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University can wait, says 24-year-old IT Youth award winner and entrepreneur

SINGAPORE — Mr Liu Lung Hao is only 24, and already he is the boss of his own tech consulting firm, Feezmodo Consulting.

Mr Liu Lung Hao with a dashboard he created for clients to analyse their revenue and sales record so they can plan their future sales and marketing strategy. He is only 24, and already the boss of his own tech consulting firm, Feezmodo Consulting. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

Mr Liu Lung Hao with a dashboard he created for clients to analyse their revenue and sales record so they can plan their future sales and marketing strategy. He is only 24, and already the boss of his own tech consulting firm, Feezmodo Consulting. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Mr Liu Lung Hao is only 24, and already he is the boss of his own tech consulting firm, Feezmodo Consulting.

In 2016, he landed a spot in the Singapore Institute of Technology’s computer science degree programme with the University of Glasgow. But the Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) information technology diploma holder is holding off his university studies to cash in on the latest digital wave.

“I give myself till (I’m) 30 years old to finish my degree. Now is the time to ride this wave (of digital transformation) before the industry changes again,” he said.

Mr Liu, a full-time National Serviceman, was in his first year of studies at NYP when he started Feezmodo Consulting, a company that is now focused on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) integrate technology into their work flow.

His firm’s solutions could come in the form of a virtual dashboard for clients, which range from schools to small design firms, to help them analyse their revenue and sales record without the need for spreadsheets. That way, clients are able to track and analyse data more quickly and efficiently.

With Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation, Mr Liu said that there has been a surge in demand for such services from companies, even SMEs, as “we have clients from different industries and various sizes”.

“Digital transformation isn’t limited to just the large enterprise. SMEs are able to integrate technology into their workflow as well,” he said.

While he declined to reveal his income or his company’s revenue, Mr Liu said that he mostly gets clients through word of mouth and referrals.

For his contributions to the industry, Mr Liu was named IT Youth of 2018 by the Singapore Computing Society on Friday (March 9). The society noted that Mr Liu’s venture is “now a leader in the hybrid cloud and cloud optimisation technology space, offering various solutions such as hybrid disaster recovery to accelerate digital transformation in SMEs”.

He was also commended for providing pro bono IT consultation and services to non-profit organisations here.

 

BOY WHO DESTROYED COMPUTERS

As a child, Mr Liu would secretly log onto his mother’s work computer out of curiosity. But he ended up in hot soup with his mother, who previously owned a beauty and cosmetics shop, after he accidentally deleted or misarranged some source files in the computer’s hard drive. Other times, he would take the computer apart to examine it, but he was unable to power it up after failing to put the cables back together properly.

This happened about 10 times, according to his recollection, and each time it occurred, he would try to salvage the situation by reading computer books from the library. But his family eventually ended up having to pay “hundreds or thousands” of dollars to try to get it fixed.

His childhood misadventures were what got him started on his career path.

“My mother was so fed up, she took me to her friend’s shop at Sim Lim Square to learn how to assemble a PC (personal computer),” he said. He was about 11 when he spent a short spell as an apprentice at the shop, where he asked “a lot of questions about the processor, RAM, hard disk, etc”.

With his newfound knowhow, he offered his repair services on tech forums like HardwareZone, where he helped people upgrade their PC parts.

By Secondary One, he had a functioning computer he assembled from old parts discarded by his clients. He continued to upgrade it when more advanced parts came along.

When he was studying at Anderson Secondary School, he explored different ways to maximise his PC’s computing power, which resulted in him overworking his central processing unit (CPU) until it burned out or started emitting smoke.

He only got his first new computer – a HP laptop – at 19 when he given a laptop allowance as part of his NYP-Oracle Industry Scholarship. But he has little memory of it except that he burnt it within six months as he tried to have it simulate three PCs.

 

ZERO TO HERO

In his first year in NYP, he decided to take on web development projects for clients. Despite having zero accounting knowledge, he started Feezmodo in late 2013, and his business eventually grew to include Microsoft as a partner in 2016, after he completed a student partner programme with the tech giant.

With Microsoft, he did multiple internship stints with different teams at its One Marina Boulevard office, where he gleaned perspectives on matters such as work processes from the Microsoft Office sales team, Windows marketing team, and a team working with the startup community here. He eventually worked at the tech giant as a contract staff.

Armed with lessons from his stint at Microsoft, he moved Feezmodo away from software development despite earning five-figure sums on projects building websites. Instead, he chose to provide companies with innovative workplace solutions, moving them from “pen and paper to cloud”.

After two years, Mr Liu said that his company now hires 10 staff and has a six-digit valuation. It has more than 15 industry partners, including Microsoft, Cloudflare, Dell PartnerDirect, Acronis and Shopify.

The hands-on boss keeps himself updated by spending two to three hours a day poring over forums and websites.

“There is no other industry like IT, where things change every one year or half a year… You can’t blame the school for being outdated.”

After he completes his National Service in October, Mr Liu plans to regionalise his company and reach out to international markets, particularly the manufacturing industry. “Before the industry changes again, someone has to tell them how important data analytics is to their business,” he said.

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