Mr Tay Wei Kiat
IT Youth, 2014
The co-founder of social classified start-up, Oompr! Pte Ltd, began his long relationship with IT more than 20 years ago when he first attended computer lessons at the tender age of 4. Soon after picking up programming in 2001 when he was just 13, Wei Kiat would spend hours after school coming up with endless torrents of quirky programmes for use among his peers. Among his many creations during that period were Prosole, a desktop console that allows for natural language interactions in a similar fashion as Apple's Siri; and Noter Light, a collaborative text editor that allows real-time editing by multiple parties, similar to Google Drive.
Wei Kiat was propelled into limelight in 2007 after he created The Wicked, a collaborative online puzzle that The Straits Times hailed as having commanded a "cult-like" following. In light of the immense popularity of the game, Wei Kiat was approached by both M1 Limited and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for licensing deals. Subsequently, an SMS version of the game was launched with M1, and a shortened version of the game was featured on the then new STOMP portal.
Recognising that high cost of textbooks is something that his tertiary peers grapple with every semester, Wei Kiat conceptualised and created BookINBookOUT, a used textbook marketplace, upon joining SMU in 2009. BookINBookOUT helps students gain access to used textbooks that are typically 10-40% cheaper than new ones. Within a year, more than 10,000 local tertiary students had benefitted from the platform. During Q4 of 2010, BookINBookOUT was acquired by a local company, which expanded this platform overseas.
Drawing on the lessons and experiments from BookINBookOUT, Wei Kiat developed a plan to revolutionise the online classified scene, and co-founded Oompr! Pte Ltd in 2012 to realise that dream. The highly ambitious start-up is supported by Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), and received funding through the ACE Start-ups Grant and SMU Academic Affiliate Grant.
Beyond his many successful creations, Wei Kiat is also a familiar face among his cohort due to his heavy involvement in the student community. Wei Kiat held dual responsibilities as the Business Solutions Director of both the School of Information Systems Society (SISS) and Special Interests Community Services Sodality. He was also Teaching Assistant to more than a hundred undergraduates. Wei Kiat was also the brains behind the inaugural Wicked Coding programming tournament that became a yearly tradition in SIS.
The SMU scholar's exceptional leadership, IT and academic capabilities also reaped him numerous accolades, including the very prestigious Future IT Leader Award 2013 from Information Technology Management Association (ITMA), Dean's List placement for four academic years in SMU, and project innovation awards for his Final Year Project from both Standard Chartered Bank and SMU SIS. He is also among the five in his cohort to have graduated with Summa Cum Laude in recognition of his attainment of the highest distinction in his academic results.
Wei Kiat believes in information technology as an instrument of change, and continues to leverage on his skills and expertise for his lifelong quest of "always creating".