Crazy Smart Asia lifts the lid on the unexpected stories behind some of Asia’s boldest disruptors. Every week we talk with a young leader about the crazy-smart approaches they’re taking to achieve success and tackle some of the biggest issues facing Asia today.
Joseph Phua: Building Southeast Asia’s Biggest Dating Platform
A few years ago, Joseph Phua was looking for a girlfriend. After discovering that Asia’s dating apps were nowhere as advanced as those in the US, he decided to make his own. The app, Paktor, quickly became Southeast Asia’s most popular, with more than 20 million users across eight countries today. Over the next few years, Joseph’s startup transitioned to become a social entertainment company through a series of key acquisitions. Now established as M17 Entertainment Group, the company is transforming how Asia dates and streams video. In this episode, Joseph talks to Gen.T editor Lee Williamson about the dawn of the livestream era, how our social norms will change post-pandemic, and leading as a human, not a boss.
Stephanie Sy: How AI Will Save or Destroy the World
Depending on your point of view, big data and AI will either save the world or be the end of us. Stephanie Sy’s data science consultancy, Thinking Machines, builds machine learning models for organisations including the World Bank and Unicef, using data to tackle the biggest issues facing the planet today. But while Stephanie’s company demonstrates how AI can be harnessed to make the world a better place, she’s far from blind of the perils of the misuse of data. In her conversation with Gen.T editor Lee Williamson, former Googler Stephanie covers everything from the privacy paradox to fake news. She also shares why she’s never accepted VC money and why, despite appearances, 2020 might be the best year to start a company.
Natalie Chan: Creating an Education Revolution
There’s no consensus on exactly how many Asian jobs technology will make redundant over the next decade, but there is one thing almost all experts can agree on—our antiquated education systems are failing to prepare our children. Natalie Chan’s startup Own Academy is working to fix that problem. Her programmes for high school students help prepare children for the realities of the new economy. Not one for setting small goals, Own Academy is just the first part of Natalie’s 30-year plan for an Asia-based education revolution. She shares that plan with Gen.T editor Lee Williamson, discussing everything from the power of mindset to will.i.am along the way.
Lucy Liu: Redefining the Founder Stereotype
In just a few years, Lucy Liu and her co-founders went from café owners to the founders of a fintech giant with the potential to disrupt the global financial system. But Lucy says she’s always been the unconventional one, eschewing stereotypes and prejudices and only focusing on the work, growing her startup to unicorn status by the age of 28. The idea behind her company Airwallex was simple enough—to use technology to make B2B cross-border payments simpler and cheaper. The execution? Not so straightforward. Lucy talks to Gen.T editor Lee Williamson about how she made that vision a reality, the secret to fundraising, and why people still don’t believe she’s a tech founder.
Noor Mastura: Empowering Communities to Make Change
Social activist Noor Mastura says community is the key to humanity—that the power to change the world is within us all. What’s most surprising about the Singaporean is that unshakable optimism. Noor overcame a tumultuous upbringing and grew up determined to do what she could to ensure that no one suffers the same fate. That’s Noor’s entire ethos: “You can’t change the world, but you can change one person’s entire world.” In this episode, she shares her “handbook for activism” with Gen.T editor Lee Williamson, and discusses everything from suicide to feminism within Islam along the way.
Melati Wijsen: The Teenager Changing the World
What were you doing at the age of 12? Youth activist Melati Wijsen was establishing a grassroots movement that successfully lobbied the world’s second biggest plastic polluter to ban single-use plastic bags. Today, Bye Bye Plastic Bags is a globe-spanning movement with thousands of young members, and Melati has set her sights on a new, more ambitious target. She talks to Gen.T editor Lee Williamson about the power of the youth mindset, how to be heard by the world's most influential people, and why "business as usual" is the real problem.
Really great show. One of my new favorites. I like the interviewer’s conversational style—he really seems to get people to let their guard down and be honest.