Technology is no longer an exclusive domain for the guys: Here are three ladies who are rocking the tech scene in Asia
By Jason Tan
In light of International Women’s Day on Mar 8, we speak to three women who are shaping the tech scene in Asia.
Krystal Choo, 28, a Singaporean, is the youngest on our watch list. She is CEO and founder of Wander, a travel app for singles — a pivot from her earlier tech company, ZipTrip.
Prerna Pant, 30, is a first-time entrepreneur who’s the General Manager of Circus Social. A Singaporean-based company, Circus Social is a social intelligence platform that offers enterprises insights on their audience.
Meanwhile, Cheryl Yeoh, 32, former CEO of Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity (MaGIC) Centre in Kuala Lumpur, is a seasoned entrepreneur, having co-founded her first tech company, Reclip It, a social discovery site, in 2012. It has since been acquired by Walmart Labs in the United States.
Read on to find out how these ladies tackled their business challenges and what advice they have for females looking to make an impact in the tech world.
Prerna Pant is an entrepreneur who’s GM of Circus Social, a social intelligence platform.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?
Krystal: Pushing my limit one more time, when I’ve already pushed my limit 99 times. That extra bit makes all the difference.
Prerna: I think we want to do everything; so the hardest thing for me was definitely making the decision to pivot from being a tech solutions company to being purely marketing intelligence and data analytics.
We pivoted completely once we joined a local accelerator programme — so it was a great platform for us to concentrate on our product and really bring it to life. But we also felt like we were letting a part of us go and that was tough.
What’s the greatest satisfaction you’ve had?
Prerna: Seeing your platform come to life, grow, fall, get up, adapt, change, start scaling, receive praise — it’s like watching your ‘offspring’ of sorts.
You take everything personally, and you watch each step with love, concern and pride, all at the same time.
Krystal: It feels damn good when someone I don’t know writes to me [about] why they think Wander is important, and what features they would like to see in the future. It’s so validating and encouraging.
Krystal Choo is CEO & founder of Wander, a travel app for singles.
Do you think it made any difference in your entrepreneurship journey being female?
Prerna: I’m a believer that you need balance in any partnership. What’s wonderful for us in particular is that we bring together different skills and experience — essential ingredients for the perfect ‘Circus’.
It also helps that we can all offer perspective and, even though I may be a little outnumbered, it doesn’t mean it all doesn’t balance out in the end. Us females in the entrepreneurship world, we fight a little harder!
Krystal: People think I get served things on a platter. I don’t. But I’ve also stopped caring what people — who aren’t my users or my team — think. In the end, it’s about what we build; what positive impact we have.
What could bring greater diversity for women in the tech world and in leadership roles?
Cheryl: For parents to encourage their daughters to learn how to code, and take on more leadership roles from an early age.
Cheryl Yeoh co-founded her first tech company in 2012, which was acquired by Walmart Labs.
What would you say to females aspiring to make a difference in the tech world?
Cheryl: Don’t over-think and over-analyse. And don’t just keep talking about something.
Action speaks louder than words, so just jump right in and don’t look back. Anything is possible if you just put your mind to it.
What would you like to see in the year 2030?
Cheryl: Besides being able to fly from New York City to Sydney in 30 minutes being made affordable by 2030, and an elixir for youth and a cure to cancer found, I would like to see more people connecting face-to-face with each other more, and being more self-aware.
Tech Storm is a brand new destination for you to get plugged in to addictive tech trends, reviews on gadgets, apps and be inspired by the coolest start-up stories. Check us out at: www.techstorm.tv
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 148, March 18 – March 31, 2016, with the headline ‘3 Women in tech you should know’.