By Terence Repelente
Video by Janus Martinez and David Clarence Rivera
Images by Noel Pabalate
Themed “Diversity and Empowerment,” the second annual Forbes Under 30 Summit Asia brought together some of the most influential young entrepreneurs, gameTchangers, and innovators mainly from across Asia. It was a day of telling inspiring stories, giving network opportunities, and sharing of cultures. Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list features young rising stars, already established, under the age of 30, across these 10 fields or categories where they are flourishing—consumer technology, enterprise technology, entertainment and sports, arts, finance and venture capital, industry and manufacturing, healthcare and science, social entrepreneurship, media and advertising, and retail and e-commerce. In the summit are 30 honorees for each of the 10 categories that make up the list. All the honorees were selected by judges who are some of the most accomplished and acclaimed in their respective fields. The Solaire Resort and Casino was flooded with inspiration poured by the participants, panelists, honorees, and listees—each possessing their own versions of success and inspiration.
Different versions of Success
Give It App
For Shravan and Sanjay Kumaran, the teenage brothers who co-founded a company named GoDimensions and started developing mobile applications when they were just 10 and 12 respectively, success means the installation of their created apps in everyone’s smartphones. Known as the youngest mobile application programmer in India, Shravan and Sanjay’s ideas are truly advanced for their age as they create and develop apps that aim to help those in need. One of their ongoing projects is GoDonate.
“You see a lot of these events, right? Lots of food get wasted. What we thought was instead wasting this good food it can be given to local charities and it can be given to local NGOs. So what we did is we created a platform, an app, called GoDonate. Donors can put items and you can see charities around you and then those charities can get in touch with you and then you can give the item or they can collect the item from you. These food items or these clothes or whatever it is do not need to get wasted,” says Shravan.
These two bright minds have created seven apps for App Store and three for Google Play. These apps have reached 70,000 downloads in over 60 countries. Truly an inspiration to all young developers.
“Keep going. You might be facing lots of problems, especially when encoding. It sometimes gets very, very irritating not being able to solve a bug but you just have to keep trying and keep trying and try. Only then will you succeed,” says Sanjay. In the summit, they are part of the panel for The Future of Tech: Generation Z.
Shahnawanaz Zali’s career started when he was 13 years old. “My aunt had cast me in a film. It was a Hollywood film produced in Pakistan and I was one of the actors in it—I was a child actor. That’s when I got into the role of filmmaking. I wasn’t making the film at that time. I was acting in it and that was my first time in front of the camera. And that made me wonder, ‘Ok, I really want to choose this field’ because I love it,” he says.
Today, Zali is a rising filmmaker who was nominated for a Student Academy Award in 2016 for his documentary on suicide bombers, 100 Steps – Sou Qadam. He’s gone on to win several other awards at international events, including the Miami Independent Film Festival and the Accolade Global Film Festival.
“I define success as a filmmaker that once you show your film people start talking about it outside when they leave the cinema room. A film has a clear start, beginning, middle, and end but I don’t think that there’s an end to a film because I feel like if I can spark a dialogue between two people about the film when we leave the cinema, I think that’s success,” he says.
“The more target audience it reaches, the more successful it gets. It’s more about how one person like if they see my film and they leave the cinema and they start talking about it, I feel that’s success. The more people talk about it, the more success it gets.”
Just like anybody in any industry, Zali has experienced numerous rejections. But, according to him, he didn’t let those small bumps on the road stop him.
Zali is currently working on a couple of scripts for television shows in Pakistan. He said he is currently eyeing to make a Netflix Original or an Amazon Studios original. With this rate of perseverance and passion, we’ll be seeing him on Netflix or Amazon in no time.
“My biggest advice to everyone who wants to pursue film, or journalism, or any career in their life is the fact that you will always hear the word ‘No.’ You will always fail while doing it but if you don’t fail you will never learn, you will never know how it feels to be at the bottom, or fail at the first place.”
Golden Duck Lays Golden Eggs
For Singaporean businessmen Christopher Hwang and Jonathan Shen, success comes in many different forms. “There’s obviously a form of financial success, financial freedom—the ability to do what you want when you want it. There is freedom to grow beyond that and help others and give back. And to me, that’s the ultimate success. If you can build yourself in your empire, to a level where you can help people. For example, our workers we pay them well,” says Chris.
