EVVO Labs’ Ryan Wong on becoming a tech entrepreneur after 40

Ryan Wong always keeps his door open. The seasoned entrepreneur has dabbled in various industries, from food & beverage, real estate, construction, to Singapore’s largest mortgage/brokerage firm.

Over the years, he was presented with numerous business proposals and he rarely declined those that he sees potential in. So when a young man pitched him a novel video streaming idea back in 2008, Ryan thought ‘why not?’.

With Netflix yet to make waves in Asia and YouTube still in its infancy stages, Ryan believed that the market demands for such service would be huge and there is a good chance he would leave a mark on the video streaming landscape.

He invested a significant sum of S$300,000 without hesitation, leading to the birth of EVVO Media. Unfortunately, the endeavour failed to live up to its initial promise over the next few years. Despite building its own proprietary video and live streaming platforms, EVVO Channel and EVVO Live, nothing truly caught fire.

Not until 2010, when EVVO Media clinched a lucrative tender from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and became the pioneering domestic enterprise to furnish video on-demand and live streaming amenities to all government agencies.

Building a tech empire from scratch  

The IDA tender was a propitious turning point for the company — one that not only saves it, but also renders Ryan and his team ample opportunities to work on many meaningful projects.

Citing a few of these projects, Ryan shared that they have built the first mobile application for the Singapore Formula 1 Night Race and digitised the remembrance video of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

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Evolution of EVVO Media and EVVO Labs / Image credit: EVVO Labs

As milestones continued to pile up, Ryan and his young company soon found themselves besieged by a deluge of demands.

People began asking us, on top of digital media, if we are also able to offer other IT services like cybersecurity management, building cloud infrastructure, blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven solutions.

As a small SME, we cannot say no. We need to survive, so we ‘chiong’ (charge) at whatever opportunities that are given to us.

– Ryan Wong, founder of EVVO Labs

So naturally, Ryan began to build a separate business arm, EVVO Labs, which he dubs as an end-to-end IT solutions provider. He had steered the company from a digital integrator to a digital innovator by researching and developing a plethora of other in-house products.

EVVO Labs is currently expanding its operations regionally and targeting a gap in the market. Typically, foreign corporations establish offshore development centers to outsource their IT services. However, employees in these partner countries may lack proficiency in communicating with their superiors and clients in English, despite possessing technical expertise.

EVVO Labs stands out as the sole company endorsed by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication to educate and train local students in effectively communicating their IT knowledge in English.

Becoming a tech entrepreneur after 40 years of age

EVVO Labs had inevitably made Ryan a true-blue tech entrepreneur, well after he turned 40.

At the same time, he had effectively shattered the stereotypes of the tech entrepreneur archetype — one no longer needs to fit the mold of a young, savvy, college dropout with a penchant for coding.

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What EVVO Labs set out to do / Image credit: EVVO Labs

Ryan credited his upbringing and life experiences for cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit that served him well in the tech space. He shared that his father’s wholesale mattress business was his introductory lesson to the world of entrepreneurship.

He spent his formative years observing his father’s business practices and absorbing what it means to take risks and be confident. Coupled with being the oldest child in his family, Ryan developed a natural aptitude for leadership and a willingness to take unconventional paths.

His undergraduate days spent in the United States, where he read interior design and marketing at the University of Austin, Taxes, honed him with a continuous thirst for knowledge. He believes in learning constantly and staying humble, keeping his mind fresh and open to new ideas.

As much as Ryan has proven age is just a number, it’s the right mindset and drive that counts.

In fact, he was quick to acknowledge that his success wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his team. He added that he hires and works closely with domain experts to stay current with the latest technologies, including Web3.

There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur

EVVO Labs is now taking a swerve into the sports world, with their smart sports platform that monitors the health, performance, and progress of athletes. With the help of AI, sports enthusiasts can interact and communicate directly to get the newest information to support their training.

Ryan said with the onslaught of generative AI, technology will inevitably shift to a new level, forcing businesses to change with the times. But when asked if it makes it harder to be an entrepreneur — especially a tech entrepreneur, as the market today is saturated with endless innovations and possibilities, he simply laughed.

Ryan Wong, S'porean tech entrepreneur
Ryan Wong, founder of EVVO Labs / Image credit: EVVO Labs

He explained most graduates in the past would only want to be doctors, lawyers, and bankers. Entrepreneurs are like “black sheep in the community”, with only an exceptional few willing to take the leap of faith.

“You hardly see one around, let alone incubators, startup accelerators, and government fundings. Nothing at all,” Ryan lamented. “Many things are done by hunch or based on our limited experiences.”

However, things are a little different today. The economy is vastly interconnected, information is free-flowing, and everything is decentralised. Basically, anyone who put up something for sale on social media is already considered an entrepreneur.

While competition may be steep these days, it drives innovations and in turn, more businesses. There will always be room for something new and different. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.

– Ryan Wong, founder of EVVO Labs

Still, certain fundamentals remain crucial — such as a positive mindset, good domain knowledge in your area of interest, and teamwork, he pointed out. Ryan stressed that “no man is an island”, so there is a need to have a very core team of people who can thrive the business along with you.

“My advice to fellow entrepreneurs has always been to meet people and form partnerships. A community makes the business lasts longer especially in our ever-interconnected world. This is something that I am still learning today, although I am turning 60 soon.”

Featured Image Credit: EVVO Labs

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