Entrepreneurship Future of HR

What you missed at HRD Tech Summit 2019 Tech Den

For the 2nd time, I was invited to HRD Tech Summit to participate in their Tech Den segment.

If you don’t know about HRD Tech Summit, they are Singapore’s leading independent HR Tech event.

More than 200 HR professionals and technology innovators prowled the venue at Hilton Hotel, gaining exclusive insights and actively exchanging ideas on HR Tech.

Tech Den is the HR Tech Summit’s flagship program – celebrating excellence in HR startups and entrepreneurship across Asia.

Vying for the ultimate prize, a $20k marketing campaign in HRD Asia publications, hundreds of HR Tech startups was whittled down to just a few finalists.

These lucky finalists participated in an exclusive opportunity to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges and investors.

Beside myself, Kuan Hsu from KK Fund and Shirley Wong from TNF Ventures joined me on the panel.


For those who couldn’t make it..

Sitting just in front of the stage, I could sense the nervousness of each presenter.

I probably would wet my pants if I were up there but all of them stood firm despite pressure and kudos to each and every one of them.

To me, all of them are winners.

And their presentations have so many gems that others can learn from.

So I reached out to them and requested their pitch decks and scripts. They graciously did so and below are what they shared over the session.


Finalist #1 – IntroPls

Recruitment agencies account for 50% of the total job postings on jobstreet.

What this means is that 40,000 jobs are made available through agencies instead of companies.

My name is Jon and I’m the founder & CEO of IntroPls

Have you found it harder to make a decision when you have more choices to choose from? If you had, this is the same situation we are facing in the market.

While we have 50 job portals in Singapore and many of us trying to disrupt the industry by removing the middle man, these increase in the number of portals not only failed to do so but in fact provided agencies with more channels to acquire resumes.

If you are hiring today,

The agencies collectively generated 1.3Billion revenue in 2017 and business has been booming. HRNet had a 12.8% compounded annual growth rate for the past 10 years. 

For decades, the recruitment process had stayed the same, The agencies work the same way and clients got charge the same if not more.

And that’s the reason we created IntroPls.

IntroPls is like Uber of recruitment where we help companies…..

We differentiate ourselves from the competitors in our resume acquisition strategy.

Instead of spending marketing dollars to get job seekers to deposit their resumes, we take an outreach approach funnel in resumes that we need from various sources into IntroPls.

And we do that by making the referral process simple.

Users receive a notification when a job is posted.

They sign in and refer their friends in 3 simple steps.

An email is sent to the job seekers and he/she gives us the consent before our bot reach out to engage and screen them.

The profiles that hit a certain score get connected to the HR.

Our users form a critical component to the speed and reach we acquire the resumes. And at just 2,000 users, we garner 1,200 referrals a month.

Although we are addressing the market size of $2 billion. we have a very specific client segment that we are going after.

And these are the companies who are currently outsourcing the job search to the agencies.

To take a conservative estimate, we moving towards our first milestone is to reach 300 monthly postings and target of 4,000 monthly postings in 3 years which will set us at around $1.2M monthly recurring revenue.

We offer 3 different services to our customers.

From the most basic services to services where we guarantee a hire with a light human touch in the process.

We have a gross margin of 50% at a monthly recurring of $11,000.We are currently growing at 15% month on month

We are currently raising $1MM at the pre-money of $5mm valuation where we have $300K committed from Ascapia Capital.

40% of the funds that will be allocated to enhancing our technology where we see that it can create an additional revenue vertical via a SaaS play.

And 60% of the funds to scale up our sales and marketing team to build up branding and to hit our initial milestone.

And the key team is made up of myself where I oversee the sales and tech. I’m supported by 2 experienced developers and guidance from 2 seasoned advisers.

We believe that every individual is a network and we look forward to growing our users to surpass the number of recruiters in Singapore where we help our customers hire 3 times faster, 80% cheaper.

Hello and welcome to IntroPls


Finalist #2 – ArcLab

I’m James from ArcLab.

