He was stressed, so he built a meditation app

“In the next 20 years, meditation will be like running

I first heard of Bjorn Lee and his meditation app MindFi on the news last year, when they raised a six-figure seed round. But that’s not what caught my attention. Working with startups is part of my job, so the seed round seemed like any other. Plus, there are a lot of meditation apps coming up these days. What piqued my curiosity was that the voice-over for the meditation modules were done by an ex-monk.

I checked out the app, and saw options to commute and eat mindfully, or even grow a plant while you’re at it. I knew I had to dig deeper. A mutual friend connected me with Bjorn Lee, who agreed to meet over coffee. The conversation that ensued was most engaging, and all yours to read.

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No Country For Women

Most of you know about the horrific rape that happened in New Delhi on the 16th of December 2012, when 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, a medical intern in New Delhi was brutally raped and murdered by six men, well five men and a minor. An L-shaped iron rod was used both to beat and penetrate her during the act, causing severe injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals. She was flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital for a multiple organ transplant, but it was too late. She died of a cardiac arrest during the 6-hour flight. What followed was a movement to bring the perpetrators to justice. Public demonstrations, protests, international awareness, media efforts and a mass response to outrageously sexist remarks led to what came closest to justice. Ultimately, four out of five of the men got death sentences, while the juvenile was let off after a year in remand. I remember feeling sick to the stomach, but also hopeful. Maybe now, things would change. Maybe these men, if you could call them that, would think twice before committing such morbid acts of sin. I wish I were right.

Six years later, matters have worsened. Another gangrape, but this time it’s 8-year old Asifa Bano. One juvenile and seven men, including four police officers. Asifa’s legs were broken and nails had turned blue. If this sounds disturbing, listen to this: around the same time, an 8-month old baby girl was raped by her cousin, with injuries to her vital organs. This is one of many, each as repulsive as the other.

So what are we missing?

Continue reading “No Country For Women”

He’s building from Singapore for the World

Steve Leonard is the Founding CEO of SGInnovate, a revolutionary effort by the Singapore government to prove, launch and scale deep technology companies backed by scientific research. With over twenty-five years of global experience working for top technology companies and Government bodies in various leadership roles, he has committed himself to the mission of supporting the most ambitious and capable individuals commercialise their expertise.

In just fifteen months since its launch, SGInnovate has become a household name in Singapore’s tech ecosystem through its multifarious portfolio of companies and immensely popular events in blockchain, healthcare, big data to name a few. In this  conversation, he reveals his thoughts on tech entrepreneurship in Singapore, how he handles the inevitable obstacles that come his way, and why mindset is the most important enabler of innovation.

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Lessons From The Year That Was

2017 has parted and left us with memories to remember it by. A mix of experiences; some life-altering, some mundane, others downright questionable. But hail the (albeit controversial) law of averages, it all turned out okay. And we celebrated that, in ways that appealed to us. For me, it was important to know what I was celebrating. Was it the achievements? The pitfalls? Or was it just the mere passage of time?

After giving it some thought, I decided to celebrate my newfound understanding of the ways of the world.

Here are my observations. Continue reading “Lessons From The Year That Was”

Not Your Average 24-Year-Old

Looi Qin En is unusual, to say the least. He doesn’t just think out-of-the-box, he refuses to acknowledge the existence of a box.

When in school, he worked with Singapore’s premier research organisation, A*STAR, to publish 13 papers on human-computer interaction. Shortly after, he was offered a place at Stanford with a full scholarship. He would begin in two years’ time, after completing his National Service (NS). But with Qin En, norms, rules and conventions often get thrown out of the window. By the end of two years, he had built a company called Glints, and was well on his way to raising half a million dollars in seed.

He still went to Stanford, only to return 6 months later. He would focus on running Glints full-time. Stanford could wait. It turned out to be a decision he wouldn’t regret. Glints went on to become a massively successful career discovery and recruitment platform that helped more than 250,000 youths across South East Asia find internships and graduate job opportunities from over 10,000 companies. This year, he also featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia.

In October this year, he stepped down from his role as COO at Glints. He now plans to complete his degree at Stanford come January 2018. But classic Qin En, he couldn’t not do something in the meantime. So he joined a pre-seed startup accelerator in Singapore called Entrepreneur First (EF). This was around the same time that I joined EF too, and that’s how we met.

I don’t write about everyone I work with. But Qin En intrigued me. He’s extremely smart, hacky, and tremendously competitive. And yet, he’s also immensely supportive and insightful. Despite his gargantuan success, he’s unexpectedly modest. Heck, he even has a killer sense of humour.

So Qin En, as you leave EF, this interview is my parting tribute to you.

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The Future of Restaurant Cooking and On-Demand Food Delivery Services

Yesterday, my friends came over for dinner. Uninspired to cook and unexcited to go out, we decided to order in from UberEats. We sipped on Pinot Noir and munched on Pringles, waiting eagerly for Naan and Chicken Tikka Masala from this new restaurant called Chulha Chaunka.

We waited for an hour and a half, till we received a notification that our order had been canceled. I called the restaurant, they said the delivery boy had left ages ago and they knew nothing of it. Then I called the UberEats helpline. They found out that the delivery boy had a flat tyre on the way and had to cancel the order as a result. Rest assured, your credit card shall not be charged; the service operator told me.

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Coming From A Nutritionist

I’d been toying with the idea of interviewing a nutritionist for a while now. The subject of what, how and when to eat has always intrigued people. More now, than ever. So when I stumbled upon Avanti’s impressive profile, I couldn’t miss the chance.

Avanti Deshpande is a leading nutritionist and health consultant based in Pune, India. Her clientele covers most business verticals, including the food and pharmaceutical industry, education, catering, retail, corporates, gyms and fitness centres, NGOs and more. She’s also a complete technophile who has turned the social media revolution to advantage with the option of consultations via Skype, a YouTube channel for easy and healthy recipes, a Facebook and an Instagram account for health and wellness guidance as well as targeted Q & A. After a recent certification in Nutrigenomics by GeneSupport, she has immersed herself into understanding metabolism at the cellular level and to advise customised diets on a case-by-case basis.

From the moment I stepped into her office, I knew I’d made the right choice. There she was – lean and tall, great hair, glowing skin and toned arms. Her smile was that of someone who knew what they’re doing. As you’ll discover, she did.

Continue reading “Coming From A Nutritionist”