Tatler Hot List: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Are Shaping Our Future
- Qi Junyuan, ChinaQi Junyuan, China
- Lucy Liu, ChinaLucy Liu, China
- Kathy Gong, ChinaKathy Gong, China
- Jeff Lyndon Ko, ChinaJeff Lyndon Ko, China
- Zhang Mo, ChinaZhang Mo, China
- Sissi Chao, ChinaSissi Chao, China
- Steve Zhao, Hong KongSteve Zhao, Hong Kong
- Lawrence Chu, Hong KongLawrence Chu, Hong Kong
- Gary Hui, Hong KongGary Hui, Hong Kong
- Tak Lo, Hong KongTak Lo, Hong Kong
- Ryan Cheung, Hong KongRyan Cheung, Hong Kong
- Patricia Dwyer, Hong KongPatricia Dwyer, Hong Kong
- Melati Wijsen, IndonesiaMelati Wijsen, Indonesia
- Mark Koh, MalaysiaMark Koh, Malaysia
- Renard Siew, MalaysiaRenard Siew, Malaysia
- Rashvin Pal Singh, MalaysiaRashvin Pal Singh, Malaysia
- Stephanie Sy, PhilippinesStephanie Sy, Philippines
- Nico Bolzico, PhilippinesNico Bolzico, Philippines
- Leong Chee Tung, SingaporeLeong Chee Tung, Singapore
- Ankiti Bose, SingaporeAnkiti Bose, Singapore
- Raena Lim, SingaporeRaena Lim, Singapore
- Benjamin Swan, SingaporeBenjamin Swan, Singapore
- Justin Yu, TaiwanJustin Yu, Taiwan
- Jerd Phichitkul, ThailandJerd Phichitkul, Thailand
- Korawad Chearavanont, ThailandKorawad Chearavanont, Thailand
Here are some of Asia’s brightest business people from the Gen.T List, Tatler’s platform for the leaders of tomorrow, who are tackling two of the biggest issues of our time: how to save the environment and how we can use technology to build a brighter, better world
Qi Junyuan, China
Founder and CEO, Teambition
Helping people collaborate more efficiently
Qi’s first entrepreneurial venture, a website that allowed patients to consult doctors online, failed partly because of the challenges posed by working collaboratively with his team. As a result, he set up Teambition, a cloud-based collaboration tool that allows colleagues to work together seamlessly. With customers including Huawei and Xiaomi, the company was acquired by Alibaba in early 2019.
Lucy Liu, China
Co-founder and president, Airwallex
Running a fintech unicorn in her 20s
At just 28, Airwallex co-founder Liu has already led her start-up to unicorn status. The cross-border payments company provides technology to facilitate international transactions in foreign exchange markets, and recently closed a US$100 million Series C funding round. This February, Airwallex announced a global partnership with Visa to launch a borderless card for business.
Kathy Gong, China
Co-founder and CEO, WafaGames
Blazing a path for female gamers
Gong’s start-up has made waves in the gaming scene thanks to its distinctive game experiences, cutting-edge technologies and well-rounded, realistic female characters in an industry still rife with misogyny. Gong is also the founder of ai.Law, a robotics start-up that makes law accessible and affordable, which has now served three million people—67 per cent of them women. The serial entrepreneur was a child prodigy, becoming China’s youngest national chess champion at age 11, and has gone on to establish the non-profit World’s Youngest Voices to sponsor outstanding young students.
Jeff Lyndon Ko, China
Co-founder and CEO, iDreamSky
Taking mobile gaming to the next level
Ko’s company iDreamSky is the largest independent mobile gaming platform in China. Backed by internet giant Tencent, it went public on the Hong Kong exchange in late 2018. Ko was a serial entrepreneur before establishing iDreamSky, which also has a chain of experience stores, Good Time Video Game Club.
Zhang Mo, China
Founder and CEO, Yi+
Using artificial intelligence to make computers’ visual recognition smarter
Zhang is the founder and CEO of Yi+, which builds visual engines for artificial intelligence systems. In 2019, Yi+ broke the world record for accuracy in winning the Pascal VOC comp4 object detection challenge––becoming the world’s first computer vision software to exceed 90 per cent accuracy. Zhang’s start-up has worked with clients including Huawei, Weibo, Qihoo 360, JD.com and Qupai. The company’s sub-brand, Clothing+, works as a visual search engine for fashion products.
