Jun Bin Lee is originally from Malaysia. He is an engineer by trade, specialising in civil and environmental engineering. After nine years in the industry, Jun decided on a career change. He knew he wanted to spend his time working with people in disadvantaged communities, but he wasn’t sure exactly where within the sector he wanted to be.
Jun went back to University to undertake a Masters of Development Studies. It was during this time he attended a call run by AMES, an Australian organisation offering settlement support to migrants and refugees. Jun realised how little content there was available for Victoria’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities, especially when it came to sensitive or health-related topics.
On the call with AMES, Jun met other like-minded and passionate people wanting to make a difference in the community. Together they decided to create digital content on the theme of family violence, exploring issues like gender stereotypes and toxic masculinity. This project planted the seeds of an idea to start a production company.
VOS Kita means ‘Our Voice’. Through a co-design model, they co-create health and social messaging content that is accessible and engaging. VOS Kita’s content is focused on community advocacy, using accessible mediums like animation, short films, music, dance videos and storytelling to appeal to the audience it was designed for.
Since COVID-19, Jun and his Co-Founder Sean have seen an increase in the market for social messaging videos, especially about health, that reach different pockets of the community. While this also means an increase in competition, they know their human-centred design approach sets them apart from other production companies. For example, in a recent project, someone from the disability community was hired into the team to support the entire content development process. Jun reiterates that one person can’t be a representative of a whole community, but their presence helps with the inclusion of perspective from the start.
‘The highest level of participatory collaboration is when that particular community is in the organisation from day one, meaning they decide the topic, they help with the organising; they’re not just brought in at the scriptwriting stage.’
Since they started, VOS Kita has collaborated with State Government bodies and various community organisations. They have created family violence prevention content in Dari, Hindi, Hazaragi, Pubjabi and Tamil, and gambling safety content for Afghan and Burmese communities in Victoria.
The start-up journey is never easy. Jun and the VOS Kita team have struggled with the line between entrepreneurship and balancing commitments like other part-time work. For some founders, making the leap to solely focus on a business can be difficult, especially when that business is in its early stages. But the rewards are often worth the challenges.
The proudest moment in Jun’s entrepreneurial journey so far is growing to the point where the business can pay the people involved in the co-design process. He also enjoys seeing reactions to VOS Kita content from the audience it was made for.
‘When they see the videos they laugh, they want to talk about it, they want to share their own experience. During screening is where we can feel the direct impact.’
Jun was part of the ygap First Gens 2022 cohort, where he had the opportunity to meet other founders, and talk with mentors to help refine the VOS Kita business model. In five years, Jun’s dream for the business is to fully embrace the participatory collaboration approach, be economically sustainable, and have a developed network of people to draw from for each creative project.
Jun’s advice for other entrepreneurs is to find people to work with who have the same vision from day one, and to be confident in the value that their business can add for clients.