Asia’s Top 50 Rising Tech Stars April 19, 2017 | BY Philippine Tatler From electric cars to drones, bike-sharing apps to 3D sound, and even security systems governed by artificial intelligence, Asia’s technological output shows the region is a thriving hub of innovation. The Asia Tatler editors and a panel of 17 experts surveyed the tech scene’s main players aged 40 and under to compile this list of its top 50 rising stars. START GALLERY Leadership #Tech #leaders Asia’s Top 50 Rising Tech Stars April 19, 2017 | BY Philippine Tatler × CATHERINE TAN WHY HER?The 34-year-old left a career in investment banking to launch start-up Notey with her husband in 2014. THE BIZPlanning a trip and want to read some personal, first-hand reviews? Or perhaps you’re looking for a good wedding blog? In a content-rich, time-poor world, Notey filters the web, delivering the most relevant, engaging stories from thousands of blogs based on the reading habits of its millions of users. Simple. Advertisement Click To Skip LUKE GRANA WHY HIM? The direct-to-consumer clothing company he founded in 2013, Grana, is changing the face of the industry. THE BIZ By cutting out the middleman, the company—with US$10 million in fresh funding secured last year led by Alibaba’s entrepreneurship fund—offers high-quality basics at a fraction of the usual price. PSST... The latest addition to the team, Arie, is a puppy Grana rescued. KEVIN MA WHY HIM? The 33-year-old ex-financier and self-proclaimed “sneakerhead” started his Hypebeast blog as a side project in 2005. THE BIZ It’s now a well- respected authority on all things street culture—from high fashion to music and graffiti—and gets 47 million page views a month. It has spawned a quarterly print magazine and an online store, HBX, carrying 300+ brands. Ma has managed to harness the power of cool. SIMON LOONG WHY HIM? This Stanford graduate aims to democratise access to credit with the online lending platform he founded in 2013. WeLab has already acquired more than 13 million users and processed US$9 billion in loan applications. Last year WeLab was described in a KPMG report as the No. 6 fintech company in China. Loong is also an avid kick-boxer, so you’d better not be late with your repayments. DANNY YEUNG WHY HIM? The 33-year-old has democratised genetic testing with Prenetics, the DNA- analysis company he founded in 2009. THE BIZ From a simple saliva swab, users can discover their risk for common cancers and major diseases, their optimal diet and their likely response to specific drugs. Advertisement Click To Skip MICHELLE SUN WHY HER? After taking part in a 12-week women-only coding course in the US, Sun left her job at Goldman Sachs to start First Code Academy in Hong Kong in 2013. THE BIZ What began as a one-day, girls-only coding workshop has grown into a range of courses for children of both genders. There’s now a five-year curriculum, and three students were recently invited to show off their apps at MIT. The company recently expanded operations to Singapore. WESLEY NG WHY HIM? Ng left a career in graphic design to start Casetify, an accessories company that enables customers to personalise their phone cases with favourite quotes or Instagram pics. THE BIZ With Snapchat marketing and celebrity endorsements, the 35-year- old has created the world’s third-largest tech accessories brand in just five years. STEVEN LAM WHY HIM? Lam is the man who made moving house hassle-free when he launched GoGoVan in 2013. Gone are the days of waiting hours for a call centre to locate your man-with-a- van. The 31-year-old’s on-demand logistics app puts businesses and individuals directly in touch with drivers, allowing bookings to be made 24/7 and within minutes. Hurrah! HU WEI WEI WHY HER? She invented bike-sharing app Mobike, the first of its kind in the world. THE BIZ The bikes, with their built-in GPS and smart locks, can simply be locked up on the roadside ready for the next user. Just locate the nearest bike with the app, and the charges are automatically deducted from your account. Advertisement Click To Skip ZHOU YUAN WHY HIM? The former software development engineer and journalist founded the question- and-answer website Zhihu in 2011. THE BIZ Like a Chinese version of Quora, it enables users to search and share expert and personal knowledge that’s missing from more fact-based search engines like Google