TheSmartLocal (TSL) Media Group

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TSL is a leading media publisher in Singapore with five subsidiary companies.

TheSmartLocal (TSL) started in August 2012 as a “positive hyper-local crowd-sourced review portal”.[1] Now a leading lifestyle publisher in Singapore, the TSL Media Group has grown to consist of the following sister companies: TheSmartLocal, ZULA, MustShare News, and As of 2020, the company has also opened regional offices in Malaysia and Thailand while also venturing into other regional markets such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea. In 2018, TSL won ‘Media Brand of the Year’ at the Mumbrella Asia Awards.[2]



Bryan Choo is the founder and Managing Director of TSL Media Group. Before setting up TSL in 2012, Bryan was a competitive Starcraft gamer,[3] participating in multiple competitions in and out of Singapore.[4][5][6][7] In 2010, Bryan kickstarted SC2SEA - a South East Asia (SEA) eSports community site.[8] Bryan went to Catholic High School before furthering his studies at the University of Queensland where he graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce (Honours) in Finance.[9]

Business model

In 2018, TSL created a 10-part commissioned network programme for Toggle.

Equipped with an in-house editorial and video team, TSL creates content for its audience that can also be monetised.[10] TSL remains profitable by creating branded editorial and video content, an effective alternative to traditional advertising. Acting as a media publisher, creative agency and production house, TSL provides an “end-to-end service” for its paying clients.[11]

Content growth

On average, TheSmartLocal has an average monthly reach of over 3 million Singaporeans.[12] With its beginnings as a written content publisher, TSL has diversified into creating video content for Facebook and YouTube. The company is also active on Instagram. In 2020, TSL produced an original series titled Alternate Beginnings. That same year, TSL collaborated with Night Owl Cinematics for the first time on an interactive video series called FilterSpell.[13] Over the years, TSL has also produced original short films such as My Cafe Crush (2018)[14] and An NTU Love Story (2017).[15]

Lifestyle publisher

The cover image for TSL's "20 Greatest Daiso Things To Buy" article in January 2020.

In an interview with Vulcan Post, TSL’s founder Bryan Choo shared that the site had encountered hiccups in 2013, with its initial crowd-sourced review portal concept.[16] The site was slow to grow as Singaporeans were not contributing as actively as he had hoped.[17] With that in mind, TSL was then developed into a lifestyle media publisher. By 2020, TSL has covered a wide variety of topics ranging from wisdom tooth removal[18] to hiking locations[19] and overseas scams.[20]

TheSmartLocalTV (TSLTV)

Since 2017, TSL has partnered with the Ministry of National Development (MND) to produce the YouTube series #Instawalk.

TheSmartLocal has built a following on its YouTube channel - TSLTV - over the years. As of February 2020, the channel has over 260,000 subscribers.[21] The first public video on TSLTV was published in 2013. Titled "Ultimate Drive HD Singapore 2013", it was the first episode for the series - Singapore Attractions.[22]

Year Series Seasons Episodes Playlists
2017 - ongoing #Instawalk 4 8 (ongoing) Playlist
3 8 Playlist
2 2 Playlist
1 2 Playlist
2016 - ongoing TSL Vlogs 2 70 Playlist
1 27 Playlist
TSL Plays 2 100 (ongoing) Playlist
1 10 Playlist
2015 - ongoing Singaporeans Try 4 85 (ongoing) Playlist
3 40 Playlist
2 60 Playlist
1 40 Playlist
2014 - ongoing TSL Comedy 2 19 (ongoing) Playlist
1 24 Playlist
2013 - ongoing TSL Travels*

*As of 2020, TSL Travel videos are standalone videos

3 19 Playlist
2 15 Playlist
1 11 Playlist
2018 - 2019 Coffee Break 1 14 Playlist
Hired or Fired 1 14 Playlist
2018 Next Station 1 6 Playlist
2017 "TheStartUp" Web-Series 1 4 Playlist
TSL Talent Search 1 9 Playlist
2017 - 2018 TSL Reviews 1 36 Playlist
2016 - 2019 Word On The Street 2 10 Playlist
1 39 Playlist
2016 - 2017 PLUS 65 1 5 Playlist
2015 - 2017 TSL Acoustic Sessions 2 11 Playlist
1 12 Playlist
Guide to Singapore 1 13 Playlist
2014 - 2017 PrettySmart 2 77 Playlist
1 51 Playlist

Sister companies

Since its founding in 2012, TSL has expanded to include the following sister companies.

Year Founded Sister Companies Summary Refs.
2019 A site dedicated to fact-finding and fact-checking in Singapore. [23]
2017 ZULA A site producing female-centric content for Singaporeans. [24]
2015 A site producing food-related content for Singaporeans. [25]
2014 MustShare (MS) News A news site providing credible and engaging news to Singaporeans. [26]

Office culture

TSL's office cats Jaymee (left) and Pika (right).