Sissi Chao, China
Founder and CEO, Remakehub
Reducing waste through creative upcycling
Chao is the founder of social enterprise Remakehub. The environmentalist and sustainable fashion advocate promotes the reduction of textile waste through high-tech recycled materials and creative upcycling. She has been made a United Nations Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals and last year won Gen.T’s R.A.W. Prize grant, which supports an organisation that positively impacts responsible consumption.
Steve Zhao, Hong Kong
Founder and CEO, Sandbox VR
Introducing immersive virtual reality experiences to the world
Sandbox VR almost didn’t happen. With no investors and few customers, it was not until the immersive virtual reality experience went viral on social media that the phone started ringing—and didn’t stop. Since then, its founder, Zhao, has opened retail locations in five countries, with more to come. In 2019, it raised a total of US$83 million, with celebrity backers including Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom and Will Smith.
Lawrence Chu, Hong Kong
Co-founder and managing partner, Oriente
Seeing the potential in providing people with affordable credit
Chu wants to make financial services more inclusive. The co-founder of Oriente is leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning and data to offer real-time credit scoring, digital lending and other tailored services designed to empower millions in Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing economies. The company has already rolled out financial services apps in the Philippines and Indonesia, and in late 2018 announced US$105 million in funding, one of the largest initial funding rounds by any start-up in Asia.
Gary Hui, Hong Kong
Co-founder and director, Lalamove
Getting Asia moving
Lalamove’s Hui could never be accused of resting on his laurels. He co-founded the logistics and delivery app in 2013, and by 2017 Lalamove had a presence in more than 100 cities around the world. In 2019 the company raised US$300 million in its Series D funding, taking the total raised to more than US$460 million, with a valuation well clear of the US$1 billion that grants it membership to the exclusive unicorn club. Further moves in Southeast Asia and India are expected to follow.
Tak Lo, Hong Kong
Founder and partner, Newtype
Championing start-up founders working in frontier technologies
As founder of Newtype (previosuly Zeroth.AI), Lo runs a team of ex-founders of successful start-ups who are primed to pass on their expertise to the next generation of entrepreneurs, particularly those working in artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and robotics. The company has already worked with 60 fledgling companies from 18 countries to become one of the most active artificial intelligence investors in the world.
Ryan Cheung, Hong Kong
Co-founder and CEO, PressLogic
Using artificial intelligence to predict the future of social media
It started with a proprietary artificial intelligence system that uses data analytics to predict the topics that will trend on social media among specific groups. PressLogic showed its clients how this could boost engagement by launching its own lifestyle content brands that now claim eight million followers and more than 700 million monthly impressions. Cheung, co-founder and CEO, has plenty more planned after the company raised US$10 million in Series A funding from Meitu in late 2018.
Patricia Dwyer, Hong Kong
Founder and director, The Purpose Business
Encouraging Asian businesses to grow more sustainably
Gone are the days when companies could do business without considering the consequences. Responsible practices have become crucial, and in Hong Kong there’s no one better to help companies implement these than Dwyer, founder of The Purpose Business, who counts MTR Corporation, Jardine Matheson, Swire Properties, Huawei and Vitasoy among her clients. Dwyer is a World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader and sits on the WEF Global Future Council on the Future of the Environment.
Melati Wijsen, Indonesia
Co-founder, Bye Bye Plastic Bags
Encouraging society to say no to plastic bags
In 2013, when she was just 12, Wijsen teamed up with her sister Isabel to start social initiative Bye Bye Plastic Bags, which has become one of the biggest plastic pollution awareness movements in Asia. Spanning almost 30 locations worldwide, Bye Bye Plastic Bags educates and encourages young people to refuse single-use plastics.
See also: 25 Ways To Go Green In Hong Kong
Mark Koh, Malaysia
Co-founder and CEO, Supahands
Changing the future of human capital through artificial and human intelligence
Supahands provides data at scale and speed for artificial intelligence products and businesses using a hybrid of human intelligence and machines. Koh’s role is to ensure that companies have the right team with the right tools to do their job exceptionally. Supahands has grown its SupaAgent cloud workforce across Southeast Asia to about 4,000 people.
Renard Siew, Malaysia
Climate Change Advisor, Centre for Governance and Political Studies
Fighting the climate crisis on multiple fronts
Siew lobbies for education that focuses on climate change and sustainability to be made mandatory for all. He launched the Accelerating Climate Action initiative, which seeks to raise US$1 billion for climate entrepreneurs in Asia. He has been made an advisory mentor to the UK-based Queen’s Young Leaders programme.
