Driven to innovate

Alumnus sells his first startup — for $1.59 million

September 2017

Like many entrepreneurs, Daryl Png, BS ’16, is constantly thinking about how he can help those around him and add value to their lives.

According to the Economist, Singapore, where Png was born and raised, is the most expensive city in the world to live. Only 15 percent of residents own a car — making the car rental industry a prime space for innovative thinking.

Png came to the School of Management in 2012 and, with co-founder Lim Guo Hong, developed an idea in 2013 for a digital car rental platform that would allow customers to compare rates and rent cars affordably.

“In Singapore, most popular online travel agents only work with first-tier rental companies, creating transparency issues and leaving a large untapped market of small- and medium-sized rental companies,” says Png, who also holds a diploma in aeronautical engineering from Singapore Polytechnic. “I would do sketches of wireframes during my free time, while Lim programmed each module accordingly.”

In fall 2013, they won a $50,000 startup grant from SPRING Singapore, an agency within the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and soon launched their company, Rentcars.

Over the next three years, they rebranded as RC9, revamped their digital marketplace and garnered additional investments from a publicly listed company and top industry executives. Png and Hong were named Rising Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2016 and received the honor from Zainal Sapari, a member of the Singapore Parliament.

Meanwhile, Png was able to apply his School of Management coursework to his business and, conversely, better understand concepts covered in class because of his RC9 experience. He says his time at UB made him a better critical thinker and global citizen.

“Fundamentally, I am an optimist and lifelong learner,” he says. “Through class discussion and team-based projects, I improved my analytical skills and ability to articulate good reasoning.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration, Png returned to Singapore to focus on RC9. He and his co-founder grew the platform to include more than 35 rental companies and offer services in 150 countries worldwide. They sold the company in December 2016 for $1.59 million Singapore dollars (about $1.1 million in the U.S.).

“Our startup journey was a character-building experience that allowed me to learn so much about myself,” he says. “Entrepreneurs should not be afraid to make mistakes. You never lose — you either win or you learn.”

Today, Png is a product evangelist for AIG, a multinational insurance corporation with more than 88 million customers across the globe. He conducts a quarterly competitor analysis and serves as a project manager, collaborating with stakeholders across the organization on usage-based insurance and telematics solutions, including the new “AIG on the Go” app for Singapore.

No matter where his career takes him from here, Png has one ultimate goal: “Being part of disruptive innovation that improves people’s lives.”

Written by Matthew Biddle, this story originally appeared in Buffalo Business magazine.