and Baidu. Yuan’s personal mantra? “Believe in the power of change.” The app took off in nine more cities in as many months. ZHANG YIMING WHY HIM? His clever algorithms—which analyse relevance, timing, current news and personal interest— mean the search engine Zhang founded in 2012, Jinri Toutiao, delivers news content tailored to the user. No two Toutiao.com search pages are the same. IT’S HOT It took just 90 days for Toutiao to gain more than 10 million users—which explains why Zhang was named one of China’s “30 Under 30” entrepreneurs in 2013. WANG TAO WHY HIM? His childhood dream was to make drones. In 2006, aged 26 and with just US$100 in his pocket, he set up shop in Shenzhen and did just that. THE BIZ Da Jiang Innovations Science and Technology is now the world’s largest maker of unmanned aerial vehicles, with 70 per cent of the consumer market. Wang has made China’s rich list for two years running and is listed as the 57th richest in technology globally. He doesn’t drink and the sign on his door reads: “Brains only, no emotions.” Probably not one for a wine-fuelled sob fest. WANG SICONG WHY HIM? We’ve got a soft spot for Wang Sicong. The 29-year-old son of China’s richest man, Dalian Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin, he once hired an island in the Maldives for his birthday, and bought two Apple watches and eight iPhone 7s for his dog (which has 700,000 Weibo followers of her own). THE BIZ His online gaming platform, Invictus Gaming, altered the face of e-sport when it was launched in 2011, and his sport streaming service, Panda TV (2015), is a rival of Amazon’s Twitch TV. But can Wang make money as fast as he spends it? Advertisement Click To Skip CHENG WEI WHY HIM? Back in 2012 and aged just 29, Cheng Wei founded the taxi-hailing app Didi Chuxing. Essentially the Uber of China, the app has now expanded into everything from private taxis to chauffeur services, ride sharing, test drives and even car rental services. IT’S HOT With input from big investors such as Alibaba and Baidu, it’s now one of the most valuable start-ups in the world, with more than 300 million users across 400 cities in Mainland China. LI XIANG WHY HIM? Known as China’s Elon Musk, Li Xiang is shaking up the car industry with his electric car start-up, Chehejia, which he founded in 2015. THE BIZ Li gathered US$120 million in the first round of funding, and construction of the factory is to begin this year, with an initial production goal of 200,000 vehicles a year. WHY SO HOT? The revolutionary cars won’t rely on charging points; they’ll have detachable batteries you can take home to recharge and they’ll be available for both rent and purchase. WANG XING WHY HIM? The 38-year-old electronics engineer is founder and CEO of Meituan.com, a Groupon- style deal-of-the-day site, and has appeared on Forbes’ rich list for two consecutive years. THE BIZ With investment from Alibaba, the site he founded in 2010 is going from strength to strength and had 200 million users by 2015. Yet Wang Xing remains pretty grounded and can often be found with his nose in a good book. TANG JIANFENG WHY HIM? This 40-year-old tech wizard is the masked vigilante of the web, a Batman for the digital age, fighting cybercrime one password at a time. THE BIZ Inspired by his love of the online game World of Warcraft, he started his company, PeopleNet, in 2007. Since then he has transformed security technology to erase network vulnerabilities and create cutting-edge dynamic password protection, making the net a safer place for us all. Advertisement Click To Skip LIU QING WHY HER? Forbes magazine lists this 38-year-old Harvard graduate and former Goldman Sachs employee as one of the 25 most influential women in Chinese business. The daughter of Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi, she left banking to join Didi Chuxing as president in 2014. THE BIZ Last year Qing helped Didi Chuxing, the world’s largest ride-sharing company (founded by Cheng Wei—see opposite page), secure a US$1 billion injection from Apple and engineered the acquisition of Uber China, making the company the country’s undisputed king of mobile transport. THAT’S NOT ALL The mother of three also gave cancer the finger in 2015. HANIFA AMBADAR WHY HER? In 2005 Hanifa Ambadar decided to turn her passion for blogging into an online business, founding Female Daily