Discovering the N-House Creatures That Live Among Us – Auston Quek
Hi Auston! Welcome back after being away from KR for a whole year! Where did you go for NUS Overseas College (NOC), and how was the application like?
I went to Silicon Valley for NOC and the application was pretty smooth! I had two interviews with NOC, and once I got through that, I started interviews with the different companies that NOC set me up with – Skype interviews with the start-ups based in the Bay Area!
Did you do any relevant internships beforehand? What were the interview questions like?
I did a digital marketing intern with a local start-up called exchangebuddy! The NOC interview questions mostly revolved around personality, culture fit; they love to ask questions about things outside of academics (basketball, YEP, exchangebuddy, etc.). They wanted to know why I wanted to do start-ups and wanted to understand my passion, and what drives me! And also if I would survive a year away from home. If you are not in the right mindset and not ready to work your butts off, then you will burn out fast, so they needed to make sure.
Night Cycling 2017, when Auston was still a loyal KR resident :_)
After you got the NOC offer, were there any other preparations you had to do (e.g. looking for a company) and how did you go about doing them?
Yes! We then had to sit through all the interviews that NOC connected us with, based on our preferences! I had to do tons of prep – every interview was different and I had to research on the company, pitch myself based on what they were looking for, and provide a lot of reactive responses! For the company I eventually accepted, I applied for a sales role and the founder put me on a client call and asked me to sell the software to him! It was super fun, and totally unexpected. I got lucky!
What company did you work for during NOC?
Workstream – a hiring software for the hourly workforce. We are an applicant tracking software, that helps brands like Subway, Carl's Jr, Jamba Juice hire faster via texting! I was doing sales and growth – inside sales! I had to scrape for my own leads, A/B test outbound email sequences, get on calls, demos, negotiate for pricing, and eventually close the deal! It was super fun, and you see the immediate impact! Apart from sales and growth, I worked on partnerships. I also touched customer success for two months! (wow so many !! Exclamation !! marks !! must be !! really !! FUn!!!!)
What was one thing about NOC which you did not expect?
How real the internship was. Entrusting a Singaporean boy who spoke Singlish to meet real clients and close deals was really brave of the company! The trust that the companies have in interns shocked me. It was great for growth, and I am super thankful! My greatest takeaway would be the network and connections made in the Bay Area. From investors, to business owners, to my own teammates who are amazing at their work, yet so very helpful!
Wassap my name Aus
Has NOC changed your perspective on life?
NOC changed my life! It taught me to be comfortably uncomfortable and that we are not that far off from the Stanford kids and founders of these tech giants. We just need to be brave enough to pursue it, and not be afraid to ask for help from anyone even if it's Elon Musk. Find a way to reach out; I learned that people tend to be helpful, so just ask!
Are you doing anything outside of school/hall now? Any start-up related things?
Yes! I am working on a point of sale (POS) software with my NOC housemate that we won a grant for! We want to provide brick and mortar stores a smart POS, where they can make more data driven decisions to make sure they are sustainable and profitable always. We are currently still validating the idea, and we are getting positive feedback, which is encouraging!
What is being part of N-House like? What’s the point structure like?
N-House is great – they equip us with tools and networks to make our ideas work! Point structure is still very raw as we just moved to KR and Sheares, but it is largely based on attendance at N-House events.
What are some of the events N-House have? Are they open to public?
Investments in Southeast Asia – where we invite venture capitals to share their thoughts on what is next in Southeast Asia, etc. We have an event every Wednesday and most are open to the public! We’ve already had very exciting event guests such as Grab Ventures, MDI Ventures and Temasek – let me know if you’re keen to join in on our events!!
Hit me up! No guarantee that I’ll answer because I might be busy working on my next big idea!!
That’s all from Auston Quek (B Block, Year 4 FASS)! Although he has turned from a KR top ambassador to KR phantom, do say hi to him when you see him around!