Perfect Pitch: Benedict Wong
Founder, Investor, Pianist
Current City: New York City, NY.
Current Job and Entrepreneurial Focus: Co-Founder @ Up&Up. Up&Up is a real estate tech startup backed by Khosla Ventures and strategic business leaders across financial services and tech. It allows renters to co-invest in the homes they live in, providing real estate investors with tenants that have skin in the game and generating above-market returns with lower risk and costs.
Notable Prior Jobs: Founding team member at a payments startup called Bindo, payments / POS system that bridges the gap between online and offline sales.
When I Started Performing: Started piano at 6, started performing at 9.
Performing Arts Background: I studied at the Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong and was awarded a music scholarship in school (Winchester College in the UK) and continued to perform multiple times a year at school.
How did your performing arts background supercharge your entrepreneurship? Performing music to a high level has helped me develop a personality that is obsessive, perfectionist and to some degree competitive. Similarly, I think it takes a certain kind of tenacity and crazy to dedicate years of your life to building a startup with no guarantee of payoff. Playing music has also taught me to be extremely curious. Constantly learning new pieces has given me a hunger to learn and experience new skills both inside and outside the workplace. It’s also taught me to not be afraid of tackling difficult challenges. So many times you hear a gorgeous piece that sounds impossible but then you sit down and just try it. There’s a bit of a risk-reward tradeoff. The harder the piece, the greater the sense of accomplishment when you finish learning it. But there’s always the risk that you sink a ton of time in it only to discover that it’s beyond your skill cap and it'll never be perfect. Learning new music also teaches some creative problem-solving. How do you take a really hard piece and break it down into little problems? (E.g. hands separately, changing up the rhythm, rolling chords if your hands are too small, alternating hands to make large chords easier, playing with different fingerings). In the same vein, I think that willingness to tackle difficult challenges is particularly helpful for entrepreneurship especially since the percentage of startups that actually exit is tiny. In addition, one often listens to many different recordings when striving to perfect a piece. You want to ‘copy’ or take inspiration from others and not reinvent the wheel but at the same time it’s important to inject your own expression and musicality if you want to be distinct. It’s sort of the same as looking at different companies’ user acquisition strategy and product-market fit. You want to achieve scale as quickly as possible but to build a really memorable, successful product, you need an edge, that extra oomph that makes your product into something that people need and love.
Favorite Performer: Evgeny Kissin.
Follow Benedict Wong:
Instagram - @benedictwong22
LinkedIn - benedict-wong-67692530