Making A Difference In The Energy Industry
Thomas Ng knew that he could do more beyond his deskbound job. Now the Head of Finance of EverComm, an energy solution provider accredited by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), he manages the startup’s finance and investment matters, helping companies to reduce energy costs.
The former accountant shares more about how the MSc TIP course charted a new direction in his career, and filled him with a new-found confidence in what he does now.
Tell us more about what Evercomm does, and your roles in the company.
TN: Evercomm is an energy-saving enterprise solution provider. Through identifying energy saving opportunities, we help companies establish sustainable processes to improve on their energy awareness. We do so by providing end-to-end solutions and management tools for energy data collection, data migration, data analysis and insights reporting.
I handle finance matters and also double up in managing operations and human resource. For example, prior to being accredited by the IMDA, I was mostly in charge of due diligence matters for submission. Though it was quite a tedious process, it was definitely worth it because it gave us the recognition and validation from the Singapore government. We are also undergoing raising Series A investment rounds of $5.425 million.
Was there a particular instance that piqued your interest in entrepreneurship and innovation, or in wanting to join the startup world?
TN: I had been interested in entrepreneurship when I did my previous job at an accounting firm. Honestly, it was that very job that pushed me towards pursuing this interest. I didn’t feel like I had the avenue to really express my ideas, and I was yearning to challenge the norm and improve further.
After one year as an accountant, I enrolled in the TIP course, which exposed me to different verticals such as corporate finance and marketing. The programme really helped me understand what I lacked when running a business.
It was also through the course that I met Ted, the co-founder of EverComm. At that time, the company had just raised seed funding of about half a million dollars. He was sharing more about his experience in class and I was both amused and inspired. After we graduated, I decided to join forces with him, and the rest is history!
Which aspect of an enterprising mindset do you most closely relate to, and why?
TN: It would have to be confidence. I relate to this most closely because entrepreneurs have to make daily decisions under different conditions, and each of these decisions come with its own set of challenges, risks and consequences.
If we choose a path or goal to work towards, we’d have to make sure that it comes to fruition, otherwise everything we’d put in would become a sunk cost. We are fortunate to have mentors from our NTU incubator programme (NTUitive), as well as our shareholders, that enhanced our confidence. They exposed us to more opportunities, and give us advice when we faced problems.
Getting IMDA accredited was also certainly a big confidence boost for us. We are one of the few startups to be IMDA accredited, and that is something that we are very proud of. Though such stringent standards of due diligence is mostly delivered at a corporate level, we decided to take the first step and give it a try.
We were successful in submitting our application, and we took just four months to become accredited! It’s an incredible feat because some other organisations waited six months, only to be informed that their application did not get approved. This affirmed that we were able to meet IMDA’s criteria, like showing the business’ sustainability and scalability, and our ability to deliver and support product implementation.
What are some of the challenges you face in the company, particularly in the energy industry? How did you overcome them?
TN: It’s mostly about how we can convince people that products or services provided by startups are no less inferior to MNCs. People tend to think that the problem we’re trying to solve has already been taken care of by ‘the big guys’ – but the truth of the matter is, many aren’t even aware of how they can improve on saving energy in their day-to-day processes. Our credibility improved dramatically after our IMDA accreditation. It changes the way people perceive us and enhances our branding though word of mouth recommendations. It also help us to succeed in winning government-related projects.
How has a formal education in technopreneurship given you an edge over fellow peers in the industry?
TN: When I joined the TIP course, I was the only Singaporean in my batch. I had classmates from different countries and the diversity I encountered has helped me a lot in my present role. In Evercomm, we have 16 people from seven different countries. Cultural differences and communication difficulties are bound to arise because of the high cultural mix.
However, after working with my international teammates on course projects, I learnt to pick up on different cultural and social nuances, and various methods to navigate through these differences. It helped me through my work, be it in operations or business design – to work together harmoniously and efficiently.
What are some tips you’d give to other aspiring entrepreneurs in your industry?
TN: Take on challenges and risks with initiative and confidence, because the setbacks faced and experience gained can help you succeed in future. That aside, it’s also important to understand the problems you face and share it with other people – there are countless lessons to be learnt from these experiences.
Evercomm is an energy startup providing end-to-end energy management solutions for enterprise. EverComm’s core product is aimed at helping enterprises and government organisations identify the most cost-effective way to manage and improve energy efficiency. The technology combines the analysis of energy consumption and data from the sensor networks to figure out how to reduce energy wastage.