forbes 30 under 30 singapore 2021
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Business magazine Forbes released yesterday (April 20) its sixth annual 30 Under 30 Asia list, which features 300 young entrepreneurs, leaders and trailblazers across the region under the age of 30.

They have been recognised by Forbes for braving the challenging environment brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and finding new opportunities amidst the new normal.

Although the pandemic has been tough on everyone, some entrepreneurs on the list have managed to grow their business and raise, in some cases, tens of millions of dollars in funding — totalling over US$1 billion.

Out of this long list of 300 honourees, 27 outstanding Singapore individuals across different industries hail from Singapore. Here’s a breakdown of these homegrown successes and why they deserve to be on the list.

1. Tushar Aggarwal, 28, Founder of Persistence 1

tushar aggarwal persistence 1
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

Singapore-based Persistence leverages blockchain technologies to facilitate asset transactions such as commodity trading and debt financing. It raised last year US$3.7 million in a round led by Arrington XRP Capital, a blockchain VC firm headed by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.

Before starting Persistence, Aggarwal worked as a principal at blockchain and cryptocurrency fund LuneX Ventures.

2. Htay Aung, 29, Founder of Anywheel

htay aung anywheel
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Consumer Technology

Aung launched Anywheel in 2017 amid the bike-sharing craze in Singapore. At the time, there were about a dozen bike-sharing operators in the country. Now, it is one of the few bike-sharing companies authorised by the Land Transport Authority to operate 15,000 bicycles in Singapore.

Anywheel has branches in Malaysia and Thailand, where it provides both bike and e-scooter sharing. The startup has plans to expand into Australia and Vietnam and offer shared power-assisted bicycles, also known as e-bikes.

3. Chen Chee Yang, 29, Founder Of Carta Genomics

chen chee yang carta genomics
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

Chen graduated with honours in neuroscience from Imperial College London, and worked as a doctor at Britain’s National Health Service for two years before striking out on his own.

A neuroscientist who was born via the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) process 29 years ago, Chen founded Carta Genomics in 2018 to help IVF parents. His Singapore-based startup uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse multiple genes working together, and predicts the risks of disease for each embryo in the future.

4. Serene Cai, 28, Co-Founder Of Speedoc

serene cai speedoc
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

Serene Cai co-founded digital health startup Speedoc in 2017, which is a platform where users can book doctor house visits in Singapore. In four years, she and co-founder Shravan Verma (who is over 30) have expanded the startup’s business to include online medical consultation as well as nurse and ambulance booking.

So far, more than 33,000 patients have booked doctor visits via Speedoc. Last year, the startup raised US$5 million in its series A round of financing led by Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India.

5. Chia Jeng Yang, 27, Principal at Saison Capital

chia jeng yang saison capital
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

Chia manages Singapore’s Saison’s investment team, scoring 10 new investments across India, Southeast Asia, and the U.S. last year. In April 2020, Chia also launched SEAcosystem.com, a public COVID-19 layoff online database to help 1,500 startup employees find new opportunities.

He also founded Shaper Impact Capital, a global startup resource with 100 volunteers that has helped hundreds of companies. With a bachelor’s in law from Cambridge, Chia was an early member of global startup incubator Antler, as well as South Asian e-commerce startup Daraz, which was sold in 2018 to Alibaba for US$200 million.

6. Marilyn Chew, 27, Founder Of Eterate Calligraphy

marilyn chew eterate calligraphy
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: The Arts

Chew is a Singapore-based calligraphy artist who founded Eterate Calligraphy. Her studio has worked with companies including SK-II, Bulgari and Montblanc.

Last September, Eterate was named one of Vogue’s six best bespoke wedding invitation designers in Singapore.

7. Grace Ciao, 28, Founder Of Grace Ciao Studio

grace ciao studio
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: The Arts

Singapore fashion illustrator Grace Ciao is known for her ‘Bloom Belles,’ which combine watercolour painting with real flower petals. By using the natural form of each flower to design the dresses in her illustrations, she blends fantasy with realism.

Ciao, who started her eponymous brand during her final year at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School in 2013, now counts Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Ritz Carlton, and Saks Fifth Avenue New York among her clients.

8. Harsh Dalal, 19, Co-Founder Of Team Labs

harsh dalal team labs
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Consumer Technology

The 19-year-old runs software startup Team Labs, which employs 120 people across six countries, including Singapore where Dalal is based. Its flagship product Xenon helps developers build digital products in the cloud.

Team Labs plans to relaunch the platform, which has about 70,000 users, with AI software that integrates video calls and group chat. Since 2017, Team Labs has raised US$9.8 million from investors, including American VC firms Grand Canyon Capital and Startup Capital Ventures, as well as sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corp.

9. Priyageetha Dia, 28, Artist

priyageetha dia artist
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: The Arts

Priyageetha Dia’s interdisciplinary art practice unfolds narratives of identity and the self, the influence of representation through image-making and tech culture, and the social function of the public sphere.