Rashvin Pal Singh, Malaysia
Co-founder and CEO, The Biji-biji Initiative
Putting the science into sustainability
Long before zero-waste was a buzzword, Singh and three of his friends were promoting sustainable living through creative projects. His social enterprise Biji-biji Initiative merges the science behind sustainability with a passion for design and art. He is also the co-founder of Me.reka Makerspace in Kuala Lumpur’s Publika Shopping Gallery, which features a textile lab, a wood and metal workshop, an electronics lab, a food technology kitchen, 3D printers, laser engraving and virtual reality headsets.
Stephanie Sy, Philippines
Founder and CEO, Thinking Machines
Helping organisations get smart about data
Sy’s data-science consultancy has built machine-learning models for organisations including the World Bank and Unicef. Her mission is to help organisations use data to make better decisions. Case in point: Thinking Machines has designed a data model to predict deep poverty, doing in one month what used to take statistics agencies seven years.
Nico Bolzico, Philippines
Founder and president, LM10 Corporation
Working towards making the Philippines self-sufficient in food production
An Argentine who has made the Philippines home for the past eight years, Bolzico founded LM10 as a one-man show, naming the company after Lionel Messi and his jersey number. It has since grown to 100 employees and become a force to be reckoned with in the Philippine agricultural sector. Providing technologies that give farmers opportunities for sustainable growth, it also plays a leading role in the animal rendering industry, cattle genetics and the commercial feeds market.
Leong Chee Tung, Singapore
Co-founder and CEO, EngageRocket
Improving workplace culture with data-driven employee feedback
Tapping into the rising human resources technology market, Leong co-founded EngageRocket in 2016. The cloud-based software allows multinationals and small and medium-sized enterprises alike to collect and analyse employee feedback in real time. With the goal of helping leaders foster a better workplace culture, he has led the employee engagement platform into 20 industries. It is now used by leading companies such as Sephora and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.
Ankiti Bose, Singapore
Co-founder and CEO, Zilingo
Growing the next e-commerce unicorn
Bose’s company Zilingo is just four years old, but it is already valued at nearly US$1 billion. The idea behind the fashion and lifestyle marketplace, one of Southeast Asia’s largest, hit the entrepreneur when she was picking up bargains in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market. Today, Zilingo aggregates small fashion retailers from the Thai capital, Singapore and Jakarta. Investors including Sofina and Sequoia Capital India contributed to the company raising US$226 million in Series D funding in 2019.
Raena Lim, Singapore
Co-founder and COO, Style Theory
Revolutionising the way fashion is consumed
Lim started subscription-based fashion rental platform Style Theory in 2016. Her mission: to provide a sustainable solution to the issue of why people buy new clothes but feel like they never have enough to wear. Style Theory has forged partnerships with more than 1,000 brands, amassed a collection of more than 25,000 items and has more than 80,000 users.
Benjamin Swan, Singapore
Founder and CEO, Sustenir Group
Employing sustainable farming methods to maximise yield and minimise waste
At urban farming company Sustenir Group’s 10,000sqft farm, which grows strawberries, kale and edible flowers commercially, Swan and his team employ sustainable techniques such as controlled environment agriculture, vertical farming and hydroponics. It aims to use land optimally, increasing yield while reducing water consumption. Swan’s green fingers must be genetic. His great, great, great grandmother was Granny Smith, inventor of the eponymous apple.
Justin Yu, Taiwan
Co-founder and partner, Plan b
Creating tools to facilitate sustainable development
Yu aims to make design and urban planning sustainable through Plan b, the consultancy he co-founded. His work provides an integrated set of tools for sustainable development, and he has reactivated existing urban spaces and created new ones such as the Center for Innovation Taipei and ParkUp. Justin has also founded and invested in several start-ups, and is currently a member of the youth advisory group to Taiwan’s Executive Yuan.
Jerd Phichitkul, Thailand
Founder and CEO, Fastwork
Streamlining Southeast Asia’s freelance economy
Championing the freelance economies of Thailand and Indonesia, Phichitkul’s talent outsourcing platform Fastwork has matched more than 30,000 freelancers with more than 300,000 businesses. Its aim is to ensure that freelancers get better pay and work-life balance while clients get access to the talent they need.
Korawad Chearavanont, Thailand
Founder & CEO, Eko
Bringing greater efficiency and productivity to the workplace
The son of Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of True Corp, one of Thailand’s largest public companies, and grandson of Thailand’s wealthiest man, Chearavanont has been making his own way as founder of Eko, a communications and operations platform designed to improve staff engagement and allow businesses to work more efficiently. In 2018 the company raised US$20 million in Series B funding.
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