PEOPLE

JUN 22, 2016

How Lawrence Ng Built a $200M Company Before He Turned 30

how lawrence ng built a $200m company before he turned 30   |   By Stephen Liu

Lawrence Ng Privy Profile Interview Cover Photo

Occupation: Serial Entrepreneur, Investor

Based in: Taipei, Los Angeles

Last Education: University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

 

When others retreat, Lawrence Ng fearlessly advances - and gets results.

When the dot-com bubble collapsed in 2000, investors quickly fled the wreckage. At that time, building an internet-based company wasn’t an attractive prospect.

Lawrence Ng, however, wasn't deterred. He understood how to convert internet traffic into profit, using the search engine optimization and marketing strategies he learned at his previous job at Smartpath (one of the victims in the dot-com collapse).

Excited to utilize this knowledge, he co-founded Oversee.net with Startpath colleage Fred Hsu that year. They started off with only $10,000 in initial capital and a 400-square-foot office in a sketchy Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood. The internet company steadily and organically grew into a business worth $200 million in annual revenue in under a decade - all before Ng turned 30.

Oversee became a giant in the domain name industry, receiving several awards in 2007, including Best Places to Work and Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies from “Los Angeles Business Journal.” Lawrence Ng received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Greater Los Angeles in the Technology category.

In 2008, Ng sold the majority of his shares to private equity firm Oak Hill Capital, and has since resided as Oversee's Chairman of the Board.

But keeping up with his entrepreneurial spirit, Ng founded SimplyBridal.com in 2011. He started the company after realizing how much his friends were overpaying for their wedding dresses. The the online bridal retailer with physical showrooms cuts out the middleman and makes high quality dresses affordable for brides and bridesmaids. Bridal gowns range from $200 to $1800, and come in sizes 0 to 30. SimplyBridal has been featured in VentureBeat.

In 2015, Ng launched a new venture, OnRamp Fund, written up in Business Wire, an early stage startup incubator that works closely with select portfolio companies.

He is also the principal at his own asset management company, LNG MGMT, which focuses on investments such as private equity, venture capital and real estate, especially real estate in the Asian markets.

In 2015, Lawrence Ng was selected as Finalist for an Asian Business Award by “Los Angeles Business Journal.”

 

1.

 

You’ve founded several successful companies. What do you think gives you that x-factor that drives you into entrepreneurship?

 

I’ve always been driven to look for opportunities that have not been “discovered.” In 2000, when most people were focused on the dot-com bust, I envisioned how the Internet could change advertising and add performance metrics. At Oversee, I used my knowledge of search technology and focused on driving search-based traffic to advertisers. This created new revenue streams for Oversee and drove us to find new methodologies and approaches. And with this vision, we grew the company from 3 employees to a team of 250 without raising any outside funding. This eventually led to me selling a majority interest in Oversee to Oak Hill Capital in 2008 when they invested $150 million. We also incubated many new businesses at Oversee which were successful and this had impacted my new company, LNG Management. We look for companies and ideas which could disrupt an existing industry or bring completely new technology to the world.

 

I really like to dig into how something is built, why an industry operates the way it does and then think about how I could make an industry more efficient and transparent. The bridal industry is extremely fragmented. The Internet was radically changing how people planned their weddings. After attending a number of my friends’ weddings and seeing them consistently overspend, I realized there was a great opportunity to bring efficiency and transparency to this market. The cost of a wedding dress, for example, is being marked up significantly from the seamstress to the bride because of the added layers of middlemen. That’s why I founded SimplyBridal. SimplyBridal was founded on the premise that we could make the whole process easier and more affordable by offering high quality product at reasonable prices, made accessible online and offline, while leveraging our technology expertise. And we’ve succeeded in doing that. We’ve assembled an all-star team across online and offline retail. The best part of my job is to hear the feedback from brides and listen to the joy that SimplyBridal has brought them.

 

2.

 

Who were your business role models when you were starting Oversee.net at the age of 21? How does it feel to now be a role model yourself?

 

I like to help young entrepreneurs whenever I can. Following “giants” like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Andy Grove always interested me and I read and listened to what they said about building a business, developing the right technology and hiring the talented individuals who could help grow a company. Starting out you need a certain skill set, but that evolves as the company grows and a scalable infrastructure is needed.

 

Andy Grove once said about small businesses growing into large ones: “There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance.”

 

3.

 

One of the primary focuses of your asset management firm is venture capital. With your background in starting businesses from scratch, what qualities do you look for in a startup that will warrant your interest/investment?

 

First and foremost, the individual running the startup needs to “see” a real opportunity that has the potential to disrupt an industry. It’s essential that they know the landscape and understand both the status quo and the existing competition. The founders must have the passion, tenacity and discipline that give them the freedom to make difficult decisions. In the end, they have to be able to articulate their vision for the startup and their plans for growth.

 

4.

 

Your management firm also invests in Asian real estate markets. What attracts you to real estate in Asia? 

 

Real estate in Asia is a more inefficient asset class when compared to the market in the US. While public equities and fixed income are considered traditional investments in the US, smaller Asian investors put a lot more of their individual assets into real estate and trade assets at inopportune times. There are great opportunities to buy when less sophisticated investors panic and look to exit.

 

5.

 

Speaking of real estate, you own several places across many Asian cities yourself: Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong and Tokyo. With your extensive knowledge of Asia’s landscape, which city is your favorite to frequent?

 

Since I currently live in Taipei, I will have to exclude that from the list. Of all the cities I travel to in Asia, Tokyo is by far my favorite. Tokyo is unlike any other city I’ve been to. When I travel to other cities, I can always find something that reminds me of another city. Tokyo is completely opposite. There are times I walk around the city and feel as if I was on another planet.

 

6.

 

What are your top 5 favorite restaurants to eat at in Taipei?

 

Orange Shabu Shabu

Gwoo Chicken

Shinyeh

Du Xiao Yue

 

7.

 

Tell us about your philanthropic organization, the Lawrence C Ng Family Foundation.

 

I have always been passionate about supporting education initiatives, especially for those that are less fortunate. Through my foundation, we have helped to support charter schools in LA and NY. I have recently been chatting with the founders of Bridge Community Learning. They are looking to build a school in downtown LA that uses a project-based learning curriculum. Project-based learning empowers students to develop knowledge and skills through an extended period of time investigating and responding to complex questions, problems, or challenges. Not only does it make learning fun, it really challenges children to problem-solve and overcome obstacles on their own. I believe this is the future of education in the US, and it is the best way to equip our future generations to compete in our current ever-evolving digital age and global economy.

 

8.

 

What do you like about Privy and the promise it offers?

 

I’ve met some great friends through Privy. Privy brings together a global network of diverse backgrounds, and you know that you will always meet someone who is doing something interesting. Through Privy, I believe Steve will continue to do great things for the Asian community.

 

9.

 

Onto the Fun Stuff!

 

Lawrence-Ng-Oversee

 

Current relationship status:
Single

If single, the qualities/lifestyle factors do you seek in a partner:
1.  Grateful for what she has in life
2.  Has her own interests & passions
3.  Exercises & stays healthy
4.  Supportive of her partner

My last meal on Earth would be:
Sushi

Home away from home:
Tokyo

Dream vacation:
Antarctica

Essential wardrobe item:
Watch

Essential gadget:
A portable battery pack since our smartphones can do almost everything now.

Last great book I read:
“Accidental Empires” by Robert X. Cringely

 

Photo Credits: Lawrence Ng, DN Journal

 

 

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