Forbes Fiesta 2.0


Forbes Fiesta 2.0

Written by
Suzanne Ling

Last year, we attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Hong Kong after being listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia – and we were so blown away by the work that everyone is doing. (Read about our experience in Forbes Summit 2018 here)

We learnt so much from the summit, made new friends, and also got extremely pumped up by the positive energy that the crowd was filled with. So this year, we decided to return to the Summit in Hong Kong again!! (Okay maybe part of the reason was for the food too….)

At the summit this year, we got to meet amazing people like Tony Fernandes who needs no introduction, Eric Fah from Klook Travel, Ankiti Bose from Zilingo and more!

Learning from all the sharing and conversations that we had throughout the summit, here are 3 of my many takeaways that I would like to share with all of you:

1. You’re never “ too young”

At this summit, we met two sisters from Indonesia, Sabrina and Elena who run a NGO named Saab Shares, and a social enterprise name Heritage Batik. The NGO provides accommodation, part-time education and access to healthcare for the country’s low-income families, and this NGO is financially supported by the profits gained from Heritage.

Photo Credit: Saabshares.org

The shocking thing was this – Sabrina and Elena are only 21 and 19 years old, and they’ve been running this for 5 years! This means that they have started their work at the age of 16 and 14, and I was so blown away by how young they started!

Photo Credit: Instagram (@heritage_bysabrina)

Last year, we also met a 15-year-old girl, Reyhan from Azerbaijan, who invented a product called ‘Rainergy,” which is designed to harvest rainwater as a source of electricity. Isn’t that incredible?

Photo Credit: www.haaretz.com

Most of the time, we hear people say

“I’m too young to do this”

“He’s too young to decide”

“You should just study, you’re too young to start this.”

Really? Are they really too young? Or are we limiting the potential of the younger generation just because we want to stick to the status quo?

We want the youth and teens to study hard, get good grades, get into university, and then what? Why isn’t it a priority to also develop them into innovative change-makers who can make an impact to the world?

No one is ever too young to do something. And if you think “hmm too bad, I’m not young anymore.”

Here’s a message to you: No one is ever too late to do something too.

2. You can’t do it without people

In a short span of 4 years & 5 years, Zilingo and Klook Travel have grown into billion dollar startups with more than $500 million USD of fundings combined.

So, how did they do it? Their answer is the team. In order to scale, you need speed. In order to have speed, you need fundings and people.

Ankiti from Zilingo shared that with the right people in the team, they will have ownership and treat the company as their own baby. Because they’ve built this company together with her from point zero, their passion and dedication is extremely strong.

“There was one time, a lady from my team gave birth, and she was on a business call the day after in the hospital!” – Ankiti said.

When this happened, Ankiti realised how important this company is not just to her, but to her team. When you empower your team enough to have ownership, they will treat the company as their own. (p/s: this reminds me of Logeetha replying work message while in the hospital. We are so glad to have you in the team!)

This is why in Picha, we always believe in growing people in the team. We are forced encouraged to read, we have weekly learning sessions, and we make sure that everyone is always challenged. No one is too young or too inexperienced to lead and make things happen. If we don’t train and invest in the people in our team, there is no way that we can grow.

3. Work Hard, and Keep Going

This is like the mantra.

We spoke to many people from all around Asia during the summit, and when we asked them what’s their advice for young people out there, everyone gave us the same answer:

“Work hard, and keep going”

Anahita Dhondy, an award-winning chef from India who promotes her native Parsi cuisine and her passion for sustainability through food said that it’s all about hard work.

“To all the young chefs out there, be hard working. Don’t worry if your hands smell of garlic or ginger or onions, or you’re crying, or you’re burnt. I have scars too, but it’s very very important that you work hard, and you keep following your dream.”

Eva Mackinley shares the same thought. She founded The Last Straw, a campaign whose mission is to reduce the use of plastic straws and single-use plastics around Australia. She was motivated to kick it off after noticing how many straws were being thrown away at the bar she was working at. In 2018 alone, they have stopped over 13 million plastic straws from entering the waste system.

Photo Credit: www.themercury.com.au

And here’s what she said:

“Word hard and keep working, no matter what anyone says. People will tell you no, but if you believe in what you’re doing, you have to keep fighting.”

This needs no further explanation. The point has been made crystal clear – we’ve got to work hard, and keep going!


And there you go – my 3 learnings. These 3 learnings might look so simple, but they are repeatedly emphasised throughout the whole summit – and this is also where I realised that the “secret to success” is actually not that complicated.

The “secret to success” is to do the little things right. To dream big. To care genuinely for those around you. To make things happen. To never give up, even though you have a thousand reasons to do so.

Keep going, and never give up!

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