Dr Kelvin Yong, a familiar face to some, but may not be to all due to NTU EEE big family. Kelvin, as we addressed him in a friendly term, graduated from his BEng in 2003, and obtained his PhD in 2010. He is also an entrepreneur and co-founder of BioMachines Pte Ltd (www.biomachines.com
Why Kelvin choose EEE instead of other disciplines? “I am always amazed by the operation of electrical components around me since young. Hence, it is natural that I had chosen EEE to learn about the fundamentals.” To further his interests and passion, he pursued his EEE PhD research after his bachelor degree. “I obtained my PhD in EEE in search for new answers in the unexplored domains and the journey was fascinating.”
Decision-making is an important part of life as it will determine future results, paths and destinations. Kelvin takes this seriously and depends on no other people. “I firmly believe in my own principles and guidelines and decide on things based on them. In this way, I will be firm, determine and consistent in my actions regardless of how uncertain and difficult the situation becomes.“ Despite making the decision himself, Kelvin does discuss with his wife and family, and they show forth support.
Currently, Kelvin is the Co-Founder of a biotech start-up company - BioMachines Pte Ltd. BioMachines is funded under the NRF Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS) in Small World Group (SWG) incubator and has been around for 1.5 years, providing a one-stop common online platform for sensors monitoring in places mainly without electricity grids. NParks, Asia Plantation Capital (APC) and NUS are some of its current clients.
Apart from using his expertise in BioMachines, he also ventures in teaching and mentoring students due to his passion. He is the programme mentor for the prestigious NUS entrepreneurial programme, iLEAD - to mentor iLEAD students during their internship in start-ups. In addition, Kelvin also imparts his academic knowledge and ability by teaching in some programmes in the School of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering and the School of Electrical & Electronics Engineering in NTU.
As mentioned by Kelvin, the decision to switch his career path to entrepreneurship from research was a tough one. During the years when he was reading his PhD and working as a Research Fellow upon graduation, it was only research and publication in his mind. He enjoyed the journey of exploring some fascinating ideas in research very much, but realized that he can do more. “It took me quite a while and a few trips to USA in particular, Silicon Valley, to discover that I could actually create and innovate as an entrepreneur using my in-depth analytical skill and knowledge about technologies. On top of that, the encouragement and support from my family and my wife, Ms Gean Chu, further propelled me to do what I am currently doing.”
So, what achievement does Kelvin acknowledged so far and what is his aim for the future? Kelvin defined “achievements” as those challenges that he attempted and succeeded. Being able to successfully make the transition from the research domain and adapt to the entrepreneurial pace, he considered this as his most significant achievement so far. “This is so because the challenge is really steep and a 360 degrees change in the nature of the role. This will never be possible without strong support, determination and perseverance. Another achievement can be steering my current start-up with my colleagues in the direction of not only survival, but also growth. The team works well together and hopes to achieve more fascinating milestones in time to come.”
Kelvin’s next aim is to contribute more in the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Singapore. Being on the ground and having known many stakeholders in the ecosystem, Kelvin feels that there is a lot more room for improvement in the ecosystem and it will only bolds well for Singapore if the entrepreneurial ecosystem and spirits escalate to the next level. His future aim, “I also hope to start another start-up company one day with an idea I have in mind for a long time.”
Though Kelvin is a man of his own mind, he is surrounded by people that encourages and motivates him in one way or another. Kelvin’s wife, two children and family members always serve as a motivating factor for him to go beyond the limit and venture out of his comfort zone. “Gean is the main person whom I gather my strength and energy from to tide over each challenge and to achieve each milestone.” He also acknowledges his PhD supervisor, Prof Cheng Tee Hiang, for rendering him a lot of encouragements whenever he meets him for a chat.
To his EEE juniors, “I will advise them to stick to their beliefs in whatever things they do. Be confident and do not waver or be discouraged from the minor setbacks, as they are the corner stones to the path of success.”
For his alma mater, Kelvin believes that there should always be a pool of entrepreneurs with very strong ties to a successful university. These entrepreneurs could be professors, students or alumni. He emphasizes that the entrepreneurial ecosystem within the university should be vibrant. Stanford University is one such example, and in the local scene, NUS and NTU are doing a great job in this area. Thus, if ever NTU requires his help in this aspect, he will be more than happy to be of service.
Kelvin is open for collaboration work with fellow alumni. After reading his story and if you are interested to work with him, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
. The parties can engage in discussions to determine collaboration possibilities.