SOMETIMES LIFE TAKES YOU ON A DRAMATIC RIDE TO CALL YOU OUT FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Who doesn’t want the high-rolling life of an investment banker? Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, investment bankers were adding more to their already fat pockets whilst brewing the crisis which ultimately consumed so many people’s wealth.
It was Josh’s goal to be an investment banker in one of those big name banks before 2008. When the crisis unravelled itself and people started prying into the inner workings of the big fire that burned the world, Josh realized that his perception of bankers are way off the mark and it often challenges the fine line of ethics.
The following year, he was hit with severe health problems followed by 3 unsuccessful surgeries. The most terrifying moment he had was when his doctor told him, “I’m sorry. We really do not know what to do with you anymore.”
That’s when he realized, if he could have another chance, he would choose to live life not for others but himself.
When a miraculous healing took place, Josh decided to jump onto the startup bandwagon and start his 1st venture.
THE 1ST STEP OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST
Being a non-coder, Josh spent 6 months trying to get his idea up and running. He met interested investors, bounced his idea off mentors and it seemed promising. A great start after a very low season in his life.
However, the reality of life is that sometimes you have a great idea, but it is not meant to be. Josh’s 1st venture did not materialize. He couldn’t find a tech co-founder.
The ecosystem was plagued with a shortage of tech talent and a high demand for techies. Every techie Josh met had at least five other better offers going for them.
He ultimately abandoned his idea and decided that, since he couldn’t find a coder, he would be one. That’s when his self-taught coding journey began.
TO BREAKTHROUGH OUR LIMITED PERSPECTIVE, YOU NEED OTHERS TO SHOW YOU THE WAY
It took Josh 2 years of self-learning online before he was comfortable coding by himself. In the meantime, he was at least well-equipped enough to start his freelancing career by building websites.
Even though he was coding, he still felt stagnated. He had no coding community to interact and share knowledge with. He decided to enrol into his final year of university (where he had previously dropped out from due to his health problems). Before the semester started, decided to take a short detour to join one of Silicon Valley’s coding bootcamps.
There, he experienced 9 weeks of immersive learning at the bootcamp with a group of like-minded people who were hungry to learn. Many started with zero coding background and ended their bootcamp stint by building funky wordpress plugins, automated day-to-day utilities, and even their own MVPs which ultimately led to starting businesses.
Sometimes it takes others to show you the endless possibilities through their creativity. With the booming tech culture in Silicon Valley, everything seemed possible through code. Josh realized that the power to create is only limited by the power of one’s imagination.
CLOSED DOORS ARE NEVER THE END, THEY ONLY DIVERT YOU TO THE RIGHT DOOR
After graduating from the bootcamp, Josh was approached many times to be a co-founder for several startups. But what caught him was when he was contacted anonymously by a principal of a VC firm in Singapore to introduce a coding bootcamp there.
After much contemplation, he decided to leave Silicon Valley despite having built much affinity with the place and culture.
After starting on the groundwork for the coding bootcamp, once again the venture did not materialize.
Josh made the choice to head back to Silicon Valley again. But before he made the trip, he had a short teaching stint at a university in Singapore. While there, a student pitched an idea to him. He postponed his trip back to Silicon Valley to found Televate, a cloud-based software solution (SaaS) for enterprise call centres.
A PERSISTENT HURDLE WILL HELP YOU DISCOVER AND GIVE CONTEXT TO A MORE PROMINENT PROBLEM
Televate took off and was doing well. Many investors had their eyes on Asia and capital flowed in naturally as well. You’d wonder sometimes that when there’s money, what could really go wrong?
Despite all the promise, there was a chink in the armour. Televate couldn’t find more developers to develop fast enough, just like the other startups in Singapore.
Everyone was going after these rare assets and many resorted to hiring part-timers or remote developers.
It was time and money consuming trying to hire the right or the best talent. This matter has pushed many startups to the brink of closure.
IT TAKES ANOTHER WITH THE SAME VISION TO GET THINGS MOVING
It was a very prominent problem when it came to talent. Silicon Valley had a ready supply of talent that is the right ingredient for starting a startup, but in South East Asia, its ecosystem was only at its infancy.
In late 2014, Cheryl Yeoh, CEO of Malaysian Global Innovation & Creative Centre (MaGIC) approached Josh and expressed her concerns, as well as her visions in growing the startup ecosystem in Malaysia.
Josh was quite reluctant to start a bootcamp in Malaysia because setting up and running bootcamps are very tedious. However, this is no longer a one-man problem.
Friends were coming up to him and sharing their problems in their ventures:
“…can’t find a tech co-founder…”
“…can’t really communicate with my tech team…”
“…can’t afford to hire…”
“…too expensive to even build an MVP…”
“…can’t move on to further develop the app if there’s no funding…”
After a series of meetups with a similar theme, he thought, why not give it a try? At this stage, it could only get better… right?
A GAMBLE THAT CHANGED LIVES
Have you ever wondered how a single decision you make could impact others. In chaos theory, it’s believed that a flap from a butterfly at the right time & place can start a hurricane halfway across the globe.
After the 1st few runs of the bootcamp, students and ex-students came up to him and spoke about how the bootcamp changed their lives. Many of them took a leap of faith to join the bootcamp. Some quit their jobs and gave up 2 months of pay. Many started with zero knowledge, only with dreams of what they could do through coding.
Today some are building their own ideas, some have career freedom to freelance anytime & anywhere. Some joined their favourite startup, and some even started their own startups…
What seemed impossible for them previously is now a possibility. Be it building something fun for their children to play with, or something to help the family keep track of things… to trying build the next unicorn startup. There was no shame in how their ambitions were like, because it was something true to them.
When Josh first started the bootcamp, he thought it would only be for 1 year. But sometimes it takes others to show you the endless possibilities through their creativity.
THUS CAME NEXT ACADEMY
As of July 2015, we are renamed to NEXT Academy. Instead of just coding, we expanded into other verticals: marketing, data science and entrepreneurial courses.
Today our main goal is to equip passionate individuals to be great entrepreneurs, marketers and developers — the key ingredients to get a startup running and moving on a more solid ground.
When you meet Josh and wonder why he always wears a black cap with a bee emblem, it’s because it reminds him of his time in Georgia Tech University and the big event that changed his course of life and brought him to where he is today.