The first TSL office in 2013 was a shared office located near Clarke Quay. Later, they moved to Hoot Kiam Road for a few months before relocating to 592F Balestier Road in 2014. After 2 years, TSL moved to 71 McNair Road. In November 2016, TSL Media moved into an office space at Kallang Bahru which has since remained the company's headquarters.[27] In 2019, TSL opened physical offices in Malaysia and Thailand.

Founder Bryan Choo places importance on a positive office culture as this translates into a conducive environment for good work ethic and values. The TSL headquarters has an open-office concept and is equipped with a communal dining area, three studios, one meeting room and a chill area. TSL also has two office cats, Pika and Jaymee.[28]

Awards & accolades

Mumbrella Asia Awards (2018) - “Media Brand of the Year”

Mumbrella Asia Awards is a prestigious award celebrating media-marketing work across the region. The awards consist of 30 categories that are judged by 200 industry jurors.[29]

In September 2018, Bryan submitted an award entry for TSL to Mumbrella Asia.[30] In November, TSL was nominated alongside media companies such as VICE Media, Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) and South China Morning Post (SCMP).[31] They won the award for Media Brand of the Year. The award presentation ceremony was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Singapore.[32]

References / Citations

  1. Tan, Vanessa. “Be a Smarter Local with”. Tech in Asia. May 24, 2013. Accessed on 13 November 2019.
  2. Yang, Joyce. “Winning work: How TheSmartLocal harnessed the power of positivity to beat the big media players”. Mumbrella Asia. November 30, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2020.
  3. About Bryan Choo”. I am Bryan Choo. July 25, 2015. Accessed 15 November 2019.
  4. Taking Starcraft II with Team aLt’s Bryan nivAnA Choo”. Game Spot. March 20, 2011. Accessed on 15 November 2019.
  5. WCG 2001”.  Liquipedia. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  6. Final Results”. SC2SEA. August 8, 2011. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  7. Smuft's Team Battle Tournament”. Liquipedia. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  8. Chan, Melissa. "TheSmartLocal Founder Bryan Choo - From Champion Gamer to Media Entrepreneur". Vulcan Post. October 27, 2017. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  9. Bryan Choo. Facebook. Accessed 12 November 2019. Retrieved from:
  10. Yang, Joyce. “Winning work: How TheSmartLocal harnessed the power of positivity to beat the big media players”. Mumbrella Asia. November 30, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2020.
  11. Advertise”. TheSmartLocal. Accessed on 28 January 2020.
  12. About us”. TheSmartLocal. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  13. "MCCY and NYC unveil interactive digital content to engage youths on SG Youth Action Plan". MCCY. April 29, 2020. Accessed on 26 August 2020.
  14. TheSmartLocal. "My Cafe Crush | TSL Short Film". YouTube. March 31, 2018. Accessed on 24 August 2020.
  15. TheSmartLocal. "An NTU Love Story - The Exchange Semester | TSL Short Film". YouTube. September 3, 2017. Accessed on 24 August 2020.
  16. Chan, Melissa. "TheSmartLocal Founder Bryan Choo - From Champion Gamer to Media Entrepreneur". Vulcan Post. October 27, 2017. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  17. Chan, Melissa. "TheSmartLocal Founder Bryan Choo - From Champion Gamer to Media Entrepreneur". Vulcan Post. October 27, 2017. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  18. Syuhada Suri. “Guide to wisdom tooth removal in Singapore - Extraction, costs and recovery”. TheSmartLocal. November 13, 2019. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  19. Khoo, Deborah. “10 Highest Mountains to climb near Singapore if Bukit Timah is no kick for you”. TheSmartLocal. May 28, 2018. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  20. Tan, Kezia. “15 travel scams Singaporeans always kena in Asia, Europe & USA and how to avoid them”. TheSmartLocal. August 14, 2019. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  21. "TheSmartLocal". YouTube. Accessed on 11 February 2020.
  22. TheSmartLocal. "Ultimate Drive HD Singapore 2013 - Singapore Attractions Episode 1" . YouTube. January 17, 2013. Accessed on 11 February 2020.
  23. About”. April 4, 2019. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  24. About us”. Zula. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  25. About us”. Eatbook. Accessed 7 June 2019.
  26. About MS News”. MS News. September 15, 2014. Accessed 13 November 2019.
  27. Lee, Grace. “Office Renovation: TSL turned this rabak industrial unit into a mini-Google HQ”. TheSmartLocal. December 16, 2016. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  28. Chan, Melissa. "TheSmartLocal Founder Bryan Choo - From Champion Gamer to Media Entrepreneur". Vulcan Post. October 27, 2017. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  29. Asia’s more credible media & marketing awards”. Mumbrella Asia. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  30. Bryan Choo. “OMG WE WON!!Facebook. November 15, 2018. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  31. Mumbrella Asia Awards winners revealed”. Mumbrella Asia. November 15, 2018. Accessed 12 November 2019.
  32. Choo, Bryan. “The Smart Local wins media brand of the year at the Mumbrella Asia Awards”. I am bryan choo. November 16, 2018. Accessed on 30 January 2020.