This Is What Happens When Gen.T Honourees Collaborate

By Christine Chan and Chong Seow Wei

We speak to three pairs of honourees who connected at a Gen.T event and became business partners

Tatler Asia
Cover  A Gen.T dinner in Kuala Lumpur, December 2019

Author and entrepreneur Porter Gale once said, “Your net worth is your network.” At Gen.T, we understand the power of connections. It’s always been our mission to bring together like-minded individuals to encourage collaboration and, in turn, greater innovation and positive impact. 

Since Gen.T launched in 2016, we’ve introduced Gen.T honourees to each other through the hundreds of events we’ve organised across our eight markets in Asia. As a result, we’ve seen some pair up. As well as the professional partnerships, we've also been responsible for several relationships and even a marriage. But those stories are for another time and another article. 

Here, we speak to three pairs of business partners who met through Gen.T. 

Dean Ho and Oon Tian Sern

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Above  Dean Ho (far right) and Oon Tian Sern (second from right) with Ho's team

The honourees Dean Ho, director of The N.1 Institute For Health and Oon Tian Sern, founder and CEO of Acceset.

Their Cause Demystifying mental health through research and technology. 

How They Met The 2019 honourees connected at a Gen.T dinner in August 2019, which featured a panel discussion on business sustainability. 

“From the Q&A session during the Gen.T event, I could sense the energy Tian Sern—or Matt, as I call him—has as an entrepreneur and his commitment to bringing real impact to the community,” says Dean Ho. “So I decided to catch up with him after the event to let him know that my team at The N.1 Institute For Health would be interested in collaborating with his team at Acceset to develop a study to validate his platform, since we specialise in developing innovative human or clinical study designs to optimise outcomes for our users or patients. We were very interested in harnessing our expertise to impact the mental health space, so it was fortunate to have met Matt then.”

The Project The duo’s ultimate objective is to “develop a scalable, user-ready digital para-counselling platform with actionable algorithms to pinpoint additional risk factors for user triaging,” says Oon Tian Sern. “This will be complemented by an active and sustainable user base to drive the growth of the community and data at the foundation of the platform. We will subsequently develop financing and deployment methods to maximise Acceset’s reach and sustained use to help as many people as possible.”

To further their efforts beyond validating Acceset’s platform, the duo’s companies also jointly applied for funding from the Wellcome Trust, which is the world’s fourth-richest charitable foundation. In 2020, they were Wellcome’s sole awardee from Southeast Asia, and will be using the funds to study “how an increased sense of mattering enhances youth well-being”.

How They Complement Each Other According to an anonymous source the duo prefers not to name, “Matt lift spirits, Dean lifts iron. Matt crushes negative emotions. Dean crushes bench presses and diseases.”

“I feel like I have boundless energy but I can sometimes be a bobo shooter, which is a Singaporean slang for a person who is unable to aim properly and hit the target,” says Oon. “This is where I appreciate Dean a lot, as he’s very much the marksman between us. The blend of youth and experience is always helpful in pushing the frontier of innovations.”

Adds Ho, “Where I think Matt and I align most is our understanding that collaborations work best when they are first built on a foundation of collegiality.”

See also: Secretlab's Ian Alexander Ang And Alaric Choo Are Engineering Comfort For Gamers One Chair At A Time

Arthur Lam and Nicholas Ho

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Above  Gen.T honourees Nicholas Ho and Arthur Lam

The honourees Arthur Lam, founder of Synergy Group Holdings International and Nicholas Ho, chairman of HPA.

Their Cause Developing technologies that help buildings optimise energy usage.

How They Met The pair met at the 2017 Gen.T List unveiling event held at Duddell’s in Hong Kong and found out they worked close by to each other. They reconnected the following year through a chance encounter on the street when they were both taking shelter from Typhoon Mangkhut.

If given the chance to turn back time, Ho says it'd be better if they had met earlier in life. “If we could choose, [I’d rather we meet] at birth really. Grow up together, form our friendship early on, why not?” 

The Project In 2019, Ho invested in Lam’s new company, Negawatt, after hearing about its mission. Combining technology and building services knowledge, the engineering tech startup transforms buildings into smart structures and reduces their energy consumption to create "negative watts".

How They Complement Each Other Before they are business partners, Lam and Ho are good friends. During an interview they did with Gen.T earlier this year, Lam jokingly complained about Ho’s habit of texting him at 6:30 am every day. “It’s annoying because it tells me how much more disciplined you are than me.” In response, Ho commented, “It’s because I miss you, dude.”

See also: How To Hire The Best Team For Your Startup

Brian Chua and Anna Vanessa Haotanto

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Above  Brian Chua (far left) and Anna Vanessa Haotanto (third from the right)

The honourees Brian Chua, CEO of ABZD Capital and Anna Vanessa Haotanto, COO of ABZD Capital.

Their Cause Identifying and investing in early-stage scalable F&B concepts globally.

How They Met The pair were seated at the same table at the 2018 Gen.T List unveiling dinner at members-only club 1880 and became fast friends, connecting over food and mutual friends they share. That same evening, Haotanto also connected with another 2018 honouree, Teresa Lim, who is now the ambassador for her and Chua’s company, ABZD Capital.

The Project They founded ABZD Capital with three other business partners in 2018 after bonding over food and sharing the same passion for investing and managing money. Their company helps F&B entrepreneurs to scale by supporting them in terms of strategy, branding, design, operational efficiencies, sourcing, site selection, international expansion and financing.  

How They Complement Each Other “Brian is fire and I am water,” says Haotanto. “He is an ambitious, big dreamer who gets things done, while I am more grounded and constantly thinking of ways we can will things into existence.” It took them some time to adjust to each other’s working style, but “we are both very passionate, opinionated and have great respect for each other, professionally and personally.”

See more honourees from the Gen.T List. To discover more events by Gen.T, visit our Events page.

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