Each year, Forbes identifies groundbreaking individuals under the age of 30 in different industries. 2021’s list consists of 300 young entrepreneurs and trailblazers leading the charge in the new normal. 

7 Malaysians made the list this year, from political changemakers to a cricket farmer. The biggest trend from the list? Most of these Malaysians never had prior experiences in the fields they were recognised for.

Finding these people is an arduous task, so how does Forbes do it?

A Crowdsourcing Survey

It requires a tool: a survey. The 30 Under 30 (U30) form lets people nominate themselves or someone else. Using skip logic, respondents are led to follow-up questions that apply to their answers.

Dictionary Time: Skip logic is a feature that changes what question or page a respondent sees next based on how they answer the current question. It’s otherwise known as conditional branching or branch logic.

Survey Monkey.

Next, it requires the public, a crowd to fill in the forms. Forbes will publicise the survey through every possible medium they have: through their mailing lists, embedded on their U30 web page, and seed it through social media.

What’s In The Survey?

You’re asked to enter the name of who you want to nominate (could be yourself) and whether they’ve been on the U30 list before. Depending on your answer, you will be guided to the appropriate set of follow-up questions. 

Categories include a nominator’s details like the industry they fit into, their role in a company, and the organisation’s name plus email. In total, there are 10 categories for the Asia list:

  • Finance & Venture Capital,
  • Consumer Technology,
  • Enterprise Technology,
  • Industry, Manufacturing & Energy,
  • Media, Marketing & Advertising,
  • Retail & E-commerce,
  • Healthcare & Science,
  • Social Entrepreneurs,
  • The Arts (Art & Style and Food & Drink),
  • Entertainment & Sports.

Those are their employment details. Next, you’ll be asked questions about this nominee’s personal lives, work and education, awards, and press coverage. 

Lastly, you must explain (in detail, hopefully) why you think this individual deserves to be on the list. If you’ve missed any questions, you’ll be redirected to fill it in, before finally hitting that submit button.

Judgement Time

After waiting for about 5-8 months (based on information we found about 2019’s voting), over 2,500 nominations are then sent to Forbes’ reporters and editors who will review the application. If they like your nomination, they’ll reach out to relevant sources and your nominee to verify the information. 

Reporters will then sculpt their initial shortlist of 500 names and send it to a panel of judges who will discern who gets to be part of the 300 individuals on the U30 list.

The final 300 that get selected afterwards will be considered based on this criteria: demonstration of leadership, impact, potential of success, and the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit synonymous with Forbes. Other factors like the innovation and disruption they bring—as well as size and growth of their ventures in some categories—play a role in Forbes’ final decision.

Travis Chambers of American video ad company Chamber.Media wrote about his nomination experience in 2018’s 30 Under 30 list, stating that Forbes had carried out its due diligence by asking him for three years of tax returns to prove the revenue numbers he was claiming for his business, references, and more. “They didn’t give me a freebie, they really examined my career and work to determine if I was worthy of the nomination,” he wrote.

For 2021’s 30 Under 30 Asia list, the judges comprised Kai-fu Lee, Hiroshi Mikitani, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, and our Patrick Grove of Catcha Group, to name a few people. These names have previously made it onto a Forbes list themselves, from Japan’s Richest to The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Every April, the U30 list will finally be announced, and those who made it will receive an email about the good news.

A Small Tweak

Forbes first launched its 30 Under 30 list in 2011 under the leadership of Randall Lane, who was promoted from magazine editor in chief to chief content officer. The list was created along with a U30 channel on their website meant to target more millennial audiences. 

The dedicated channel now features content on finance, business, and entrepreneurial advice for young readers. When the U30 list first started, its team actually struggled to get enough nominees as voters would often abandon their forms.

Salah Zalatimo was then brought on as Chief Digital Officer at Forbes in 2015. In leading the platform’s digital transformation, he was dedicated to fixing this problem. He had 3 goals in mind:

  1. Keep people engaged until they hit submit;
  2. Make it easy to distribute through email, social, and web embed;
  3. Whether on desktop or mobile, it must look good and accessible on all devices.

So, he turned to Typeform, a Spanish SaaS company that specialises in online form building and surveys. But that wasn’t enough, the questionnaire needed to look like it came from Forbes. So, Salah removed Typeform’s branding altogether and stuck Forbes’ logos and colours onto it.

John-Son and Zikry / Image Credit: John-Son Oei, Zikry Kholil

The slight tweaks in the programming and branding of their surveys managed to bring in 15,000 nominations in 2016. That was also the year Forbes expanded to include Asian, European, and African lists where Malaysians—John-Son Oei (28) and Zikry Kholil (29)—made it.

Thus far, over 50 young Malaysians have made it onto Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list since then, and Vulcan Post is proud to say that we’ve seen and featured many of them from the start, and we hope to keep seeing more new names from Malaysia crop up on future lists!

  • You can learn more about the Malaysians on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 here.
  • You can read about the past list we’ve covered here, and more of our Forbes related coverage here.

Featured Image Credit: Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana, professional wrestler / Yi Hern Chang, JomRun / Sasha Tan, Favful / Wan Hasifi Amin Wan Zaidon, co-founder of Baituljannah





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