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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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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Artificial Intelligence to Interview Candidates

impress.ai is a deep technology startup founded by Sudhanshu Ahuja (CEO), Vaisagh Viswanathan (CTO) and Amrith Dhananjayan (COO). The idea is to provide recruiters with an AI-powered platform to help evaluate candidates. The result? A ten-fold improvement in hiring time and efficiency. Currently, the service is offered to enterprises, startups and individual recruiters who can use it to build a customised chatbot-based job application. The embedded machine learning algorithms adapt to the organizations’ preferences over time, thereby simplifying their work. Started only in late 2016, Impress has already managed to secure an undisclosed amount of funding from the Javelin Startup-O Victory Fund to develop their virtual HR assistant further.

In this interview, Vaisagh talks about the inception of and technology behind impress.ai, what it means to be a tech entrepreneur, and more. Here is an excerpt from our conversation. Served with a shot of Espresso, of course!

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