From real estate to real social change

Newsroom 23/11/2009 | 15:25

When speaking about his new venture and emphasizing it's more about pursuing an educational vision than profit, Attila Peli talks calmly, in a low tone, and seems the kind of person who has the ability to inspire others to pursue their own vision too. He has traded the corporate real estate world, where he had worked for the last seven and a half years, for building on his vision of educating people and has chosen to do so through a form of art. He went the entrepreneurial way and started his own company, along with two friends. Their venture, Spring Media Production, creates documentaries, as well as other educational material, such as recorded classical music concerts and shows for children. Their first finished documentary covers the exodus of the German minority (the Sasi) from their villages in Transylvania and the re-population of those villages with city people looking for a simpler life. It took more than a month and a half to complete, and the company is now working on another one about people living on the Great Braila Island (Insula Mare a Brailei) by the rules and customs of a long forgotten world. Peli is known to the corporate world as the head of the land department at real estate agency Colliers, but left the firm at the beginning of October this year to go his own way. It could have not been for a property venture. “I could never have imagined leaving Colliers for another real estate business,” he says. Instead, he chose a more creative industry. But the lessons he learned and skills he acquired while at Colliers came in handy. The money he made from real estate helped too. “My two friends pitched me this idea a year and a half ago, saying they needed money to make it happen,” says Peli. They had bought some of the necessary gear, and Peli came along to provide the rest, investing in high definition equipment for example. He does not specify how much he has put into the new venture, as some investments are still ongoing, but he could have easily bought an apartment with that money, he says. The only other area where financials are important for the new company lies in its ability to be a self-sustaining business. If necessary, he would go back to real estate only to earn enough money to invest in such a project, he says, although this is not the moment for him to think further about that domain. The focus is now growing the new enterprise. If it becomes profitable in the future, the partners will reinvest the profit in the company, because there's plenty of room to do so. “If I were only interested in profits, I would probably have stayed with Colliers, waited for the real estate market to go back up and gone on doing what I knew how to do,” says Peli. The company's main distribution network will be the chain of nationwide television broadcasters and the entrepreneurs are currently in discussions to push some of their products on this chain. Peli himself however is no longer a TV fan. In fact, he gave up watching TV regularly five years ago, as he was, and still is, unhappy with what the media provides. “The media have forgotten their educational mission; they have only tried to give the public what they wanted. And where there's not enough education, the public wants poor quality products. The role of an educator is to impose positive models. But it's more profitable for the media to give bad quality and it's easier for the public to digest,” says Peli. It was not by accident that he decided to get involved in an educational venture aimed at building people's characters. Years ago, he was a teacher himself – he taught math and saw what the system was lacking. “School doesn't offer anything aimed at building children's character, rather than abilities. So the remaining educational channels are the family, which has less and less time to take care of the kids, and media and computers,” says Peli. Many problems in adults nowadays derive from the lack of solid character, the entrepreneur goes on. But most TV output is poor quality so the new media production company will offer documentaries, programs to tackle social and religious issues as well as children's television. Cinema distribution is not viewed as an option, as documentaries rarely make it onto the big screen. But the associates would like to go for feature-length movies in the future, perhaps a movie for children, says Peli. DVD distribution is another possibility they're looking at, as they are currently in talks with a publishing house to distribute products through their network. When asked whether he would ever go back to his old domain, Peli says that even if real estate rose from the ashes tomorrow, he wouldn't give up on such a high-minded mission for money.

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