Durioo aims for the unicorn status

01 May 2022 07:55am
Sinan Ismail, founder of Durioo
Sinan Ismail, founder of Durioo

Digital Durian is a household name in the local animation industry, having produced educational cartoons for children namely Didi & Friends as well as Omar & Hana.

The company co-founded by Sinan Ismail has grown exponentially since its inception about a decade ago, with shows garnering viewership from various countries worldwide.

If you recall, even Manchester United player Paul Pogba was photographed tuning in to Omar & Hana last year.

To this day Sinan finds it amazing that someone of his stature posted about Omar & Hana.

But last November, Sinan revealed that he would be embarking on a new chapter, with the launch of a start-up called Durioo, where it offers a streaming platform called Durioo Plus that crates fun, Islamic content for kids such as cartoons, live educational shows, books and more.

However, Sinan remains as the chief executive officer for Digital Durian. In the latest Bang For Your Buck episode, he talks more about his transition to Durioo with Sinar Daily.

He laments that the idea behind Durioo was to establish a completely different business model compared to Digital Durian.

“Digital Durian is an animation company where we sold our content to others, and created merchandising and such. But the model for Durioo is totally different where we are now scalable, and we have subscribers from the US and UK,” he said with a smile.

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He said they can reach all around the world and potentially become a unicorn company.

When asked about the difference between the two companies, he explained how Digital Durian is a production house while Durioo is a platform or a start-up of a totally new model set up with high growth potential.

Why the name Durioo? Sinan said the name was chosen as it fits three criterias - it has a.com, it’s fun and easy to remember and it correlates to Digital Durian. “Durioo” is the scientific name for durian, so it was important for him to weave in that element.

“The transition was pretty smooth although scary at the same time, since this is new for us. But alhamdulillah, about six months or so along the road everything worked out pretty well,” he said.

He also shared about their products from the Durioo originals such as ‘Mina Mila’, their current highest viewed cartoon in Durioo Plus, which is about a pair of twins with different personalities.

Other shows have been well received too such as “Little Ammar” which focuses on nursery rhymes for Muslim children, “Abibi” who hosts a live educational show, science projects and zoos, as well as ‘Bubu Lala’ which is a co-production with Yeah Yeah Yeah studio.

“It is a platform where kids can come in and enjoy, and parents will feel happy and relaxed.

“We received feedback from parents that they can see the positive change in their children’s attitude and hearing that is why we are doing what we do,” he added.

As it is with the other animation companies, facing challenges is not an exception for Durioo.

He said it is hard to get past the perception of most people who associate Islamic content with preaching.

With children as their target audience, Sinan acknowledged how children do not favour watching preaching content per se, so it was up to Durioo to create something not only fun for them to watch but content that teaches Islamic virtues as well. He said it is also an understandable concern that parents are adamant to ensure the shows their children watch are safe for them to watch at their young age.

“I understand because firstly, I am also a parent and there are also not a lot of options actually, since each platform from the west could have some influence which is not suitable for us as Muslims.

“But Durioo Plus is definitely a platform that is safe for the kids, and we put a lot of emphasis to make sure that it is safe and fun for them,” he said.

With their great achievements so far, what is the endgame for Durioo? He said the second highest viewership they have so far is from the US, UK and also from Canada, Singapore, Saudi Arabia.

It is pretty global now and Durioo is less than two months old and he agrees that it is showing very good early signs, but this is only the beginning.

“Ultimately there are 2 million Muslims in the world, and that is one-fourth of the human population and we want to reach out to every Muslim family one day.

“It could be from Durioo Plus, or our games or merchandise. I think it is important for us to have that mission and we aspire to become a unicorn in 4 or 5 years,” he said.