Interview with Lionel Yeo, co-founder of YeeOuch!com
June 27, 2006 by SGE
Continuing our SG Entrepreneurs series, we go one on one with Lionel Yeo, one of the youngest Spirit of Enterprise Finalist and Co-Founder of the most oddball company, YeeOuch!com. The 23 year old co-founder talks about YeeOuch!, business and the challengers faced in the current day.
YeeOuch!com is not your regular run of the mill company. From the name to the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cut the CrapÃ¢â‚¬Â, it is clear, that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more than just computer code and coffee that drives YeeOuch!com. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something called DNA and it could explain why Lionel is one of the Youngest SOE finalist ever.
SGE: I understand that you have a background other than business. Could you tell us more about yourself?
LY: I actually graduated from the University of Western Australia with a degree in Mathematics. I majored in Operation Research and Applied Statistics. I know itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty out there but I took a whole bunch of finance, economics and accounting units in first year, so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not really a stranger to business. What I have found is that a technical degree like mathematics is a great foundation for anything, especially business, because it trains your logical thinking and analysis. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve volunteered to give a series of talks to promote it.
SGE: So can you tell us more about YeeOuch!com?
LY: Absolutely. YeeOuch!com is the online review engine that allows users to review and recommend others about anything; restaurants, service, books, the lot.
You can research products, services or items before you buy them, and even promote your own business or blog by putting it up and allowing users to rate and review it. Businesses get to view feedback of their business and improve on their weaknesses.
One popular use users have found, is to expose bad service by giving that organization a bad review.
Basically, you can go online and decide what book to read, where to eat or what movie to watch. You can also avoid some serious lemons out there.
The great thing about YeeOuch!com is that localized for each country. The sign up is ridiculously easy and site flows very quickly.
SGE: This is the question on everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mind. Why do you guys call it YeeOuch!com?
LY: Everyone asks us that! Originally we want to get Ouch.com. However, it was taken and we could not afford $500 to buy it from the owner. After two days hopelessly scanning names, we decided to add a prefix to Ouch.com with Ã¢â‚¬Å“YeeÃ¢â‚¬Â. YeeOuch!com is actually the surnames of both co-founders. ZiigÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s surname is Ã¢â‚¬Å“YeeÃ¢â‚¬Â and mine is Ã¢â‚¬Å“YeoÃ¢â‚¬Â. So the Ã¢â‚¬ËœOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is much larger to form my surname.
These days, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re faced with lots of clutter. You always get excuses, office politics or bureaucracy. Most of this is unnecessary and doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do anyone any good. YeeOuch! is the expression when you get a sharp quick pain. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wake up.Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Get realÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Everyone at YeeOuch!com believes there has to be a better way of doing things. We want to cut the crap out of things that make peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives difficult. This is reflected in the software we produce; minimal clutter. For example, in the sign up, we only ask for your email and password. Everything else is unnecessary.
This is essentially the DNA of our company. Business is about people. If your customers were vending machines and your team mates were coffee makers, then maybe it would be a different story. There has to be more than money; something that gives you a buzz in the morning when you wake up.
SGE: So how did it get started?
LY: YeeOuch!com started as a scribble on a piece of paper. In my second year at University, I tried to sell my textbook. The guy at first agreed to buy my textbook, but after two weeks he backed out of the deal without a good reason. As you can imagine, I was pretty steamed. So I began asking myself Ã¢â‚¬Å“Is there a better way?Ã¢â‚¬Â Unfortunately, there did not seem to be one. Most people would have grunted and forgotten about it, but I decided that it was time someone solved the problem.
The current system started quite by accident. On a Friday night, I met up with a friend. Basically he had to rush off to do some book reviews for his work. Obviously I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pleased, but at the same time, I thought, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Who would read a review written by someone in such haste, wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a review by a real person be better?Ã¢â‚¬Â So once again, I decided to do something about it and that was YeeOuch!com, the online review engine. I think in a way, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why the company is a lot better. We were focusing more on solving the problem than making money.
SGE: Did you find any difficulties starting up?
LY: When you start up you expect things to be difficult. I expected to go in fighting tooth and nail, returning with a bloodied nose. That never happened and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m very lucky. The hardest part was working with people. Truth be told, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not very good at dealing with people, but I try really hard. You have to be the bigger person. Lynden, Ziig and I are always disagreeing with something and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s frustrating, but somehow things work.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve also got a big bone to pick with these large established people and organizations. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been getting put-downs from them instead of encouragement. I hate the fact that you get less respect. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get talk to the CEO or upper management, even when I have sometime that will benefit them greatly. People have got to see Google appearing before their eyes before they believe a couple of young guys can do it. I believe if you treat people as world-beaters they will be world beaters.
SGE: What do you think are the common weaknesses of most entrepreneurs?
LY: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not an expert but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll say not knowing yourself well enough. You need to have a high degree of self awareness. You have to know what makes you tick and what weaknesses you have. Another big mistake is doing too many things. This is as a result of my first point. Some people feel they have great ability and try to do many things. It always ends badly. The good thing is that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not that smart, so I do less stuff.
SGE: If you have a few words of wisdom for the young entrepreneurs of today, what would be those few words?
LY: Cut the crap. People think too much these days. Most people start at zero, look at zero and stay at zero. Business or anything in general is like going to the gym. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really need to know how muscles grow or what the scientific name is. What you need to do is be there every morning at 7am and stick with it.
Fail. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m serious. If you can afford to; fail. It really puts things into perspective. Some people might have to try, but if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re like me, it just comes natural.
SGE: Do you have a set of books that you will recommend to the entrepreneur?
Well, (smiles) check out myYlist on YeeOuch!com. I wrote a bunch of reviews on some of my favorite business books.
About YeeOuch!com Reviews
YeeOuch!com reviews is the biggest local online review engine. Review your favourite movie, restaurant or book. Promote your business, event or your blog. Research products or services before you buy. Most of all, give bad service a bad name.
About Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive Officer & Chief YeeOuch!ster
A single textbook started the quest to build the Universites’ best textbook marketplace. Lionel (23) began the quest to find ‘a better way’. That way was to YeeOuch!
Lionel completed his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, majoring in Operations Research and Applied Statistics at the University of Western Australia. Always looking for a ‘more efficient way’, he optimized everything from textbook filtering to return per dollar of lunch money. He’s always waiting to drop a couple of maths and stats jokes.
His research interest include, database optimisation, queing theory, chaos and dynamical system and derivatives, financial mathematics. Most recently, he created the ‘anti itunes’ Python software, which reverses the automatic naming system of the Itunes.
One of the finalist in the 2003 Young Achievement Australia Business person of the year award, he’s a keen Buffetism follower as well as a Google supporter. Behind the mathematics, Lionel is much like his role model Buffett, very interested in business and its inner workings, while sticking to the keep it simple stupid (kiss). As a Mathematician, he argues that most things are really the same when you boil it down.
Famous Quote. “Where I’m going…I don’t need…luck”.
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About The Author
SGE - (SGE)
Covering the Singapore and Southeast Asia startup and entrepreneurship scene since 2005.Read other posts by SGE