Ye received a good education. In 1984, he graduated from Shanghai Jiaotong University with a degree in computer science.
After graduating he was assigned to a post in the Fujian branch of the China Computer Technological Service Corporation. His first task was to market company products. He sold computers door-to-door, and gradually built up a commercial network. By 1986, his individual sales amounted to RMB5 million, several times that of other employees. In the summer of 1988, Ye and 15 friends launched their own business, named Start, which began its operation with computer terminals. Ye served as vice president in charge of marketing, and guided a group of agents traveling widely to sell its products. Their hard work quickly paid off, and Start soon became the largest supplier of terminals within China. By 1993 when his sales exceeded RMB100 million, Ye was named as president and general manager of Start Computer Apparatus Co.
After taking the leadership post, Ye embraced the concept of continuous management, and encouraged team-building in the collective enterprise with the corporate motto ‘winning the game by working together.’ He believed that Start had unique advantages in its human resource management and operations mechanism areas in which state-owned enterprises are notoriously lacking and in April 1995 he acquired the Fujian Computer Peripheral Factory, then a large computer hardware provider with R&D capability and an established manufacturing base. Convinced that only large companies could gain competitive advantage and dominant positions in the market, Ye continued this kind of consolidation over the following years. In 1996, Start Computer was listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, generating new and much needed capital for mergers and acquisitions on a large scale.