Keep things simple. Always try to focus on one to two key things at any one point and do them very, very well. In today’s over-cluttered world, it is very easy to want to solve many problems at once, or to even just talk to many people at once.
Desmond Lim is Founder QuikForce, a venture-backed startup that provides on-demand professional moving services. Before QuikForce, he worked as a Product Manager with WeChat, a mobile app with 700 million users, leading up their expansion in North America based out of New York City. Desmond also worked as an investment banker with Bank of America Merrill Lynch where he helped the team to raise capital of up to $2.5 billion working with Fortune 500 companies. He founded his own company at age 17, Perfectscore Education, a platform connecting tutors to students, and co-founded a Thai food restaurant at age 22 which he successfully sold within three years. Desmond attended Harvard University and conducted research on the Internet of Things (IoT) at MIT Media Lab, focusing on 3D scanning, printing, laser cutting, and electronics programming. In addition, Desmond is a huge sports fan who represented the Singapore National Youth Team in basketball, ran the New York City Triathlon, and is an avid surfer. He has also traveled to over 45 countries and speaks Mandarin and Korean.
Where did the idea for QuikForce come from?
My father has been a mover for the past 35 years and I grew up helping him to move. Both my parents only finished 4th grade and I am the first in my family to go to school and come to America. Both my parents were very diligent, working 14 hours 7 days a week to make ends meet, but did not know how to use technology to do their job better. I was inspired by them to work on QuikForce to help moving companies better book, schedule, and manage their moves. In my first year of school at Harvard University, I came up with the idea for creating a software platform to connect moving companies to provide on-demand professional moving services to make home relocation just work.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Our office is currently located at Harvard innovation lab. My typical day starts 6 am when I cycle to Harvard, hit the gym and swim, before going into the office at 8 am to start my work day. It consists of a lot of conference calls, meetings, and business planning. Much of my current work has been focused on the product vision and company strategy, so I have been devoting a lot of my time to that. To make it productive, I like to get up early, get my dose of exercise, and set a clear set of goals I plan to hit for the day and for the week.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As Paul Graham, the Founder of Y-Combinator has shared, think about the things in life that you wished had been simpler. It could be trying to plan a travel trip, get to school when it’s snowing, or easily relocate to a new city without the hassle and time spent on it. If you could have life simpler and easier, what can you do to change that?
I started brainstorming about ideas from this perspective and it helped me a great deal to put ideas into perspective and come up with creative ideas. Also, another inspirational person in my life, Masayonshi Son, the Founder of Softbank (owns the largest stake in Alibaba) made it a point to come up with one idea per day when he was in college and that helped him to come up with a long list of ideas to choose from and create ideas or companies with. I have started practicing that too, and it helped me a great deal to think out of the box and come up with creative ideas.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The perspective of more automation using artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). I have conducted research at MIT Media Lab on the intersection of software and hardware and using computer science to make things smarter and easier to use. I think there is a lot of rooms to improve and to change in this area. One big focus at QuikForce has also been to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help moving companies better schedule and plan their moves and to match consumers to the best moving firms. It is an area that I am truly excited about!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Keep things simple. Always try to focus on one to two key things at any one point and do them very, very well. In today’s over-cluttered world, it is very easy to want to solve many problems at once or to even just talk to many people at once. I strive daily to be extra focused and to work on that one to two things that are the most important for QuikForce, and that will make moving simple for the customers and moving firms that I serve.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Before QuikForce, I have started three other business ventures and I always enjoyed bringing an idea to life. After graduation, I went on to work at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for three years. I learned a lot about how large companies function, and the organizational structure and reporting of teams. I also gained an international perspective by learning from an international company. However, I quickly learned that my true calling laid in working on bringing ideas to life, creating products and working in entrepreneurial teams. I was glad that I have had that experience as it helped me to realize what I enjoyed most at a fairly early age.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have learned to spend more and quicker on creating an awesome product. I was too cautious from the start and tried to bootstrap and save money on the technological side of things and thinking back, the product development could have moved along faster if I had made more decisive choices.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn to break rules. I think it is very easy to stick to rules and go by the book. I think that all entrepreneurs should learn to think out of the box, and dare to make “small hacks”, to be creative, and to learn to break rules.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Hire smart people with integrity. I think this is the one thing as a founder that is very important. You need to hire people with the right fit for the company, and that to me is hiring a group of people who are very smart with the right mentality and culture fit for the company.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Back in Singapore, I worked on an online food delivery platform with popular restaurants in the central business district. It was a great idea but was challenging as the food delivery business required a lot of logistics planning and manpower. I had managed to raise angel funding from the Singapore Government and influential angel investors in Asia but decided against continuing (gave back all funding) as I believed that I was not in the right moment in life to pursue it (I went on to attend Harvard and MIT).
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Think about your life around you, and if you could have had one app (web or mobile) to solve a pain point, what would it be? For me, I would like to create a business that will make my family and friends be more healthy by doing more exercise and choosing the right food to eat.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Incorporating QuikForce and officially starting the business to provide on-demand professional moving services!
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Start-up Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. Singapore and Israel are similar in size and have had to face a lot of economic and political challenges to come to today’s status. I like the book start-up nation as it taught me a lot about the grit, fighting spirit and determination of Israeli’s and what caused them to be so entrepreneurial and creative.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Paul Graham – Co–Founder of Y-Combinator, runs a great blog talking not only about YC but also about how founders, entrepreneurs, and start-ups should think about things.
Raymond Chang – Serial entrepreneur and lead investor in QuikForce. He has founded and started several successful ventures in the US and Asia, including Gigamedia, which Raymond successfully listed on NASDAQ as CEO after a strategic investment by Microsoft. He is also a lecturer of entrepreneurship at Yale University and Babson College.
Yoav Shapira – Chief Product Officer at Jana, and investor in QuikForce. Yoav has been a great mentor to QuikForce and is one of the top thinkers in areas of entrepreneurship and start-ups. He helped build Boston’s tech giant HubSpot, tackled emotional well-being at Happier and is a serial entrepreneur.
Gabriel Fong – Former Chairman of GoGoVan, a Series C startup providing Uber for Delivery and investor in QuikForce. He is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Jaarvis Labs, a venture fund focused on marketplaces and IoT. He has also had a successful 20-year career in private equity and finance.
Desmond Lim on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mynameisdesmond
Desmond Lim on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/desmond-lim/17/a5/303
Desmond Lim on Twitter: @mynameisdesmond
Desmond Lim on Instagram: https://instagram.com/mynameisdesmond/