The indomitable spirit of young entrepreneurs in Asia has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Age is no longer a factor as these successful young individuals proved their mettle with sheer will and determination. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia takes a look at its top 10 young entrepreneurs in Asia (listed in no particular order).
Hendy Setiono – Indonesia
Hendy Setiono, founder and President Director of PT. Baba Rafi based in Indonesia already has four franchise food brands: Kebab Turki Baba Rafi, Roti Maryam Aba-Abi, Piramizza, and Gula Box.
The idea of venturing into the food and beverage industry in Indonesia came to him during a trip to the Middle East. At the time, he was still in university studying Information Technology but he dropped out later on to concentrate on his business idea.
Today, the business has grown into the biggest franchise chain in Asia with 475 outlets all over Indonesia after only six years and Hendy has plans to expand the brand further to South East Asia very soon.
Khalid Alkhudair - Saudi Arabia
Khalid worked with a respectable auditing firm where he was responsible for initiating its corporate social responsibilities. It was there where he founded www.Glowork.net, the first women empowerment movement and website dedicated to female recruitment within the Gulf Region. His efforts earned him praise from leaders and the community.
Glowork is now endorsed by the country’s Ministry of Labor as one of the most innovative ideas in the market and it has created thousands of vacancies for women in just eight months.
He is well decorated in terms of awards and is an accomplished writer and contributor for many trade publications. Khalid has not only become extremely successful but has helped to change cultural norms in the Arab world.
Joel Neoh – Malaysia
Joel Neoh, 30, won Malaysia’s first corporate reality television programme, “The Firm” in 2007, and was the youngest of the 10 contestants. He invested the funds wisely and co-founded Youth Asia and expanded it into a group of award-winning internet companies.
In September 2010, he founded GroupsMore, which was acquired by Groupon for an undisclosed amount in January 2011. As CEO, Joel has successfully built Groupon Malaysia and Groupon Taiwan turning it into one of the largest e-commerce businesses in the region with both companies having over 3,000,000 subscribers and employs over 300 employees.
Marvin Agustin -Phillipines
Marvin’s career actually started in acting where he starred in more than 30 Filipino movies and TV series. However, he became a successful entrepreneur when he joined forces with some friends and established Sumosam Food Inc. – a casual food restaurant serving Japanese-American modern cuisine. Now there are more than 10 such outlets around metro Manila.
The entrepreneur seems to have found the right formula in running a chain of successful restaurants – “Not many people know that I was a humble waiter once so I know the industry well,” he says. Today, the business has grown exponentially. He also owns other brands including a Japanese restaurant called John and Yoko, Cafe Ten Titas and more recently, a modern Italian restaurant called Gambino.
Leonard Tan - Singapore
Leonard Tan is a Singaporean entrepreneur best known for being the founder and chief executive officer of PurpleClick Media Pte Ltd, the first and only company in Southeast Asia accredited by Google, Yahoo! and Baidu.
Tan’s ability to create a successful and profitable enterprise that is socially responsible also garnered him the “The Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2009” and “Entrepreneur of the Year Award for eCommerce 2009”.
His recognition as a successful young entrepreneur in Singapore continued in the following year. Tan was awarded the Singapore Youth Award (SYA) 2010 for entrepreneurship category in July 2010. This highest national youth accolade in Singapore marked imperative milestones for Tan, in recognition of his remarkable achievements and prospective future.
Not long since 2011 began, Tan created another history by securing an exclusive partnership with Baidu--the largest search engine company in China with a market share of over 75%. He proceeded to set up DigiChina Pte Ltd to focus his efforts on marketing Baidu.
Kentaro Iemoto - Japan
Kentaro Iemoto is founder and CEO of Clara Online, which was the first player in Japan to offer Linux-based virtual private servers connected to broadband networks and other IT services by leasing them to corporate clients in Japan. At age 14 he was diagnosed with having a brain tumor, underwent surgery and spent several years in a wheelchair but he managed to pull through.
Whilst still in junior high school, at 16, he launched Clara Online with $9,000 in seed money. Today, Iemoto is well known in technology and business circles and manages six data centers in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Seoul from offices in Japan and Taiwan. He is one of the hottest young talents in Japanese technology.
Wallis Wong - Hong Kong
Wallis Wong, from Hong Kong, worked in the IT and wireless industry in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific region for more than 8 years before he founded his first start-up company 3 Dynamics (Asia) Limited, a mobile content developer in 2004.
“Mobility has become a necessity. Companies have to find new ways to reach out to customers, to market their products and to provide their content”, he says.
Today, 3 Dynamics has become one of the top innovators in Hong Kong, leveraging location-based technology in 3G and Wi-Fi game or applications. With already 60 mobile titles successfully developed, 3 Dynamics is a trusted name to movie companies, TV broadcasters and licensors.
Ganesh Kumar Bangha - Malaysia
Ganesh Kumar Bangha co-founded MOL Access Portal Berhad, the operator of the www.mol.com. He built the company to become one of South East Asia’s leading payment service providers and subsequently rebranded the company to “Money Online”.
Bangha conceptualised and led the development of the company’s key product, MOLPoints, a global micropayment system which today has over 600,000 physical and virtual payment channels across more than 75 countries worldwide. MOLPoints presently handles an annualised payment volume of over USD300m. Today, companies such as Facebook, Zynga and Electronic Arts use MOLPoints for monetisation in South East Asia.
Bangha has proven to be a serial entrepreneur with the necessary experience of building a company from scratch into a multi-million dollar listed vehicle, which he subsequently privatised for its next growth stage. Through a series of acquisitions, he has built one of South East Asia’s largest internet companies with revenues of over USD200m.
Adhvith Dhuddu - India
Adhvith was 23 years old when he founded AliveNow in 2009 and continues to stay at the helm as CEO. When Adhvith was doing his undergraduate study in the U.S, he was passionate about financial derivatives, options and engineering but he returned to India to embark on something totally unrelated to his field of study as he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.
“When I came back I saw an opportunity in social media and that’s how I ventured into the business,” he says. Today AliveNow, based in Bangalore, offers a range of innovative social media services and has worked with iconic international brands like Hard Rock Cafe, Pepsi, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet and more in such a short span of time.
Nguyen Minh Tri - Vietnam
Nguyen Minh Tri, a 25-year-old from Vietnam and founder of Viet Tech Corporation and My World based in Ho Chi Minh and Portland, U.S.A respectively. The first is a software developer and outsourcing specialist company that focuses on small and medium businesses whilst My World, is a Web 2.0 venture that is a leading social and educational utility in Vietnam, offering users the chance to share news, blogs, photos, music, and other content in both Vietnamese and English.
Nguyen is an active business leader and entrepreneur in Vietnam and the USA. Since graduating he has has amassed a collection of awards and honours in just 5 years and is recognised by the Vietnamese Government for his contributions. Vietnam and Nguyen are attracting worldwide attention in the high-tech market.