Balancing the Grind with Nicholas Ooi, Investor at Superseed Ventures

Nicholas Ooi is an Investor at Superseed Ventures, a venture capital fund and venture studio focused on investing, scaling and building trade tech startups.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I started my career as a strategy consultant for ~4 years at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Co.) and prior to that at Accenture. I worked primarily on corporate strategy and commercial due diligence projects for ASX100 and private equity clients across a broad range of industries. It was an amazing learning experience.

During university, I fell in love with the startup and tech ecosystem. I built and operated a few student-run social enterprise startups and was lucky enough to be accepted into a week-long student entrepreneurship summit based at Stanford University, where I met incredible operators and VCs in the Bay Area. I knew that I wanted to get back into this scene after a couple of years in consulting.

I now work in the investment team at Superseed Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of The Reece Group, Australia’s largest distributor of plumbing, waterworks and HVAC products.

My role is to find, invest in and support ambitious founders across Australia, New Zealand and North America who are building early-stage startups which are able to transform how tradespeople and trade distributors work in the future. For example, this could be via trade tech, construction tech, property tech, supply chain tech, fintech and edtech.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I know it’s very cliche but a typical day in venture is extremely varied! 

Typically, I would spend my time during the week working on three broad activities: 1) sourcing new startups, 2) performing due diligence on startups we like, and 3) supporting our portfolio companies with any ad-hoc special projects.

To put this into context, a recent workday involved waking up early for an 8am meeting with a founder based in the US (our fund has a mandate across North America and ANZ), then after some brekkie and a coffee (very important!) I caught up with my team to discuss priorities for the week.

I spent the rest of the morning conducting due diligence on a marketplace startup I met the week prior. The rest of the afternoon consisted of more internal team meetings, another founder meeting, attending a virtual startup community event and building a financial model for one of our portfolio companies.

The constant variety, gear switching and exposure to new innovative ideas is what makes the job so exciting!

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I am currently working fully-remote in Sydney, as the rest of the Superseed team is based in Melbourne. I am very lucky to have a team which is supportive of this – so far it has been quite effective! This flexibility has allowed me to maintain my social life and daily routine.

Despite being fully-remote, the team has made a conscious effort to make me feel included during team brainstorming/workshop sessions and have even flown me down to meet them in person.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think work-life balance is largely dictated by your intrinsic motivation. For me, this is when I feel excited and energised to wake up out of bed and go to work everyday – it doesn’t feel forced or like a chore. This state allows me to work productively for many hours on end as I don’t feel like I am grinding.

Having said this, it’s important to always set boundaries which reflect your personal values when balancing your personal and professional life – this ultimately prevents burnout.

Being outcomes driven vs. tracking hours worked also helps with prioritising ‘must-do’ tasks for the day (i.e. applying the 80/20 rule) and being efficient with your time. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I play social basketball and try to go to the gym at least two times a week. I am a big believer that physical exercise makes you more productive at work (e.g. release of dopamine and serotonin allows you to de-stress and stimulate your mind).

Other general habits include: taking regular breaks/walks throughout the day (particularly when WFH), listening to podcasts while on walks and setting aside uninterrupted time in the morning before work to read and learn about interesting topics.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – data-backed thesis into the success factors behind high performance individuals. I am a big believer of his ‘10,000-hour rule’ to develop world-class domain expertise
  • The Startup Playbook Podcast by Rohit Bhargava – great interviews with founders and investors, providing insights into the ANZ startup ecosystem
  • Garry Tan’s YouTube channel – Garry is the Managing Partner at Initialized Capital and former Partner at Y Combinator; he provides a point of view on emerging tech trends and gives advice to founders and operators
  • Impact Theory by Tom Bilyeu – mindset-focused interviews with high-achieving people across all fields of life

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

  • Notion and Trello – I use these to religiously organise my life
  • Apple Pay – I can’t remember the last time I pulled out my credit card to pay for something at a store
  • Spotify – listening to great tunes on the move always boosts your mood

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Barack Obama. I would love to read about how he was able to successfully balance his responsibilities as POTUS (and previously as a Senator for many years) while juggling his personal life and family commitments.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s important to remember that your career is a marathon and not a sprint – it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people your age as a measure of success.

Despite being very early into my career, I like to remind myself that I am still “early in the process” (as Gary Vee often likes to say). With enough grit, perseverance and by adopting a growth mindset, anything is achievable in the long-term if you put your mind to it.

I’ll also leave this quote here: “shoot for the moon, even if you fail you will still be among the stars.” – Les Brown.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.