Known as the friendliest Garager we have the pleasure to know, Yuen Chong epitomises the best things about co-working with his optimism and energy. Before we get into that, let’s first start from the beginning. Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Yuen moved to Hong Kong almost 20 years ago and lives here with his wife and two daughters.
After graduating from school in the U.S. and moving back to Malaysia for his first job, Yuen was met with the opportunity to work in Hong Kong on a 6-month contract. He didn’t have the best impression of the city, but that quickly changed as he realised that he easily assimilated to the business culture here, and made lifelong friends. “The way people do business here is similar to the U.S. A mutually beneficial relationship is the bottom line. Also, it’s a merit-based system to move up professionally. You can make it if you work hard.” It’s this pragmatic and driven attitude that’s guided Yuen throughout his career, where he currently works in Sales for Twilio, a U.S.-based company which provides software & services to connect to telecommunications and the internet via APIs that developers are well versed in. He goes on to explain that it’s similar to translating a foreign language (i.e. traditional telecommunication protocols) into one that can be understood (i.e. Java, C#, Python, etc.), so clients to have a lower barrier to entry in incorporating telecommunications into their applications & software. Putting technical concepts into words that a client can understand is an important part of Yuen’s role at Twilio - one that he was motivated to take on because of an innate forward-looking mentality. “Ever since that job with a global solutions provider, I’ve always been attracted to companies selling something that’s ahead of it’s time.” Working for cutting-edge companies can be difficult for a salesperson, who must normalise current practices with an unknown future. For Yuen, this challenge is not only appealing, but necessary aspect for his career. While he notes the high-tech sector to be cut-throat for being so fast-paced, the excitement of it all is what’s kept him in the game. For fellow salespeople, his advice is to be genuine, adaptive, and meticulous about your knowledge of the industry: “Continually think like your customer and build that reputation. It can mean a lot down the road for your career, and it may not.”
REGARDLESS, IF YOU ALWAYS THINK FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF YOUR CUSTOMER, THEN YOU’VE SUCCEEDED.
While being a people-person comes naturally to him, Yuen believes that one challenge he faces is to know what the customer needs (even if they don’t know what that is themselves) by asking the right questions. Notably easier said than done, he considers the skill of getting to the crux of the discussion and asking precisely the right questions to be an art in itself, and one that takes a lifetime to perfect.
Career aside, Yuen has enjoyed getting to know the startup community for the past couple of months. He hopes that entrepreneurs in Hong Kong will think bigger about regional needs, as opposed to the prevalent approach of addressing a need to connect China & rest of the world, as there’s an immense amount of talent and capital in China already doing so. “[Waning opportunities serving as a bridge between China & rest of the world] is a cruel fact that needs to be impressed upon Hong Kong startups. But there’s talent in Hong Kong. We just need more inspiration. In Silicon Valley, there’s Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, etc.. Even China is peppered with it. This is what Hong Kong needs.” During the week, we always see Yuen’s running in and out of the office if he’s not city hopping around Asia, but weekends are for relaxing at home and spending time with family. His daughters Megan and Wendy are and always have been the centre of his life. He beams when talking about their ambitions and how fast they’re growing up. When asked about his future plans and aspirations, this is what he had to say: “My aspiration in life is to be an inspiration, even in the smallest way. What I mean by that is if someone from a similar background to me gets to know me, I want to inspire them to think: well if Yuen can do it, then so can I.” We’re sure he’s accomplished that already.
Today’s entrepreneurs do not like getting tied down and are inherently drawn towards options that let them progress at their own growth-plan. Personalisation and a sense of creative freedom has picked up the pace and is here to not only rule but also dominate the work culture.
As part of Garage Society’s Well-Being Month, we sat down with Dutch entrepreneur Madelon van de Ven, to learn more about her flourishing plant subscription startup and her mission to get more urbanites to experience the health and well-being benefits of plants.