ArcLab is a Nano Learning SaaS platform that helps organisations create effective training to improve employee job performance.

We primarily serve companies with many rank-and-file, non-deskbound workers.

Why do we do this?

Fueled by tech the pace and scope of change mean that organisations need to rethink the way that we train our employees.

Our early research…narrowed on a few learning points:

  • The need to reduce training time,
  • The need to refresh training content
  • The need to keep employees focused…

We saw scope to use good design and tech…and employees most loved devices – their phones – to help organisations solve these common problems.

Give Nano Learning a try on your phones – scan the QR code or type the link into your phone browser.

The benefits are:

  • Easy to create – flexible templates for training content
  • Easy to train – no downtime, employees access training on their phones, on demand
  • Easy to track – data analytics help organisations to assess employee capabilities and skills gaps to guide future training.

ArcLab is “Powerpoint for mobile learning”

Our Nano Learning solution improves employee job performance by delivering targeted bite-sized training via mobile web browsers;

Plus, there’s no software installation or integration needed. Organisations use ArcLab alongside HRMS/LMS that they already use.

Our model is a subscription service based on active learner and our target market has high employee turnover.

We just launched ArcLab Pro and started monetisation last month, and 1/3 of our users have converted to our Pro tier.

Our goal this year is to continue to work hard to serve our users, grow MRR and build ArcLab into a sustainable business.

Our goal is to build ArcLab into the preferred L&D platform to serve organisations throughout the region. It’s a huge addressable market which we hope to be able to serve well.

We currently operate within the Singapore market, which has 220,000 SMEs of which 20% is our first target – retail and hospitality industry.

Converting a small number of these businesses in Singapore will deliver a financially-viable model, and allow us to extend to other industries and markets.

Several companies already do good work in Learning & Development tech, particularly in mobile/micro/nano learning. That’s a good thing because that proves to us that there is a market out there.

Most of these companies though serve the PMET segment of the market, and we differentiate ourselves by serving the rank-and-file workers.

We are a team of educators, designers and technologists.

My cofounder Steven leads the tech & engineering, he’s vastly experienced, previously from Paypal and has built successful tech & education companies, which includes an exit to Rocket Internet.

Our advisory board features academic and executive experts in –

  • Pedagogy
  • Organisational Development
  • HR
  • Strategy & Product Marketing
  • Business Development

and our Instructional Designer Carolynne helps our Enterprise users design and build their own Nano Learning modules on ArcLab

We started in Apr 2018 with a proof-of-concept product built in 6 weeks and launched our MVP in August, 2 months ahead of schedule.

We were accepted into Amazon’s pioneer batch of Asia-Pacific EdStart Edtech startups

SMU Academy supported us for our Public Launch in Q3

Our full product launch in Q4 saw Singapore Poly sign with us

We also signed a platform partnership with Freeboh, Singapore’s leading Shift-based hiring marketplace – to use ArcLab for jobseeker training.

We were accepted for the STB’s Attractions Innovation Challenge with ArtScience Museum/ Marina Bay Sands coming on board on 1 April, and I read the news that our IRs are creating 5000+ jobs with their refresh announced yesterday

I’ve also just come back from the Philippines, where we signed up our first pilot users, including the Marco Polo Hotel.

All this with spending virtually zero dollars!

We’re working on much more with a focus on

  • Product – where we want to use data and AI to build automated content features to help users create training content more easily and map skills gaps for workers
  • Accreditation – working with trainers and certification bodies to build a NanoCredential product – this makes training a ‘painkiller’, not a ‘vitamin’, which helps the product value proposition
  • Widening our distribution – working with existing platforms, marketplaces and reseller channels – extending our reach while providing value to the partner. Win-win.

We are ArcLab.

We’ve started on what we hope is the right foot.

Starting with the problem – starting with help companies upskill rank-and-file workers in a cost-effective way.

There’s very much more we want to do, and we think this is the right time to buttress our resources to help us to ramp up product and scale distribution.

