The Forbes 2021 Asia list of 30 under 30 published in April this year contains 76 honourees who are from India. These young men and women under the age of 30 are considered the most creative and boldest minds in their chosen field and who are making an impact in the business world and society. That the total from India is higher than runners-up country China (36) and third-placed Japan (31) added together, attests to depth and richness of talent among Indians. As the country is defined as the location where these individuals are based, there are more Indians in other cities who have made the list.
Singapore which is ranked fourth on the list with 27 entries has eight Indians on its list of youthful revolutionaries out of 31 individuals. Co-founders from the same company may consists of two or more individuals but appear as one entry on the list.
This Asian list which has been published every year for the last six years, catalogues the 30 entrepreneurial individuals or groups in ten categories which are trailblazers in their industries. These categories include social impact, the arts, entertainment and sports, finance and venture capital, healthcare and science, and consumer technology.
The North American list which has been published for ten years consists of 30 groups or individuals from 20 industries.
As the list grows and evolves, it is not only getting more diverse but more and more Gen Zers are being featured. This year's Asian list is made up of 15.6 per cent who are 23 years old or younger. The average age of the people on the list is 26.5 with the youngest being 11-year-old Japanese professional Go player Sumire Nakamura.
This year, 22 territories are represented but the top five make up almost two-thirds of those who made the list. This indicates that the top locations in some way provide a supportive environment for innovative thinking and the spirit of enterprise. They also reflect a vibrant start-up scene and the size of the economy.
67.6 per cent of the list-makers are founders or co-founders of companies. Together, these individuals have raised one billion US dollars for their companies and causes.
Although Singapore is a small country, it has a decent sized economy and an outsized stature amongst those seeking to start a technology business due to attractive government schemes, incentives, and policies to attract the best minds and encourage innovation. This has led to many companies and individuals to locate their offices on the island.
Here is the background of the eight Indians based in Singapore who made the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
Tushar Aggarwal is founder of Persistence One which leverages blockchain technologies to facilitate asset transactions such as commodity trading and debt financing. Last year, it raised USD 3.7 million in a round led by Arrington XRP Capital, a blockchain VC firm headed by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. Before starting Persistence, Aggarwal worked as a principal at blockchain and cryptocurrency fund LuneX Ventures. He attended The Doon School in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, and graduated from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.
A former Goldman Sachs investment banker in New York, Devi Sahny founded tutoring start-up Ascend Now in 2018. This start-up creates personalized curriculums based on students' preferences, as opposed to the traditional top-down approach. Her firm now has about 70 teachers who have tutored more than 900 students in Singapore, Indonesia and India. Sahny who is also CEO, says that revenue was USD 970,000 last year, up 170 per cent from the previous year. She expects revenue to double to USD 2 million in the coming fiscal year. Sahny graduated from Georgetown University in the US.
Kenath Priyanka Prasad co-founded Prime Respi in 2017 to develop airway-clearance therapies for patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases. Her portable WIND device generates intrapulmonary percussion to loosen mucus, which patients can potentially use at home instead of visiting a healthcare centre for treatment. Although the device has yet to be commercialised, the startup has raised more than USD 2.6 million from investors including Singapore government firm SGInnovate. Prasad holds a PhD in bioengineering from Nanyang Technological University.
Vyasaraj Manakari and Gururaj Parande co-founded med-tech start-up Magloy Tech with their PhD supervisor from the National University of Singapore, professor Manoj Gupta. Made with a biocompatible magnesium alloy, the start-up's OrthoMag product is a novel bone implant that can dissolve in the body over time. The innovation potentially reduces risk and recovery time for patients, because traditional implants made of steel or titanium would require a second surgery to remove after the bone heals. The start-up has raised funding from investors including Origgin Ventures and Singapore's Start-up SG Tech. They both worked at German firm Bosh Engineering and Business Solutions in Bengaluru before coming to Singapore to further their education.
Vishvesh Suriyanarayanan co-founded Split with partner Dylan Tan. Split started as a travel payment firm but had to pivot to another business due to COVID. Split has grown into a leading buy-now-pay-later provider in Malaysia and Singapore for ecommerce and retail, allowing clients such as Dyson and Lego to accept interest-free instalment payments from customers. Since April 2020, they have signed up 300 brands and generated USD four million in sales for them. The company raised around USD one million from venture capital fund 500 Start-ups and angel investors including AccorHotels Asia Pacific's former deputy CEO Louise Daley. Suriyanarayanan is a graduate from the Amrita Schools of Engineering.
Vardhan Kapoor is Head of APAC for money-transfer platform Remitly. The Seattle-headquartered start-up, which was featured on the Forbes Fintech list in 2018 and 2019, raised USD 85 million in 2020, bumping its valuation to USD 1.5 billion. Kapoor's research on technology's impact on society was shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey's 2019 Bracken Bower Prize for the best business book proposal by an author under 35.
Priyageetha Dia is an artist who grew up in Singapore. Her interdisciplinary art practice unfolds narratives of identity and the self, the influence of representation through image-making and tech culture, and the social function of the public sphere. She first went viral in 2017 with her artwork, the "Golden Staircase," when she covered a full flight of stairs in a public housing building, in gold foil. It set off a vigorous debate in Singapore on the role of public art and its relationship to governance and authority. She launched another viral installation, the "Golden Flags," a year later. Dia received the IMPART Artist Award by Art Outreach Singapore in 2019 and has showcased her work at the Art Science Museum and National Gallery.
The achievement of this group was somewhat tainted by news last week (May 12) that Forbes removed 19-year-old Indian Harsh Dalal, CEO of Singapore tech firm Team Labs from the list. Tech publication, Tech In Asia reported that it found several "inconsistencies" in Team Labs' narrative, adding that Dalal was unable to verify his previous claims about the company.
Forbes subsequently took steps to remove Dalal from the list. Justin Doebele, Forbes Asia Editor and Executive Director-Content, said, "His removal comes after a careful consideration of the findings of a comprehensive review of the information that was used to qualify him for the list, as well as new information that has come to light in recent days."
"Forbes holds itself to the highest standards of journalism, and that includes the integrity of the 30 Under 30 Asia list. The information that we now know about Dalal supports our decision that he should no longer be included on the 30 Under 30 Asia list, and we have taken significant steps to further tighten our evaluation processes." (ANI)