Anthony Tan, CEO of Southeast Asia’s largest ride hail service, Grab, is no stranger to cars. His father is the head of one of the region’s largest automobile distributors, Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd. Tan was expected to go into the family business, but instead, after attending Harvard Business School, he decided to try his hand at entrepreneurship. He and his classmate Tan Hoo Ling set out to create a safer taxi experience for women in Malaysia. The ride hailing app is now on over 90 million smartphones throughout Southeast Asia and offers more than taxi services, including motorbike and shuttle rides.
To grow in Southeast Asia, Tan has taken the approach of working with local legislators and the community, giving drivers access to financial services in order to help them build sturdy independent businesses around ferrying goods and people. He is also responsible for fostering a relationship with Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who has gone on to invest billions in his company.