Lingke Wang | Co-Founder And CTO
Ovid and Ethos Technologies
San Francisco, California
Education: B.S. Applied Math/Economics and B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2012, Brown University; MBA, 2016, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Career stage: Early—5 years post Bachelor’s
What He Does
Lingke is co-founder of a life insurance technology company—a life settlement exchange—that helps senior citizens sell life insurance policies they no longer want for upfront cash payouts. At Ovid, Lingke helps seniors fund their retirement by providing them a way to leverage an otherwise illiquid asset. At Ethos, they bridge the protection gap by making life insurance more accessible to consumers. Lingke’s responsibilities include software development, growth, and hiring, and he also oversees the company’s growth strategies—figuring out how to generate revenue and grow the company.
Necessary Job Skills
Lingke’s training in applied math was key to understanding how life insurance works. Insurance is priced via actuarial science which is heavily based on applied math and statistics. Although he never specifically studied to be an actuary, Lingke was able to learn many of the key basics quickly because of his applied math training.
Pros and Cons of His Job
It is great to be huge consumer advocates and to lead a team that builds products that will change people’s lives. Having to let people go is Lingke’s least favorite responsibility.
Lingke has a lot of flexibility in his day-to-day schedule but, as a founder, he finds that it’s sometimes hard to have a great work/life balance because there’s so much work to be done.
After graduating from Brown, Lingke went into finance as an investment banking analyst where he honed his financial modeling skills. Although it was a great learning experience, he quickly realized investment banking and finance were not the right fit for him. He left and became a “full-stack” developer—knowing or at least having experience in the most used programming languages. Lingke’s training in math and engineering helped him to quickly learn CS. And while it was an entirely different subject, it relied on the core underlying logic and problem solving skills he had previously developed.
During Lingke’s first year of MBA studies at Stanford, he and his roommate started a life insurance technology company called Ovid. As they ran Ovid, they learned about other inefficiencies and opportunities in the life insurance space and so they started their second company, Ethos, which is an application programming interface (API) for life insurance. Their goal is to build the next phase of distribution for the industry.
I knew that after i left investment banking, i wanted to start a company. So i actively worked towards finding a good co-founder, developing the right skills, and evaluating different business ideas. That way, when the right partner and opportunity came along, i was ready.
Career Expectations And Advice
“Don’t settle for an ‘okay’ job.”
When Lingke first graduated, he spent a lot of time planning out and thinking about the next five years. The biggest surprise was how far he ended up deviating from it. Even so, the process of planning is crucial. Figure out what you think you want, go out and try it, and even if you quickly realize you don’t want to spend your life doing that, that clarity—knowing exactly what you don’t want—will allow you to move in a direction that avoids all of those things.
Startup founders can have a salary from negative income (you’re spending savings to start your company) to infinite. There is no standard salary range.
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