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How tech innovator’s AI start-up is making an impact across the world

How tech innovator’s AI start-up is making an impact across the world

Mr Joshua Wong co-founded generative AI platform Hypotenuse AI in 2020
Mr Joshua Wong co-founded generative AI platform Hypotenuse AI in 2020. Photo Credit: SPH

Singapore Digital scholar Joshua Wong leverages the scholarship programme’s network and overseas tech events while running his dream business

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay, but its presence does not have to spell doom for those worried about being replaced by technology, says Mr Joshua Wong.

Instead, the 29-year-old co-founder and chief executive officer of generative AI platform Hypotenuse AI says one can stay relevant by “sticking as close to the frontiers of this technology as possible”.

“This technology is extremely difficult to predict, so my advice is to be aware of it, keep trying it out and use it throughout your different workflows.”

Mr Wong founded Hypotenuse AI in 2020 to create marketing material such as product descriptions, blog articles and social media posts in a way that matches a company’s brand’s voice. The platform is able to generate these within seconds using their proprietary AI.

So far, however, he has not had a customer tell him that they intend to do away with their marketing or copywriting team in favour of his product.

In fact, his intention in founding Hypotenuse AI was to address pain points for companies with limited staff that are struggling to create content.

“We offer a tool to amplify efficiency for existing teams,” explains Mr Wong. “By leveraging Hypotenuse AI, businesses can accelerate workflow, manage content more effectively on a single platform and produce a higher volume of quality content.”

It is this transformative power of technology that attracted him to the industry and entrepreneurship in the first place. “With technology, through the choices you make, through force of will, through innovation, you can change the way things are. You can make things 10 times better.”

Growing a start-up

Today, Hypotenuse AI has over 500,000 users worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies. Top investors, such as famed start-up accelerator Y Combinator, private equity firm January Capital and executives from Amazon, ShopBack and Carousell are backing it.

Last year, Forbes added Mr Wong to its annual 30 Under 30 Asia 2023 list.

Mr Wong may not have predicted his success, but he knew from an early age that he had a keen interest in tech. When he was 11, he was motivated to learn programming and coding after being scammed in an online game.

“I wanted to retaliate by hacking into the scammer's account, but realised the best way to learn how to hack was to first learn how computers worked. So, I used my own pocket money and bought myself a C++ book to start learning how to program.

I hope the technology we have built will make a significant impact in the way things work across companies globally.

Mr Joshua Wong

Recipient of the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Singapore Digital Scholarship

“The more I learnt, the more interested I got. As I delved deeper, instead of hacking, I started to build desktop applications to help with personal productivity instead."

After his national service, he honed his problem-solving skills and “scrappy” resourceful attitude during a stint at ShopBack when it was just starting out with fewer than 10 employees.

“It was fast-paced and intense – we left the office after midnight on many days – but we could immediately see the effect of our work and its impact on users. It was one of the most satisfying jobs I had done.”

So when time came to further his studies, Mr Wong sought a scholarship that would support his tech entrepreneurship dreams without restricting his ambitions.

In 2015, he was offered the Singapore Digital (SG Digital) Scholarship by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). He chose to attend the University of Cambridge where he pursued a computer science degree specialising in AI and machine learning.

“I picked IMDA because it sticks to the spirit of the scholarship, which is to advance and grow the technology ecosystem in Singapore. The scholarship provided me with opportunities to learn the ropes from top industry leaders. The experience I gained overseas was priceless.”

This support came in the form of a job opportunity that Mr Wong received with Amazon right after his graduation. Instead of demanding that he come back to Singapore immediately to serve his bond, IMDA encouraged him to take on the role.

Mr Wong worked with Amazon in the US and UK for two years, and it was during this time – when he was helping to churn out large volumes of product descriptions – that he explored AI models that could help speed up the process.

This led him to start Hypotenuse AI when he returned to Singapore, where he is currently serving his five-year bond in his own start-up.

Tech-ing it to the next level

IMDA empowers its SG Digital scholars to chart their own tech- or media-related path and serve their bond in any organisation and industry in Singapore. The duration of the bond depends on the type of scholarship awarded. Mr Wong says that taking up the scholarship was the start of this exciting journey into AI.

While contemplating which courses to take at Cambridge, senior scholars advised him to focus on those that would impart practical skills.

“I made use of these technical skill sets every day as a software engineer and AI researcher in Amazon, and when I was writing code for Hypotenuse AI,” he says.

At Cambridge, he forged connections that later proved pivotal for Hypotenuse AI’s fund-raising from top global investors such as Y Combinator and in recruitment. “That’s in addition to meeting so many brilliant peers and professors who expanded my view of the world, made me a better judge of talent and continue to inspire me.”

The SG Digital Scholarship also opened doors for networking with fellow scholars and participation in local and overseas tech events, including as a panellist.

Last year, he attended conferences organised by IMDA that brought leading minds to Singapore, including the chief executive officers of OpenAI, which created ChatGPT, and American multinational tech company NVIDIA.

The events gave Hypotenuse AI much-needed exposure and attracted customers. With the company poised to grow further as more businesses embrace AI, it plans to expand its staff, which currently includes team members across Singapore, the Philippines and United States.

With all the support they have received from IMDA, Mr Wong and his team have been paying it forward by contributing to Singapore’s tech ecosystem, both through sharing with other tech entrepreneurs and grooming the next generation of software engineers through Hypotenuse AI’s own internship programme.

Mr Wong’s ambitions are big, but his idea of success is very simple.

"I hope the technology we built will make a significant difference and impact in the way things work globally. We want to unlock a new level of creativity and productivity through technology in a way that benefits everyone."

Choose different with the SG Digital Scholarship today. Learn more.


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