Ye Wint Ko,24, is a Myanmar young entrepreneur, leading the startup, Bindez. They are making search engine for Myanmar people. Their search engine will be able to use in Myanmar language. He is very young. His story is inspiring. He dropped the medical student life and became a geek. Enjoy the interview!
Tell us about your education life.
I dropped out of Medical University Mandalay in 2007. Graduated in Bachelor of Business Information Technology awarded by University of Greenwich and local institute MCC as a part-time course based in Yangon. During the study, we were trained by successful business and financial leaders, consultants and experienced IT professionals on how technology solutions can solve business problems, impact country’s economic and social life of the people. And I am also inspired by successful technology entrepreneurs, startup founders, investors, military leaders and politicians in local and globally.
Your job experience
I have been spending my life in IT industry since 2008 before graduated, working as a software engineer at several different companies. Singapore became my home for the last two years until I quit my job to start Bindez with my friends. Bindez is an angel-funded small startup based in Yangon primarily focusing on Web archiving, Search and Analytics of web contents in local languages. And also we are developing a Burmese language web search engine dedicated for Myanmar people locally and around the globe.
Your responsibility at Bindez
I brought Bindez to this stage along with my co-founders and I am responsible for technology strategies and driving entire technology team on system architectures, implementation, research and development in Native Language Processing. Startup life, however, requires working cross functionally filling in all the gaps since we have fewer resources to accomplish vision and missions of the company. At Bindez, my daily life is coding, project management, meeting, emailing, skype, mentor engagement and sometimes dealing with investors and company stake holders.
What made you started an own company?
The country’s reform and changes in telecom and banking sector, and the lack of computer systems that can process human languages to better understand people requirements. And I realized developing computer systems that understand Burmese contents is still challenging for us. It requires lots of research and development effort and of course financial support. It was enough reason for us to create Bindez. And also my passion and experience in information retrieval subject motivated me to continue spending my life times in IR field.
Is that a good time to start an own company? (Please answer by reasons)
There were tons of local people who run businesses successfully since several years ago. So I think it is fair to say that it depends on the type of business we like to run. I couldn’t imagine running Internet business a few years back where Internet penetration percentage is almost zero. But now is different. Recent changes in telecom market will definitely keep every citizen stayed connected. It is NOT too early for an Internet startup to go faster, build, fail, learn, rebuild and boom.
What are challenges for you? (You can write as much as you can here)
As usual, startup life is full of challenges, risks and uncertainties. Personally, I have some social and personal issues because of 24/7 full time commitment in this startup life. I have plans to execute tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, but anything can happen at anytime. In terms of business, it is all about competition and survival. We choose to operate in the market that can be packed with big competitors in near future. We will have to find a way to survive.
What is your ambition? (Destination with Bindez and your life ambition)
I dream building a technology product that can impact thousands of people life in the society. While working on search product, Bindez has a vision of driving people to explore more on what they know, see and hear on the web and social media.
What do you see about current political condition Myanmar? Do you think the country is still blocking SME?
I see positive and I believe at least that there is no reason for government to block SMEs. Only stable economic can bring stable politic for any kind of administrative systems in the world.
Do you like team work and why?
It is a must, because no one is perfect. Dispatching tasks to and from each team members is very, very important to get sh*t done.
Could you please share about some technology knowledge that you are using in Bindez?
I was working on several IR projects like document content retrieval and text extraction in my past employments. As always, Apache software foundation, Java and its open source community are our best friends forever. We build our core platform on top of existing mature technologies like Lucene, and for better scalability we are deploying our own Hadoop cluster. So far we have deployed 10 to 20 spiders and indexers to fetch a subset of web and index data every night. We also developed many internal tools to help our researchers build required language resources and a set of algorithms to train the machines to automatically learn new Burmese words by crunching fetched data from the web.
To start a business, what are basic needs? Money?
Money is one of the requirements, but money alone cannot make successful startup. The right solution to the right problem, and the right product for the right market is far more important than money. If you can’t find the right customer segment and product-market fit, your company bank account is useless. So, we have to learn the market. At Bindez, we are still working on product strategies every day to be adaptive to the market and the culture here.
What are the important characteristics of a leader?
Optimism, patient, EQ, understanding and carefulness.
Your messages to young people and entrepreneurs in Myanmar.
Have confident, think positive, talk more, respect each other, go global, know more about local, meet more people, make friends and learn.