Network. The online portal for women by women provides a space for reviews, forums and, of course, blogs about beauty, family, fashion and lifestyle. WHY SO HOT? Despite launching it at a time when blogging and online stores were still a relative novelty, Ambadar, 38, won support from major brands such as Samsung, Yves Saint Laurent and Levi’s to secure her place in cyberspace. KEVIN MINTARAGA WHY HIM? The website he established in 2014 to connect venues and wedding services with the betrothed, Bridestory, has become a highly successful platform for wedding support around the world. The 32-year-old is a prominent player in Indonesian business and was named one of Fortune magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2013. At the age of 27, he was the youngest CEO in the multinational WPP group. THE BIZ It was his wife, a wedding stylist, and their own experience that inspired him to establish his Bridestory website. While planning their wedding, Kevin was frustrated by a lack of easily accessible information about wedding vendors. ACHMAD ZAKY WHY HIM? Having started a noodle-making business while at university, this budding entrepreneur founded Bukalapak, an online consumer-to-consumer marketplace for local enterprises, in 2010. THE BIZ Connecting other smaller start-ups via one platform, the website showcases one-off deals and products. Having attracted funding from investors such as 500 Startups and Batavia Incubator, the 31-year-old’s digital venture is going from strength to strength. Advertisement Click To Skip JASON LAMUDA WHY HIM? The former chemical and financial engineer took over Berrybenka, then a small Facebook shop, from his wife, Claudia Widjaja, and turned it into an international online fashion and beauty shopping platform, one of Indonesia’s favourite marketplaces for local and international products for men and women. THAT’S NOT ALL Lamuda, 31, is no tech newbie. He previously founded Disdus, a deals website that was bought by Groupon in 2011. VERONIKA LINARDI WHY HER? The 35-year-old Carnegie Mellon graduate founded Qerja, a platform providing information about salary and work environments, in 2014, establishing a level of transparency that allows people to make informed decisions about their careers and enables companies to evaluate their competitiveness in the market. THE BIZ What started out as just helping friends was soon transformed into a national online recruitment platform that has gained major investment from the Softbank ISAT Fund. With Qerja and its sister site, Jobs.id, Linardi is dominating the Indonesian digital recruitment market. FAROUK MERALLI WHY HIM? The 31-year-old Harvard graduate is revolutionising global health with his digital start-up, mClinica. By giving governments, academics and pharmaceutical companies access to health data, the platform is advancing patient care and services, as well as medical research. It already connects thousands of pharmacies across Asia and it’s set to go global within months. PAOLO AZZOLA WHY HIM? PayMaya, the secure online payment system this 31-year-old ex-JP Morgan employee founded in 2015, allows individuals, businesses and institutions to make online payments without the need for a credit card. Users register with a mobile number and receive a virtual debit card that can be used for purchases in numerous stores. Like Paypal but better. Advertisement Click To Skip PAUL RIVERA WHY HIM? The 34-year-old simplified the job market for Filipino graduates by co-founding Kalibrr in 2013. THE BIZ The tech company has built an AI-driven job-matching platform for young professionals across Southeast Asia. THAT’S HOT ALL Before moving back to the Philippines, Rivera worked at Google in San Francisco and built a business, Open Access, that grew to have more than 1,000 employees over five years. It was his experience expanding Open Access that alerted Rivera to the recruitment issues Kalibrr aims to solve. CHOW PAREDES WHY HER? Gym junkie, tennis lover and yogi, Chow Paredes hails from a family of lawyers but decided to join the real estate industry in 2006 as a sales agent and worked her way up. THE BIZ The 35-year-old entrepreneur is bringing real estate into the digital age with ZipMatch, the company she co-founded with John Dang in 2013. The platform gives buyers, sellers and agents all the information they need about residential