She first went viral in 2017 with her artwork, the “Golden Staircase,” when she covered a full flight of stairs in a public housing building, in gold foil. It set off a vigorous debate in Singapore on the role of public art and its relationship to governance and authority.

She launched another viral installation, the “Golden Flags,” a year later. Dia received the IMPART Artist Award by Art Outreach Singapore in 2019 and has showcased her work at the Art Science Museum and National Gallery.

10. Sheik Farhan, 23, Silat Athlete

sheik farhan silat
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Entertainment & Sports

Farhan is a three-time world champion in silat, a martial art developed in Malaysia and Indonesia that was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2019.

He won his third championship at the most recent World Pencak Silat Championship in 2018, held in Singapore. Despite curbing his training after enlisting for Singapore’s national service months earlier, he won gold at the 2019 Asian Pencak Silat Championships in China and the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia. His father is a two-time silat world champion.

11. Wayne Goh, 28, Co-Founder Of Glife Technologies

wayne goh glife technologies
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Retail & Ecommerce

Goh cofounded Glife, a farm-to-table platform that aggregates farm sources and connects them directly to restaurants, thereby cutting out the middleman.

With over 100 employees in supply-chain logistics fulfilment and tech development, the company serves 800 food and beverage businesses in Singapore and generates revenues of over US$10 million. It has raised US$7.2 million from investors such as Heliconia Capital Management, Global Founders Capital, 500 Startups and Quest Ventures.

A serial entrepreneur, Goh previously co-founded the ecommerce aggregator AllDealsAsia that was acquired by Indonesia’s Lippo Group.

12. Sazzad Hossain, 27, Founder Of SDI Academy

sazzad hossain sdi academy
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Social Impact

Hossain founded social enterprise SDI Academy in 2013 to help the country’s migrant workers overcome daily challenges by improving their English. He has since expanded its services to include computer skills, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

When the pandemic hit last year, Hossain distributed food and essential items to 43,000 migrant workers and launched an app to help them connect with each other and the wider community. He also partnered with remittance groups to help migrants send US$1.2 million home during lockdown.

13. Mohamed Afiq, Junkai Ng and Nathaniel Yim, all 28, co-founders of Janio Asia

janio asia founders
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Industry, Manufacturing & Energy

In three years Afiq, Ng and Yim have scaled Singapore-based Janio Asia to more than 200 employees across five countries. The logistics startup provides cross-border shipping, last-mile delivery and tracking services in the entire Southeast Asia region.

Janio Asia last year raised an undisclosed amount of funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and Insignia Ventures Partners.

14. Vardhan Kapoor, 28, Head of APAC At Remitly

vardhan kapoor remitly
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

At the money-transfer platform Remitly, Vardhan Kapoor leads the company’s expansion in Asia Pacific. The Seattle-headquartered startup, which was featured on the Forbes Fintech list in 2018 and 2019, raised US$85 million in 2020, bumping its valuation to US$1.5 billion.

Kapoor’s research on technology’s impact on society was shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey’s 2019 Bracken Bower Prize for the best business book proposal by an author under 35.

15. Shawn Li, 29, Founder Of E3A Healthcare

shawn li e3a healthcare
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

With the goal of developing non-invasive care for newborns, Li founded E3A Healthcare in 2019. The first product of the Singapore-based company is PTMaster, a phototherapy device that combines optoelectronics and signal processing to monitor jaundice in infants.

E3A Healthcare has raised US$1.5 million in funding from investors that include NUS and Hong Kong X Startup Platform. Li holds a Ph.D. in bioengineering and biomedical engineering from NUS.

16. Jay Lim, 28, Venture Partner at Global Founders Capital

jay lim global founders capital
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

Lim is a venture partner at Global Founders Capital, a Berlin-based VC firm whose portfolio includes Facebook, LinkedIn and Traveloka. He has led investments in Hong Kong-based fintech startup Reap, Indonesian student-loan firm Pintek and Singapore-based social commerce startup Webuy.

He was a cofounder of Singapore-based Lending Startup and in 2016 worked briefly at Barclays’s investment banking unit.

17. Vyasaraj Manakari, 28; and Gururaj Parande, 27, Co-Founders Of Magloy Tech

Vyasaraj Manakari, Gururaj Parande, Magloy Tech
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

Manakari and Parande co-founded Singapore-based medtech startup Magloy Tech with their Ph.D. supervisor from the NUS, professor Manoj Gupta.

Made with a biocompatible magnesium alloy, the startup’s OrthoMag product is a novel bone implant that can dissolve in the body over time. The innovation potentially reduces risk and recovery time for patients, because traditional implants made of steel or titanium would require a second surgery to remove them after the bone heals.

The startup has raised funding from investors including Origgin Ventures and Singapore’s Startup SG Tech.

18. Lu Kangjia, 29, Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore

lu kangjia nus research fellow
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

Lu experienced water scarcity firsthand in her Chinese village growing up, where residents had to travel to a distant village to buy safe water supplies. The experience led her to focus on water reuse as a researcher at NUS.

