36, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF E27
A love for gaming kick‐started Mohan Belani’s interest for tech. That, coupled with his habit of tinkering with gadgets, eventually bloomed into an passion for programming. Then, a school trip to Silicon Valley when he was 16 opened his eyes to the world of start‐ups, which was when he knew this was the industry he wanted to be involved in.
In 2007, e27 was founded as a community by a group of passionate individuals wanting to build the startup ecosystem in Singapore. From 2012, Belani and fellow co-founder Thaddeus Koh led the efforts to build e27 into a regional tech ecosystem platform. The “e” stands for entrepreneurs, while 27 is supposedly the median age of entrepreneurs.
“When e27 first started, the start-up ecosystem was fairly nascent. There was only a handful of people interested in the industry,” he says. Today, it’s Asia’s largest tech media platform, reporting about the scene and creating resources for start‐ups. It also organises events across the region, including South‐East Asia’s largest annual start‐up and tech conference, Echelon Asia Summit.
Needless to say, getting e27 off the ground wasn’t easy. “We were young and hungry, and at times quite impatient,” he recalls. “This was a big learning point for us as we were working with governments, corporates and start‐ups, all of which move and operate at different paces.” Crucial to e27’s beginnings was its first investor and Belani’s mentor, Nic Lim Kah Wui of 8Capita, “who came in at a time when we were starting to figure out what we wanted to do with the company. He spent time and energy guiding us through this challenging period.”
These days, a lot of what e27 does involves working with up‐and‐coming start‐up founders struggling to get their fledgling companies off the ground. “It’s humbling to be a champion for the underdogs, and especially meaningful when companies hit huge milestones like raising money or a partnership with a corporate entity,” says Belani.
Unlike many others, Belani cares very little about leaving a legacy. Rather, it’s about living a purpose‐driven life and “staying focused on giving back.”
Belani is wearing the Panerai Submersible Carbotech — 47mm (PAM01616)