Friday, 12 August 2011

Part-Time in a Start-Up?

These few days, I was spending some time doing random stuffs in a start-up company inside the campus. The company was initiated two years ago by a year3 Electrical Engineering student and his Prof. Their service is mainly focused on Human-Machine Interaction solutions. The founder is currently doing his Masters in NUS and has already settled up two company branches in China. In my view, he is pretty successful. He has settled up his own company at such young age and he is really making a difference to the world.

Though the founder earned only 500 dollars/month when he first graduated from NUS to open up his own company, he is doing quite well now. As I know, the Singapore branch has so far made a wireless projector controller, a Tai Chi cross-platform app that can run on Ipad,PC,Web,etc(implemented using a game engine called Unity), an automatic temperature reader.They have sold 10 of their project controllers to a Korean company for 80 dollars each. The Tai Chi game is sold to a government healthcare center(a hospital maybe)and the temperature reader is sold to a kindergarten. Some people may claim that it's because Singapore government organizations have got nowhere else to spend their extra budgets. But we must not deny the fact the the founder and his prof really put a lot of efforts in the start-up and the company is really doing quite well.

I've fortunately got the chance to talk with the founder. He is nice and smart. He learns and executes things fast. He loves to learn and knows many cross-disciplinary fields,like sensors, game development,computer graphics and web programming. As a programmer, I appreciate his envision of implementing Unity as the main game development platform since it is compatible with various mobile OSes, desktop OSes and Web browsers.One more great character of him is that he cares about others. At the beginning, I find him pretty hierarchical like most Chinese bosses. But as we work along, I start to know that he actually cares and values his employees.Unlike the co-founder Prof who is famous for the bad manner,he is much nicer in many ways. I planned to work for him this semester and gain some experience in his company.

But I've got to be honest, CS3216 is more important to me in the sense that I can really build my own projects and these projects may probably influence the future. His company is up-to-date, too. However, it seems that that's not where my future really lies. Social, Cloud, Mobile-these are the three itchy themes that the world will be driving, at least for the next ten years. Unity may be a good platform as it involves in mobile platforms, and may also have something to with Cloud. Unfortunately, I don't really have a very strong passion about gaming because I personally don't value gaming that much. As one old Chinese saying goes,"玩物丧志", People loses their determinations when playing games. I feel sorry that I may not be able to work for him during this semester though he has made many sacrifices for allowing me to freely arrange my working schedules.Shall I quit now?

Another thing bothers me a lot is the money. If I were to be paid, then I have the responsibility to work for the company, even on things I don't like. That would be fine if my schedule is not full of sleepless 3216 projects. However, the reality is I cannot afford to take more than 10 hours/week away from CS3216 and other courses. I've finally got a plan--I work voluntarily for the start-up with no constraints on the timing and I don't ask for any pay. However for the benefit of the company and myself, I would like to voluntarily help the company out by helping them make products when I have time to help. I'm asking the founder for permission tomorrow. ..


  1. Life is made of tough decisions. I think you actually know what you want to do. Sometimes we just need a little courage to do what we believe we ought to do.

    Everything you exercise a little courage, you become a little more brave. Over time, you will become truly courageous. :-)

  2. Thank you for your encouragement, Prof. Leong. I do find myself sometimes not confident enough to do things I believe I ought to do.Thankfully, I encountered many nice people to give me courage along the way. Thanks:-)

  3. Take things one step at a time. :-)

    Keep working on it and you will eventually get there. :-P