1. Share with us the activities you are taking part in while studying in NUS.
I was mainly running my company (learnseeker.sg) while studying in NUS and learning from a myriad of business mentors about how to run & scale a business from zero. It was a great 4 years. I learned most of my business knowledge and skills through my experience running Learnseeker.
On the side, I was also the founder and president of Raffles Hall Sponsorship Club, of which I managed to secure $10,000 worth of sponsorship amount for Raffles Hall within my stay there. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot about the sponsorship scene in Singapore. 1 year later, I used that knowledge to run an internal event for Learnseeker and it was fully sponsored by our partners.
- What has been your greatest takeaway so far from NUS?
I am really thankful to NUS for providing the network and infrastructure for me to meet my team members, get investments and recruit talents to work on my company at the very beginning. So, you can say that we owe most of the success achieved today to NUS.
I was also very grateful that NUS gave me special permission to run the company full time while receiving academic credits when I was in year 3. So, I was basically being graded for the work that I am doing in my company. I was only able to do it because of the NUS Overseas College program, where they send budding entrepreneurs to intern in startup companies around the world and in my case, I was running my own company under the program instead!
- Share with us more about Learnseeker. What was the inspiration behind it?
I have always been very passionate about entrepreneurship ever since I was very young.
Coming from a poor family, I used to sell playing cards in my primary school so that I could buy candy that I wanted. I only had a small allowance.
My interest and passion in entrepreneurship grew as I began to start other ventures in school and found the joy of creating something from nothing.
For example, when I was in junior college, I was able to generate $3,000 worth of sales when I started the school’s first entrepreneur club.
Such experiences really helped me because when I started Learnseeker, to help parents to look for quality tutors for their child’s academic subjects, I was able to channel my passion and skills to serve our customers better as I was better able to understand how businesses work as compared to my peers.
Learnseeker is a data-driven 1-1 tuition provider platform that helps tuition seekers locate a quality home tutor easily. We use big data in the form of past reviews, ratings and track record of tutors to help tuition seekers find a suitable home tutor.
After the tutor is matched with the client, we use data to track our tutors’ performances in order to assure consistent performance.
The initial idea was sparked when I myself was having a problem finding a suitable tutor for my brother, who was in Primary 5 at the time.
After going through a frustrating process of finding a good tutor, I was inspired to create something better than what was out there in the market and was able to provide quality tutors for students in need.
After one year of testing, we were able to release something that differentiated ourselves from the competition as we were able to use data to help tuition seekers make better decisions when finding a good tutor for their children.
So far, we have gotten very good responses from the market in Singapore and are planning to expand to Malaysia at the end of 2018.
- How is your experience like as an entrepreneur resident at HP? How did it all start?
It started when I won the CEOx1day award and was fortunate to follow Richard Bailey, President of HP Asia Pacific Japan to India for 1 week.
Richard was very affable and asked me if I want to become an entrepreneur resident in HP after the trip. He asked me to help him with some of his innovation efforts within HP while learning various technical knowledge that young entrepreneurs usually are not equipped with. It is a part-time role where I get to learn a lot from the leaders within HP and see how a global company operates.
I agreed and have not looked back ever since. My key responsibilities were to work with different executives within HP to help them solve some of their problems while also learning about what they do within each of their division. It has been an amazing journey and HP has been more than accommodating to help a young entrepreneur like myself and I am very grateful.
- Where do you see yourself five to ten years down the road?
Running a billion-dollar unicorn!
- What are your hobbies?
Basketball, badminton, and travelling.
- What is one thing you will tell your future self and your past self?
Past Self: keep hustling! You are on the right track!
Future self: I hope we have achieved everything we set out to achieve!
- What quote do you live by?
“Life is too short to think small.” – Masayoshi Son
- Growing up, do you have a role model you looked up to?
Yes! I looked up a lot to Li Ka-Shing, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, these 3 are the entrepreneurs who really inspired me to begin my own startup journey initially.
- What advice do you have for young undergraduates who are still looking if they should venture in entrepreneurship?
I would say join a startup to see if you like the pace and the workload, it is not for everybody and some people are better off joining a corporate. Having worked in both startups and corporate environment, they are 2 very different places. So it is important to know what suits you more. If you are unsure, do an internship in either one to have that experience before making a decision.
If you want to find out more about Yu Gao-Fei, connect with him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/gao-fei-yu-9963b2132/.