“It’s one thing to do well, make money, and have success by the world standards and by the business standards, which is obviously just making money, but what defines your success as a business person, between us what we’ve agreed is that what we have to do is use that money and use that responsibly. So what we are doing is we are making the conscious decision to support underprivileged children,” Jon followed.
Arguably the best salted egg chips in Singapore, Golden Duck Co. now sells an average of 10,000 packets of snacks per week. They are quickly on the rise in the retailing industry, and the world is loving them. Much of their success they attribute to their dynamic duo and their perfectly combined passion for business.
“You have to juggle. Ultimately, whether it’s a strong friendship you want to keep or a strong business partner—you have to be able to balance that. The idea that we go full on arguing each other about something as simple as an Instagram post, that has happened before but because we care. This business wouldn’t have gotten from its infancy stages to where it is now because we were not paying attention to detail,” says Chris.
Bridging the Knowledge Gap
New Zealanders Jamie Beaton and Sharndre Kushor have always been high achievers as students. But now, they’re not just making an impact inside a classroom, they’re showcasing their talents to shape and help the world through education. Crimson, an education mentoring technology company co-founded by Beaton and Kushor, has reached more than 2,000 tutors from 50 colleges worldwide. It has helped more than 2,000 students.
Beaton and Kushor seem to have found home in each other as they possess an incredible teamwork and a solid relationship—both as friends and co-founders.
“We always end up being on the same track but we love healthy discussion over strategy and on bringing new hires we’d like to be on the same page. We really work to make sure we are very aligned with everything we do,” says Jamie.
Crimson, when viewed for its impact and investors, is already a huge success but, for these two, it is just the beginning.
“Success for me is knowing that you’re spending your time building something that is going to have a massive impact at scale. I think that with Crimson we know that works really well. In the last 12 months, we have opened nine new offices. And in the next 12 months we want to open at least another 18 new offices,” says Shrandre.
“For me it’s really fulfilling. One, to be doing something that adds a lot of social value. Two, doing something that is working with people that I’m really inspired by and I can learn from to achieve this mission. Both those things are really important and I think the combination of them mixed with the really exciting environment to be in kind of makes me feel excited to be working toward this goal.”
Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Once upon a time at Future University Hakodate in Hokkaido, a deaf man got lost at a festival. A student by the name of Tatsuya Honda helped this deaf man. This encounter birthed two things—a genuine friendship and a flaming drive to develop a wearable sound sensor to help other people with hearing disabilities. Honda, as he grew closer to the deaf man, got more interested in communicating with the hearing-impaired, prompting him to learn sign language and volunteer as a translator.
He invented a device called Ontenna, a clever pun on the Japanese word for sound and the word ‘antenna,’ which transforms sounds, like music, into vibrations and light.
“I want to share this product as soon as possible so now I’m trying use a test market it and also making sure of its business model,” says Tatsuya. “I want to make a lot of smiles by using design and technology.”
Honda says he hopes to take an open-source approach to developing both the hardware and the software of the Ontenna so customers will be able to modify its functions and design by themselves.
This is because Honda believes the Ontenna’s use will not be limited to supporting the hearing-impaired. He is currently working and experimenting with technology and design in creating devices that will help assist people who has other forms of disabilities.
“I don’t have a special power, like any other person, I only have a unique set of skills. The deaf people also have a unique set of skills,” he says. “That’s why my job is to combine the ideas and skills and then make an interesting product work. This is my job.”
Diversity and Empowerment
A highlight of the summit’s food and music festival is Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia alumni and Filipino singer-songwriter Jake Zyrus—who performed at the event. Katrina Razon (DJ Katsu), managing partner of Third Culture Music and Media and festival director of Wonderfruit, also dropped beats alongside other new highlights such as Filipino chef Miko Aspiras and bar manager Michael Tubiera who presented an Under 30 cocktail—created especially for the summit.
Overall, the Forbes Under 30 Summit Asia is a huge success. With interactive activities and themed presentations such as “Leading Innovation Across Asia,” “Changing Asia,” and “You’ve been Hacked,” each moment, each forum, each presenter, honoree, and listees in the summit is filled with distinct wisdom and a uniquestory of success.