Lei Wong Lei is the Co-Founder of Ottodot, a Singapore-based edtech startup that's creating schools for the metaverse. Before Ottodot, she was a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Scholar and valedictorian. She also runs the Rice People Podcast.
What has the most surprising thing for you about being a founder?
How much it sucks to be a founder. As a first time founder, my expectations of being a founder were largely shaped by entrepreneurship classes I took in college and my internship experiences. I did not expect how much rejection I have to go through, be it from customers, potential employees or investors. For a period of time, Le Yi and I were on the streets giving out flyers and cold calling parents to convince them to try our product. Definitely not my favourite part of being a founder.I almost always don’t know how to do what I need to do and have to learn it on my own. That uncomfortable feeling almost never ends because you will always be solving the next problem. When we first tried to make educational video games, I had no idea how Roblox works and how do you actually design a game. But I do get a great sense of satisfaction from figuring things out from scratch and I realise that execution is really my strength.One of my key learnings is that building a company is a marathon, not a sprint.
What was the highlight of your Iterative experience?
The office hours with Hsu Ken, Brian and Zhuang. They offered us many actionable suggestions and got us to really stay focus. It was sometimes the things we decided to not do during the Iterative programme that was more valuable. We really learned how to stay focus.We love all the tips and mental models that Hsu Ken, Brian and Zhuang shared that we collated a google document called “Iterative Learnings” and shared it with our batch.I also felt very wowed by Brian when he pitched Divvy’s series A deck. It was so crisp and so compelling. The way he thinks about the market opportunity was really smart too. It just felt so amazing that we are learning from Brian how to fundraise and how to build our company.
What is one thing that you would tell to your 10 year old self?
Start projects. Make stuff. It’s fun to experiment and pretty fun to laugh at yourself when you fail.I used to be a very shy student that is always trying to keep myself out of attention. But I was also very bored in school. Now that I have tried so many ‘random’ things as a founder and realise just how fun it is to try things out and learn, even if I fail. I would tell my 10 year old self to just go start projects and have fun.
What's the craziest thing that has happened to you in your job?
Our game got hacked by a kid when we were running a game testing session. This kid eventually became our go-to game security person.
If you could be an animal, what would you be? Why?
I want to be a whale. I wonder how it feels like to be so huge.
What was your dream occupation growing up?
I think I wanted to be a principal of a school. That was the most powerful person I saw around me.
If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
It would be so cool if I could pull together atoms around me with my hands and mould them into objects. I imagine it being all glitters and magical. Also it means I can make anything I want like a burger when I’m hungry 🤤