The FutureList – Step into the Future



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Meet our Innovation Ecosystem Manager: Monica Pun

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In our first Ecosystem Interview, we introduce Monica Pun, our Innovation Ecosystem Manager. We spoke with Monica and unpacked her journey, her insights on the innovation ecosystem and her vision for driving impactful change in the world of technology and entrepreneurship. Join us as we explore Monica’s invaluable contributions to shaping the future of innovation at The FutureList and beyond.

Q: Could you share a bit about your background and previous experience that led you to this position?

Hello, I’m Monica – London born and raised by immigrant punjabi parents. I’m an avid traveler, an outdoor lover, introverted extrovert and since I was young I’ve harboured a passion for innovation and impact.

Interestingly, my journey started as an Optometrist (eye specialist) over 12 years ago. Whilst I loved helping people see and I was able to utilise my skills all over the world including Zambia, Australia and India, there was always a part of me that was curious about social entrepreneurship.

Later I completed a fellowship in Social Innovation, launched my own logistics start up and experienced first hand the founder journey and hardships that came along with it. In 2022, we were acquired by a FashionTech company called SOJO backed by the likes of Google, Depop and Ascension Ventures. 

Reflecting on my time as a founder, I felt a calling to leverage my business acumen in a new capacity—becoming an ecosystem builder. I aspired to support fellow founders in scaling their ventures and amplifying their impact on the world.

Q: What does the role of Innovation Ecosystem Manager entail and how does it fit into The FutureList’s vision of identifying and scaling innovation globally?

The role of the Innovation Ecosystem Manager is to build relationships with founders, investors, partners, accelerators and hubs across the global tech ecosystem.

We do this through one to one conversations, making curated introductions, conducting innovation interviews, running community events and establishing partnerships. In my EMEA region specifically I also support the founders spinning out of ALX Ventures with investment and accelerator opportunities.

At The FutureList we believe that building relationships is the backbone of creating impact and helping innovators scale globally. 

Q: What motivated you to become part of The FutureList, and how do you perceive your role fitting into the broader startup ecosystem?

Countless founders and innovators worldwide often go unnoticed, their remarkable contributions overlooked by mainstream platforms like TechCrunch or Forbes. Yet, this absence from the spotlight doesn’t diminish the incredible work they’re doing or the innovations they’re spearheading.

What motivated me is the opportunity to shine a light on these unsung heroes through The FutureList. We’re dedicated to showcasing founders and businesses from around the globe who are pioneering breakthrough products and services.

As Innovation Ecosystem Managers, we’re privileged to leverage an extensive global network through The FutureList, as well as our esteemed partners, SAND Technologies and ALX Ventures. By connecting these innovators with our network, capital and resources we catalyze transformative collaborations and their ability to scale. This is where the true magic unfolds!

Q: Could you share a bit about your background and previous experiences within the startup realm, and how they’ve shaped your perspective on innovation and entrepreneurship?

My first experience in a start up was almost 8 years ago where I met two Australian guys called Nick and Pete on Bondi Beach, who were trying to revolutionise the eyewear industry by selling glasses online. “Why would people buy glasses online?” I asked myself as an Optometrist at the time. Despite my doubts, I seized the chance to join their venture. As we swiftly ascended to becoming one of Australia’s fastest-growing startups, I came to a profound realisation: novelty in ideas knows no bounds, and it truly carries the potential to create transformative change and innovation in the world. 

From then on, I began to work in various roles that allowed me to gain a holistic understanding of the startup landscape. From founding my own venture to working in leadership positions within established startups, I’ve navigated the complexities of building products, scaling operations, and driving strategic initiatives. It is these experiences that have instilled in me an appreciation for the power of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Q: How do you envision leveraging your unique skills and expertise to navigate the challenges and opportunities inherent in the startup ecosystem?

Having witnessed firsthand how bold ideas, coupled with strategic execution, can disrupt industries and create meaningful impact, I have a keen eye and confidence in identifying opportunities within the startup ecosystem. Particularly when it comes to supporting founders, I have been in their shoes. I have the lived experience to really know how they feel and what practical support they need to scale their business. 

I’ve also learned the importance of resilience and adaptability in the face of uncertainty and adversity, which will hugely equip me when facing challenges within the ecosystem.

Q: What do you find most exciting about working in the startup space, and what aspects of the ecosystem do you believe offer the greatest potential for innovation and disruption?

What excites me most about the startup space is the unparalleled opportunity for innovation. The fast-paced nature of startups fosters an environment where creativity thrives and bold ideas are embraced. Startups also leverage rapid experimentation and iteration which I’ve always loved, enabling adaptation and pivots to changing market dynamics.

I’m particularly drawn to groundbreaking innovation in areas such as ClimateTech, AgTech and FinTech which are needed more than ever due to the climate crisis and economic uncertainties. Traditional models are ripe for disruption.

Overall I’d say it’s the prospect of driving meaningful change and shaping the future that fuels my passion for working in the startup ecosystem.

Q: What advice or insights would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts looking to make their mark in the industry?

Embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. This is one of the biggest things I learnt on my journey. Setbacks are inevitable, but they also present invaluable learning opportunities. Be resilient, adapt quickly, and don’t be afraid to iterate on your ideas. With determination and perseverance, you can truly make your mark in the industry.

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