates with a platform to exchange ideas and collaborate. Besides, we offer financial assistance to students in need and the underprivileged community to attend our programmes at no cost.
- We aim to put Penang on the world’s music map as one of the leading music education hubs in Asia. We hope to inspire the younger generations to see the possibilities in furthering their music study and career.
- Having gone the extra mile to take music lessons before studying with full scholarship at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, I fully understand the difficulty of learning music in Malaysia. I was given a lot of opportunities to perform abroad in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, Italy and more when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. Through these experiences, I realised that music can be a great tool for community building. Whether you are a professional or hobbyist, everyone deserves an opportunity to learn and appreciate music.
- Hence, one of the reasons I set up The Rondo Production is to bring music to everyone at an affordable rate. I hope we can inspire the younger generation and raise awareness on the importance of music education through our performances and education programmes.
What has the journey been like?
- The journey has been challenging, as music lessons are often deemed a privilege by many. But I believe that the awareness on the importance of music education has to come from everyone: ourselves and our community. Introducing new learning concepts to the music community is both challenging and rewarding. The community needs time to step out of their comfort zones and lose their attachment to the traditional approaches of learning, appreciating, and performing music.
- Our programmes are designed to connect with the country’s diverse audiences. We need to make arts accessible for everyone to enjoy, and we also have to nurture audiences of all ages and backgrounds to engage with the diversity of arts and culture.
Biggest achievement and what is one regret that you wish you had or had not done?
- In my opinion, the biggest accomplishment for us still lies ahead since we continue to develop and deliver more meaningful programs and services to the communities both in Malaysia and abroad. I would like to express my gratitude to our team for all the excellent initiatives and programmes that we have planned and delivered.
- While there have been a few mistakes and failures along the way, I would not regret making any decision, since every mistake we encountered was a learning point for us as a team, which puts us one step closer to our dream of spearheading creativity and promoting access with the music community.
Where do you see yourself in the next 1 year?
- For me personally, I hope to continue learning as much as I can within the next year. In addition to my musical abilities, I wish to improve myself by gaining more knowledge and skills. I think these skills will come in handy when it comes to enhancing the effectiveness of an organisation’s leadership and will help to maximize its impact. Through The Rondo Production, I hope to increase participation and engagement with musical activities among young people, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
- My hope is to see the organisation grow into one of the leading music organizations in Southeast Asia, with a larger team to cater to different aspects of the business operations. Additionally, I hope we can expand internationally to more countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, and more, bringing more useful resources and great initiatives to youths around the world to learn more about music.
What keeps you going to keep running the business?
- Passion. I love what I do and will keep doing it. At the same time, I enjoy sharing my passion with others, and I am grateful to have a great team who are working together with a shared passion to help build a healthy and positive music community in our region. The power of music to build a more vibrant and active society is something I strongly believe in.
What is one local startup you would like to work together with and why?
- At this time, I don’t have any specific organization in mind. Our goal is to make music more accessible and closer to society as a whole. We welcome any discussions regarding possible collaborations and partnerships.
- Who is one founder (local or international) that you look up to?
- I always stand by the quote from Mark Zuckerberg, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”
- It is a quote I can relate to very well and I’m sure most of the social entrepreneurs would feel the same way. But I would like to add one word to the quote – “The biggest risk is not taking any (calculated) risk.” Knowing the potential outcome beforehand, be it good or bad, will give a better idea of what to expect. While we are doing our very best to make a positive impact on the community around us, there are still many challenges ahead.
Why should investors invest in your social enterprise?
- The Rondo Production is more than just an ordinary music organisation which organises concerts, workshops and masterclasses. We are a music social enterprise, where we aim to use music as a tool to tackle some global issues, including gender equality, youth empowerment and more.
- Throughout the year, we curate unique programmes catering to different needs, from hobbyists to music professionals. While we focus on bringing the best resources to the region, we would require significant financial backing to help our community, so that we make these programmes affordable and accessible for them at all times. Research also suggests that playing music can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, which promotes a healthy lifestyle in a community.
- By investing in Rondo Production, you are showing your belief that arts and cultural education can empower our community, especially youth and children, with access to quality music resources regardless of socio-economic status.