Interview with Forbes 30 under 30, CEO & Co-Founder of GetLinks

With the exponential growth in technology, the demand for tech talents has outstripped supply.

Based on the data from Singapore government, the number of Infocomm Jobs (Employed and Vacancies) has gone up 106% in 2016 compared to 2002.

And this situation isn’t just unique to Singapore.

With that backdrop, the entrance of GetLinks is welcoming. As a platform and ecosystem that connects tech talents with opportunities across Asia, it grew from a Thailand startup to a regional powerhouse with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam as well.

I get to speak with Co-founder and CEO Djoann Fal to learn about his personal journey so far.

1. Please share with us what you do.

I’m the head coach, servant leader of what we call #teamstrong, the 108 team members, 17 nationalities of GetLinks.

Today I mainly connect data points across teams & external encounters, trying to make our platform machine reaches more scale and more markets.

Before I was a Digital Marketing & BI analyst MIM Intern, hired by Rocket Internet at Lazada (acquired by Alibaba Group).

2. What motivated you to start this business?

It really goes back to the days when I was still a kid. I was thinking of 2020 and at that time I was dreaming of me flying with a car and had a life like those in Star Wars.

Fast forward to today, that is not happening. Instead people are fed with Netflix and Facebook Newsfeed.

I believe it is because some people are taking advantages of the gap of understanding towards technology, and other people are consuming it instead of making it and creating it, like a human right.

This is creating deadly gaps between people who have control over technology and those who don’t.

We need to give access of technology knowledge to everyone so everyone can find their (own) purposes to participate in creating tools solving humanity’s problems.

We need to bring humanity to technology.

This is our mission statement.

3. How would you describe GetLinks?

GetLinks is a platform and ecosystem connecting tech talents to opportunities across Asia.

We support people to build their skills, their connections, their teams and their careers.

Think of us as a social network like Linkedin, but specifically for professionals working in digital companies in Asia.

We have 4 products :

  • Humans of Tech – A mobile app social network similar to Tinder for networking where people can meet new people based on filters.
  • Online Tech City – The map of the Silicon Valley in Asia, similar of Glassdoor but with much more data & localization for Asia market including Greater China.
  • Adaptive Talent Dashboard – a dashboard for talents in tech to know their market values & receive personalized recommendations on what skills they should learn to increase it, exactly where & how.
  • Tech Hiring Marketplace – A hiring platform and service for tech companies to send interview offers to talents in the network, this is how we monetize our pool of  talents passively open for jobs.

4. How did you get funded?

At seed stage, we got funded by 500 startups California and CyberAgent Japan. At series A, we received an investment from Australia’s SEEK Group and Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneur Fund.

5. Who are your closest competitors?

Wantedly is interesting in their funding (model), IPO and scale in Japan.

They operate on a monthly subscription base that guarantee a number of walk in interview / months, but does not guarantee quality of these interviews nor placements.

Many companies might see themselves paying monthly subscription for months without hiring anyone.

Result for companies is very similar to a Job board : Lots of noise, lot more work but remaining job vacancies.

For GetLinks, our pay per hire is a success fee model similar to the headhunting agencies, but without headhunters – handled by our online platform and our Talent Managers.

This is why it is 50-70% cheaper than headhunters (average fee around 25-30% of Gross Annual Salary).

GetLinks’ subscription guarantees a number of candidates HIRED per month.

If the company pays but does not hire anyone this month, the paid is credited for new month – similar to a placement coin system.

6. Who are your biggest customers?

Grab, LINE, Eatigo, Carousell, HSBC, SCG etc.

They used job boards or headhunters before and switched to us because neither of them provide any user experience that is designed to help tech people know their market value and get jobs.

We attract the best candidates because we are truly talent centric, trying to let them know all available opportunities that fit their profile market rates in 4 countries.

7. What is your most successful marketing approach?

Vietnam first ever tech conference made in 6 weeks holding in the most historical palace of Vietnam with 3,000 attendees. Or renting a cruise to organize a new year party with all our clients.

I think it is something I call “experience marketing” delivering experiences.

This is a very expensive advice, please hit me up and invite me for lunch if this advice changes your life 🙂

8. What is your proudest moment in the history of your business?

Indiegogo campaign raised money for my startup on my birthday?

500 Startups California Demo day happening on the exact day of my birthday in the following year?

The 1 day trip to Hong Kong and pitch GetLinks to Alibaba management?

The time where we will be reaching 1,000 life changed via GetLinks platform?

Not sure which to decide, this company is really a crazy ride.

But if my company is boring or not making history, I certainly will be the first one to leave because I am still young and get bored easily.

9. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

I had a car accident in my 18. That is how I got this scar on my arm.

I lost a close friend in that crash. It is cliched but it hits me like a ton of bricks just how short life is. I was just 18 years old and if I had died, my life would have meant NOTHING. All my ideas would have died with me.

I wrote a 10 year master plan right then and there, I got clear on my career direction and I told myself I would not waste any more of my time.

Time is short and very precious.

10. What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

11. In the last two years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

I have seen people died without leaving much legacy behind them. This makes you ask yourself what are you here for.

For me, after working at Rocket Internet, choosing to start my own way was just a simple time x impact formula thinking : how, where and with who can I make the most impact and make myself somehow useful to the world.

I do not think there is a right answer, nor a static answer for that.

People who find their purposes are happy people leaving legacy behind them.

12. What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?

Don’t leave people to fate.

Create and catalyze “serendipity” around you.

13. Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?


Humans of Tech

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