Two Singapore firms among nominees for global Inspired Leadership Award

Mr Tan Jun Yuan, 31, founder of mobile app 11th Hour.
Mr Tan Jun Yuan, 31, founder of mobile app 11th Hour.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - He was rejected more than 200 times before he finally secured the funding to keep his tech start-up afloat.

Mr Tan Jun Yuan, 31, founder of mobile app 11th Hour, said: "It's easy to do it for one week, and give up on the second or third week. But we believed that somebody, somewhere, would appreciate what we were doing."

And his perseverance paid off. The app currently has 300 merchants and 15,000 users on board, up from 200 merchants and 7,000 users last December.

It aims to connect consumers to last-minute discount deals to avoid food waste.

Mr Tan is one of six nominees shortlisted for this year's Inspired Leadership Award. It recognises leaders who are reinventing growth by developing business models which benefit many people, rather than a small elite.

The nominees were shortlisted from a pool of several hundred applications, said award chair Jeremy Hillman.

"The award highlights leaders who have great, scalable ideas. They must also have good leadership qualities - for example, they are able to battle obstacles to achieve success," he said.

It is organised by non-profit Norway-registered organisation The Performance Theatre, which provides opportunities for global business leaders to meet and share their experiences in reinventing growth.

The ultimate winner is Dr Nthabiseng Legoete, founder of Quali Health, a social enterprise focused on delivering affordable primary healthcare to marginalised communities in South Africa.

As part of the award, Dr Legoete and the shortlisted nominees will have access to advice, help and mentoring from a community of global leaders.

For instance, Mr Tan will meet a contact in San Francisco who has helped giants like Facebook with their algorithms.

His team is looking to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the mechanism behind 11th Hour.

Ms Masami Sato, founder of Singapore-based Buy1GIVE1, which aims to encourage firms to give to high impact social projects, was also nominated.

"Every economy is driven by businesses, and it's good that we can help them with giving," said Ms Sato, 42.