properties in the Philippines. In addition to compiling comprehensive articles and lists, the Explore feature allows buyers to view the property with a 360-degree virtual tour. IT’S HOT A first round of fund- sourcing has already secured investments from Monk’s Hill Ventures and 500 Startups. Some might call that a full house. NIX NOLLEDO WHY HIM? His first job out of university was in KFC, yet he’s now a self-made billionaire. THE BIZ The online platform he co-founded in 1999, Pinoy Exchange, is one of the largest online peer-to-peer information sharing sites in the Philippines. Plus Xurpas, the mobile content company he founded in 2001 (he is chairman, president and CEO), was publicly listed in 2014 with a value of 1.36 billion pesos (US$69.8 million)—not bad for a company that started with a capital of 62,500 pesos. PSST... Ernst & Young named Nolledo its Young Entrepreneur of the Year and its Master Entrepreneur for the Philippines in 2015. BJORN PARDO WHY HIM? Bjorn Pardo started out selling items on eBay and working as a courier in the US before founding his company, Xend, in 2004. THE BIZ Inspired by his past work, the e-commerce-meets-courier site offers businesses access to affordable, convenient shipping, with a particular focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs. Xend picks up, packs and delivers to over 230 countries. The 36-year-old has a great partnership with 7-Eleven—users can now employ Xend in more than 500 branches. Advertisement Click To Skip FORREST LI WHY HIM? Forrest Li is the maverick behind Garena, Southeast Asia’s most valuable start-up. How valuable, you might ask? US$3.75 billion, which makes it the region’s largest unicorn (a start-up valued at more than US$1 billion). THE BIZ Dubbed Singapore’s answer to Alibaba, the company is a consumer platform provider that started off as an online-gaming darling before branching out into e-commerce, social networks and online payments. Li established it in 2009 and has been its chairman and CEO ever since. SHASHANK DIXIT WHY HIM? Clouds—the tech, online data storage kind, not the condensed water vapour—are everything these days. Shashank Dixit understood that way back in 2008 when he founded Deskera, a provider of cloud-based software solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. Almost a decade on, the company operates across Southeast Asia and aims to be listed soon on Catalist, the Singapore Exchange’s junior board. PSST... Dixit was an awardee at the 2016 Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards. RAZMIG HOVAGHIMIAN WHY HIM? Hovaghimian is the co-founder of Asia’s answer to Netflix. THE BIZ Established in 2007 (pre-Netflix), Viki is a video streaming website that licenses movies and TV shows at a fraction of what they would cost in their home markets, distributing the content online to a global audience with crowd-sourced, fan-created subtitles for the different language markets. The firm was also one of the first to spearhead Singapore’s start-up scene and, when it was assimilated by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten for a reported US$200 million in 2013, became one of the most impressive tech stories to come out of Asia. TANG MIN-LIANG WHY HIM? The tagline for Razer, a unicorn specialising in computer hardware marketed to gamers, is “for gamers, by gamers.” It’s apt, then, that co-founders Tan Min- Liang and Robert Krakoff decided to join forces—and brains—after meeting through, you guessed it, an online game. THE BIZ Since its launch in 2005, Razer has grown to become one of the best known gaming names in the world, working on anything from gaming laptops and keyboards to, most recently, virtual and augmented reality. PSST... Before Razer, Tan, who holds a law degree, worked as an advocate and solicitor at the Supreme Court in Singapore. Advertisement Click To Skip BENJAMIN MAH WHY HIM? With a giant like Alipay—the payment processor started by Alibaba founder Jack Ma—as one of his main investors (through its operating company Ant Financial Services Group) and an official endorsement from Singapore’s government, Benjamin Mah is a star entrepreneur. THE BIZ V-Key, the venture he co-founded in 2011 and of which he’s now CEO, secures any app from malicious attacks through a patented cryptographic virtual technology, providing security to banks, governments and mobile payment providers. IT’S HOT Among its clients are ChinaPNR and Deloitte— oh, and Alipay, obviously, which handles 80 million transactions a day. Peanuts! DARYL NEO WHY HIM? Ever found yourself skimming through page after page of a report or the terms and conditions of a contract? We feel your pain—and so does 32-year-old Daryl Neo. THE BIZ Handshakes, the company he co-founded in 2011, compiles public corporate documents and enables users to easily see the connections between companies and the people who own or run them. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds—so much so that last year Handshakes was a winner at the National Infocomm Awards in Singapore, the first contest it ever entered. ANTHONY TAN WHY HIM? While at Harvard Business School in 2012, Tan founded the ride- sharing platform Grab with fellow Malaysian student Hooi Ling Tan. They’ve since built it into Southeast Asia’s leading Uber- style platform, a US$3 billion business operating in 30+ cities. PSST...Tan’s great-grandfather was a taxi driver and his grandfather started the Japanese auto industry in Malaysia, so cars are in his blood. WHAT’S MORE The 35-year-old was named one of Fortune magazine’s 40 Under 40 last year. VIVY SOFINAS YUSOF WHY HER? With husband Fadzarudin Anuar, she founded the multi-label e-commerce site FashionValet in 2010, providing an outlet for Malaysian fashion designers, and co-founded dUCk, a scarf brand catering to the modern Muslim woman. THE BIZ A business that started with US$24,000, 10 designers and a staff of 20, FashionValet has grown to stock 500 brands and employ hundreds of staff, with offices in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta. PSST... She also stars in her own reality TV show, Love, Vivy, which follows her daily life. The show complements a 925,000-strong Instagram following to provide strong marketing for her brand. Advertisement Click To Skip DHESI BAHA RAJA The start-up this 32-year- old doctor founded in Silicon Valley in 2015, AIME, combines artificial intelligence and epidemiological research to predict outbreaks of disease up to three months in advance. It plans to implement the platform in multiple cities worldwide, providing an invaluable service for governments, as well as insurance and drug companies. STEPHANIE SITT As CEO of Inmagine Group, which encompasses some of the world’s largest companies sharing stock images, including 123rf.com, Stockunlimited.com, Designs.net and Inmagine.com, Sitt drives the group’s global sales and marketing efforts and partnerships. Having co-founded the group on a shoestring in 2000, she now oversees more than 400 employees in 44 countries and a content portfolio of over 65 million unique files. NG SANG BENG WHY HIM? He ditched his job following a bout of nasty office politics in 2004 and started Aemulus, a company that designs testing devices for the semiconductor sector. THE BIZ Aemulus was publicly listed on the ACE market of Bursa Malaysia in 2015. His former colleagues must be kicking themselves. WHAT’S MORE He puts his success over a decade of hard slog down to his wife’s unwavering belief in him. SHAWN GUAN WHY HIM? The co-founder and CEO of surveillance technology company Umbo Concept Vision has developed a way to use artificial intelligence to prevent crimes. THE BIZ No, really. It may sound like the premise of a dodgy sci-fi film, but Umbo Concept Vision’s security cameras and cloud-based management platform, which raised US$2.8 million in the first round of seeding investment, are already being used by businesses in the UAE, the US and Europe despite being launched as recently as 2014. Just don’t step outta line— he’s probably watching. Advertisement Click To Skip MING-WEI CHOU WHY HER? The 34-year-old Taipei- based strategist is the founder and CEO of CAREhER.net, a social media-based community that helps professional women advance in their careers by making connections, finding mentors and benefiting from the site’s marketing and custom- content services. Basically, she’s the Taiwanese version of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. THAT’S NOT ALL Besides connecting smart, talented women, CAREhER also produces career-related articles and podcasts by and about businesswomen in different industries across Asia, and organises online career coaching and offline business networking events. DANIEL SEAH ANG As CEO of Digital Domain, an award-winning film studio pioneering high-tech visual effects, 360-degree livestream broadcasts and virtual reality, 32-year-old Seah Ang is one of Hollywood’s most influential Chinese film executives. His mentors? Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz and former Marvel Comics president Stan Lee—so you better know your Spider-Man from your X-Men. TSAI-YI WU As a former professional guitarist, Wu knows her music. Ambidio, the company the 29-year- old launched in 2014, delivers high quality, immersive sound experiences through computer software technology—3D sound, if you like. The sound range is at least three times wider than your average speaker. Wu is backed by Grammy award-winning artist Will.i.am and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka- Shing’s Horizons Venture. CHIH-HAN YU WHY HIM? The 38-year-old entrepreneur co-founded Appier, a company that uses artificial intelligence to analyse people’s behaviour across multiple screens (tablets, mobiles, computers, you name it), tracking how they use different devices for different purposes at different times. SO WHAT? Insights like these allow companies to deliver ever more tailored ads to your social media feeds. THAT’S NOT ALL He’s the only Taiwanese member of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Class of 2016, sitting alongside heavyweights such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. No biggie then. Advertisement Click To Skip AMARIT CHAROENPHAN WHY HIM? A serial entrepreneur, 30-year-old Charoenphan has already launched 23 companies and can boast an impressive survival rate of 50 per cent. THE BIZ His co-working space start-up, Hubba, is the first of its kind in Thailand and one of the country’s top 10 start-ups. It hosts the leaders in Thailand’s blossoming entrepreneurial and creative scene, as well as events and workshops. JUTHASREE KUVINICHKUL WHY HER? When she co-founded Grab Taxi Thailand in 2013, 28-year-old Kuvinichkul was bringing to her country the Grab concept founded in Malaysia the previous year by a friend from her Harvard days. THE BIZ The ride-hailing app connects passengers and drivers on demand, as well as offering courier services, and has quickly become Southeast Asia’s most popular such service. Kuvinichkul has also been involved in helping Grab develop various offshoots, such as GrabTaxi, GrabCar, GrabBike, GrabExpress and GrabHitch. AMORNCHED JINDA-APIRAKSA WHY HIM? The holder of a master’s degree in robotics, the 28-year-old has been running the start-up he founded, Thailand’s largest marketplace for local one- day tours, for the past four years. THE BIZ In delivering in-depth understanding of Thailand’s rich culture to visitors, TakeMeTour aims to distribute wealth among rural communities by employing “regular” natives—locals who have grown up and lived in the places being visited—rather than professional guides. PSST... A man of many talents, he used to be a professional magician. LUSARAN SILPSRIKUL THE BIZ Some 9,000 businesses are already using Silpsrikul’s natty service, Page365, which plugs into Facebook stores, analyses comments (all those “I want this bag in red,” and “when is my order coming?”), then groups them into a central dashboard where sellers can monitor their customers’ behaviour, requests and purchases without having to engage publicly (and a little overwhelmingly) with each one of them. THAT’S NOT ALL The 27-year-old even gives out his private number to one client every month so they can call him to talk about anything they’d like. Now that’s stellar customer service. Advertisement Click To Skip SHARINEE KALAYANAMITR WHY HER? One of Campaign Asia’s 40 Under 40 strategic thinkers, 38-year-old Kalayanamitr was declared the Founder of the Year at Thailand’s Start-Up Awards last year. THE BIZ The e-commerce and media site she founded for and by women in Thailand and Indonesia, Orami, aims to create a female- centred ecosystem connecting women online and offline. It exists to mentor, support and inspire women—or, as its tagline suggests, to let them “have it all.” The platform works closely with women’s groups, such as Lean In and UN Women, and is active in talks for women’s advocacy across the region. PSST... Kalayanamitr can also do the splits, thanks to her days as a gymnast (she was a contender for the Southeast Asian Games in 1990).