Interview with Lynn Tan, Co-Founder of Blonk Group

In a tight labour market like Singapore, recruiting is a massive pain point for employers.

Unlike a country like India where a single job posting will garner you hundreds (if not thousands) of applicants, Singapore employers would be happy if they have candidates in their funnel, to begin with.

The traditional way of the job application is still dominating and so is the friction that comes with it.

Don’t believe me?

Go to your company career page now and time yourself how long it will take you to apply for a job?

And now try to do it on your mobile phone because that is where most of your target audience is on.

That friction provided an opportunity for a platform to cater to the mobile (phone) generation and reduce friction in jobs application.

I speak with Lynn Tan, co-founder of Blonk to learn more about that platform.

1. Please share with us what you do

I was a senior consultant with large international human capital and executive search firms.

I was working with multinational companies across industry sectors in Greater China, Japan and Southeast Asia on HR consulting, talent acquisition, assessment & coaching and change management.

I advised companies on C-team effectiveness, organizational and leadership development.

The earlier part of my career was spent in publicity & marketing and strategy consulting. I started my career as publicist and marketer, working in the telecommunications sector and then the Singapore Art Museum.

Longing to discover new cultures and broaden my horizons, I went abroad to live and work for a couple of years in the UK where I also studied MBA, and China.

2. What motivated you to start this business?

It started with the idea that recruiting can be vastly improved – made simpler, more agile, and placing the hiring manager at the centre.

Despite heavy investments and multiple innovative tools, recruiting remains painful – time-consuming, costly and, most of the time, inefficient.

I was driven by the idea of tearing down walls and the belief that recruiting is strategic.

But I never dreamt of being an entrepreneur – It was serendipity.

When my co-founder Vincent Maillard met with one of the initial creators of the MVP Blonk app at a small pizza place in Palo Alto, he told me excitedly about a new recruiting app which was as revolutionary as Tinder had been for love matching.

The idea of a direct connection between talents and hiring managers struck a deep chord in us, and the intuitive tinderesque app that is adapted to our mobile lifestyle promised limitless possibilities in solving the recruiting challenge bothering organisations globally.

My decision to co-found Blonk was quite easy as I knew Vincent well and the project was totally in line with my ambition to find a digital solution that resonates with today’s new market realities.

I am very glad I made this choice because we demonstrated now that search can be done differently:

  • Through the optimisation of the recruitment process, by making it more agile and collaborative between the recruiting team and hiring managers.
  • By promoting more direct human connections – People hire people so people fit has to be valued as a key selection factor.
  • Through better use of technology in order to “democratise” the best of executive search practices

3. How would you describe Blonk?

Blonk is a mobile recruitment and networking platform inspired by love matching principles.

Blonk homepage

Using AI and video, Blonk helps the right talents and hiring leaders find each other across geographies in a few swipes.

Powered by our intelligent matching algorithm and functionalities like geolocation and video, we bring hiring leaders new ways to hire talents and make meaningful professional connections that will lead to concrete opportunities.

Talents get a chance to express their unique style and potential through video. Hiring leaders can also record their profile to attract the best people.

Candidates and hiring managers can network and connect directly. With Blonk, recruitment and networking are easier than ever.

The value we bring to our clients:

  • Our clients reported a 60% reduction time to placement, 94% success rate and 40% cost reduction.
  • The recruiting process is streamlined and they recruit better, faster and cheaper.

The benefits to job seekers:

  • We help the candidate be memorable using video.
  • A video is a great way for people to express their potential. It allows the candidate to stand out and express his/her unique difference.

4. How did you get funded?

We bootstrapped and had one Angel investor.

We were not looking to raise funds when we first incorporated but aiming at building a sustainable business model with a powerful sales engine.

We didn’t want to transition into growth mode too prematurely. We were in “pre-growth prep”, trying to find and create defensibility.

5. Who are your closest competitions?

Blonk is when “Tinder meets Linkedin”.

Closest competitors are the mobile apps dedicated to business and which were inspired by Tinder design and Ux, e.g.: Kudoz (France), Jobr (US), Switch (US)

6. Who are your biggest customers?

A series-A startup specialized in data sciences applications.

There were using multiple job sites, employee referrals and headhunters to sustain their high growth.

They wanted to get a talent acquisition solution to attract, select and retain better their key employees.

They believed that the fit with their culture and the team was essential to the success of any new hire.

They perceived very quickly that Blonk app and solutions are valuing human connections and fit in all the steps of the recruiting process.

This was very much in line with their expectations.

One of the largest player in the area of professional training in Singapore.

They were traditionally recruiting through headhunters and classic job sites.

Given their recurring and high volume needs for talents, their recruiting team needed to improve its efficiency in attracting talents and selecting resumes.

For them, Blonk was great as it was a fully integrated and intuitive solution that allowed them not only to attract a wider pool of candidates but also to automize the selection process and to monitor their recruitment performance all along the way.

But the Blonk recruiting platform is also suitable for companies with small recruiting volume.

Our digital search solutions are modular, and can be adapted to different levels of recruitment needs.

7. What is your most successful approach to marketing?

Blonk featured on Today Online

Word of mouth (referral) – Our clients and candidates recommend their contacts.

This is proof of their satisfaction of our solutions.

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

On this very competitive market, we knew that one of our key differentiators would come from technology and especially from our capacity to improve matching performance not only for hard skills but also for soft skills and fit.

In 2014, we were among the first to use video profiles in our recruitment process but we needed to go further in automation and we were not coming from the data science field.

Yet, we managed to generate interest from CentraleSupelec, one of the most famous research institutions in Europe and arguably the best among the league of MIT which agreed to partner with us in the field of personality profiling through video and voice analysis.

This was a great moment as we knew it would be a key milestone in our technology roadmap and we received a few months later the Starfab SG award (Taiwanese accelerator.)

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

We are still a bit too young or we may have not stepped back enough yet to have experienced nor analysed a genuine failure.

The main traps we experienced were related to the well known “lack of focus” and our natural tendency to go back to our traditional way of working as consultants i.e. providing high-value personalized advice to our clients instead of aiming at automizing our services for greater scalability.

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

I have always been interested in humanities and Buddhism as a philosophy.

The book “The Monk and the Philosopher – A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life” has left a deep impression on me.

It is an inspiring philosophical dialogue between a rational and a spiritual mind.

Both very clever men engaging in thought-provoking debates about the meaning of life, science and the humanities, east and west. – A particularly interesting subject when you found an international start up in HRTech!

11. In the last 12 months, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

Focus on creating what I desire and never lose hope.

At the same time maintaining a good sense of self — Being honest with myself, know what I’m good at and what I love to do, and having a moral compass.

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

Learning how to free my mind to maintain a reasonable work-life balance (an elusive concept in startup life).

Running a startup is all-consuming. I knew theoretically that startups take over your life, but not in the way and the extent I imagined.

If you are not working on the startup – growth, selling, marketing, developing, working on optimising the platform with the tech team…, you will be thinking about startups.

So I make it a point to take weekend breaks so that there is a cut from work (not always possible, but I try :-)).

I do something else that expands my mind and culture, like learning piano, cooking, reading or make time just to have fun.

13.  Where can people find out more about you and your company?

You can find out about Blonk via:

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