Daphne Ng is the co-founder and CEO of blockchain-based digital signing platform Dedoco, launched in 2020 with co-founder Ernie Teo. Ng is also an art enthusiast and yoga practitioner. While she grows Dedoco to become a global provider for document transactions, she also turns to acrylic and abstract art to de-stress on weekends.
From my career journey, I learned and observed how small enterprises and big corporations think and transact, and how they handle their documentation and business flows. Ernie, instead, noticed that many businesses are looking for ways to share selected information with other companies in a safe ecosystem during projects—through a trusted method.
In 2020, we founded Dedoco (short for “decentralized document connector”), a platform that provides software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for enterprises. Ernie and I envisioned creating an easy-to-use ecosystem where verifiable documents could be issued and exchanged between enterprises while also being captured on the blockchain.
Throughout the ups and downs of our startup journey, both Ernie and I would attest to this truth: having the right co-founder can make or break a company. At any point, regardless of our difference in opinions, we are sure to be focused on the same end goal. We are both trying to make the most optimal decisions for Dedoco, and the cornerstone of this is mutual trust.
The verse and the chorus
Ernie and I met during our university days, and we have built the foundations of friendship and trust since then. Before our entrepreneurial journey and the conceptualization of Dedoco, I had been working in corporate banking and structured trade for around nine years, while Ernie was at IBM, where he worked on blockchain projects. We began working together as entrepreneurial partners in 2016.
We often acknowledge that we are very complementary. I chart the company’s overall strategic direction and undertake the finance, investment, and commercial decisions, while Ernie helms the product and technology team. Tasks like new talent hires are joint exercises that both of us do.
I always say we sometimes work like a well-played orchestra wherein I sing the verse, and he sings the chorus, and vice-versa.
There are times when we have different opinions and disagreements. Yet, our dissents have never been conducted in bad faith to hurt the other person’s feelings. We remained rational and consistently productive. When we reach a stalemate, we often agree to take a step back to “sleep over it” and return to the matter the next morning with a fresh perspective.
If we face a different opinion during a meeting, we would either articulate respectfully and frame our opinions constructively, or bring back the discussion to the office for a private dialogue. Having opposing views is not necessarily a bad thing, as these different ideas can help shape a company’s development.
Gaining trust from the market
Our greatest challenge was gaining market confidence as a young brand, as clients would naturally compare us to other incumbent solutions available. Another comment we often heard was that we were just building another signing solution.
To be honest, we knew that we were entering the market as a signing product. Still, we remained undaunted because we also understood that our vision for our brand was about embedded trust and compliance, going beyond a last-mile signing platform. We wanted to make enterprise blockchain mainstream for consumers.
Ernie and I made sure we never shy away from pitching to well-known clients. As we kept pitching, we kept fine-tuning what we could offer. We built confidence in our clients, presenting the precise digital methods to help them. In the unpredictable COVID-19 situation, we slowly caught the attention of many partners and eventually stood out as more than just an afterthought for them.
We eventually secured traction with major clients and partners in our first year, including the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, ERA Real Estate, accounting firm Nexia TS, and many others.
Earlier this year, Dedoco finally turned a year old, and we are preparing for a season of scaling. Today, we are a 20-member team working from three countries, and this figure will probably grow to 30 by the end of 2021. Ernie and I have clear plans to expand regionally as part of our ambitious global strategy. We are confident this step will be a great challenge for our young team, but this is precisely what drives us.
September 13: The story has been updated to clarify the writer’s entrepreneurial journey and the timing of founding Dedoco.