As Blonk Co-founder Vincent Maillard describes it,
“The meeting was incredible”.
While headhunting in California, Maillard heard from a friend about a young company around Silicon Valley building a recruitment app.
“We had a meeting in this small pizza area, and he arrived in his cap and etcetera in Palo Alto. I met him and he was a poker player,” he says.
As luck would have it, Maillard had just met the owner of his future company. The university-aged kid had built a killer recruitment app, but he didn’t have the B2B network to build the company. This impressive display of self-awareness eventually became a huge moment for Maillard.
It was time to sell and Maillard was ready to purchase.
“For us, this was a really good kick-start. Every day we think about this moment and are more convinced [we have] a great opportunity,” says Maillard.
From algorithm to Blonk
Blonk Co-Founder Vincent Maillard
Maillard and his Co-founder Lynn Tan have taken the product and turned it into Blonk, a mobile recruitment platform with a Tinder-esque UI and powered by two new algorithms.
Blonk uses the first algorithm to help users navigate motivations and set up basic profiles. Creating an account requires people to choose their target country and desired jobs, then they can go in later and fill-in a more detailed profile.
The second algorithm is where the Tinder UI becomes important, and it is what the Founders say is the company’s unique offering. Like Tinder, candidates and employers swipe left/right based on the resume and once matched they can start a conversation.
The algorithm then gathers data to detect “deeper motivations”. With enough data, the jobs seen by a potential employee become more relevant candidates for employers improve in quality.
As Tan explains, like dating, sometimes people are not entirely sure what they want when they go looking for a new job.
“People are not always aware of what kind of roles they want to play. What jobs they want. So the beauty of the application is that you can discover,” she says.
The discovery process is facilitated by notifications, suggested jobs and even the option to browse random jobs.
Finding a niche in a competitive industry
Blonk Co-founder Lynn Tan
The recruitment and jobs industry is a hot (and competitive) sector in Southeast Asia’s startup industry.
First-generation companies like Monster are constantly in competition with startups like Glints and GetLinks. Japan’s Wantedly recently entered Singapore and 100offer is taking its slice of the tech-engineer pie.
Maillard sees the industry growth as horizontal and thinks there is plenty of room for Blonk. Plus, the startup is positioning itself as a match-making service for middle-managers and executives; it competes more with traditional recruitment agencies than job boards.
Blonk hopes to streamline a recruitment process that can be slow (taking months for high-profile positions) and expensive (typical recruitment fees can be 25-30 per cent of the candidate’s yearly salary).
Its revenue stream is to charge according to the success rate for companies on the platform.
Maillard thinks his tool can be used inside companies and help hiring professionals build a better strategy by spending less time on tedious work.
“Thanks to Blonk, as a human being you can focus on the strategy. The middle — selecting resumes — that is a job that will disappear. But I think the people who were doing that will do something much more interesting, much more important,” says Maillard.
At the moment, Blonk is working with MNCs and eventually wants branch into the SME and startup space.
The product is not restricted by borders and the company’s unique history gives it a network in the US, Brazil, India, France and APAC (although both Maillard and Tan were clear to say their focus is on APAC).
The Founders raised investment to buy the algorithm and said they are eyeing additional funding in order to start the scaling process.
“In terms of what we want to be known for…if anyone wants to be connected directly to the hiring manager, they would think of Blonk. Also, if they are interested in looking beyond their home country, they would think of Blonk as well,” says Tan.
Not bad for a laid-back meeting at a pizza joint in Palo Alto.
All photos courtesy of Blonk.