We, at e27believe in Asia’s startups. As such, we value their insights about the ecosystem, put the spotlight on their contributions to their industries, and celebrate the wins that they have.

This community spotlight is on GrabJobs, an online jobs marketplace that launched an interview chatbot that cuts down recruitment timelines by letting the bot ask pre-screening interview questions immediately after candidate has sent in their application.

Recently, GrabJobs has also closed an additional Seed fund, which brought their total fundraising to over US$1.2M. Interestingly, all their funding came from angel investors.

We had the chance to have a chat with Emmanuel Crouy, Founder and CEO, about their recent funding and how localising their approach goes a long way.

On the problem GrabJobs is addressing

“It takes so many steps to find the talent that you need. Imagine you’re a BPO and you have to work really hard to fill in the numbers required, so you schedule around 15 to 20 interviews a day. You have to screen the resume, invite them for an interview either through a call or in person just to ask them some routine questions. That is time wasted. The goal is for you to conduct good quality face-to-face interviews with viable candidates that are focussed on more important things.”

On why they built GrabJobs

“There is a huge disparity between talent needed and talent available in Southeast Asia and we want to accelerate the recruitment process so that recruiters can find the talent that they need faster without sacrificing quality.”

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On what the interview bot is accomplishing

“The interview bot cuts down the timeline for recruitment both for the recruiter and the candidate. If you’re a candidate, you will get the chance to stand out from other candidates by answering the pre-screening interview questions – as long as your answers are great. If you’re a recruiter, you get a ranking of the candidates based on their answers, which you can now decide whether to pursue for face-to-face interviews.”

On having a localised approach

“There is no one way of entering a market. We approached each market differently because what works in the Philippines may not work in Thailand. In Myanmar, for example, people are only just discovering how to do things online and are mostly using Facebook. So, compared to other countries where we ask them to go to their profile and edit it, in Myanmar the app just asks them questions and their answers go directly to their profile.”

On taking their cue from the market

“You can’t just walk in and say ‘hey, this is how we do things’. Especially for the kind of service that we offer, we want a personalised approach. People are not going to use something that they don’t understand or if it takes a lot of work to understand. Which is why in Thailand, our app uses Thai. In Myanmar, our app is in Burmese. We want our users to be able to comfortably use the app – we want to be a relevant part of their lives.”

On expansions outside of Asia

“We know that there is a need for the kind of service that we give, but what we are now discovering is the apparent interest outside of Asia. We are present in the Netherlands. We have recently launched in South Africa.”

On their plans after news of their recent seed funding

“We are hiring top talent specialised in the Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning to continue building our unique AI Job Interview Chat Bot. We are also investing in automating our sales process and scaling operations in Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Myanmar.”

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On their investors

“In addition to us having invested our own money, our investors are all Angel investors: a group of business angels working as senior executives across the technology and financial industries.”

On how long their fundraising took

“Although this wasn’t our first time launching a business, it was our first time raising funds externally. It took us much longer than we had expected. To complete our last two fundraises it took us an entire year.”

On why they didn’t raise funds via VC

“We started by meeting Seed VCs in SEA and even though the meetings seemed always positive, somehow it did not materialise to anything concrete. We did receive a few offers but these were not aligned with our future growth plans.

After some time we shifted our focus to business Angels and had a quick closing using SAFE investment vehicles. We are still in discussion with a few VCs and strategic investors for our Series A round.

In hindsight from our experience, I would recommend young startups to explore both Angel and Institutional investors in parallel.”

On when they think startups should start raising funds

“There are two schools when it comes to raising funds, one school says raise money only when you need it, the other says grab money when you can. I used to be of the former school and quickly realised it’s too risky when you have salaries and operating costs to support! I would definitely advise new startups to start raising money ASAP.”

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On seeking the help of experts

“For startup founders that do not have prior experience raising funds, I would strongly recommend them to work with an advisor that has a successful track record of fundraising and M&A in their sector and region.

After a couple months through our fundraising exercise and little traction, we engaged an independent corporate finance advisory firm dedicated to the technology industry in Asia. The Managing Partner has a VC background and invested in multiple tech startups across Asia. This was a game changer for our round. He helped us build our fundraising documentation, extract the relevant information for the investors, and most importantly reach out to his network of investors in the region. Let someone who’s been on the investor side of the table help you raise funds!”

On what startups need to hear

“Never give up!”

GrabJobs is a jobs marketplace app that focusses on addressing the challenges of filling non-executive jobs. They are currently operating in Singapore, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, the Netherlands, and have recently launched operations in South Africa.