Meet The Entrepreneurs Behind Some Of The Most Exciting E-Commerce Startups In Asia
Founder Quek Siu Rui
Based in Singapore
Three years ago, Quek Siu Rui was offered US$100 million for his second-hand goods app—and said no. This was a shrewd move, as Carousell is now valued at about US$500m. If you’ve ever been to Marché aux Puces in Paris, then you’ll know how it works. It's a flea market that sells everything under the sun—tea cups, vintage jackets, silver spoons and record players—except it’s not under the sun, it’s on your phone. The 26-year-old founder focuses on Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, but with a recent round of funding, the world is the limit.
Founder Joel Neoh
Based in Malaysia
Joel Neoh is a Generation T honouree who's used to winning. His mantelpiece is clustered with awards, and his role as founder of Groupon Malaysia was immensely successful. But with his most recent venture, Fave, he has created Southeast Asia’s leading loyalty and rewards platform. Hugely popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, Fave focuses on discounts and deals from restaurants, cafes, bars, spas, salons and gyms. Neoh believes in the importance of creating a happy work culture, and his companies have been chosen among WorldBlu’s Most Democratic Workplaces.
Seek The Uniq
Founder Mikka Padua
Based in The Philippines
As a child, Mikka Padua made more money than any of her friends by selling mangos she’d pick on the side of the road. That entrepreneurial spirit never left her. She went to business school and started working at Zalora, but couldn’t get rid of the urge to branch out on her own. Her startup Seek The Uniq has become one of the most popular curated e-commerce platforms in the Philippines, selling clothes, bags, jewellery and more—all chosen by Padua.
Founder Achmad Zaky
Based in Indonesia
Back in 1997, Achmad Zaky was obsessed with computers. Aged 11 years old, he was given a programming manual by his uncle and would spend hours teaching himself how to use it. These skills have since come in handy, both to him and to other Indonesian entrepreneurs—Bukalapak has helped SMEs across the country as Indonesia's largest online marketpace. In 2018, it became the country's fourth "unicorn"—a startup valued at over US$1 billion.
Founder Ezra Don Harinsut
Based in Thailand
Ezra Don Harinsut’s firm, OmiseGO, is one of the region’s most innovative online payment platforms. The “proof-of-stake” (PoS) platform strives to decentralise payment networks, enabling transparent, peer-to-peer transactions in real-time. The network facilitates self-sovereign financial services across geographies, asset classes and applications, with far-reaching implications for the future of online payments—and all payments. No wonder they’ve been dubbed “fintech rock stars”.
Founder Shu Wei
Based in Mainand China
Like all brilliant entrepreneurs, Shu Wei spotted a gap in the market that was crying out to be filled. China, she says, is “slightly bipolar”. On one hand it revels in cheap, mass-made products; on the other, it demands extremely luxurious items. With ZaoZuo, Shu Wei aims to find the happy middle ground—a furniture brand catering to the rapidly growing Chinese middle-class, offering home and lifestyle products that are manufactured in the country. Her team of 70 people manages 30 factories in China, each specialising in different materials and techniques. Together they make up ZaoZuo’s vast portfolio, which includes upholstered seating, light fittings and modern furniture.
Founder Joe Cheng
Based in Taiwan
Whenever Joe Cheng travelled abroad, he would find himself drawn to the best department stores of each city: Selfridges in London, Le Bon Marché in Paris, or Barneys in New York. He realised Taipei was missing something as cool and contemporary, where all the best new brands were clustered under one roof. Enter IFCHIC, a brick-and-mortar store that is being rapidly overshadowed by its e-commerce arm. Like the store, the platform is gaining renown for its impeccable curation.