I started programming my first HTML and CSS when I was 14 and have enjoyed programming since. My dream is to build products that users love to use. In my work, I look for constant engineering challenges and work to find innovative ways to empower users with our products. I love photography too; I've been in love with photography since I clicked the shutter from my mom’s film camera back when I was 16. I focus on animals, birds, nature & landscape photography, and I’m also the unofficial photographer of ShopBack!
I studied in the School of Computing at National University of Singapore, where I graduated with Honours in Computing in Information Systems and specialised in SSME (Service Science, Management & Engineering). At NUS, I met Henry (co-founder of ShopBack); ShopBack is actually our 3rd startup together and the first one to have made it out of the Singapore market... I guess we just enjoy working with each other! Our previous startups are Ronzaro, an online platform for tailored shirts, and Buffet Mania, an app which aggregates buffets and discounts in Singapore. Ronzaro was started when we were still in school. We started out by selling things at a booth in the NUS bazaar! That helped us to understand user behavior. Then, we ventured into the online space.
I joined the ShopBack team with Joel and Henry 2 years ago. At the beginning, we were unsure whether what we were building would be right, but our mindset was to learn and unlearn all the time and to always demand the highest possible standards in the team. I still remember how we launched ShopBack at 3am while watching Apple's World-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in 2014. At that time, we did not have many resources and most of the tasks were done manually. Those days made us stronger and better. We used to have 1 sign up per day; now, we have over thousands of signups and orders every day.
In the early days at ShopBack, each of us wore multiple hats to grow the company. Now, I focus more on engineering processes, architecture design, speed and security of our websites. Our key challenges are people and process—as the company expands into other countries, we face more competition and there are many unknown problems waiting for us to tackle every day. As the team grows, the same old processes will not work anymore. We constantly have to adapt to the new flow and work with new ideas. All of these processes require people to constantly change, adapt & improve. Focus and dedication are the key to winning.
I believe the ShopBack engineering team is different from others in two ways. First, we ship quickly and treat user feedback seriously. Different engineering teams have different focuses—some work on a product for 9 months before shipping, or have the mindset that “we roll out when we have perfect code”; our approach is to ship with the highest standard of code that can be possibly achieved within the shortest time available, and we’re constantly re-designing and tweaking our product based on our users’ feedback. In eCommerce we cannot afford to wait a few months. We ship almost daily. Second, we've invested in a tech stack that scales so that we’re highly adaptable. As ShopBack grows and as the engineering team grows, we want to make sure that our software is scalable and still readable in 5 to 6 years. When ShopBack started, we had 1 app and 50,000 products. Our old codes in PHP could sustain that. Now, with 10,000,000 products across the region, we have changed the tech stack and invested a lot more on dedicated machines to support our growth.
Shopback’s tech stack
ReactJS, ExpressJS, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redshift, Elasticsearch, Redis, Memcached, Laravel, Scala.
At ShopBack we ship a product and features that matter to our users, the rest do not matter. To me, success and achievement are the result of determination and constant repetitive hard work. But instead of talking about how long you work, you should be thinking about how much work is actually delivered to our users. At ShopBack, I’m excited every day because users really love our product and we constantly want to give more to our users.
Life needs to be more than just solving problems every day—you need to wake up and be excited about the future.
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