SINGAPORE: Several Singaporeans have made it to Forbes' inaugural 30 Under 30 Asia list which features movers and shakers in the region. Among those lauded are founders of e-commerce app Carousell, the film-making couple behind YouTube channel Night Owl Cinematics, as well as innovator Tan Yi Hao who is making a name for himself in the solar power industry.
They told Channel NewsAsia what inspired them, and what makes them tick.
Carousell co-founder Quek Siu Rui, 28: “In terms of identifying as a millennial, we love to call ourselves the Snapchat generation. On a serious note, it has really been very advantageous being, I guess, a millennial right? Because we are literally building products for ourselves. We started Carousell because we wanted something that was familiar to the apps that we were using everyday. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp. If you look at the Carousell experience, it's snap to sell, chat to buy - which is the mobile-first kind of experience - and a very social experience that most Snapchat generation people would love.”
Carousell co-founder, Lucas Ngoo, 27: "When we started, we wanted to create a ‘community first’ market place, for anyone to be able to buy, sell and connect with each other. So basically that was our vision and solving the problem as well of buying. Basically we wanted to make it selling as simple as just taking a photo and buying as simple as chatting. If you know how to do those things then you know how to buy and sell on Carousell."
Carousell co-founder Marcus Tan, 32: "We have this problem of overconsumption. A problem where people just buy, buy, buy and it's just collecting dust at home. Why not help them unlock it? The reality is that not everyone can afford first-hand goods. Why not give them a market where they can buy cheaper second-hand, close-to-new for some of them, and allow them to benefit from these products?"
Co-founder of Carousell Marcus Tan did not make it to the Forbes list as he is over 30. (Photo: Carousell)
BLAZING A TRAIL WITH SOLAR POWER
Solar-powered kit innovator, Tan Yi Hao, 22:
"I’m quite a hands-on person. I’ve liked tinkering with stuff like from young. I like to dismantle things and see how it works and then reassemble the things together. So there's a really a sense of enjoyment when you're able to physically create something and make something happen."
Tan has built a working solar power kit that is both lighter and more efficient than other conventional kits in the market. To date, he has sold more than 100 units under his company Soezlar, and plans to continue improving the kit's overall design.
Tan Yi Hao, founder of Soezlar (Photo: Faces of SUTD's Facebook page)
“I look around Singapore, and it's so sunny and there's a lot of potential here, but why aren't there more solar panels being deployed around Singapore? So I decided to look more into it and I thought – since I live in HDB and it gets really sunny on one side of my house, why not I just do a fun weekend project to sort of use solar in my house and charge my phone?
“I did some research online and I found out that it was not that difficult to do your own solar set up so I went online and I managed to piece together some solar cells and then had a little set-up in my house.
"The first thing I did was to try charging my phone with it and when I plugged it in and the phone showed charging that was really ... that kind of feeling is very different. You manage to accomplish something, where you know it’s physically there and you can appreciate it."
SUCCESS BEHIND THE CAMERA
Night Owl Cinematics co-founder Ryan Tan: “At first, when we folded up our previous business, we wanted to go into wedding videography. However because we’re not so good at videography and photography, we decided to shoot some random videos to edit and practice. YouTube was like our platform to practice.
“It was rather seamless transition. We just got a lot of offers and said, 'We got to do this, we got to do that', until we could no longer sustain the wedding side of our business and we exited and become full-time YouTubers.”
Night Owl Cinematics co-founder Sylvia Chan: “Our objective was to number one, practise; number two was that we wanted to create content that was not like mainstream content. We wanted to create content that is close to our hearts and our peers, and ultimately, we chose comedy, mainly because Singapore is a high-stressed society. Why not make content that will make people laugh and feel happy once a week?
"Like what he said, it was more like clients coming to us and telling us: 'How about we do this together?' It was never such that we went out and sourced for clients and did this. So clients came and looked for us. There was a demand, therefore we supplied."
Sylvia Chan and Ryan Tan (Photo: Night Owl Cinematics' Facebook page)
Night Owl Cinematics was founded in February 2013, and three years on, the two are considered the "elders" of the YouTube scene.
Sylvia: "I would say it’s pretty scary because we have suddenly stumbled upon and created an industry that was never here in Singapore before. There are people who look up to us and channels which always come to us and ask us for advice how to commercialise their channel. In a way it’s very stressful because as the pioneers there’s nobody to follow.
“You do a lot of mistakes and then you’re only able to transfer those experience and skills learnt to other people. So I would say it’s very challenging and very scary.”
The couple plans to start a collective of YouTubers that can tap on their expertise on viral content to conduct social media campaigns for clients.
Sylvia: “We're trying to expand so it's not just videos, but truly social media campaigns with Instagram, Facebook and everything; whereby as pioneers we believe it is our duty to start protecting all the upcoming YouTubers and friends in the industry in Singapore. Be their voice so they can retain their individualism yet be protected by somebody more experienced, to close the gap between the client and a creative YouTube channel."