11/07/2021
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Student-entrepreneur who makes it to Forbes’ list

When Ong Yong Xun was still in Form 5 several years ago, one day his parents drove him to a night tuition class.

On the way, he suddenly realized that there would be a test later on but he hadn't prepared for it.

So he turned on the torchlight app on his phone and did his last-minute revision inside the car.

It wasn't easy reading inside the car, and he was wondering whether there was any mobile app in the market that would help students do their revision.

Ong later did a small research and found nothing that would satisfy the needs of students like him.

That was when the idea of setting up JomStudy began to take shape inside his heart.

Unfortunately due to his very busy schedule having to prepare for SPM and then Form 6, he couldn't afford any time to do it, until he finished his STPM.

Self-taught programming

You need to know some programming skills in order to set up a mobile application, and this is what Ong was totally unfamiliar with.

So he took the trouble of learning it from the internet.

Back then he was using Google, YouTube and online forums like Stack Overflow to learn programming.

"You can ask any question on these forums and learn to build an app," he said.

It took Ong approximately six months to put up the JomStudy app.

The app has been available for free download since last June, and managed to chalk up more than 10,000 downloads in just four months.

After one year, Ong said today the app boasts over 20,000 downloads with at least 10,000 active users.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic that kept many students at home much of last year, JomStudy instantly became a great helper for students doing their studies at home.

All Form 4 and Form 5 compulsory subjects such as Chinese, biology, chemistry, physics, accounting, add maths, etc. are currently available at JomStudy. Some of the revision notes have been personally compiled by Ong himself while others are provided by content providers he has hired.

Accounting knowhow to manage business

Additionally, JomStudy also offers information on further studies for students through collaboration with institutions of higher learning in the country.

Ong is currently running the app singlehandedly, although he has plans to set up a company and hire full-time staff.

However, setting up a company will invariably entail huge sums of capital and other hidden costs. More importantly, he is still a first year accounting student at a local private university and may not have time to take care of both his business and studies.

Although programming is a skill he needs a lot, Ong didn't opt to take computer science or another related course because he believed he could learn programming online as long as he put in some effort.

Talking about ambition, he said he had wished to become an entrepreneur while he was still in high school.

"But I didn't know which business I should go into."

As for accounting, he believed his accounting knowledge should help him better manage his JomStudy business in future and how to institute good financial planning.

Sharing the knowledge

Ong was chosen as one of the "Forbes 30 Under 30". He admitted that he did not expect himself to get this accolade. He believed he was chosen because his JomStudy had offered timely assistance to students during the global pandemic as students had to stay home and do their e-learning.

That probably explains why the app has received largely positive feedback from many a satisfied user on App Store or Google Play.

JomStudy is offered freely for students to download. However, to sustain the app's operation, Ong has not ruled out the possibility of incorporating advertisements in future although one thing that will remain unchanging is that he will keep allowing students to freely use the revision notes on JomStudy.

Today, he spends about 40% of his time managing JomStudy, 40% on his studies and 20% on recreational activities, including teaching piano part-time.

He said jokingly that indeed he had thought of quitting school to start his business like Bill Gates, but just didn't have the guts to actually do it.

He said a university degree could serve as an assurance, and he can always become an accountant or auditor in case something happens to his business one day.

Ong was one of the speakers at Cahaya Sin Chew's online forum in March, sharing his experience with high school students and his philosophy that we should share our knowledge to help more people, as he has learned how to program through the selfless sharing of many other people on top of the vast network resources over the past one year.

He encourages young people to boldly step out of their comfort zones and keep trying new things, especially those keen to start a tech business.

"Without venturing out of our comfort zones and try out new things, we will never know where our abilities and limitations lie."

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