Sharon is the co-founder of TalentTribe Asia, a team that’s on a mission to help young people find careers they’ll actually enjoy.
TalentTribe Asia is a career discovery platform that showcases an inside look into company culture, people, office spaces and day-to-day work life.
They work closely with companies to showcase their employer brand to engage and attract millennial talent.
1. Please share a bit about what you do.
I’m the co-founder of TalentTribe Asia. TalentTribe is on a mission to help Millennials discover careers they’ll love.
As young 20-somethings ourselves, we realise how real the quarter life crisis is.
Not knowing what career path we should choose, or what we should spend the next 5 years of our lives pursuing.
A lot of the career decisions we make are based on hearsay or rumours, such as what our friends’ friends heard.
We want to provide other young people with more inside information to make an informed decision when choosing the companies and careers to pursue.
We’re a career discovery platform that brings you a behind-the-scenes look into company cultures, office spaces and work life of employees – even before you apply for a position there.
Explore companies and figure out what it’s like to work there before even applying.
Hear from the employees themselves what they love about their work, and who may not fit a culture here.
My favourite part about the work that we do is visiting new companies each day, having honest conversations with employees who work there, finding things out about different companies that nobody knew about and sharing them with people to help them meet career decisions with more inside information.
2. What was your first paycheck?
My first paycheck was $1,000 from an internship I did after my A-levels.
I remember feeling so excited when I brought the paycheck home and even took a photo with it to remember that moment.
3. What were you doing before starting this business?
I was reading a business degree in SMU. In fact, we were still in school when we started this business. Both my co-founder and I recently graduated in 2016.
TalentTribe is actually under a parent company called Protégé which we started when we were in school.
Protégé focuses on mentoring software for talent development – we match, manage and measure mentoring programs within organisations.
When we were still in school, we experimented with running an event called the TalentTribe Summit in March 2016 because many of our peers faced many challenges in figuring out their career paths and many of our seniors had already started feeling jaded or unhappy in their jobs.
We thought there was a lot of misalignment in expectations when entering a company and a lack of guidance in figuring out our career paths.
So we brought together companies and students for this 5-Saturday summit.
We called it TalentTribe because we wanted to build a tribe of young talents that could grow together.
There were two key highlights of the Summit – a Mentoring Programme and Conference Series.
The TalentTribe Summit evolved into our existing online platform as we thought about how we can bring our learning points about what young people needed in their career discovery process to a more scalable platform.
The TalentTribe Summit will still be continued as an annual signature event – this year’s instalment is coming up in the second half of the year so watch out for it.
4. What sacrifices have you had to make to be an entrepreneur?
When I was in school I gave up an offer to do an exchange program in Netherlands because I wanted to spend the time in Singapore building the company.
I also gave up a full-time job offer doing work that I also enjoyed, because I believe this is the time of life where we have the least financial obligations or commitment and the most energy and passion to pursue what gets us fired up, regardless of the outcome.
Being an entrepreneur is also a job that takes up a lot of your time and mental energy. Naturally, you’ll give up on sleep and other aspects of personal life.
I’d say don’t see things as sacrifices though, because that keeps your mind focused on loss.
When you know what it is you want to pursue in life, every decision becomes an active choice and it becomes natural to choose the path that brings you closer to what you want – you gain something, even if it’s gaining the clarity of what it is you want more in life.
5. How did you get funded?
TalentTribe is bootstrapped and self-funded at the moment.
We’re currently focused on pursuing growth through organic revenue.
6. How do you go about marketing your business?
We leverage both online and offline channels.
Apart from digital marketing, social media, content marketing, we also focus on offline events and partnerships with different educational institutions, student networks and industry associations.
This gives us a higher level of engagement and involvement with users and customers, keeps us close to the ground and gives us a sensing of thoughts and feedback on how we can do better.
7. Could you describe your first sale and how it came about?
The first sale felt pretty magical.
It came about through LinkedIn (I recommend LinkedIn Premium), where we connected and chatted before setting up a meeting at their office.
It was perfect timing because the company was looking at something similar to what we offered. One thing led to another and they became our first client.
That was when we had to start figuring out things like the legal agreement and invoice.
As with everything else in building a business, we figure things out along the way.
8. Describe your typical work day?
This is my favourite question to ask employees in different companies we feature
I manage corporate partnerships at TalentTribe, which involves a lot of sales and business development so I’m out of the office for meetings a lot. I spend about three days out of the office at different meetings.
The other two days of the week that I’m in the office – typically the start and end of the week – is where I sync up with the team, have company meetings, and get through my to-do list which ranges from hiring to client management to sales-related activities such as prospecting, setting up meetings and following up on proposals.
You know how it is with start-ups – different things come your way each day!
9. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business?
There was once when we were filming at a company, and one of the employees told us “You guys look too happy to be doing this as a job.”
That stuck with me because it’s what we really want to be as a business – while we’re building something that helps other young people in their career discovery, it’s equally important for us to be creating meaningful careers for those on the TalentTribe team.
We’re all in this because it’s something we believe in.
It’s something we’ve decided is worth dedicating the next few years of our lives – in the peak of our youth.
Not just building a successful business, but creating jobs that we actually enjoy on a day-to-day basis.
And not just for ourselves, but for all the people on our team who are walking this journey with us.
10. What was the lowest point for you in this business?
Some of the lowest points tend to come from rejection from different parties for different reasons, such as how we are new to the market or the size of the company.
There are always ups and downs and I’ve come to accept that as a norm.
To the point where if things start to go too well, I’d start to prepare for a road bump coming up.
And if things look like they couldn’t get worse, it’s good to know it can only get better.
11. What’s your revenue numbers over the past year?
We’re so young we don’t even have a “past year”. Let’s do this a year from now!
12. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
My parents and the mentors I’ve had in my life have influenced me the most and I know I can count on them for trusted advice anytime.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single individual who’ve had the most influence on how I approach my work.
I think we’re all a collection of the different people who’ve influenced us in our lives and the different experiences we’ve had over time.
13. If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell her?
I’d tell her that every moment you experience is exactly where you are supposed to be.
Each is a perfect moment for you to find a lesson in, and learn what you need to.
Don’t ever doubt because no matter where it is you want to be, you have it in you now to take you there.
14. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
I honestly don’t remember. I only remember the good advice I should take to heart!
15. What’s your business focus for this year?
Growing the companies featured on the TalentTribe platform, and the Millennial talent in our community.
16. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
Keep your inbox filled only with things you need to act upon.
Once you’re done with an email, archive it or move it to a folder.
If it’s something you’re waiting for a reply on, or if it’s KIV-ed for a future date, tag it “Follow-up” and revisit your “Follow-up folder” at the end of each week or month.
It also helps to tag every single email that comes in, especially when the actionables that fills your inbox starts to build up.
17. Is there an app or tool you can’t live without?
Telegram. I’m a huge fan of this cloud-based messenger app.
Our company uses Telegram like how others use Slack, with different Telegram chat groups that function like different Slack channels.
We prefer it over other platforms due to its speed and ease of sending and searching unlimited message history, documents and media.
I also use the Telegram chat with myself as a quick way to capture notes.