What is your background briefly?
I’ve been a tech entrepreneur for 14 years now and it started when I left a software development job when I got an idea for a startup. Back then, there was virtually no funding for early-stage startups in my country. So instead, I joined another friend’s startup who were lucky to get his close friend to invest. I was the CTO and the investor owned the majority of the company while I only received 10% shares. A year after, that startup didn’t turn out so well due to internal mismanagement, so I left and started my own. I ran my entire startup all by myself in a small rented room with an initial capital of merely $3,000. With almost zero savings, I survived with a credit card for 6 months. I had to do everything from coding to sales and marketing and even customer support. Surprisingly, my startup was profitable in the first year. It eventually grew and went forward to win numerous local and international awards and ultimately was acquired in 2016. This entrepreneurial journey gave me the opportunity to work with companies from 17 countries covering U.S, Europe, Asia and South America and hired about 100 people of 10 nationalities, which I enjoyed a lot!
Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
It absolutely seems logical as right now I’m venturing into the crypto and blockchain arena which is a rather technical industry to enter. So, I guess my technical background helps enormously. Beyond crypto, I spend my time training others on how to be entrepreneurs via online courses and mentorships. It’s a way for me to give back to the community.
Give us a one-minute pitch for what you are doing now.
I’m helping global entrepreneurs to start their tech business with minimum cost by training them via online video courses. At www.kodorra.com, they could learn how to write effective business plans, build websites for free, learn SEO and run email marketing without money, and a lot more. We are adding more course every month.
Why did you get involved with your last company?
When I left the university in 2001, I believed that wireless (mobile) and Internet will be the future. Thus, I worked on my skills that fuel that belief. I left an electrical engineering job to become a software developer specializing in mobile Internet. From there, I started my mobile tech startup and eventually expanded to online fantasy sports games.
How did you know it was the right time to sell it?
Since I started, I work on building a business with an exit in mind – either via IPO or acquisition. Having been building the business for some time, I felt that the company was ripe to be acquired. Hence, when the opportunity to sell came along, I just grabbed it. In fact, the acquirer was a potential client turned buyer.
What tips would you give to others looking to build their businesses?
- Be realistic with what you can achieve. Most startup entrepreneurs that I mentor are brainwashed by the Silicon Valley hype. Please stop dreaming to be the next unicorn. Instead, start working on a building a real business which will eventually turn into a unicorn by itself.
- Start generating revenue (or traction) asap. Don’t wait for hand-outs from investors. You show them the money, they will show you MORE money!
- I echo what Jeff Bezos said about being frugal, especially when you’re bootstrapping without investor. It helped me survive through the toughest times in my startup.
- Do what you’re good at, on the contrary to do what you love. It’s easier to start if you’re already good at doing something. But if you love doing something, make sure you’re good at it. Passion only puts fun into what you’re doing.
If you could go back in time what would you do differently?
I’d get a pro negotiator to negotiate on my M&A. I could have gotten a better deal.
How can people find out more about you & your work?
They may view my profile on Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melvin_Wong_Hwang_Chee or add me on Linkedin, https://www.linkedin.com/in/melvinwong/ or follow me on Twitter, @mwhc
Anything else we should have asked?
Perhaps this: what was the biggest decision I ever made as an entrepreneur? The biggest decision was turning down a lucrative investment from a public-listed company in my country. In fact, the entire “drama” was broadcasted on air in a Shark Tank like TV reality show in Malaysia, called Make The Pitch (Season 2). Did I regret it? No.
How can people contact you & learn more about you?
They may add me on Linkedin, https://www.linkedin.com/in/melvinwong/ or follow me on Twitter, @mwhc