Recruitment specialist and angel investor launched jobs portal just for startups
Currently boasts over 5,000 résumés in DB, with 900 startups posting 2,000 jobs
BEN Chew was an angel investor in Singapore’s startup space, quite content with his personal status quo, when a suggestion from a friend sparked the motivation to do more.
This friend, a veteran in the media space, urged Chew to think about the possibilities of contributing to the startup ecosystem by leveraging on his background and domain expertise in recruitment and human resources.
That conversation, with no specific direction or suggestions, initially left Chew in “a semi-confused state of mind,” as he had not considered doing more with the startup community, apart from investing in fledgling companies that caught his eye.
However, he began to recall how encounters with startup founders over the past months inevitably ended with, or involved, requests to help locate developers, chief technology officers or talent for other positions.
“In all those encounters, I shied away from the topic. Hiring for a startup is never easy and it is a roller-coaster ride before a successful startup hire can be put in place,” Chew recalls in an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA).
It took another three days of chewing over the idea of doing more for the startup ecosystem before Chew came to the decision to jump in … feet first.
“Another reason came along. I asked myself: ‘Why am I investing in startups when they may face challenges in attracting talent to join them to scale their business further?’
“It seemed like a chicken-and-egg situation and gave me a clear indication of what I needed to do, so I decided to take this forward,” he says.
With that, Startup Jobs Asia was formed in mid-December, 2012.
Creating connections for startup talent
Startup Jobs Asia is an online platform which seeks to become a consolidated meeting place for founders seeking talent, and people interested in pursuing career opportunities with startups.
Recognising the challenges in talent acquisition faced by startups, Chew (pic) says that his team has identified gaps in the recruitment process and aims to bridge them, noting that many talents join startups not because of the salary or benefits.
“More often than not, it is about the goals and achievements which they would like to pursue,” he adds.
Chew says that as the platform serves a niche market, with only startups allowed to post job openings for free, job-seekers who visit the site are well aware that the listings on the site are opportunities with emerging startups and not the typical mainstream careers.
“The hiring process for startups then becomes more straightforward as applicants are those who … are interested to work in the startup environment, where other factors besides compensation can be a key pull factor,” he adds.
When asked about the competition, Chew reports that to date, the team has not encountered any other competitors within the region serving the startup community, as most job boards are skewed toward mainstream jobs.
The Startup Jobs Asia team currently comprises Chew, who boasts over 13 years of experience in the talent acquisition industry, and cofounder Alvis Nilojan, who takes care of all technical aspects of the site and its development.
The venture is currently funded and supported by equity holdings and investment company Strategia Ventures, and leverages on the support of team members from sister companies under Strategia, with expertise spanning areas such as marketing, social media and product development.
Chew shares that plans in the pipeline for the year include the release of a new backend for the platform in the next month that is intended to provide a better solution to helping founders and startups manage their applicants in a more effective manner.
In addition, the team is organising the second edition of its annual flagship event, the Join STARTUPz! Jobs Fair.
“We believe offline engagement will contribute to what we are doing and allow jobseekers to be better aware of [what it is] like working in a startup environment. We are also planning for other events where we can get closely connected to our community,” he adds.
Filling up the talent pool
Chew claims that Startup Jobs Asia currently has about 900 startups that have posted more than 2,000 jobs on the platform across Asia, predominately coming from Singapore and other markets in South-East Asia.
“It is definitely one of the portals around the region that lists the most startup jobs opportunities.
We have managed to attract more than 5,000 résumés to date deposited into our database, and the numbers are growing at a daily rate,” he adds.
Startups that have successfully found talent via the platform include OlinData, TableApp, JFDI.Asia, Flocations, Loanstreet and TradeGecko.
When asked about the platform’s business model, Chew admits that at this stage, there is no clear and concrete business model in place.
“We will continue to offer a freemium model where startups can post their job openings on our site. Startups which want better visibility can opt for a featured listing at a nominal cost and their job ads will remain at top of the list for one month,” he says.
He adds that the team is still exploring new avenues as the platform grows its reach, traffic and user base.
“Ideas will be put on a later date after we identify how we can further bridge the gap between startups and talents. We would like to do more, beyond just being a job portal,” he says.
Right now, says notes that the biggest challenge remains scaling up and getting more traction across the region.
When asked what keeps him motivated, Chew says that news of successful hires and the steadily growing list of testimonials are one source.
“Startups coming back to our site and posting more job positions over time keeps us positive and motivated as well,” he adds.
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