Ivan Chang is always looking for problems to solve. During his time at the Singapore Management University, the 27-year-old co-founder of Wonderlabs decided that the lucrative world of corporate finance was not for him. “I tried a couple of internship stints, but the corporate straitjacket never fit me,” says Ivan.
His creativity and finesse for problem solving led him to pursue entrepreneurship.
Together with Keith Tan, another budding entrepreneur, he launched Start Now, a social enterprise and civic technology start-up. “I stumbled upon the idea for Start Now when I tried to find an opportunity to volunteer. I wanted to get involved in volunteering but I didn’t know how.”
Start Now filled a much-needed gap in the social sector landscape by pairing volunteers with voluntary welfare organisations. But trying to get the necessary software up and running proved to Ivan that Singapore faced a lack of tech talent.
TECH FOR LESS
“It proved to us just how important affordable and capable tech talent is, especially in this day and age. We had to go offshore for our software development and that was a real pain, as we often struggled with not having enough scale,” says Ivan.
When Start Now was acquired for S$530,000 in 2015, Ivan and Keith decided to make the most of their experience in managing an offshore software development centre. “Turning it into a service for other startups was a natural progression — and we were right, because in our first six weeks, we had to open a second office to cope with excess demand!”
Wonderlabs’ premise is simple — it provides companies with top software engineers and designers from Indonesia to work on their software projects and products. “We take care of all the hassle of employment contracts, workspace, welfare and insurance. Our clients get access to top technical talent to scale up their businesses fast, at a fraction of the cost of hiring a person of similar experience in Singapore,” says Ivan.
The firm is growing at lightning speed, aiming to hire 150 employees by March 2017. But the expansion is likely to stop there — at least, the human expansion is. Ivan says that Wonderlabs is actively pursuing automation, to lower costs for clients. “We want to keep our operational and management layer as lean as possible. An artificial intelligence system can be used to understand client requirements and even match engineers to projects. We also intend to automate marketing, recruitment and appraisal,” says Ivan.
This is the first of a two-part series on Wonderlabs’ co-founder Ivan Chang. In the second part, he shares his views on start-up strategy and the local entrepreneurship community. To read the second part, click here.
Last word: If you want to find out how we help companies save cost, find our more about our Operating Model and how we help companies build offshore teams: