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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Torquing About IIT-JEE

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is the sole entry point into India’s best engineering colleges – the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Students have to battle it out to solve the most challenging questions from Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. With an acceptance rate of 1.5%, it is notoriously known as one of the toughest examinations in the world. Aspiring students sign up at coaching academies for two, sometimes four years. Even coaching institutes have selection screening tests to tutor only the best students. With a large population and much talent, it can get extremely competitive.  Ambarish Srivastava is the Dean of Physics and Centre Head at FIITJEE Faridabad, one of the most coveted coaching institutes in India. He’s also an alumnus of the prestigious IIT Delhi.
I was his student once, and am fortunate to be interviewing him today. Let’s ask him what it takes to crack the test, his thoughts on the disturbingly high student suicide rates it is known to cause, and more.

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