founder, Longhorn is on a mission to improve access to education founder, Longhorn is on a mission to improve access to education

Abigail Rosenthal in

November | December 2022And the TXEX

on me

November 1, 2022 at 7:00 am

Peng Ong at Monk’s Hill places of work in Singapore.

Peng Ong nonetheless remembers the primary time he found a pc. He was about 13 years previous, earlier than MacBooks sat on desks and tables all over the place, and the TRS-80 mini pc system was on sale at a division retailer in his hometown of Singapore.

“I used to be standing there enjoying with one of many computer systems, and I began programming it,” Ong says. “It was a waste of time as a result of each time you program it, it goes away, and somebody resets it. Nevertheless it was a good way to fiddle with it.”

That love of computer systems led Ong on a world journey to the College of Texas, behind the scenes as one of many founders of, and now again to Singapore as an investor and advisor behind dozens of tech corporations.

Ong, BS ’86, a Life member, had by no means visited Texas earlier than coming to Utah – most all the pieces he knew in regards to the state was primarily based on the cowboys and oilmen he noticed with them Dallas. Nevertheless it was probably the greatest pc science schools on the planet, and tuition was about $40 per credit score hour when he utilized – cheaper than his residence college in Singapore. He enrolled as {an electrical} engineering pupil, revealing among the secrets and techniques behind the computer systems that fascinated him.

“It is the fundamentals about computer systems,” he says. “I prefer to know the best way to play at work.”

After his time at UT, Ong instantly packed his automobile and headed north to get his grasp’s diploma in pc science from the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the place he labored as a software program engineer at Gensym, Sybase, and Illustra after graduating. After that, Ong met Gary Kremin, who additionally studied in Illinois and went on to earn an MBA from Stanford College. Combining Ong’s information of computer systems and software program with Karimen’s enterprise sense, they determined to kind an organization. The pair landed on the concept of ​​area of interest digital classifieds. Initially, they registered a number of domains that they may observe.

“We had all of the domains — we even owned,” Ong says. “At this level, you possibly can rating something.” However Ong merely says that just one firm has grow to be a full-fledged firm:, one of many first courting websites, launched in 1995.

Initially, Kremen and Ong deliberate to incorporate the telephone, electronic mail, and net element of earlier than dropping all the pieces else to give attention to only a web site, matching these on the lookout for a date or relationship in a single handy place. However the give attention to a web site created one drawback distinctive to the web scene within the Nineteen Nineties.

“At that time, our demographics have been like 90 p.c of males, so we ended up advertising to girls solely,” Ong laughs. “That was the web on the time: only a bunch of engineers.”

Ong left in 1996, the identical yr as Kremen, to start out his subsequent firm, Interwoven.

“[At Match,] I discovered in regards to the significance of getting the appropriate management,” Ong says. “You could have so many individuals working collectively, placing issues right into a life-important activity referred to as the web site, and folks breaking down the web site on a regular basis as a result of the workflow is not managed correctly.”

Recognizing his background in engineering might assist discover options to content material administration points he noticed at Ong went on to discovered software program improvement firm Interwoven in 1996 and Encentuate, which created a product for id and entry administration software program that IBM later acquired. , in 2002.

Ong in Singapore, 2022.

He now works as a managing associate at Monk’s Hill Ventures, a Singapore enterprise capital fund that invests in early stage companies, which he co-founded in 2014. Ong says Monk’s Hill invests primarily in technology-enabled corporations — those who use present expertise to make issues Extra environment friendly within the every day lives of these in rising markets (or, areas with nonetheless growing economies), the place they’ll take advantage of affect. One instance is ErudiFi, which helps college students in Southeast Asia pay for tuition by partnering with faculties to separate prices over a number of months somewhat than one huge cost at first of the varsity yr – one thing that has been an actual drawback for households throughout COVID- 19 pandemic.

“Most of our corporations are pretty influential,” Ong says. “I might say, in the event you’re investing in rising markets, you are usually an affect investor. Although you are simply targeted on constructing the earnings of an amazing firm, all of these issues, individuals are not going to pay you their hard-earned cash in the event you do not assist them” .

However exterior of his enterprise ventures, Ong is captivated with bettering entry to schooling world wide. In 2014, Ong was invited to present a speech on the African Innovation Summit in Cape Verde on knowledge-based economies, the place somebody identified that for a knowledge-based financial system you want information staff. Over the course of the convention, he met with different leaders and commenced discussing points associated to schooling.

“Schooling is among the greatest funded charitable giving classes on the planet, and there’s nonetheless chaos for a number of causes. One is corruption – cash does not go to kids’s schooling. However the different is simply the sheer scale of the issue and present schooling techniques do not permit it to scale up effectively,” Ong says. “The lamp we had was, you do not really want materials issues. You do not want faculties, you do not want roads, you do not want academics in the event you can obtain placing info immediately into kids’s heads.”

The result’s a non-profit group referred to as Resolve Schooling! The place Ong serves as President. The group has developed an academic sport that’s purported to be out there from wherever, even on low-quality telephones or in locations with spotty Web entry.

Ong additionally stays concerned along with his college, serving on the Worldwide Advisory Board (IBA) at UT.

“Peng is a visionary and devoted Longhorn chief with a ardour for UT college students and college, in addition to the worldwide mission of UT,” says Henning Kreke, President of IBA. “He’s on the forefront of the tech trade, considering huge, inspiring others, and consistently difficult IBA to drive growth.”

And with all his tech expertise Ong continues to be targeted on making issues work higher.

“That is the engineer in me, who believes which you can construct issues to enhance individuals’s lives,” he says.

Credit score: Juliana Tan

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