2018 FEATURED PARTICIPANTS
Mr Yau assumed the post of the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development on July 1, 2017. His portfolio covers policy areas from trade, commerce to telecommunications and broadcasting, and from promotion of creative industries, intellectual property and consumer protection to boosting inward investment and tourism development.
Mr Yau has his full career in the public service. Before taking up the current post, Mr Yau was the Director of the Chief Executive's Office from 2012 to 2017, assisting the Chief Executive in formulating policies and setting policy goals and priorities. He was the Secretary for the Environment from 2007 to 2012, overseeing policies on environmental protection, energy, nature conservation and sustainable development.
Mr Yau started his civil service career as an Administrative Officer in 1981. During his long service as a civil servant, he held various positions, including Director of Information Services, Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower, Deputy Director-General of Trade and Industry as well as Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Washington, DC, USA.
Mr Yau graduated from the University of Hong Kong. He received further education at Oxford University and at Harvard University.
Min-Liang Tan is the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Razer Inc (HKEX Stock Code: 1337). He is also Chairman and CEO of THX Ltd.
His leadership has resulted in the growth of Razer from a two-man startup to a multinational market leader that was honored on Fortune Magazine’s “Unicorn List” in 2015 (private companies valued at US$1 billion or more). Razer went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2017.
Tan was named one of "The 25 Most Creative People in Tech" by Business Insider in 2015. Juniper Research distinguished him as a “Top 10 Most Influential Leaders in Tech” while Tech in Asia has ranked him No. 1 of the 30 top Southeast Asia tech founders. In 2016, he was named one of the “Straits Times Asians of the Year”.
Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore Law School.
YEECHOO gives customers the chance to wear their dream designer dress with the swipe of a finger - but for a fraction of the cost. With more than 30,000 subscribed members, the Hong Kong-based online designer rental service offers hundreds of options from labels including Victoria Beckham, Badgley Mischka and Oscar de la Renta. YEECHOO also offers accessories and styling tips to complete the look. Zhang raised financing from Alibaba Entrepreneurship Fund in May 2016 and plans to expand Yeecho to Macau, China and Southeast Asia later this year.
Tommaso Tamburnotti and Augustin Ceyrac are the cofounders of Easyship, a Hong Kong-based e-commerce platform that aims to simplify logistics for small to medium-sized e-commerce sellers to help them become globally competitive. Easyship works with more than 100 couriers and provides visibility on international shipping regulations, taxes and duties from one account. Today they have a team of 31 people in four offices around the world, and are used by 15,000 businesses. They were awarded Best Technology Company of the Year (startup) 2017 by Computer World.
Bobby Bao is a cofounder and managing director of Monaco Technology, a payment and cryptocurrency platform founded in 2016. Bao and the team aspire to push local mass-market cryptocurrency adoption, and as part of that, have created the Monaco visa card and mobile app, which allows users to buy, exchange and spend cryptocurrencies at preferable interbank rates. Monaco is also a cryptocurrency (MCO), and in 2017 it raised $26.7 million in a successful token sale.
Zeman is a serial entrepreneur and the chairman and 'father' of Lan Kwai Fong Group, a major property owner and developer of one of the most popular entertainment and nightlife districts in Hong Kong. Besides being the Chairman of Hong Kong Ocean Park for over a decade, he is now the Honorary Advisor to the Park and serves as a member of the Board of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, and is the Chairman of its Performing Arts Committee. He was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2011 and the Businessman of the Year at the Hong Kong Business Award in 2008. In 2001, Dr. Zeman was appointed a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong.
Tak Lo is a Partner at Zeroth, and invests in ambitious founders building AI companies that solves tomorrow’s problems. Zeroth is one of the most active AI investors in the world, having invested in 34 companies. Tak started his career in the US Army. He graduated from the London Business School and the University of Chicago.
A travel enthusiast, Gnock Fah started Klook in 2014 as a web and mobile platform to book attractions, tours, activities and other travel services at exclusive rates. Ramping up quickly, Klook has expanded to over 80 destinations in Asia and grown its team to 200 across eight locations, with over 5 million trips booked in 2016. Klook recently closed $30 million Series B funding from Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners. A Mauritius native, Gnock Fah grew up speaking seven languages, was educated in the U.S. on a full scholarship, and started his career with Morgan Stanley Investment Banking in Hong Kong.
