From Entrepreneur to Angel: Douglas Khoo’s Journey

Giving back’ is important, and that giving is not just about money

Landscape more competitive now, anyone with an idea can be an entrepreneur

THE entrepreneur playbook, as dictated by Silicon Valley, is for entrepreneurs who successfully exit to become angel investors and/ or philanthropists.

Malaysian angel investor Douglas Khoo (pic above), also a principal at The Coding Shophouse, faced a similar turning point after exiting Qunar.com.

Qunar was only among the few startups he had cofounded, but the travel website was his most famous after it was acquired by Chinese search giant Baidu in 2011 for a whopping US$306 million.

“After I exited the company, besides playing golf every day, I decided to invest some of my money in startups,” Khoo said at Echelon Asia Summit 2016, the startup and investor gathering organised by Singapore-based tech blog e27.

“It was not so much about the need to generate more money, but to have access to startups and provide mentorship to them,” he added.

The problem is, after you have one successful travel startup, you tend to attract more of the same. In the startup world, like attracts like 

“Once you do travel, every other travel startup wants to have you as an advisor or on its board,” said Khoo.

“When I started investing in companies, the tendency was that because I knew the category well, I would try to help them along,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of the conference.

“But I felt that travel was pretty much done to death – it was just variations of the same theme and there was not much innovation,” he added 

So Khoo decided to diversify. He has got four travel startups under his belt, but the other four are in different fields, including a drone startup and Vibease – yeah, a remote-controlled vibrator company.

“I wanted to start diversifying and see if there was an opportunity to learn about different industries,” he added, declining to disclose details about his other investments.

Why Douglas Khoo Believes Coding is The New Language and What He’s Doing About It

It is simply not enough to earn a classic degree from a prestigious university anymore as digital technology ‘disrupts’ virtually every industry, from farming to hospitality.

The pace at which businesses produce new technologies that are capable of changing the way we live and operate is incredible and shows few signs of slowing down.

Scuttling through the maze of startup booths at Echelon Asia 2016 could only be proof of that, as hundreds of individuals proudly displayed their life’s work, in hopes of securing funding to take their ideas to the next phase of development.

We live in undoubtedly exciting times, but the question arises as to how long we can keep up this level of innovation. The need to incorporate digital skills into our education system is now more pressing than ever. If we are going to keep up the momentum, we need to feel confident that the next generation is prepared!

One individual taking matters into his own hands is angel investor and serial entrepreneur, Douglas Khoo, who opened his own coding and programming academy in Malaysia.

“As an angel investor, one of the key issues that I always find is that there isn’t enough developers out there… I thought maybe it’d be good for us to put up an organisation where we can actually train young adults,” he said at Echelon Asia.

Khoo started The Coding Shophouse in Penang to provide young 20-somethings with the opportunity to develop essential programming skills that would prove useful in the new digital economy. “It’s for anyone who is above 20 years, currently working in Starbucks or a McDonald’s but wants to learn a different profession.”

The Coding Shophouse provides short (2 to 3 months) coding courses ranging from basic programming to how to build an Android app. The courses are heavily subsidised and followed by internship placements in Malaysia-based startups.

It is easy to envision a world in the not so distant future where programming is as natural as a second language but Khoo predicts that “any student of the future, when asked what language they speak, will include coding language. It’s going to be the norm in 10 years time.”

It’s Not Always KL: Here Are 10 Startup Companies That Started In Penang

The Coding Shophouse was set up by Douglas Khoo, an investor and serial entrepreneur who founded Qunar.com, which Baidu acquired a major stake (306mi USD) in 2011. Aiming to grow Penang’s tech ecosystem further, he decided to start The Coding Shophouse in Georgetown, Penang, hoping to create a training house to arm deserving youths with enough knowledge to run their own startup or join other startups.

The Coding Shophouse offer courses in multiple programming languages from HTML to RubyOnRails. Founded in 2014, the first batch of graduates consists of 15 students and the course runs for 3 months.

Malaysia’s Startup Ecosystem: It’s Not Always About KL

Too much ‘noise’ in the capital, Penang has tech heritage

His coding academy to address shortage of programmers in Malaysia

THE startup scene in the northern Malaysian state of Penang has certainly been picking up, helped in no small part by the efforts of Piktochart and Tech Event 4 Penang (TE4P) in stirring the pot. 

And now, serial entrepreneur and angel investor Douglas Khoo aims to grow Penang’s tech ecosystem further, not only by investing, but through education.

He told the Echelon Malaysia 2015 conference in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 1 that Kuala Lumpur (KL) is “too noisy” for him.

This is why he chose Penang to build his latest project, a coding academy called The Coding Shophouse, to grow the number of local programmers.

“There are too many activities happening (in KL). We have many accelerators. I feel we should take [accelerators] to other places as well,” said Khoo, also the cofounder of Chinese-language online travel site Qunar.com.

“Penang is kind of a nice place, it is a close community, full of technology heritage … as many silicon chip manufacturers are based here,” he said at the startup and investor conference organised by Singapore-headquartered regional startup blog e27.

Angel Investor Douglas Khoo is Growing Tech Talent in Penang

Veteran founder Douglas Khoo has been building up the Penang ecosystem through The Coding Shophouse, launched to help Malaysian startups hire local developers

Douglas Khoo, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, has been keeping busy these days.

After co-founding and exiting a number of Internet businesses including Qunar.com and Shawei.com, which were acquired by Baidu and Lee Ka-shing’s Tom.com respectively, he’s now been spending a lot of his time building up the Penang ecosystem.

His latest project is the city’s newest coding school and social enterprise, ‘The Coding Shophouse,’ which was spawned to build up the technical talent pool in Penang and plug it back into the Malaysian ecosystem.

“It’s a key issue that I’ve seen as an angel investor, I’ve spoken to a lot of startups and they feel there are not enough coders in Malaysia. We are farming programming jobs out to Indonesia and Vietnam and outsourcing development to those countries.”

Although they’re just one batch in, The Coding Shophouse has already successfully graduated all 15 students from a Ruby on Rails-focussed programme and they’re almost all interested in doing their own startup. Ahead of their next cohort, Khoo said they must build a pool of committed instructors to run the courses and mentor students. The next programme will be more structured and focus on a new programming language.

On top of that, there have been a number of Internet companies in Penang already interested in accepting intern developers from the Coding Shophouse, telling Khoo: “We’ll take as many as you can produce.”

He also revealed that if the coding school fares well in Penang, the next step would be to bring the concept to smaller cities in Malaysia that need the support.