James Chan

Having founded venture capital companies Neoteny Labs and Silicon Straits, and overseen the establishment of popular apps such as Burpple and Caarly, James Chan doesn’t kid when he says that entrepreneurship is far from glamorous. “It’s a terribly lonely journey. You’ll find yourself failing and having to dig deep within to pick up the pieces, recover, and go at it again.”

Thanks to this wealth of experience, the 33-year-old now often finds himself setting an example for his colleagues at Grey Orange, a robotics systems start-up he is helping to expand as its vice-president (international). “In the early stages, founders and management need to wear multiple hats and lead the charge from the front. We overcome the seemingly insurmountable in order to command faith and respect from our team members. It’s not that different from the military in that regard — I draw a lot of inspiration for leadership styles from (military science fiction novel) Ender’s Game.”