Asia Shines at the 2017 Forbes Under 30 Summit
Keeping with its annual tradition of honoring bright, innovative young minds, Forbes hosted its Under 30 Summit in October, 2017. The event brought together approximately 7,000 entrepreneurs, who convened in Boston to learn from some of the world's most successful young business leaders. This year's meeting brought together speakers and performers from across the world representing five main categories: Capital, Impact, Discover, Tech, and Create.
This year's Forbes show featured an eclectic mix of 300 performers and leaders. Approximately 3,000 contenders made the Forbes "30 Under 30" list, and 95 countries were represented at the show. In addition to the speakers, the show surprise appearances by celebrities, personal sessions with big-name investors, a service day, and startup competitions. Young leaders came to Boston from all disciplines and walks of life. They included entrepreneurs working for social justice, championing breakthrough technology, and making impacts in the pharmaceutical and medical fields.
Standing out in the 2017 crowd was the group of entrepreneurs from Asia, who had a very strong presence at the Forbes show. The list of notable attendees is quite long, but a select few made a big impact on judges and audience members. Many of these individuals are honorees of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Summit, which took place earlier in 2017. This convention featured pan-Asian talent with approximately 300 entrepreneurs, placed into 10 categories, demonstrating innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. The talented Asian group at this year's Forbes convention included honorees from the following countries: China (76), India (53), Southeast Asia to Australia (29), Uzbekistan (1), and Bhutan (1).
Social justice, which fell into the Impact category, was a prominent field. The social justice group included a number of notable speakers, but one particularly outstanding participant was Minhaj Chowdhury. Chowdhury won $500,000 at the show's $500k Impact Challenge for his involvement with Drinkwell, which is a social enterprise that distributes clean water to citizens in India and Bangladesh. The young cofounder and CEO of Drinkwell is credited with creating an innovative water filter technology to make the water in those two nations safer to consume. Also tackling social issues was Daroath Phav of Cambodia. Phav is especially talented in the areas of business and marketing. Using his skills, Phav has encouraged more rural Cambodians to use toilets. In 2010, only 25 percent of Cambodians living outside of the big cities had access to toilets. With assistance from Phav, that number increased to 50 percent in five years. Refugee Talent, which was co-founded by Nirary Dacho and Anna Robson, is a social improvement business designed to help refugees find jobs. The company works with skilled refugees to help them find jobs. Their goal is to cut down on the significant 85 percent of refugees who remain unemployed in the first five years following a move to a new location.
The technology sector, not surprisingly, was well represented. Speakers in this field included Carl Pei, who is the cofounder and Head of Global for OnePlus, which is a mobile phone company based in Shenzen. Pei elaborated on his company's rocky start, which included a poor financial performance in its second year of operation. Another highlight of the summit was Gibran Huzaifah, who started as a fish farmer before becoming an entrepreneur. Huzaifah founded eFishery, which introduces smart feeding technology into the world of fishing. eFishery is gaining worldwide acclaim for its revolutionary impact on the Indonesian aquaculture industry. Another standout in the technology sector is Yuki Shimahara of Japan, who incorporated artificial intelligence technology into a cloud-based platform, called LPixel, to help medical personnel interpret and store medical images. Also on the Tech Stage, Saket Modi gained quite a bit of attention for his ability to hack into phones and computers. Modi is the cofounder and CEO of LucideusTech, which focuses on hacking as a good skill that can help to educate people and defend them against cyber-attacks. During his performance, Modi successfully hacked into an audience member's cell phone, which he used to record his speech and then play it back. Using Eternal Blue, Modi also hacked into a Windows computer with Anti Virus and Firewall. This same tactic has been used by hackers in large-scale attacks including Petya Ransomware and WannaCry. After carrying out the attacks, Modi taught audience members for preventing such attacks in the future and staying safe online.
