Press Release: 2018 YSEALI Summit Innovation Slam Winners

December 6, 2018

The United States Mission to ASEAN is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Innovation Slam, the centerpiece of the December 3-5 YSEALI Summit in Singapore. The 2018 YSEALI Summit gathered 125 alumni of YSEALI along with young American entrepreneurs and innovators to celebrate YSEALI’s fifth anniversary. The summit focused on the United States and ASEAN as partners in growth and innovation.

Summit participants were challenged to form teams and create a business plan/enterprise/product with the following criteria: social impact, scalability across multiple nations in ASEAN, a solid revenue generation model, implications for collaboration with U.S. partners. Participants took part in start-up formation and development trainings, formed teams, and pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges with the top five (plus crowd favorite) receiving seed funding grants. The winners:

  • First Prize: USD 10,000 to “ASEAN Unboxed”; an ecommerce and storytelling platform that seeks to give access to the best products that come from ASEAN countries. This platform will provide market access to social enterprises to reach the growing market of conscious consumers. By Janine Chiong (Philippines), Nur Azrin Abu Bakar (Malaysia), Joie Cruz (Philippines), Pia Miraflores (Philippines), Adrian Koh (Brunei), Ouk Channita (Cambodia), Lei Motilla (Philippines), Emil Tapnio (Philippines), John Si Thu (Myanmar).
  • 2nd Place and Crowd Favorite: USD 7,500 + USD 2,500 to “iSpot”; a mobile application that will help the LGBTQ+ community spot and review inclusive and safe environments and business establishments. This is a platform to connect an emerging social movement with the business sector recognizing that the economy can drive societal evolution while raising awareness of real issues confronting the LGBTQ+ community. By Chistanupong “Best” Nithiwana (Thailand), Ravin “Win” Chobchai (Thailand), Chetsada “Chest” Changmai (Thailand), Val Amiel Vestil (Philippines), Angel Allyne Abellana (Philippines), Nam Nguyen (Vietnam), Ratchamongkol Saenwandee (Thailand), Bui Thi Minh Ngoc (Vietnam).
  • 3rd Place: USD 5,000 to “Synced Smiles”; project provides high-end premium toothbrushes to support oral health for all. For every toothbrush bought, 10 toothbrushes are provided to partners in the field. Over 2 billion of the population doesn’t own a toothbrush, and this exponentially solves access to oral hygiene with the support of ASEAN partners. By Erin Little (USA), Mary Rose Anatalio (Philippines), Naw Thazin Hpway (Myanmar), Ainu Shazwani (Malaysia), Thanh Doan (Vietnam), Paul Applegate (USA), Julie Joseph (USA), Brenden Schultz (USA).
  • 4th Place: USD 2,500 to “YStart”; a crowd sourcing platform that enables YSEALI projects to tell their amazing stories and gather support and funding from all around the world. By Rama Hidayat (Indonesia), Irvandias Sanjaya (Indonesia), Michael Scott Peters (USA), Thopmala “Day” Sadettan (Laos), Aye Chan “Ace” Hein (Myanmar), Prandwinata (Indonesia), Mark Anthony Santos Colentava (Philippines), Chit Aein Thu (Myanmar), Muharram Alifaturrahman Salim (Indonesia).
  • 5th Place: USD 2,500 to “Outstraw”; a one-stop digital marketplace for F&B businesses to purchase reliable alternatives to plastic. By Vimaljit Kaur (Singapore), TeeEe Lynn (Malaysia), Ho Thai Binh (Vietnam), Luh De Dwi Jayanthi (Indonesia) Souphanith Vongsengthong (Laos), Thye Yoke Pean (Singapore), Katherine M. Maguad (Philippines), Darren C. Joe (USA).

For more information about the competition or the winning projects and teams, please contact


YSEALI is the State Department’s flagship youth exchange program in Southeast Asia. Created in 2013, YSEALI builds bridges between young leaders in the region and American institutions, companies, and experts. Over 135,000 members in the YSEALI network are gaining leadership skills as they work across borders to find ASEAN-led solutions to regional and global challenges. Over 4,000 emerging leaders have had the opportunity to participate in YSEALI programs, including academic and professional exchanges, in the United States and in regional workshops focused on economic growth, sustainable development, education, and civic engagement.

Special appreciation goes to The Asia Foundation and the American Chamber of Commerce Singapore as partners in organizing the event.