Esther Wang is the founder of Joytingle, a healthcare education startup that specialises in child life programmes, patient engagement, paediatric education and hospital play speciality. The company designs and produces an educational toy called "Rabbit Ray" that educates children about medical procedures such as injections, vaccinations and intravenous drips. Products currently used by by leading hospitals across 5 countries. Customers include, Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre (USA), Great Ormond Street Hospital, Evelina London Children’s Hospital (UK) and National University Hospital (Singapore). In April 2016, Joytingle was highlighted in Singapore’s Parliament as an example of “innovation by design” by Minister of Finance, Minister Heng Swee Keat. Wang won the Shell LiveWIRE Global Top Innovator Award in 2016 graduated from Nanyang and spoke at TedxSingapore in 2012. She graduated from Technological University with a bachelor of fine arts in product design.
Founded in 2016, VeeR VR is a China-based platform for virtual reality content. Less than a year since its launch, it has attracted content creators from 180 countries, who can upload their VR clips to the website and work with the company to integrate them with different hardware. VeeR VR also developed an editing tool for 360-degree video called VeeR Editor. So far, it has raised $17.5 million in funding from investors including DCM, Bertelsmann Asia Investment and Hony Capital.
In 2015, Shi Xiaogang founded augmented reality (AR) startup Xloong in Beijing. The company utilizes this frontier technology -- which superimposes virtual information on the real-world view -- to make consumer and enterprise gears for various uses. While their sports goggles can assist cyclists with AR-based digital maps, Xloong’s “Techlens T2” glasses enable remote equipment maintenance by scanning machines and sharing real-time video feeds with engineers. They can then examine the feeds and input their feedback, in the form of AR-based marks and drawings to show malfunctions more clearly, and allow for remote assistance. “I believe AR will replace PCs and smartphones to become the next computing platform,” says Shi. “The technology has huge potential and many applications, which is why I chose to start a related business.” Aided by government grants, Xloong is now making AR glasses for Chinese police, which are expected to ship later this year. The connected gear, which look similar to ordinary spectacles, can recognize faces and cross reference them with profiles on China’s national ID databases to identify potential suspects. If there’s a match, a red alert combined with the person’s name and ID number is projected onto an officer’s real world view, helping to make a catch.
In 2016, Leng Xiaokun founded robotics startup Leju in Shenzhen. The company's main product is Aelos, a humanoid robot that can perform motions such as dancing, singing, as well as taking voice commands. During 2017's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it also unveiled Talos, its latest version of service and companion robots. Leju Robotics has received $7.4 million in financing from Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent.
Waldo is cofounder & CEO of Mantra, China’s first social impact-focused fashion brand. In 2016, Mantra’s first product line sold out within 72 hours, following Waldo and Mantra’s story going viral and reaching 300 million views on Weibo and WeChat. Along with non-profit sister organization Education in Sight, which Waldo cofounded with Andrew Shirman in 2012, the team has applied a buy-one-give-one model to give over 23,000 free eyeglasses and 170,000 free eye exams to children in need in rural China.
Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami are both athletes. As they burned through shoes running they became increasingly aware of the waste they were creating and decided to do something good, so they cofounded Greensole. The startup gave them a platform to recycle discarded shoes and donate the upcycled footwear to children in need for free. Partnering with heavyweight corporates such as the Tata Group, Rolls Royce and Just Dial, they now have their own repurposed retail footwear line available online.
Sang Hun Oh and Seung Bae Son cofounded robotics startup LUXROBO, which built MODI, a module system for DIY IoT and robotic creations. MODI makes it easy to create robots, like playing with Lego blocks, to make robotics technology more accessible. LUXROBO works with schools and education institutions to deploy MODI for robotics education. CEO Oh has won around 170 awards at robotics competitions and served as a coach for South Korea’s national robot team for five years. CTO Son is an electric engineer who has worked on hardware from electro-optical infrared for helicopters to underwater drone control display units.
Simmendinger is the founder and CEO of Soundbrenner Ltd., which makes wearable smart metronomes for musicians who need help establishing a rhythm. Before starting the company in 2014, the German national based in Hong Kong got a degree in business administration from schools in Germany and Mexico. He published his first non-fiction book at age 24. Simmendinger speaks four languages and goes backpacking around the world.
Stanislava Pinchuk (Miso) is an artist that maps areas of conflict around the world, data mapping how landscape is changed by political events with tiny dots. Her practice examines the ways in which ground retains memory of violence. Crossing disciplines between science & art, her gallery work has put forward a new research question within topographic & political spheres. She’s mapped nuclear zones and topographies of changing borders in war, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. Miso has worked with international clients such as Chanel, Tiffany & Co., and Nike -- for whom she is currently fronting a global campaign and has tattooed her drawings on singers Florence Welch and Sam Smith.
