Tanvi Gupta , FORBES STAFF
An ever-growing middle class, strong economies, and increasing education levels make Asians hungrier than ever for better financial solutions – something the rising stars of Asia’s finance sector recognize better than anyone else. On one hand, they lead the charge when it comes to leveraging disruptive technologies to build better products across the spectrum, from lending to insurance. On the other hand they’re in positions of responsibility in venture capital funds overseeing portfolios of several millions of dollars.
Meet this year’s class of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia in Finance and Venture Capital. Building successful companies from the ground up, solving systemic problems with big data and green lighting hundreds of start-ups – it’s all in a day’s work for them. They identify the trends they think will get big tomorrow as they shake up the way business is done today.
Chenyao (Zoe) Zhou, 28, is one such person – her job is to identify the next big thing in technology. As partner at Longling Capital – a Chinese venture firm – she oversees a $140-million portfolio in early-stage technology funding. Zhou got her start in venture funding in 2014 as investment manager in the same firm. She put in the work and after three short years, she was made partner. Zhou believes being a woman in this field is an advantage, giving her a unique perspective in a male-dominated area. Longling’s investments, focused on innovative technologies, include augmented reality startup WonderLand, blockchain company Bo Chen Technology and virtual reality software developer Zhi Hui Jia.
Ashwin Srivastava, 29, cofounder of Idein Ventures, is another venture capitalist sifting through the noise to pinpoint successful trends in cutting-edge technology. He analyses and filters through potential companies for Indein Ventures’ investment division and sits on the board of five of the firm’s high-potential companies.
Vicky Lay, 27, is another pro at identifying big ideas. At 22, she turned down an internship with IBM, choosing instead to launch Zookal, an ed-tech startup. Zookal raised more than $10 million. At 25, she joined Australian venture capital firm Artesian Venture Partners, and made managing director in just one year co-managing a $300 million fund.
Some of this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 are working deep in the trenches, upending old ways of doing business. They are driving innovation that allows people to access financial services faster and cheaper. Online peer-to-peer lending is one such area. Startups in P2P lending – that brings borrowers and lenders together to make access to small-ticket loans simple and fast – have honorees from India, Philippines, China and South Korea.
Maricor Bunal, 28, is the cofounder of Loansolutions.ph, an online lending platform that seeks to address Philippines’ deep-rooted problem of inadequate access to credit. The startup has already helped more than 2,000 people through its network of lenders that include banks and individuals.
Similarly, Sanghoon Seo & Joosoo Kim, 27 and 26, are bringing affordable, easy and quick credit to South Korea. Seo, who has VC experience in the U.S., wanted to eliminate the need for loan sharks in a market where banks – for the most part – lend to prime borrowers only. He cofounded P2P platform HonestFund with Kim in 2015. The startup has about 4,000 individual investors.
The entrepreneurs in this year’s list have also broken ground in what is a traditionally a highly-regulated sector – insurance. Val Yap founded PolicyPal – a Singapore-based smartphone app that helps users never miss a premium by tracking all their insurance on one dashboard. PolicyPal is also the first fintech startup to be included in the Singapore’s Monetary Authority’s sandbox – allowing the startup to test its product in a real environment.
The list also includes people whose breakthrough solutions have helped them carve out a unique space for themselves. Soowon Sophie Eom, 29, cofounded South Korea-based Solidware – that uses machine learning technology to build predictive tools for finance companies, helping them use big data for everything from pricing to customer risk.
Marshall Pribadi, 26, founded PrivyId, an Indonesia-based network processor of digital identity. The startup helps users create unique legally-binding digital identities, and signatures, that then allows them to sign up for services online without having to repeatedly authenticate their identity. This also eliminates the need for providing paper documents, saving time and the environment.
Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia Finance and Venture Capital list was put together with the help of expert judges with representation from the Chinese VC scene and Silicon Valley. Kai-fu Lee, cofounder and CEO of venture capital fund China’s Innovation Works, has previously held leadership roles at Apple, SGI and Microsoft. Rui Ma is a venture capitalist based in the Silicon Valley, and was formerly partner at 500 Startups China.
See the full Finance & Venture Capital list here.