To borrow the words of Jeff Bezos of Amazon, ArcLab is only at Day 1. Help us to scale upwards and onwards to serve organisations all over the world


Finalist #3 – Diversiteam

Diversiteam is a digital marketplace that effectively connects companies in emerging markets like SEA with global engineering talent.

In today’s digital economy one of the major challenges that companies seem to have is finding and acquiring competent engineers.

In fact “Singapore’s talent shortage is at its highest since 2008” – ManpowerGroup.

While the majority of the companies are still using conventional talent acquisition channels, we continually hear about the same pain points of high costs, low response rates or delivery of non-relevant applications.

But if we think three steps ahead in the future of hiring, how can we make the acquisition of competent engineering talent cost-efficiently and accessible on demand?

This is a question we have asked ourselves and how eventually Diversiteam has been born.

Today we are glad to present a global marketplace of vetted engineering talent that enables instant access to competent engineers beyond the region’s boundaries from countries such as Germany and Ukraine.

With more than 1300 candidates, employers are able to specify their requirements to instantly access engineering talent that is actively or passively looking for new career opportunities.

After reviewing their detailed profiles they can then directly invite them for interviews.

The payment is eventually done not per hire, but per the first interview, which makes the cost per qualified candidate more transparent and cost-efficient.

To ensure the quality of the candidates Diversiteam conducts quantitative and qualitative reference checks including additional evaluation metrics to vet their applicants.

Eventually, our vision is not just to find workers, but to enable opportunities for companies to bring in fresh ideas, know-how and through diversity itself to bread creativity and innovation to be future-ready for tomorrows global economy!


Finalist #4 – Adaface

Let’s start with a quick recap of what happened in HRTech in 2018.

Mercer acquired Mettl, one of India’s largest talent assessment companies.

PeopleStrong acquired Wheebox, Hired acquired Py assessments, and Jobvite acquired Canvas, yet another assessment tool.

Even LinkedIn is trying something similar.

But, the status quo for assessment platforms today looks something like this: trick questions leading to false positives and false negatives.

A Java Developer does not need to know who invented Java to be great at their job.

And they will probably never encounter dynamic programming in their entire life.

We are building the world’s first assessment chatbot, Ada.

Ada is smart, can accurately evaluate for tech skills and most importantly, candidates actually want to chat with Ada.

Both companies and candidates are paying to use Ada today.

We have some of the largest companies in the world lined up to use Ada as the first step of their interview process.

Tech giants, biggest investment banks in the world and 63 other companies have already signed up to use Ada once we come out of beta.

We are also in advanced discussions with two government organizations for 6 figure contracts. 

On the candidates’ side: We recently launched Adaface Campus Club: a platform for aspiring engineers to prepare for interviews.

For the beta, we’ve partnered with a tier 1 college in India under which students are paying to use the platform for mock interviews.

And there are some 40,000 colleges in India itself.

Deepti and I are both IIT graduates and have previously led products at startups taking them from pre-seed all the way to series A.

Deepti researched machine learning algorithms at Caltech where she worked on earthquake early warning systems for California.

She previously built a chatbot that changed the way companies like Dominos, Uber and Go Jek hire and train blue-collar workers, achieving unheard-of engagement metrics.

I (Siddhartha) was previously a senior quant at Goldman Sachs.

I have built products that millions of travellers use, to experience the world. As the Product manager at Headout and later a product coach for FusionCharts, I have hired and led product teams with engineers from Facebook, Google and Amazon.

We’re Adaface.


And the winner is….

It should be pretty obvious from the featured image of this blog post.

Adaface was chosen due to one unique element of their solution – it is not just agnostic but the human intervention is minimum versus the rest whereby replication of business into other countries would seem much more laborious.

Still, every one of them has their own potential and path to take.

Their guts and courage to be on stage and their gumption to forge an unconventional path already made them all winners.

And become future role models for others to do what they firmly believe in and make a difference in the world.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments