Spotlight on Visiting Partners: YC Ng
Founder Stories

Spotlight on Visiting Partners: YC Ng

Yi Jun Phung
March 8, 2023

YC Ng is a partner at AC Ventures, an SEA-focused venture fund that invests in early-stage technology companies. There, YC oversees the SE Asia Mobility Fund. Previously, YC founded and sold an e-commerce subscription eyewear company to Essilor in 2015. A year later, he led the global technology investments and partnerships at Sinarmas Group and Latitude Venture Partners in Indonesia, focusing on fintech, AI, and healthcare investments. In 2019, YC co-founded Rukita, a proptech company in Indonesia, where he led sales, finance, and HR to scale the company to its first $3M in revenue.

YC has a BA and MA in Economics from Cambridge University.

Get to know YC in this Spotlight series.

What was your first job?

Notwithstanding part-time jobs and summer gigs, my first "real" experience in the workplace was on the trading floor of Barclays Capital as a trading analyst on the primary fixed income desk.

This was effectively the unsexy version of IPO bankers - dealing in bonds instead of equity. In hindsight, I was extremely lucky as the experience (relatively) turned out to be more outcome-driven and people-oriented instead of pure technical fundamentals. As a kid, I was effectively project managing multi-billion dollar fixed income books across a swathe of the bank be it M&A, DCM, ECM, sales, trading, structuring and the works - this laid the core foundation for my future endeavours.

What's something about you or your past experience that would surprise people?

I'll share two experiences that happened at different phases of my life.

Broken a world record for Scrabble - I've previously broken a world record and was ranked top-three nationally - as a competitive Scrabble player. I had zero interest in the game prior to secondary school, but as a 13-year-old, I was literally pulled (while walking in public) into a competition as "there were not enough players". The funny thing about Scrabble, in my honest opinion, is that I find it uncorrelated to one's command of the English language. Instead, similar to chess, it's a combination of skill, game theory, and unlike chess, a fair amount of chance. More akin to building a company than playing chess, I suppose.

Moved to Jakarta - After spending over a decade in the United Kingdom, I picked up my life there and moved to Jakarta, Indonesia back in 2016. Right after Gojek had just closed its $550m round led by KKR and Warburg Pincus. What's generally not discussed is that:

  • I had never set foot in the country prior
  • I had no friends, family or any sort of connections to the country
  • I moved 30 days after attending Tech in Asia Jakarta 2016 for the first time
  • My Bahasa sucked

In hindsight, I didn't really have any right, rhyme or reason to be there in the first place… but I'm sure glad I bought those flight tickets.

What’s your motivation for working with founders?

Founders have to do the impossible - make something out of nothing while the rest of the world denies their existence. Assuming we get along, find fit and like each other... having the privilege of working with founders, especially during the early stages of their journey, effectively provides me with front-row seats to the best game in the world! It's like watching a movie or drama unfold - exhilarating, empowering and even dramatic at times.

In my personal journey as a founder, I came to the conclusion that it was OK not to have all the answers. In fact, one was pretty much guaranteed to be in that position. Working with founders today provides me with the perspective that even if I'm able to help them along with their journey by just an additional 1% every week, it compounds and moves the needle in a way I wish I could have gotten before.

What’s something you’re especially good at or like helping founders with?

I generally focus on the following:

(a) Removing bottlenecks and distractions - Building a successful outcome requires a million things to go right - but what should they relentlessly focus on right now, and why?

(b) Removing bias - In the context of any specific problem-solution, there are typically many roads that lead to Rome. We typically focus on a handful - usually, it's always what we know. I help founders ask questions that remove that bias. Are there better solutions? Where do we draw the line? Is there a line?

(c) People shortcuts - Connecting people that may matter to one another.

If you could go back in time to the moment you decided to start your first company, what advice would you give yourself?

Get over the fear of letting go of your team earlier. Perfection is the enemy of good. Enjoy and appreciate every moment and every person. Oh, and that supplier you were so happy with the first time - you will later get screwed over and the second shipping container never arrives - just work around inventory from the first one.

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