The Rising Singapore Tech Stars You Need To Know
From drones to apps, here's why these Singaporeans are Asia’s top 50 rising stars.
The international tech scene is no longer a private playground for Silicon Valley companies, with Asian players making waves on this side of the globe and beyond.
To celebrate the talented individuals who are changing the face of the industry, the Asia Tatler editors and a panel of experts compiled a list of the top 50 rising tech stars in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Phillippines, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Here are eight of Singapore's tech visionaries on the list:
Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo and Marcus Tan
Why them? The co-founders of Carousell, one of the largest mobile classifieds apps in the Asia-Pacific region, are proof that Singapore’s evolving educational ecosystem can nurture entrepreneurs. The National University of Singapore (NUS) alumni all spent a year in the Silicon Valley through the NUS Overseas College Programme, which inspired them to use technology to make the process of consumer-to-consumer buying and selling simpler.
The biz Singapore-based Carousell was founded in 2012 is in 19 major cities across seven countries, including Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Australia. Beyond e-commerce, it’s also big on building communities—users with similar interests tend to form connections, and this helps reinforce this platform’s standing as the go-to C2C marketplace. In 2016, Carousell raised $35m in series B funding.
Psst… Quek (far left), 29, and Ngoo (centre), 28, were on Forbes’ inaugural 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2016. We’re sure 33-year-old Tan is chuffed for his younger co-founders. After all, he compares their working relationship to a well‑oiled machine: “We have great chemistry, and we are extremely mission‑focused.”
Why him? Ever found yourself ploughing through page after page of a report or a legal document? We feel your pain—and so does 32-year-old 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. For introducing a new paradigm to using data, Handshakes won top honours at National Infocomm Awards in Singapore last year, in the first contest it ever entered, no less.
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$200m in 2013, became one of the most impressive tech tatler_tatler_stories to come out of Asia.
Why him? Li is the maverick behind Garena, Southeast Asia’s most valuable start-up. At US$3.75b, it’s the region’s largest unicorn (a start-up valued at more than US$1b).
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.
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 after meeting through, you guessed it, an online game.
The biz Since its launch in 2005, Razer has 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.
Why him? With a giant like Alipay—the payment processor started by Alibaba’s Jack Ma—as one of his main investors (through its operating company Ant Financial Services Group) and an official accreditation from Singapore’s government, Mah is a star entrepreneur.
The biz V-Key, the venture he co-founded in 2011, 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.
Shaun Chong, Lai Chang Wen and Tan Boxian
Why them? These young guns range from late 20s to mid-30s in age, but already had years of entrepreneurial experience under their belt before co-founding last-mile logistics company Ninja Van in 2014.
The biz Ninja Van uses technology to eradicate the inefficiencies that have long plagued the traditional delivery industry. It has enabled them to use just one-third of the manpower of other systems. In 2016, the company scored US$30m in series B funding from investors including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and it has expanded to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Psst… In the early days, the trio would sometimes send fake parcels to one another, in order to grill couriers about their jobs. The Ninja Van software was crafted after they learned how packages were sorted and assigned to drivers.
Why him? Everything from getaways to groceries can be booked online, why not gourmet experiences? Enter Chope, co‑founded by 36-year-old Ziaudeen, who’s also its CEO, with two others in 2011. The online restaurant reservation platform has helped over 20 million diners score seats at their table of choice.
The biz Chope has tied up with the Singapore Tourism Board to boost the city state’s reputation as a dining hub, and also expanded into Indonesia, Thailand, China and Hong Kong.
Why him? Dixit understood the vast potential of cloud computing 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 winner at the 2016 Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards.