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Glints raises $2.7M – a message to our talent

Not the typical fund-raising announcement. Here’s what this new round of funding means.

Qin EnQin En

We announced our Series A fundraising today. You can read more about our fundraising & investors in our press release.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain what this fundraising round means for the talent in our Glints community.

Ever since I’d began my journey with startups 3 years ago, I have been a religious follower of startup & tech media. I’ve probably read hundreds of startup fundraising announcements, from micro-seed / pre-angel to billion-dollar Series E / F / G. Frequently, I’d ask myself — “What in the world did these startups do to command such respectable sums of money!” Especially for growth stage startups who raised money in the millions (or even billions), it felt almost inevitable that with these warchests came along the expectations of fiscal prudence and almost unfortunately, user-unfriendliness.

Not in terms of the product unfriendliness (these companies tend to have elegant products as a result of countless iterations), but decisions that prioritise financial returns at all costs.

Today, it is our turn to announce our fundraising. And an opportunity for my team & I to reaffirm what matters most — you, the talent.

Ever since our previous funding, we’ve experimented with our business model with companies hiring young talent. Throughout the journey of identifying a repeatable & sustainable business model, we’ve had to make some real tough decisions. It would be simplistic to see them as revenue vs. user experience, but there were certainly moments where we faced ambiguous decisions. Decisions that we ultimately made on the principle of placing the talent above all else.

We’ll Say No

One of these decision we made was to hide the contact information of our talent. Legally, we were in the clear to “sell” this information (in accordance to our Terms & Conditions, we could). Competitively, alternative job platforms reveal the contact information of their talent. Quite a number even sell resumes. Yet, we made the call to hide the contact information of our talent to all employers, regardless of their relationship with us. We had employers on 5-digit contracts requesting us to make exceptions, even offering to increase the contract value in exchange for the information. Tempting, but having spoken to the talent within our community, the message was loud & clear — I don’t want my contact information to be revealed if I’m not interested. So we said no.

And we’ll continue to say no. We’ll continue to say no to banner ads on our home page. We’ll continue to say no to irrelevant email blasts that add little value to career development. We’ll continue to say no to partners who do not have our talent’s best interests at heart.

Could we have brought in more revenue & clients? Perhaps. But we’ll never forget why 170,000+ young talent chose us, when there are plenty of incumbents & me-toos out there. Because we don’t see our talent as email address or resumes, but as people.

The Numbers Show

This trust we have in you, our talent — treating you as a unique individual seeking to discovery & develop your career with us — has paid off. A year ago in August 2015, we had 12,000+ talent within our community. A year later, we have grown that by 14x to 170,000+ talent.

Common business sense would attribute this growth to aggressively expanding marketing budgets. Not for us. Not only did we not aggressively expand our marketing budget, our marketing spend actually shrank on a 6-month comparison basis. In our internal management finances, here’s the monthly breakdown of our local marketing spend over the past year:

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From August 2015 to January 2016 (1H, FY 14-15), we invested S$8,079. For the subsequent period (2H, FY 14-15), we invested S$4,759. A 41% decrease.

Yet, our growth isn’t slowing. Growth not just in new talent joining our community, but in the experience you have with us. Our talent satisfaction scores went up from 77% I’m Happy with Glints to 89% in the same 6 months where we reduced our marketing spend. In a separate survey, 72% of you said that you would be very disappointed or somewhat disappointed if Glints were to disappear tomorrow.

We believe we’ve created an experience worth talking about. An experience where you can come to Glints and chat with a human about your unique career preferences & we’ll provide you personalised, one-to-one advice / recommendations. An experience where you can discover quality internship & graduate job opportunities on Glints, that are otherwise hard-to-find. Our Wall Of Love is evidence of that.

How We’ll Spend The Money

So here’s our message to you — we aren’t going to dump all the money we raised on sales & hard-core marketing. You’ve shown us that those aren’t necessary for you to benefit from being an active, valuable member of Glints. We’ll do what we’ve always done so far — create more opportunities for you to discover career opportunities & develop the relevant skills.

We’ll continue to invest in personalised career advice & recommendations. No, we aren’t going to take away the humans you’ve been talking to. In fact, we’re building the team up & hiring more Talent Champions. On top of that, we’ll equip you & our Talent Champions with a set of powerful tools to self-discover & self-develop further. More personalised, more interaction, less friction.

We’ll continue to invest in improving our web (and mobile) platform. We know there are many kinks to be ironed out, and our feature request list is in the dozens. We’re building up our engineering capabilities to deliver the features that are important to you, faster.

We’ll continue to invest in collaboration with polytechnics & universities. We will work closely together with your school administration to bring relevant, school-specific content to you. Our goal is to make available the courses & modules you took in school and translate that into actionable insights for your career discovery & development.

These are initiatives we’ve already been working on, and you’ll be able to experience them on the new Glints.

We’re In This With You

Discovery of a career you love & developing the relevant skills isn’t a short journey. And neither are we expecting it to be. We’re in this for the long haul, together with you. Oswald, Ying Cong & myself have left Berkeley, Wharton & Stanford (on indefinite leave of absence) to journey with you. We’ve turned away our scholarships (and paid back whatever we took, with compound interest). We’ve rejected the water-cooler talk & criticisms some of our family, friends & detractors have had. It hasn’t been easy, but we know that few understand the pride & passion we have in walking this journey with you. It’s a privilege, and an especially treasured one for us to behold at 23 years of age.

Above all, I want to explain our motivation for raising this money. It’s the same motivation that gets us out of bed everyday. It’s the same motivation that leads us to sleep in office and only return home on weekends (so our families aren’t entirely neglected). To empower you to discover what you love in your career & develop the relevant skills.

Thank You

Finally, I want to personally say thank you for your patience with us. We’ve screwed up many times and we don’t take your support for granted. I treasure the relationship with you and it is an honor.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Oswald, Ying Cong & Qin En


P.S. We’ve launched the new Glints. Check it out here and let us know what you think!

P.P.S. We are hiring! Apply to any of our open positions on Glints, or email me at [email protected] to skip the queue and we can have a chat. Developers, Designers, Marketers, Business Developers, Sales & anyone else with a talent. Don’t say bojio

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