How People Get Nominated & Picked

Each year, Forbes identifies revolutionary people under the age of 30 in different industries. The 2021 roster is made up of 300 young entrepreneurs and pioneers leading the new normal.

7 Malays have made the list this year from political change makers to cricketer. Biggest trend on the list? Most of these Malays never had experience in the fields for which they were known.

Finding these people is a daunting task, so how does Forbes do it?

A Crowdsourcing survey

It requires a tool: an investigation. The 30 Under 30 (U30) form allows people to introduce themselves or to nominate someone else. Using jump logic, respondents are brought up to follow-up questions that apply to their answers.

Dictionary time: Jump logic is a feature that changes the question or page a respondent next sees based on how they answer the current question. It is also known as conditional branching or branching logic.

Survey Monkey.

Then it forces the public to fill out the forms. Forbes will publish the survey through its platforms such as mailing lists, embedding it on its U30 webpage and disseminating it on social media.

What does the survey contain?

You are prompted to enter the name of the person you want to nominate (possibly yourself) and whether they have ever been on the U30 list. Based on your answer, you will be guided to the appropriate set of follow-up questions.

Categories include an applicant’s details like their industry, role in a business, and organization name plus email address. In total, there are 10 categories for the Asia list:

  • Finance and venture capital,
  • Consumer technology,
  • Enterprise technology,
  • Industry, manufacturing and energy,
  • Media, Marketing and Advertising,
  • Retail and e-commerce,
  • Health and science,
  • Social entrepreneurs,
  • The Arts (Art & Style and Gastronomy),
  • Entertainment and sports.

These are the details of their employment. Then you will be asked questions about that candidate’s personal life, work and education, awards, and media coverage.

Finally, you need to explain (in detail, hopefully) why you think this person deserves to be on the list. If you missed any questions, you will be redirected to fill them out, before finally hitting that submit button.

Judgment hour

After waiting around 5-8 months (based on the information we found on the 2019 vote), more than 2,500 nominations are then sent to Forbes reporters and editors who will review the nomination. If they like your nomination, they will contact the relevant sources and your candidate to verify the information.

The journalists will then carve their initial list of 500 names and send them to a panel of judges who will discern who will be among the 300 people on the U30 list.

The last 300 selected thereafter will be considered on the basis of these criteria: demonstration of leadership, impact, potential for success and embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit synonymous with Forbes. Other factors like the innovation and disruption they bring – as well as the size and growth of their companies in certain categories – play a role in Forbes’ final decision.

Travis Chambers of US video advertising company Chamber.Media wrote about his experience of being nominated to the 2018 Under 30 list, saying Forbes performed his due diligence by asking him for three years of tax returns to prove the income he claimed for his business, referrals, and more. “They didn’t give me a freebie, they really looked at my career and my job to determine if I was worthy of the nomination,” he wrote.

For the 2021 30 Under 30 in Asia list, the judges included Kai-fu Lee, Hiroshi Mikitani, Roshni Nadar Malhotra and our group Patrick Grove from Catcha, to name a few. These names have been on a Forbes list before themselves, from the richest women in Japan to the 100 most powerful women in the world.

Each April, the U30 roster will finally be announced, and those who made it will receive an email with the good news.

A little adjustment

Forbes first launched its 30 Under 30 list in 2011 under Randall Lane, who was promoted to magazine editor to director of content. The list was created with a U30 channel on their website intended to target a more millennial audience.

The dedicated channel now offers content on finance, business and entrepreneurial advice for young readers. When the U30 list started, his team struggled to get enough candidates as voters often abandoned their forms.

Salah Zalatimo was then appointed Chief Digital Officer at Forbes in 2015. Leading the digital transformation of the platform, he dedicated himself to solving this problem. He had 3 goals in mind:

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

So he turned to Typeform, a Spanish SaaS company specializing in the creation of online forms and surveys. But that wasn’t enough, the questionnaire had to look like it came from Forbes. Thus, Salah completely removed the Typeform brand and stuck the Forbes logos and colors to it.

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

The slight modifications to the programming and branding of their surveys managed to attract 15,000 nominations in 2016. This is also the year that Forbes expanded to include Asian, European and African lists where the Malays – John-Son Oei (28) and Zikry Kholil (29) – did.

So far, over 50 young Malaysians have been on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in Asia since then, and Vulcan Post is proud to say that we’ve seen and featured a lot of them from the start, and we hope to continue to see more. Malaysian names appear on future lists!

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

Featured Image Credit: Ni ‘Phoenix’ Diana, professional wrestler / Yi Hern Chang, JomRun / Sasha Tan, Favful / Wan Hasifi Amin Wan Zaidon, co-founder of Baituljannah


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Jothi Venkat

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