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4/27/2023 - Visionary Unicorn Builders in Southeast Asia

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Time: April 27, 2023, Thursday at 6:00-7:30PM PST

(April 28, 2023, Friday at 9:00-10:30AM Singapore Time

Registration: here

As both U.S. and China struggle with its economy, the GDP growth of many Southeast Asian countries is amongst the fastest in the world. Global corporations are shifting their supply chains away from China to Southeast Asia. A large population of 655 million people that is increasingly growing is rapidly joining the internet. With over 450 million young internet users, and 85% of them have shopped online, Southeast Asia has become a playground for entrepreneurs and investors.

In our webinar, we speak with four proven serial entrepreneurs that have succeeded in building their innovative startups while navigating through highly diverse and challenged markets. We shall cover the following:

  • Southeast Asia has many startups but few proven, sizable, and regionally successful technology companies like Grab, Shopee, Lazada, and ToGo. Why is this? What does it take to grow a regional technology powerhouse?

  • In Web 1.0 and 2.0, China's technology companies adopted the "copy & innovate" from the West model. Today, their innovations have surpassed their Silicon Valley counterparts. Southeast Asia is still not known for technological innovation. What's your view on this issue?

  • The biggest challenge for any technology company is the talent shortage and the rapidly rising salary. How do you deal with that?

  • What significant challenges and opportunities did you experience building a regional technology powerhouse? Is your product easily adaptable in various Southeast Asian markets, or have you had to localize your products massively?

  • Based on your observations, how is building a tech startup in Southeast Asia different from the U.S.? How can U.S. technology professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors participate in your exciting ventures?

Monte Jade West and SGN cordially invite you to join us in this upcoming webinar where our panel of unicorn builders would share their insights on these exciting topics.

Please REGISTER here for the online event!

About the Speakers

Joel Neoh Founder & Former CEO of FAVE, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor Malaysia Joel Neoh has over 15 years of experience in management and investments of startups, disruptive technology and digital platforms across Asia; including e-commerce, digital media and financial technology. He is currently the CEO of Fave, one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing fintech platforms invested by Sequoia Capital to accelerate digital payments & financial services for consumers and merchants. In the past, Joel was one of the early founders of Groupon in Asia, and within 4 years grew the e-commerce platform into a US$2 billion business with over 2,500 employees spanning across 12 countries. Joel also co-founded, a digital media platform that disrupted traditional media & advertising. The company merged with Rev Asia and went public on KLSE. Rev Asia was acquired by Media Prima in 2017 for RM120 million. As a strong advocate for entrepreneurship; Joel is a board member of numerous companies, actively mentors founders and has invested in over 20 technology companies across Asia. Joel holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from Monash University. He was then on the advisory board of the Monash School of Business, awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award and subsequently conferred the Monash Fellowship in 2021. He also attended Harvard Business School for the Program for Leadership Development, an Executive MBA alternative; and is currently completing his Executive MBA with Tsinghua University, the top university in China. Joel has received the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Joel is currently a board director for the Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM); which is supported by Securities Commission Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia and Bursa Malaysia to promote good governance and enhance board effectiveness of companies.

Junxu Lye Founder & CEO of Acme Tech Singapore Jx Lye is a Fintech entrepreneur based in Singapore, working on making it easier for companies to integrate with banks through a well designed set of APIs. Prior to this, he was the former COO and CPO of Endowus, a leading digital wealth platform in Asia. He oversaw Endowus’ global operations including product, money, and client operations. ‍Prior to Endowus, Jx worked for Dropbox, Lyft and Bytedance across the US and China as a Product Manager and at the Singapore Economic Development Board, where he advised global technology companies to invest and grow their operations in Singapore. ‍Jx received double degrees BS summa cum laude in Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business, and a MS from Stanford University. ‍Jx is deeply passionate about the tech ecosystem in South East Asia and has regularly hosted meet-ups for the tech community to learn from one another. He hopes to bring his wealth of experience to support the growth of tech talent and capabilities in Singapore.