15-year-old Reyhan Camalova invented a product called 'Rainergy' – designed to harvest rainwater as a source of electricity. She was the youngest attendee of the 8th Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in India in November 2017, and received a special mention in Ivanka Trump's speech there. She also won an Honourable Mention at the Model UN Conference in Azerbaijin in 2017 and made it to the final stage of the competition at ClimateLaunchpad, Europe's largest green business idea competition.
Vinesh Sinha is the founder and Managing Director of Fathopes Energy, which he set up in 2010 with a refund from London’s School of Commerce after he dropped out. The company turns waste oils from the food industry in Malaysia into biofuels that he sells to companies globally. Consequently, FatHopes takes waste oils out of the food chain and reduces carbon emissions. FatHopes had sales of $147.6 million last year and are looking for other growth opportunities. Sinha was nominated for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017.
Scott Stiles is the cofounder of Hong Kong-based Fair Employment Agency. The startup aims to improve the working opportunities of migrant workers from the Philippines by not charging them job placement fees, which sends many people into a spiral of debt. It instead asks employers to shoulder the cost of labor immigration. Since it was founded in 2014, the non-profit startup has saved some 2,000 Filipino workers almost three million dollars in recruitment debt.
At the age of 24, Parsons' graduate Aakriti Kumar returned to India to set up Differniture – a sustainable, design-based furniture atelier and design-house. The award-winning designer follows a cradle-to-cradle ethos, which means her manufacturing processes are non-toxic, zero-waste, and utilizes responsibly purchased reclaimed wood. Kumar’s next project includes working on an eco-conscious cabin community in the Himalayas.
After getting engaged to her girlfriend, Australian Tara Baker realised just how unrepresented the LGBTQ+ community was in mainstream wedding media. Frustrated with the lack of choice, Baker launched Dancing With Her, the world's first wedding magazine focusing on LGBTQ+ women who were in love. It was first launched online in 2016 and then in print in 2017.
Lim Yuet Kim, Lee Swee Lin and Ling Shook Shian are the cofounders of the Picha Project. Named after a young refugee boy, their social enterprise empowers refugee families in Malaysia by connecting those who have cooking skills with companies, organizations and individuals needing catering. Home-cooked traditional food is first prepared by refugees, before it is packaged and delivered by the Picha Project to the end consumer. Around 50% of all revenue goes to the refugee family who did the cooking. The three entrepreneurs won the Edge Inspiring Young Leader's Award in 2017.
Founded in 2014, Bitspark is a blockchain-based remittance platform operating out of Hong Kong. By capitalizing on this emerging technology, the company claims users can send cash overseas with faster speed but at cheaper exchange rates. So far, Bitspark has established a presence in markets including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Ghana as well as Nigeria, with more than 150 money transfer operators as its partners. It also operates an online platform for crypto-currency and Bitcoin trading, raising $4.5 million through the sale of its token currency Zephyr. Last year, Bitspark received investment from RGAx, the innovation accelerator of St.Louis-based life insurance company Reinsurance Group of America, to further its expansion among traditionally unbanked populations.
Togo Ogi cofounded the company – which has raised nearly $1 million – with Waseda University classmate Ryushi Shiohama to train people for sports like weightlifting without a real instructor. With its augmented reality system called ARC Mirror, the trainer’s image is projected onto a full-size mirror to show form. Meanwhile, people practicing can see their reflection and try to follow the coach’s model; Its 3D scanning checks the form and gives advice.
In Nepal, some 30% of people live without electricity. As the general manager of Gham Power, Anjal Niraula focuses on addressing this problem by working with solar microgrids to provide a reliable electricity source to people who need it. So far, the private company has installed 2.5MW of solar microgrids across more than 2,000 projects, helping people to avoid using less environmentally friendly fuels such as diesel and kerosene. Anjal is a member of the World Energy Council’s Future Energy Leaders program.
Julius Tan is the founder of Electrify, an energy retail marketplace based in Singapore. As the country liberalizes its electricity market, the company allows consumers to compare electricity prices from multiple retailers and purchase directly from them. According to its website, Electrify has facilitated $3.8 million worth of transactions since March 2017, with commercial and industrial customers buying 30Gwh of electricity through the platform. Its next move is a new energy marketplace based on blockchain, which enables peer-to-peer trading from small-scale producers such as residential rooftop solar and wind turbines. The company recently raised $30 million in less than ten days through the sale of electronic currency tokens.
