Prenetics Co-Founder Danny Yeung On The Less Glamorous Side Of Entrepreneurship
In 2020, serial entrepreneur Danny Yeung was hitting his stride with his startup Prenetics, seeing success with its consumer-facing genetic testing brand, Circle DNA. And then Covid hit.
Realising he had the labs, the talent and the tenacity to help, Danny quickly pivoted the business. To date, Prenetics has conducted more than six million Covid-19 tests globally, helping to curb the spread of the virus and keep the world running during the pandemic.
The company’s successful pivot led to breakneck growth and a surging valuation. In September this year, Prenetics announced it would become the first unicorn company from Hong Kong to publicly list, via a SPAC merger that will put the company on the Nasdaq at a valuation of US$1.7 billion.
So how did Danny go from trailblazing entrepreneur to Hong Kong’s hero of the pandemic? How did he manage the rapid growth, and what were the key decisions that led to his success?
In this episode, we discuss the answers to these questions and more. Here are a few excerpts from the conversation. Click the audio player below to listen to the episode or subscribe via Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.
HIS INITIAL DRIVING FORCE
“I wanted to be successful. I wanted to have financial freedom for myself and for my family. I knew the only way I could do that was through work and, eventually, through entrepreneurship.”
WHY PASSION IS IMPORTANT
“Passion is so important because people can see it, people can feel it. If you're passionate about something, you will make sacrifices for it, you will do it at all costs to make it work. And passion is contagious. People sense it and they feel intrigued to understand more.”
BEING A HANDS-ON CEO
“You have to lead by example. When things get tough, and a lot of our team members need to work through the night, I will never be that individual who says, ‘Yeah, my team is going, I'm not going to.’ I believe in leading by example. It creates a certain closeness, a certain culture within the team of ‘we're in this together’.”
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MAKING THE MOVE INTO MEDTECH
“There was no roadmap. I was just identifying opportunities and seeing if I had the recipe to create something. Along the path, there’s certainly been a lot of obstacles. In 2014, when I started Prenetics, people thought I was quite crazy, going from e-commerce to genetic testing. Early on, a lot of people were like, ‘You don't know a single thing about this space and I’m not going to invest in you’, given my background. But I was able to figure it out along the way, arming myself with knowledge, connecting with the right people, and understanding the key elements to be successful in this business.”
“It would have been very easy for me to create another e-commerce company and have a very high probability of success. But I jumped into healthcare with zero background in it because, at the end of the day, I like to challenge myself. I like to continue to learn.”
See also: Zilingo Co-Founder Ankiti Bose On Pivots, Resilience And “Pathological” Optimism
MONEY SHOULD NEVER BE YOUR MOTIVATION
“The SPAC listing is not going to change my lifestyle. I can pretty much guarantee you I'll still be eating HK$30 lunches. That doesn't change! I’ve never been driven by money; it’s about creating something impactful that people can use. If you're able to create a great product that people have felt the impact of, then ultimately, naturally, the money piece will play itself out.”
LESSONS FOR EARLY-STAGE ENTREPRENEURS
“You have to have a lot of passion for what you do and you have to have a lot of resilience, because there will be a lot of ups and downs. Along the journey there will be many times when you want to give up, and you have to go through that, the times where not everything is operating at the most optimal. Lastly, you have to have a strong sense of humility, to be constantly willing to learn and grow, regardless of where you are today.”
Quotes are edited for clarity and brevity.
Listen to the episode and subscribe using your preferred podcast platform on the Crazy Smart Asia hub page.