Vu Van Co-Founder & CEO of ELSA Vietnam Vu Van is a female entrepreneur and the Co-founder & CEO of Silicon Valley-based ELSA, the world’s best and smartest English pronunciation app. She worked with leading speech scientists, machine learning scientists, and linguists from around the world to create ELSA. Powered by the company’s proprietary AI and speech recognition technology, ELSA scores a learners' speech to pinpoint individual syllable and phoneme level mistakes with real time feedback. Prior to founding ELSA, Vu lived and worked in Vietnam, Singapore, Denmark where she experienced the challenges of an English language learner abroad. She served as an Engagement Manager at Booz & Co, one of the top four global management consulting firms. Vu earned an MBA and a Masters in Education from Stanford University and is originally from Vietnam. Previous speaking engagements:

  • Mentor at SXSWEdu Launch Conference (2019)

  • Keynote speaker at GITEX (Dubai)

  • Speaker at EdTech Asia (Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore)

  • Speaker at ASU + GSV (San Diego, US) (2016, 2017, 2018)

  • Speaker at EdX (London)

  • Speaker and award winner at SXSWEdu (2016)

  • Speaker at Google - Temasek AI conference (Singapore)

  • Speaker at GSV Pioneer Summit (Redwood City, 2016, 2017, 2018)

  • Various speaking engagements at tech conferences in Asia

Awards and accomplishments:

  • 2019 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards - Gold Winner

  • 1st prize winner at SXSWEdu 2016 Launch Competition

  • National Honoree of Vietnamese Talent (2016) by Vietnamese Government

  • Selected as 1 out of Top 100 Innovation and AI experts in Vietnam

  • Top 5 Artificial Intelligence apps, together with Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Allo (Google)

  • In Progress- book in Vietnamese titled "Vietnamese female entrepreneur in Silicon Valley"

  • Co-Founder of VietSeeds, a non-profit organization committed to bringing equal access to college education for all students in Vietnam, regardless of socio-economics, geography, or background.

Dayu Dara Permata Founder & CEO of PinHome Indonesia Dayu is the CEO Founder at Pinhome, an emerging proptech starttup with the mission to revolutionize the real estate sector in SEA, Dara was previously SVP at PT. GO-JEK Indonesia responsible for Lifestyle & Commerce Product Group consists of GO-LIFE, GO-SHOP & GO-MART. She also spearheaded GO-JEK regional expansion to 100+ cities in Indonesia as well as driving implementation of key initiatives of growth for all GO-JEK products. Before GO-JEK, Dayu was a consultant with McKinsey & Company. Education:

  • ITB, Industrial Engineering, B.Eng (Undergraduate, Major)

  • Chonnam National University, International Business Administration, (Undergraduate, Minor)


  • Gen T Awardee 2019 – A list of leaders of tomorrow who shape Asia’s Future

  • Forbes Indonesia’s Powerful Women 2019

  • Harper’s Bazaar The Good Women Award 2019

  • Linkedin Most Powerful Profile Award 2017

About the Moderator

Steve Hsia Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of Playnovate, Inc. Board Member of Baozun, Inc. (China) Board Member of Wearnes-Starchase Group (Singapore) Board Member of Kairous Acquisition Corp. (U.S.A.) Board Member of Monte Jade Technology Association (U.S.A.) Former Board Member of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp. (Malaysia) Steve is a proven senior executive that thoroughly understands startups, Internet technologies, digital marketing and advertising, e-commerce, digital transformation, and online education. A serial entrepreneur with three decades of hands-on, multi-language, and multi-cultural operating experience across major markets in the U.S. and Asia, Steve has founded five startups in enterprise software, digital marketing, and education. He has successfully exited three previously operated startups to the largest global software and advertising media companies while building and scaling two education startups in Silicon Valley and China. Steve is an active angel investor and board member with multiple private and public-listed technology and consumer products companies. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. In recent years, Steve has been the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Playnovate in Silicon Valley and Beijing, a rapidly growing online and offline STEAM education startup. Steve is also the founding board member of Kairous Acquisition Corp., a Nasdaq-listed SPAC that is in the process of de-SPAC with Wellous Group Limited, a fast-growing Asia-based international health food and nutrition company that develops, manufactures, markets, and sells health and wellness products, Before his online education startup endeavors, Steve was the co-founder and CEO of AGENDA Corporation, the leading Pan-Asian digital marketing agency (with over 600 digital talents and operations in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur). AGENDA was acquired by the world's #1 ranked advertising and media holding company WPP in 2008. After the acquisition, Steve served as Asia/Pacific COO of WPP|Wunderman and Young & Rubicam (Y&R), the world's largest digital marketing agency, ranked by Advertising Age magazine under WPP. Steve co-managed 26 offices and 1,200 digital marketing professionals across Asia/Pacific.

About Singapore Global Network (SGN) Singapore Global Network (SGN) is part of the Singapore Economic Development Board, focused on building a global community of friends of Singapore. We welcome all who have an interest in Singapore and/or SE-Asia to be part of our >100k and growing network of professionals, entrepreneurs and friends! As a member, we will share with you the latest developments in Singapore and Asia, plug you in with business / finance / tech opportunities, invite you to professional and social networking events and offer exclusive perks with Singapore brands.

Full interview:

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