Former Star Magic talent finds her place in e-commerce livestreaming

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2021 05:32 PM

Former Star Magic talent finds her place in e-commerce livestreaming 1
Hiyasmin Neri. Handout

MANILA -- After dipping her toes into showbiz as an actress and host, Hiyasmin Neri finally found her place in the world of e-commerce.

Neri has built a full-production livestreaming company called Shoppertainment Live, allowing clients to sell their products through online broadcasts.

Headquartered in Quezon City, Shoppertainment Live has so far done 1,000 livestreams, and aims to do 9,000 online shows this year. Some of its clients include multinational companies such as Unilever and Del Monte, and shopping platforms like Lazada and Shopee.

Kathryn Bernardo, Sarah Geronimo, Pia Wurtzbach, Alex Gonzaga, James Reid, Heart Evangelista, and Luis Manzano are among the stars who have been featured in Shoppertainment Live events.

"We launched Shoppertainment Live Inc. in 2019, the same year when Lazada and Shopee livestreams started on the platforms. Shoppertainment comes from two words — shopping and entertainment," Neri told ABS-CBN News.

"We deliver the full marketing experience from awareness, engagement to sales for every livestream session with our 'influensales' mindset," she explained. "'Influensales' is all about having an influencer's ability to engage, inform and entertain, and the salesman mindset to sell products, and understand the unique features and benefits of every product." 

FROM 4 TO 30

From a small group of four people including Neri, Shoppertainment Live has grown to a team of 30 in a little over a year.

Neri described her startup as "talent-centric" as they prioritized "the best people who are products of retrenchment -- from TV, events, and publishing," given the pandemic and the non-renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise. 

"Former broadcast head of ABS-CBN's O Shopping, Lawrence Lee, joined our team to lead our productions and broadcast operations," she said, adding that they have also hired people from talent agencies and the events industry. 

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Neri back when she was a host at the O Shopping channel. Handout

"We are proud to claim that we lead in helping the below-the-line advertising and activations sector bounce back from the pandemic. We empower brands and companies to shift from their traditional 'promodizing' method (usually done inside malls) to doing it via livestreaming. We see this as an ongoing trend, even if things get back to normal," she noted. 

"The pandemic actually accelerated the livestream consumption behavior and accelerated the growth of our industry. Currently, we are expanding capacity, studio space and manpower." 

LEARNING THE HARD WAY

When asked what fueled her entrepreneurial spirit, Neri kept it real and admitted that she was not finding stability in her showbiz career.

"I wasn't really a breakout star... I was in my mid-20s already and I wanted to find stability in my career. I had on-cam projects, but my career as an artist/host wasn't successful enough for the long run," she said. "I knew I had to make a back-up plan."

After finishing her MBA and doing production work, Neri pitched a business plan for a media brand to the ABS-CBN management, and was offered a position to execute her idea. 

The challenges came two years into her role, with her brand eventually closed and her team transferred.

Looking back, Neri said her inexperience as a manager caused her to learn things the hard way, that "having an MBA doesn't guarantee your success as a business professional."

"I felt so lost. My acting career failed. My hosting career was not good enough. And my back-up plan did not work. I started questioning all of my life decisions — Why did I do those things in the first place?" she recalled. "But I knew that it wasn't the end for me. I've realized that if I was able to turn an idea into something that existed, then I can start again and do it right."

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Neri founded Shoppertainment Live and became successful after experiencing failures in showbiz and management. Handout

From there, Neri looked for a gap in the entertainment industry that she wanted to fill. She and her husband Patt Soyao eventually got the idea for Shoppertainment Live after a meeting with Steve Sy, an Alibaba e-founder fellow who also runs an e-commerce solutions company. 

"I knew how the home shopping production works, and Steve knew about e-commerce. So we decided to do a partnership, together with Ace Gapuz, CEO of Blogapalooza (an influencer marketing firm), and Patt, my husband, CEO and co-founder of ICON Executive Asia," she said. 

'FAIL TO OVERCOME FAILURE'

Citing her own experience, Neri believes that "the only way to overcome failure is to fail."

"If you know that you have even just an inch of what it takes for you to do something big, and you have enough resources to make it happen, don't hesitate to take that opportunity to start. If it fails, own your failures and take responsibility. When you own your failures, you'll have a grounded understanding of your capabilities and what you have to improve," she stressed.

Quoting female business author Chin-Ning Chu, the former actress added: "'Character is not made out of sunshine and roses. Like steel, it is forged between the hammer and the anvil.' You will always realize the better things in hindsight, so take time to learn, go through the journey, make mistakes, and adjust."

"It is never easy -- but your inner strength will sustain you and help you find true joy. Despite all the criticisms of others, no one can take away destiny that's made for you." 

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Inside the Shoppertainment Live studio. Handout

Nevertheless, Neri also reiterated the importance of having a plan and enough resources to execute it. 

"If you can operate your business for at least 6 months to a year without a sale, and know that you can sell your products before that, then go ahead and start. Don't leave your job and start a business out of whim during the crisis. You'd never know if your financial resources might run dry, so best if you have a sound plan," she said. 

"You should always know why people will need or want your product, how people will buy it, and how you can deliver it to them. Create a plan for your marketing, sales, operations and logistics, so you have an overall picture of how you can make it happen, sustain it, and grow it. The best products and services are the ones that provide unique solutions that will make people's lives better, happier, and easier," she ended. 

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