Lu’s work centres on membrane distillation, a technology that uses specially designed membrane to reclaim water from sources such as industrial waste discharge, and has already been adopted for commercial use in Singapore. She also helped edit the book Membrane Distillation: Membranes, Hybrid Systems and Pilot Studies, published in 2019.

19. Oh Chu Xian, 27, Founder Of Magorium

oh chu xian magorium
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Industry, Manufacturing & Energy

With the goal of reducing plastic waste, Oh founded Magorium in 2019. The Singapore-based startup makes road-construction materials by breaking down plastic waste such as bottles and shopping bags — a process that Oh says is more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than using bitumen to pave roads.

Awards for her innovation include TechNode Best Sustainable Solutions Winner 2020 and Ideasinc 2020, a nationwide startup challenge run by Nanyang Technology University (NTU).

20. Kenath Priyanka Prasad, 29, Founder Of Prime Resipi

Kenath Priyanka Prasad prime resipi
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

Prasad co-founded Prime Respi in 2017 to develop airway-clearance therapies for patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases. Her portable WIND device generates intrapulmonary percussion to loosen mucus, which patients can potentially use at home instead of visiting a healthcare centre for treatment.

While the device hasn’t yet been commercialised, the Singapore-based startup has raised more than US$2.6 million to date from investors including SGInnovate. Prasad holds a Ph.D. in bioengineering from NTU.

21. Devi Sahny, 27, Founder Of Ascend Now

devi sahny ascend now
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Consumer Technology

A former Goldman Sachs investment banker in New York, Sahny is the founder and CEO of Singapore-based tutoring startup Ascend Now. The startup creates personalised curriculums based on students’ preferences, as opposed to the traditional top-down approach.

Founded in 2018, Ascend Now’s roughly 70 teachers have tutored more than 900 students in Singapore, Indonesia and India. Sahny says her startup reached S$1.3 million in revenue last year, a 170 per cent increase from the previous year.

22. Vishvesh Suriyanarayanan, 29; and Dylan Tan, 28, Co-Founders of Split

Vishvesh Suriyanarayanan, Dylan Tan, split
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

Tan and Suriyanarayanan started Split at the Entrepreneur First accelerator program. As COVID-19 decimated the travel industry, their travel payments startup was on the verge of shutting down.

After a pivot, the duo has since grown Split into a leading buy-now-pay-later provider in Malaysia and Singapore for e-commerce and retail, allowing clients such as Dyson and Lego to accept interest-free instalment payments from customers.

Since April 2020, they have signed up 300 brands and generated US$4 million in sales for them. The company raised around US$1 million from venture capital fund 500 Startups and angel investors including AccorHotels Asia Pacific’s former deputy CEO Louise Daley.

23. Wei Shi Kai, 27, COO Of LongHash Ventures

wei shi kai longhash ventures
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

Wei has managed over 30 early-stage blockchain startups at the global blockchain accelerator and venture capital fund, whose investors include Binance and Google.

He also launched the firm’s 12-week incubation program in 2019 where graduating startups have secured a total of over US$18 million in funding. Wei is a frequent speaker and writer on Web 3.0 and the future of blockchain. He previously worked as a management consultant at McKinsey.

24. Xi Liu, 28, Founder Of Ferne Health

xi liu ferne health
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Healthcare & Science

Last year, Liu founded Ferne Health, a woman-focused sexual health platform that offers consultations and at-home testing kits for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.

She launched the Singapore-based startup to challenge the stigma around discussing sex in Asia as well as to provide accessible healthcare to women.

25. Jeff Young, 28, CEO of BitWell

jeff young bitwell
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

After his investment firm Block Vision Capital participated in the US$30 million funding round of digital currency derivatives platform BitWell, Young was invited to take its helm.

He has since grown the Singapore-based platform’s daily trading volume to more than US$100 million. BitWell’s investors include Hashkey, Dragonfly Ventures and Ceyuan Digital Assets.

26. Edward Yee, 26, Co-Founder of Givfunds

edward yee givfunds
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Social Impact

Givfunds partners with well-funded community-focused organisations — such as the United Nations Development Programme and government think tank NITI Aayog — to invest in overlooked social enterprises in South Asia.

Since its launch in 2017, Givfunds has invested in 48 social enterprises; in which more than 80 per cent of them it was the first investor.

According to Yee, Givfunds’ financial support has had a direct impact on more than 45,000 people. In 2019, Yee was awarded a Rhodes scholarship — the first to a Singaporean in 14 years.

27. Yin Likun, 29, Founder of RootAnt

yin likun rootant
Image Credit: Forbes

Category: Finance & Venture Capital

RootAnt is a fintech startup that facilitates open-banking use cases between businesses and banks such as removing intermediaries in supply-chain finance, which enables small businesses to avoid delays and save money.

The Singapore-headquartered company has raised US$1.5 million in seed funding and opened offices in China and Japan. Yin was named an Asia FinTech Leader and Under 30 FinTech Leader at the Singapore FinTech Awards in 2019.

Featured Image Credit: Anywheel / Forbes / Speedoc / Juliana Tan for Forbes Asia / Eterate Calligrapy / Forbes

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