From laying off 35% of its employees in April, to becoming a publicly traded company valued at $4.8 billion via merger with Social Capital Hedosophia in September, Opendoor has been the talk of the tech world as they reinvent how people buy and sell homes.

Opendoor’s co-founder, Ian Wong, spoke about the company’s meteoric rise at a recent TechTO event. Beyond the headlines, massive valuation, and all the trappings of success–when you hear the process behind scaling to unicorn status is fraught with trials and tribulations common to many a startup venture, it gives you greater perspective and confidence in pursuing your own ambitions. Their team certainly has grit, considering they’ve been on the journey since 2013, which I had been following closely as I formed my own Proptech business around the same time. Ian shared a few points about his experiences in building the team behind a once-in-a-generation company:

  • Look at talent as T-shaped. Find people that are well-versed in a particular area of expertise, yet with the ability to collaborate across disciplines.
  • Everyone must take ownership of their work, for instance doing what you say, or shipping on time.
  • Have a shipping cadence in one to two week sprints, with a sense of urgency to deliver better software continuously for your customers, as they are the highest priority.
  • Perform weekly retros to determine where you can improve.
  • Evangelize, reinforce, preach, and educate on the vision constantly.
  • Write good documentation about your company’s knowledge-base, which will make it easier to scale teams.
  • Hire not only for skills, but more importantly values, and mission.

Year of the Rat

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.

– Marcus Aurelius
Year of the Rat

The Lunar New Year took place on January 25, 2020, and marked the beginning of the Year of the Rat; first of all zodiac animals in the 12-year cycle. As I come from a half Singaporean background, Chinese New Year had always been a deep-rooted tradition. My zodiac animal happens to be that of a Rat; representing Yang, and the beginning of a new day. In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus, a notion which I happily accept. They are clever, quick thinkers; successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life. Sensitive to others’ emotions, but stubborn with their opinions.