Neil Ducray, a graduate of Monash University is the 2010 winner of the Telstra Sensis Australia China Alumni Association Award for ICT and New Media. He spoke to Sophie Loras about his successes as the Managing Director of Touchmedia.
Many of us living in China have come across Touchmedia’s interactive touch screens from our travels in the back seats of Chinese taxis. The unique system creates a dialogue between advertisers and consumers combining the reach of conventional media with the recall, awareness and response rates of interactivity of the internet. Most of the hardware and software is developed in-house and the company has been awarded more than 20 patents.
Mr Neil Ducray, a graduate of Monash University and this year’s winner of the Telstra Sensis Australia China Alumni Association Award for ICT and New Media is the Managing Director of Touchmedia.
Since Neil joined Touchmedia, the company has grown from 30 to 400 staff, and sales – which were around US$150,000 in Mr Ducray’s first year, have grown more than 200 fold. Today, Touchmedia has more than 20,000 screens in four cities across China – Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen – reaching almost 25 million people per month.
Touchmedia has become the world leader in its field and is currently looking at overseas expansion. In January 2009 Mr Ducray collected the Global Red Herring Award – one of the world’s most prestigious awards for new technology companies (with previous winners including Google, eBay , Skype and Baidu) – on Behalf of the company in San Diego.
With strong input from Mr Ducray, the company has also been heavily involved in charity and community service programs, including the One Foundation, Wheelchair Association, The Library Project for Schools, China Poverty Alleviation Foundation and the Red Cross.
Managing Director, Touchmedia
Winner: 2010 Telstra Sensis Australia China Alumni Association Award for ICT and New Media
Q: How important was your Australian education in relation to what you are doing today with Touchmedia?
I was incredibly lucky to go to a great secondary school (Scotch) and a terrific university (Monash) in Australia. Together they really broadened my horizons. Without them I don’t think I would ever have thought about travel and working overseas but through both the schooling and the overseas students I met it really started me thinking. As a result I have been travelling for more than 20 years! And loving it.
Q: How did Touchmedia come about?
Touchmedia was founded in 2003 by a Chinese American entrepreneur, Micky Fung. But by 2006 when I met Micky, we still didn’t have a working screen or a first sale. I had left the UK and come back to China determined to find something interesting. The first time I saw this I thought it was the solution to a marketer’s dreams – the effectiveness of the Internet, with the reach of conventional media. There was nothing like it.
Q: Who are some of Touchmedia’s biggest clients?
Shanghai Expo, Beijing Olympics and Guangzhou Asian games, L’Oreal, Disney, General Electric, Standard Chartered Bank, Tourism New Zealand, Coca-cola, Ford, Volkswagen, P&G, Unilever, McDonald’s and about 400 others this year to date!
Q: Did you ever imagine your Australian education would lead to the successes you are enjoying today in China?
No. I just wanted to travel. I’m not married and so have no immediate family commitments, so I have been able to go for interesting jobs. I really didn’t expect Touchmedia to succeed like it has. To grow 5,000 percent in three years, let alone win awards like the Red Herring in San Diego, three Mobius awards in Los Angeles, a Cristal in Paris… The vision was all Micky’s. I was just doing my best to try and solve each problem as it came along.
Q: What have been the highlights of your time in China / with Touchmedia?
The first ever sale – 25,000 RMB. The first year we broke a million USD. Now we do that in a good week. And winning the Red Herring Global award – the same award guys like, Google, eBay, Skype and Baidu have won at the same stage. ■
*Picture: Touchmedia’s interactive screens in the back seat of a Shanghai taxi.
To read more about the winners of the 2010 Australia China Alumni Association Awards, click here.
For more information about the Australia China Alumni Association and for the full list of 2010 Australia China Alumni Award finalists, visit: www.austchinaalumni.org