This week Forbes has officially announced and unveiled its prestigious list for “30 Under 30” and it is with great joy that we have discovered that one of our founders at The Asian Entrepreneur, Melvin Poh has made the cut as one of Forbes’ featured entrepreneurs in 2019.
Being selected as one of the honourees of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 represents an incredible achievement, as accordingly, the selection is made from 2,000 impressive candidates derived from over 23 countries. To this end, we are happy to celebrate the inclusion of one of our ranks. Melvin Poh has never shared much on our work directly on The Asian Entrepreneur’s platform (although, he has shared some thoughts on business through several written articles). So we took this opportune moment to catch Melvin for a few words and his thoughts.
What are your thoughts on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 award?
I am incredibly honoured for the recognition by Forbes and at the same time, I carry a great sense of pride for our team at The Asian Entrepreneur because the award represents an international recognition of the positive global impact we’ve created through the years of hard work.
We set out to build a global knowledge platform that would aggregate and provide accessible academia-level educational content on business in Asia to audiences of the world.
I can still remember days spent brainstorming and bootstrapping things with our co-founder Harshul Srivastava, who I met back then when I used to pursue studies at Harvard University. The exciting Starbucks sessions at Harvard Square; not to mention the late night calls, we would have to do with our other co-founder Malcolm Leow in a totally different timezone. Not to mention members of our founding team in various parts of Asia. Working with a remote team to realise a global vision that seemed ethereal at one point but now very real is indeed bittersweet.
Today, this award is a reflection that our hard work in creating something valuable over the past 7 years has been realised and widely acknowledged by the community at large.
What are some of the toughest challenges for The Asian Entrepreneur in the past?
Great challenges have long stippled the road of our organization’s growth since inception. Indeed, there arose many seemingly insurmountable difficulties in almost every phase of our life cycle thus far that it has been a challenging journey.
Broadly speaking, I’d personally say the greatest hurdle lies in scaling a social organisation that is centred on creating greater accessibility and free access. With accessible knowledge and education as our primary objectives as well as our organisations’ underlying ethos, we do not have the joy to resort to conventional means of generating revenue such as introducing a paywall or resorting to traditional advertising. Doing that would contradict and jeopardise our mission. So undoubtedly one of the greatest challenge was engineering a model for our organisation that would facilitate growth and expansion despite effectively offering our greatest value propositions for free.
The other challenge also lies in maintaining and growing the academic integrity and relevance of our content because it is always a challenge to recruit and work with so many writers from such diverse disciplines and backgrounds, each with their own agendas and preferences. It is a true test for us and especially our cherished editors, to create a coherent voice amongst the chaos of information that is often presented to us. The challenge lies in crafting an overall narrative that is deliverable in a digestible form to our audience. This requires developing a robust editorial framework and procedure to serve as the backbone of all content submissions.
We have also worked hard over the past 7 years to develop strong relations and interactions with notable stakeholders. Gaining their trust so that we can invite their contributions and actually facilitate the growth of the startup ecosystem has certainly been incredibly hard.
What would you say are some of the proudest moments for The Asian Entrepreneur in recent years?
It makes me proud everyday to discover that we have made impact in the lives of others.
One of the most unforgettable moments for me has been when I received a personal email from an aspiring entrepreneur from Mongolia who was interested in took the bold step of leaving his hometown in Ulangoom, this rather quaint place, to pursue his dreams of business abroad. He ended in Singapore and became involved in setting up a startup.
His decision was preceded by his accumulation of insights from our platform and subsequent connection to one of our key authors. He felt that our platform contributed strongly to his career and decision, particularly the personal insights and wisdom he was able to access from people who were once in a similar circumstance as himself. All of which illuminated his path which made him very thankful.
To hear stories such as his, is what motivates me ultimately. It also highlights something rather important and that is that, people often overlook the empowering effect that knowledge has and the impact of facilitating greater accessibility to knowledge.
What now from here?
Our story is certainly not over, every day we are working towards a better tomorrow. We truly believe that business education is a weapon that one can use to progressively change the world of tomorrow, its purpose is to free individuals from the tyranny and constraints of today. As such we believe that accessibility to business knowledge should be a right and not a privilege.
Driven by these beliefs we are ever growing the knowledge database that we have so carefully built with relevant writers from across the world. We have also recently invested in and are currently moving towards independent publishing of conventional texts. In the next 3 years, we are working to establish ourselves as a strong publishing house of academic books and business texts about Asia, both in print and digital.
We are passionately finding ways to create greater accessibility to those codified materials as well. Whatever it is, we would like to make Asian entrepreneurship as accessible as possible through knowledge empowerment.