Meet Chris Burke, and his new venture Tadashi: Part 1
We recently sat down with Chris Burke from Otaku Digital to talk about his new venture Tadashi, how it came into being and what we can expect.
Where did the idea for Tadashi come from?
[Chris Burke]: I’ve been steering Otaku Digital for almost 10 years and I’ve worked on a lot of different projects across all sorts of industries. I’ve always had more of an inkling towards things that were in health and I seem to gravitate towards those over other topics. It might be because health is an ingrained thing in my life – Mum’s a nurse and a midwife – so I’ve grown up with it and always been around it.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve thinking that I wanted to do something more specific to health. My team [at Otaku] and I had a chat about whether we wanted to do that inside of Otaku or branch out and create a new stream to focus on it.
So Tadashi isn’t replacing Otaku, but it’s our way of focusing on health as opposed to other industries.
That’s really how the idea for Tadashi came about. I’ve worked on various projects along the way with hospitals and other health providers and to be honest, I’ve loved those projects more than some of the other ones we’ve done at Otaku [laughs].
Sometimes we work on projects that are really rewarding – technically or creatively – but ultimately the subject matter is not that exciting. For example, we recently worked on a project where the outcome was really great for the client, but at the end of the day the purpose was to sell more car parts. It was a good experience, but I want to work on projects where we’re doing more good – helping people, not just selling things.
The name Tadashi is a bit peculiar, can you tell us what it represents to you?
[CB]: It’s been one of those situations where we struggled to find a word that captured what it is that we’re really trying to do.
Tadashi is a Japanese word and the loose translation is ‘correct’ or ‘right’, or ‘A1’. That rings true for us because we want to be known for finding the right answer and solving our client’s problems, from start to finish. It’s a pretty loose tether but it’s there and the word is unique.
That’s right, it’s very unique, but it also speaks to Otaku, your main business. What does Otaku mean?
[CB]: Otaku is a more common word that is used colloquially these days and in Japanese it means ‘uber enthusiast’. At Otaku, we use it to mean ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’. So, for example, you can be a ‘manga otaku’ and people probably associate it with that, or a ‘train otaku’ (really into trains!).
Otaku just means anyone who’s tragically into something! And I think I read that it’s when you’re into something to a point where you’re not functioning properly in your everyday life. The Otaku brand plays on that; we’re uber-into what we do in digital.
For Tadashi, we went with a similarly unique word, but it’s definitely easier to pronounce [Ta-Da-Shh] than Otaku. Every time I’ve said ‘Otaku’ to someone for the first time during the past 9 years, I’ve had to repeat it and spell it, so hopefully I haven’t done that to myself again! [laughs]
Let’s dive in – what do you think is the most pressing problem (specific to digital) for the health industry in Australia right now?
[CB]: There are many, many industries in Australia that are lacking in the digital space, so health is not alone. We’re making a lot of progress, but in health we’ve identified that there’s a huge gap in the knowledge. For whatever reason – maybe the industry is just taking a bit more time to catch up – it’s an odd scenario.
Health in Australia is at the very forefront of innovation for some things, but then everything else – like engaging with people or the digital space – is on the periphery and there seems to be something missing.
There are barriers to entry and people who are good at what they do in their niche but don’t necessarily know much outside of their knowledge base. That happens in a lot of industries though – people are good at making business decisions in their own space, but not so much in what we do [in digital].
So I think there’s an opportunity there and knowledge about digital can be brought to health, which is happening slowly, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
Are you speaking more specifically in terms of actual health professionals or the industry as a whole?
[CB]: I’m thinking broadly across the whole health space. Whether it’s health professionals, care providers, or more on the corporate side of things – like hospitals or the kinds of people that are running organisations – there’s definitely some space for things to get better. And like I said, it’s getting there, but there’s still a long way to go.
In Part 2, we chat to Chris about the unique approach Tadashi brings to health and how it might just be the antidote to current issues facing the industry.