Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Brandon Ng (BN): I am originally from Brunei and am very much an engineer at heart – and I have been one from a young age. But my parents, and especially my dad, came from the world of business. So, I grew up being both a huge science-and-technology-phile, but constantly exposed to the world of revenues and business partnerships, and new ventures and project tenders.
MB: What led you to start Ampd Energy?
BN: While I would like to say ‘I encountered some problem as a child, which led me onto a lifelong mission to eradicating said problem…’, that isn’t true! It was a number of serendipitous events which led to where I am today. And, to be honest, the Ampd Energy which we know today wasn’t how things started. But back to the question…
I started Ampd Energy in the early 2010s, because I saw that the use of batteries for energy storage was an emerging field which would transform the global energy infrastructure for the better – and I wanted to be part of it. When Ampd started, the team and I didn’t quite know how; but we knew that we were at the right place and at the right time.
MB: What are the main problems you are trying to solve?
BN: Construction activities around the world today are powered by diesel. Diesel machinery is noisy, highly polluting from both a CO2 and an air quality standpoint, expensive to operate and inefficient. It requires regular maintenance and, to state the obvious, the required diesel is a flammable substance.
Ampd Energy exists to electrify construction, particularly in urban environments where issues relating to the use of diesel machinery for construction are especially noticeable.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
BN: Scaling the business sustainably. We are in a fortunate position to be scaling, growing and expanding, and I think there’s a fine line between scaling frivolously and scaling too slowly. In other words: how do you scale and grow your impact as quickly as possible, but not push things beyond breaking point, especially the people which make up the company? I am lucky to have an amazing team of people to figure this out with; people who believe in what we are doing and who have been through the process of scaling and growing a business themselves.
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
BN: We envision an emission-free future for construction, and we envision a future where Ampd Energy has made this happen.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
BN: Know whether you are trying to create a purpose-driven business or a charity. As a purpose-driven business, you will still need to deliver a product or service which customers are willing to pay for, and which you generate a profit from.
There’s nothing wrong with profits; profits allow you a) to hire people who will help you, b) develop better products and services, and c) scale your reach – and therefore your impact.
Brandon Ng in front of the Ampd Enertainer
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
BN – As a startup company, find the quickest path to scalable profitability. Anything else is like betting the entire house for a couple of lottery tickets–you might win, but you’re homeless if you don’t!
MB – Who inspires you?
BN- Steve Melhuish, the founder of PropertyGuru.com–South East Asia’s largest property platform. Steve is a man of his word – if he says he’s going to do something you can be sure he’s going to do it, and do it bloody well. To the extent that (from bits and pieces which I’ve put together) he put in place a professional management team to run PropertyGuru and replaced himself as CEO, all because of a promise he made to his wife that he would do so when his kids were 5.
MB – How do you define success?
BN – I think of myself, deep down inside, as an engineer. And as engineers, we’re driven to solve problems which exist in the world. So my measure for success is the magnitude of the problem I have contributed to solving, and the impact (hopefully positive) which solving that problem has on the world.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
BN – Slowing down. I love the thrill, the rush, the excitement and the sense of accomplishment of getting things done NOW. Because of that, I have a tendency to jump ahead to make things happen. But there are situations when stopping, taking a breath and taking stock may actually be a better course of action, and this is something I would certainly like to grow in.
MB – What do you do to relax?
BN – I love watching YouTube videos which educate, enlighten and provide a new perspective, and often find myself bingeing on these. I subscribe to Veritasium, Mark Rober, SmarterEveryDay, Asian Boss, and Corridor Crew to name a few.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.