4 Asian women shaking up traditional industries

You’ve had those days when you’re feeling low and a little lost as you work towards success.

Here are some motivating thoughts from four who are shaking up traditional industries.

Esther Nguyen

Before Spotify, it was difficult accessing your favourite music and other forms of media.

With the help of the internet, people began downloading music. Many did so illegally and put themselves at the risk of getting spam and viruses for all manner.

Instead of a problem, however, Esther Nguyen saw this as an opportunity.

Here’s what she did

Nguyen was born to Vietnamese parents but raised in the US. It was there that she delved into her first business venture, particularly selling cosmetics online, which did not work out.

She then explored green technology, but back then, investors were not very much interested in this either; little did she know then that her future success was in the combination of media and tech industries.

With a law degree in hand, she put her entrepreneurial skills to test once more. This time, she studied the Vietnam market and decided to start Pops Worldwide.

Although her parents were not pleased initially with her going back to Vietnam, she has proven that it was a risk worth taking.

Her company now owns the license and distribution rights of up to 90% of the music in Vietnam, making it the biggest company of its kind in the nation. The business has also expanded to developing mobile apps.

This entrepreneur proved that when you see an opportunity, seize it. And it doesn’t have to be the most innovative; as Pops Worldwide has shown, a little mix and match can turn out into a booming business.

Sylvia Yin

Online shopping has been around for a while, but with enormous websites like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, can a new startup make it?

This was the challenge Shoppr co-founder Sylvia Lin was ready for and it did wonders for her career and finances.

Here’s what she did

Instead of having to download or visit various apps and websites to shop online, the young Malaysian entrepreneur and her colleague, developed an app that makes online shopping easier and faster.

She says, “Reducing the number of buttons drastically increased all-time clicks on the remaining buttons.”

Drawing inspiration from the swipe technology of dating app Tinder, her app has a behaviour learning algorithm that comes up with relevant results and suggestions based on previous searches, likes, and your personal bio.

Therefore, the more you tap and swipe using the app, the more accurate your searches get.

Qing Ru-Lim

Singaporean Qing Ru-Lim is one of the co-founders of Zopim. But unlike websites and applications for instant messaging such as Yahoo! Messenger, MSN, Viber and Facebook Messenger, Lim’s company chose to specify their target audience – businesses.

Here’s what she did

A philosophy undergraduate from the National University of Singapore, Lim explored the underground start-up scene in the university, and with four engineers, developed the idea of Zopim.

Zopim caters to businesses when it comes to communication and enables them to provide their clients’ with real-time customer service.

When they decided to pitch their ideas to Silicon Valley investors, the men decided to let Lim represent them. Impressed by her can-do attitude, the four included her as a co-founder.

But it wasn’t easy at first. It took them seven years to develop Zopim and during that time, they survived on a paltry salary.

So it was a little difficult and even bittersweet when an American software company acquired their years of hard work for US$30 million dollars.

“I spent seven years building the company with my blood, sweat and tears. Then, I had to let it go.” But now, all the Zopim founders are millionaires.

Chow Paredes

It’s tough to be too creative when selling properties. Having charisma and good communication skills will get you somewhere but Chow Paredes, a licensed real estate broker from the Philippines, took it up a notch and did something that gave her an edge over her competitors.

Here’s what she did

Coming from a family of lawyers, Paredes broke tradition by pursuing her passion for sales.

After years of persuading clients to buy condominiums, she decided to go into entrepreneurship and in 2013, ZipMatch was born.

She sees starting ZipMatch not just as a business but also an advocacy; she wants to erase the common misconception that brokers are in it just for commissions.

Being a licensed real estate broker, she aims to provide customer-centred services to those seeking their new homes or property investments.

It is the online real estate marketplace’s goal to lessen the burden both for brokers and customers in the researching and listing part of the property-hunting process.

As a result, brokers working under ZipMatch can focus on building relationships and making an impression on clients.


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