At first, they were among 5,000 start-up hopefuls. Then, they were shortlisted to a group of 100. Being among that chosen cohort, both Leon Farrant and Dr Reza Katal rubbed shoulders a few times while searching for a prospective co-founder. But over 14 weeks in a six-month programme organised by talent investor Entrepreneur First (EF), the duo realised they kept coming back to each other.
“We kept on sitting and having lunch and coffee with each other, and we actually had much more in common than we thought. So we obviously formed the friendship,” says 36-year-old Farrant in a recent interview with The Edge Singapore.
Despite having different ideas at the start, the Kenyan-born Farrant was immediately floored by Katal’s passion for environmental protection — a cause he too feels strongly for. “In our industry, you have scientists who like to do things in the lab and you have investors who don’t have a deep science background. Reza immediately intimidated and impressed me because he was a combination of both.”