2024 Zell Entrepreneurs Singapore Trek

Zell Lurie Institute
April 1, 2024

Every spring, students participating in the Zell Entrepreneurs program make an international trek to network with fellow entrepreneurs from across the globe. This year’s 2023-2024 cohort of Zell Entrepreneurs – Ana Timoficiuc (BSE ‘24), Faith Richardson (BBA ’24), Jake Sadow (BA ’24), Jason Obrycki (BSE ’24), Karthik Ramani (MBA ’24), Karthik Ramasubramanian (MBA ’24), Matthew Stone (MBA ’24), Tirth Patel (BSE ’24), and Trinity Brown (BBA ’24) – traveled to Singapore and immersed themselves in the city’s bustling entrepreneurial ecosystem. As a global hub for innovation and business, Singapore offered an unparalleled setting for our entrepreneurs to dive deep into the world of startups and innovation. The students were accompanied by ZLI Executive Director, Stewart Thornhill and ZLI Director of Student & Alumni Programs, Steve Janssens.

After 22 hours of travel, the group arrived in Singapore and spent their first day shaking off their jet lag and sightseeing around the city. Day two of the trip kicked off with a visit to the Singapore Fashion Council, an incubator for fashion companies that serves as the catalyst driving the industry’s continuous growth, with a focus on three key areas: Asian Craftsmanship, Sustainability, and Innovation & Technology. There the students met with Singaporean founder Stephanie Choo, who launched her handcrafted, socially-focused jewelry brand Eden + Elie in 2015. Stephanie shared her belief in the tremendous potential of design to drive value in the marketplace and impact lives for the better in human-centered and innovative ways. The students also met with Santhi Tunas, Co-Founder of the Singapore-based fashion brand, Binary Style. Santhi and her sister founded the brand in 2015 with a collection of square scarves that is inspired by Singapore’s unique history and diverse cultural mix.

On the third day, the students visited BLOCK71, the global startup incubator. BLOCK71 is a technology-focused ecosystem builder and global connector which catalyzes and aggregates the startup community. In Singapore, they spearhead new initiatives and provide mentorship and growth opportunities in key local, regional and global markets. There the students met with Tiago Costa Alves, CEO at Librarian AI, to talk about the opportunities that Southeast Asia offers with a booming population of nearly 700 million and significant economic growth. Tiago shared his personal tips for expanding into the Southeast Asian market, emphasizing the importance of local insights, flexibility, and resilience.

Then followed a meeting with Wavemaker Group, a multi-faceted global venture capital firm founded in 2003. Wavemaker is one of the most active early-stage investors in Southern California and Southeast Asia and has invested in over 400 companies in the last 18 years. Joel Ang, who co-leads the firm’s Investment team, discussed how their team sources deals, and how the process differs between the company’s United States and Southeast Asia offices.

The students started day four of the trip with a conversation with David Pong, Co-Founder and CEO of Wateroam, an innovative water solutions venture providing safe water to communities in need. So far, the company has supplied 200,000 people with clean drinking water across the globe. David, a social entrepreneur at heart, shared his belief in harnessing the power of business to drive social change and solve the world’s toughest problems.

The group then spent the afternoon at the Go Global: Singapore Health Summit 2024, held by Authentica in collaboration with FlocCare, a Myraa Technologies Group Company. Throughout the event, the students had the opportunity to showcase their startups, as well as engage in learning, interaction, and networking with industry-leaders, impact-makers, and venture capitalists from Singapore and beyond.

On day five, the students met with Dr. Anand Govindaluri, Founder & Group CEO of Govin Holdings. Dr. Govindaluri shared his wealth of knowledge of the healthcare startup ecosystem. He spoke about the successful ingredients required to be a health-tech entrepreneur, his go-to-market strategies, the rise of India as an innovative health-tech economy, and why this matters to Singapore and U.S. startups. He also touched on the power of meditation in managing work-life balance and maintaining sound mental health.

Though the days were jam-packed with entrepreneurial learnings, the trip wasn’t all about business! The students immersed themselves in Singapore’s diverse culture, enjoying local delicacies at the city’s famous Hawker Stalls, and visiting iconic landmarks including Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Haji Lane, and a Buddhist temple. Each experience expanded their understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s dynamic culture.

The week wrapped up with a reflective lunch where each student shared their takeaways from the trip. Though their entrepreneurial endeavors vary, their synopsis of their time spent in Singapore was the same. The trip was a tremendous learning experience that helped them to think big and to think global on their entrepreneurial journeys.

“I had the privilege of joining the recent Singapore Trek as part of the Zell Entrepreneurs. This experience was nothing short of transformative for me and my venture, Current2. The opportunity to forge connections with venture capitalists, incubators, accelerators, and fellow entrepreneurs in Singapore’s thriving startup ecosystem was invaluable. The insights and perspectives I gained from these interactions have reshaped my understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape and provided me with a deeper appreciation for the world-changing possibilities entrepreneurship represents. I am more excited than ever about the field of entrepreneurship and at the prospect of becoming a serial entrepreneur!”

Jake Sadow (BA ’24)

Thank you to all the participating business leaders, founders, and innovators who made this trip such a rich learning experience for our students. Here’s to the bright futures awaiting our Zell Entrepreneurs!



Zell Entrepreneurs is an elite program designed to provide support to students who are dedicated to work on their businesses full-time upon graduation. Students selected to participate in this immersive, year-long program will receive support, mentorship, resources, and funding to get their ventures ready to launch. Zell Entrepreneurs is open to final-year students from all 19 schools and colleges at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus.