On the shortlist of the best

On the shortlist of the best

This is a list of extraordinary groundbreakers. They have founded new companies where none or few existed before or became venture capitalists when the tech start-up industry was still young.

The women form a diverse group in terms of experience, nationality and background. They were identified in consultation with industry players based on their pioneering spirit, courage and creativity.

1. Pranoti Nagarkar Israni

32, married with one child

Founder, Zimplistic; founded in 2007. It built the world's first automatic chappati maker.

"In the early years, I hired people who couldn't get jobs elsewhere. My first hire was a polytechnic engineering graduate. He didn't have good grades. But he had the right skills and attitude. I wasn't wrong; he contributed to our growth."

My wish: "To all the young girls who want to do something unique: Travel and see the world; be adventurous. It will add to your world experience."

Chief executive of NUS Enterprise Lily Chan comments: "Through Rotimatic, Pranoti is creating a 'world's first' product with the potential of making a global impact. She is also proving that tech start-ups with new hardware products can be successful."

2. Violet Lim

34, married with two children

Matchmaker and co-founder of matchmaking agency Lunch Actually, started in 2004.

"The general perception is that only people who are sad, desperate and ugly need help to find love. That's made me more determined to make the business work. It definitely was scary leaving my corporate job with a multinational bank. But I thought, if I failed, I could always go back to a job, get more experience, and start again."

My wish: "It's important for women to pursue their dreams."

Ian and Vanessa (dating with plans to marry) comment on lunchactually.com: "LunchActually staff are nice and passionate. They do not take it as only a job, but one can really feel that they try their very best to bring together potential matches."

3. Roshni Mahtani

31, married

Founder and chief executive, Tickled Media - online publisher of theAsian parent.com, Kidlander.com and Pregnant.sg.

"In my early days as an entrepreneur, I experienced unwanted and overt advances from an employee. I asked male entrepreneurs but they couldn't relate to my problem. It's one of the reasons I started a women entrepreneur network so that women can ask other women how to handle issues like this."My wish: "We are seeing not just a lack of female founders, but also a lack of female CEOs in the Asia-Pacific region."

Mr Puneet Pushkarna, chairman, The Indus Entrepreneur, Singapore Chapter, comments: "As an entrepreneur, you are competing for mindspace and if you do not have the ability to succinctly present your idea and resonate with your audience, you tend to get lost in the crowd. Commonsense stuff, but something that Roshni epitomises."

4. Charina Widjaja

29, married with one child

Co-founder, Digital Fashion Week (DFW), an annual designer showcase in Singapore promoting local fashion designers via catwalks and over the Internet.

"I respect Victoria Beckham as an entrepreneur. While most celebrities have not been able to penetrate the fashion world, she has successfully developed a luxury fashion brand. Victoria's persistence despite naysayers allowed her to pursue her dream."

My wish: "I hope my company will expand quickly in Asia. We're in Bangkok this year. We want to expand to Beijing and Jakarta soon." Merchandiser Joy Kam of local fashion house Al and Alicia comments: "Digital Fashion Week helped us reach a global audience. We took part in DFW last year and we saw increased traffic on our webstore and website."

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