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Whiz-kid targets Silicon Valley

MAKING HIS MARK: Mr Lo is co-founder of Pixelapse, a Y Combinator-backed start-up based in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley


    Aug 20, 2014

    Whiz-kid targets Silicon Valley

    IN 2004, he graduated at the top of his class at Nanyang Polytechnic, with a diploma in information technology. His GPA was 3.97 out of four, and he was given the gold award for being the top graduate.

    The following year, he won the gold medal at the World Skills Competition in Helsinki - a biennial competition that draws talent from all over the world to pit their vocational skills against each other.

    In the same year, he was conferred the IT Youth Award by the Singapore Computer Society for his contributions to the local IT field.

    Lo Min Ming was making his mark in Singapore but, in 2007, he decided to move to California to pursue his bachelor's and master's in computer science at Stanford University, which offers one of the top computer science programmes in the world.

    Today, the 30-year-old is co-founder of Pixelapse, a Y Combinator-backed start-up based in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley.

    When he started Pixelapse, Mr Lo did not receive any support from Singapore agencies. Instead, the start-up sought out other means of support.

    In 2012, it went through two programmes: Y Combinator, which has funded over 700 start-ups including Dropbox and Airbnb since 2005; and StartX, which is a non-profit business incubator associated with Stanford University.

    Every summer that he was at Stanford, Mr Lo did different things. The first year, he was hired as an engineering intern at the now-defunct start-up, Buzzeo. It was there that he got his first taste of entrepreneurship.

    The next summer, he interned as a user experience designer at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, working on the Google Maps project.

    At Google, he gained an entirely different experience of working in a large corporation versus a start-up.

    Following his experience with Google California, Mr Lo got into the Stanford programme in Beijing and went on to intern at Google Beijing. In the summer of his junior year at Stanford, he interned at Microsoft's headquarters in Seattle.

    Mr Lo started Pixelapse in January 2012 partly because he wanted to work faster and get products out there quicker.

    "At a big company, you are paid well with good benefits. There are fewer risks, and everything is taken care of; you can sleep at night," he said.

    "But I think what prevented me from joining a big firm right after graduation was that you tend to get bogged down by company politics, and things don't move so fast."

    He co-founded the start-up to eliminate the inefficiencies he experienced during his stint at Google.

    The start-up creates a version-control platform for designers (think Github for programmers), based in Palo Alto.

    Pixelapse's goal is to provide a platform that allows designers to share their works and to collaborate on projects.

    It also simplifies the version-control process, which backs up multiple changes to design work as it happens.

    Based on his varied experiences with business technology, Mr Lo chose to set up his operation in Silicon Valley.

    "Silicon Valley is at the technological forefront," he said.

    "It's always the first in the cycle. You have great companies and universities like Stanford and Berkeley here.

    "Every time there's the next Facebook or Twitter created here, you see a lot of wealth, and this wealth is channelled back to the Valley to create the following Facebook or Twitter; it keeps going on. The cycle creates this wealth of innovation."