Hu's dream since junior high school was to launch a rocket. In May 2011, he led an amateur team of college students in Guangzhou, China, to study rockets, and two years later, his dream came true, launching a space-exploring rocket he made in Inner Mongolia. In 2014, Hu set up China's first non-state space rocket firm, Linkspace, where he serves as its CEO, and is planning his first commercial launch in 2017.
Modi is the chief executive of Lucideus, an enterprise cybersecurity company that he helped start. The firm based in India has provided electronic risk management services for four years to large companies offshore. Modi also joined an Indian government committee formed in 2014 to set up cybersecurity vocational courses. Multiple universities in Asia count him as a visiting faculty member specialized in information systems and security.
Ritesh Agarwal is the founder and CEO of OYO, India's largest hospitality company. Ritesh sets the overall strategic vision and direction for the company. Two of his key focus areas are product and technology initiatives and looking after the overall execution at OYO.
Travelling across India at the age of 17, Ritesh stayed in more than 100 bed and breakfasts, guest houses and hotels to realize there was a huge dearth of affordable and good-quality hotels in the unbranded budget hotel category. He started his entrepreneurial journey with Oravel Stays, which was a platform for listing budget accommodations. In 2013, Oravel transformed from a discovery marketplace to a managed marketplace for standardized hotels listed under the OYO brand. Starting with a single hotel in Gurgaon in 2013, OYO is currently present in over 150 cities in India, Malaysia and Nepal with 4,500+ exclusive hotels, 75,000+ exclusive rooms as a part of its network.
Ritesh was selected for the Thiel Fellowship (started by PayPal founder, Peter Thiel) in 2013. He is the first resident Asian to be accepted into the program.
Ritesh has been feted with accolades including Best Entrepreneur of 2018 by International Hospitality Council (IHC), Real Innovation Award (2017) by London Business School, New Age Entrepreneur Award at the Leadership, Governance, and Sustainability & CSR Awards (2017), Haryana Gaurav Samman at the first Pravasi Haryana Divas (2017), Icon of the Year (2017), Forbes' 30 under 30 (Consumer Tech - 2016), NDTV Dream Chaser of the Year (2016) and Business World Young Entrepreneur Award (2015).
Ritesh is a college drop-out who likes to cycle and do yoga in his free time.
Ah Moon Marip (known as Ah Moon) is a singer and songwriter from the Kachin State of Myanmar. A former member of Me N Ma Girls, Myanmar's first all-girl pop band, Ah Moon released her first solo album, Min Pay Tae A Chit, in 2014. It sold out in the country within weeks. She's since released another album, Automatic, with plans for another in 2018. She's one of Myanmar's most recognized performers, with over 2.5 million Facebook fans.
After studying in Paris, pastry chef Talita Setyadi returned to Indonesia in 2013 to open her first bakery, BEAU. Among the classic French favorites, Setyadi offers twists in her entremets, or multi-layered mousse-based cakes (raspberry, yogurt and pistachio is a signature combo). The bakery provides goods -- all made with natural, local ingredients -- to about 100 cafes, restaurants and hotels in Jakarta, and took in close to $1 million in revenue in 2017. Setyadi has also made education a pillar of BEAU; nearly all its bakers are trained from scratch, starting as cleaners or stewards at the company. The 29-year-old served as the youngest and only female judge in The World Pastry Cup in 2017.
As an 11-year-old, Miko Apsiras had his first ever encounter with the culinary world when he was helping his aunt out in the kitchen. At the time, baking not only warmed up his pastry in the oven, but also ignited the sparks within the heart of this baking enthusiast. Having attended a Culinary Arts course at the College of St. Benilde, now, the then baking newbie has become an experienced pastry chef, who has worked in various hotels such as the Shangri-La in Manila, Resorts World in Manila, Raffles and Fairmont in Makati and Magnum Café in Malia, Malaysia and Brunei. According to livetoexplore.ph, so far, Aspiras has won 6 gold medals, 3 silvers, and 2 bronze medals in culinary competitions such as the local Philippine Culinary Cup, the Hong Kong Culinary Classics and the World Association of Chef Societies.
At 29, Thai-Austrian Pichaya Utharntharm (better known as Chef Pam) has already picked up a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and worked directly under Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his eponymous three Michelin star restaurant. She has since launched two culinary businesses of her own. One is a barbecue delivery service, which offers Wagyu brisket, pork belly and other meats slow smoked over local hardwoods like lychee and tamarind. The other is her own restaurant, The Table by Chef Pam. Utharntharm is also a judge on Thailand’s edition of “Top Chef” and hosts her own cooking show, making her one of the country’s most recognized chefs.