Representing the financial sector were several promising young investors. This group included Zhou Chenyao, who is an international business student at Saint Louis University. Zhou began her venture capital career at the age of 14, and was promoted to partner of her firm, Longling Capital, three years later. The 27 year-old now oversees $140 million in funds. She focuses on early stage investments in technology. Christopher Lai, an investor from Hong Kong, is another standout. Lai directs consumer and retail investments at Horizons Ventures. Before that, he worked as a banker with Mooreland Partners, where he helped with a number of large deals, including patent sales to Google. Lai studies neuroscience, economics, and genetics at Columbia University.
Arts and entertainment were also on the menu. Leading off on the Capital Stage was Ray Chen, who is an accomplished Taiwanese-American violinist. Chen performed on the second day of the program, playing his violin before a packed room. He has a history of performing at prestigious global events, including the Nobel Prize concert in 2012. At that time, he was the youngest soloist ever to perform. At the young age of eight, Chen performed at the opening ceremony of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Chen, who is considered one of the leading violinists in the world, is endowed with many honors. His repertoire includes winning the esteemed Queen Elisabeth competition in 2009, and the Yehudi Menuhin competition in 2008. He has recorded three albums so far with Sony, and recently signed on to Decca Records.
Women were also strongly represented at the show. A strong and noteworthy attendee was Neelofa, who is the founder and director of NH Prima International. Neefola designed a presentation called "Fashioning the Future" for the Forbes show. She spoke at the Impact Stage. Neefola's mission was to introduce the hijab as a symbol of freedom and power, rather than as an object of limitation, restrictions, and fear. In addition to Neefola, standout females included Vivy Yusof, who joins Neefola as a young Malaysian entrepreneur with a successful business. The group also included 20-year-old Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui, China's first supermodel Liu Wen, and Paradise Sorouri, who is a rapper from Afghanistan. Sorouri is the first female rapper from her home country, and writes songs about gender inequality in Afghanistan. As a result of her outspoken statements, Sorouri has been challenged with physical attacks and death threats. She is an advocate for women's rights, and has been recognized (and supported by) the United Nations. Chan Yuenging of Hong Kong was also at the event. She made a name for herself as the first female soccer coach to help bring an all-men's soccer team to a championship victory. For her efforts, she won a spot in the Guinness World Record, 2016. Chan, who coaches Eastern FC, also led her team to victory in the Hong Kong Premier League. She was nominated for the title of Asian Football Confederation's female coach of the year in 2016. These accomplishments are even more impressive considering that Chan began coaching her team in 2015. Another notable attendee was Alia Bhatt, who is an actress from India. Bhatt landed her first leading role at age 18 in the movie 'Student of the Year.' Since then, she has gone on to act in over 20 high-grossing films for Bollywood. A handful of those films have earned over $15 million worldwide just in their opening weeks. Bhatt's achievements have earned her multiple awards, including the 2016 Filmfare Award for Best Actress. On the side, Bhatt has a self-named fashion line. Joining the list of 30 Under 30 was accomplished Chinese diver Chen Ruolin. Ruolin, who is considered one of the most successful divers in history, won a fifth gold medal at the Rio Games in Brazil. Her prior victories included winning gold medals for her dives from the 10 meter platform and the synchronized platform at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Following her victory in Brazil, Ruolin became only the sixth diver ever to achieve that number. She retired from the sport of diving in 2016, at the age of 23, due to a neck injury.
Held worldwide, the Forbes' "30 Under 30" series is quite impressive, and it also takes quite a bit of time to put events together. In preparation for each summit, Forbes opens its doors for submissions. Thousands of hopeful candidates apply online, and some are chosen through electronic submissions. Forbes also partners with correspondents and researchers worldwide to scout out top entrepreneurs making a name for themselves in their respective fields. The judges in the "30 Under 30" series include individuals who have made an impact in their chosen fields. Judges screen applicants to help narrow the list down to the top 300. They are then tasked with evaluating the candidates' performance.