CEO INTERVIEW VANNA
New Success Stories - Asia
CEO Interviews - exclusive for HR Digital Today with market leading HR Tech pioneers - Vanna.com
James Lewis, Founder of Vanna
With more options available to talent today than ever before, companies have to outwit each other to jostle for the best talent’s attention and the typical job boards don’t really allow for content beyond the standard job description.
Stemmed from the same frustration, vanna.com was created to facilitate employers to showcase beyond just the JD and highlight the uniqueness of Hong Kong’s best companies.
1. Please share with us briefly what you do.
I’m one of the Founders at vanna.com, a careers platform that gives unique insights into some of Hong Kong’s best companies and their job opportunities, as well as expert career advice.
2. What were you doing before this?
Prior to founding Vanna, I worked in business strategy and advisory positions in London and Hong Kong.
3. In one sentence, how would you describe what your product does?
Vanna gives a voice to a company’s employer brand in a way that appeals to millennial (0-10 years’ experience) and older talent - we create beautiful content-rich company profiles that show our users an insider’s view of life at a company, right next to their job opportunities.
4. How did the idea for your business come about?
It’s really from the founding team’s corporate experience and the frustrations of attracting talent. You can have a great office, great culture and great development opportunities but if you can’t get this message out in an engaging and relevant way, you miss out on the best talent.
There’s also an element of scratching my own itch from when I’ve looked for jobs. Let’s face it, the traditional job search sucks. I’d always be bored looking at jobs ads with endless text and the same clichés. I never felt engaged with companies until we met and I heard first-hand why I should join – and it’s that feeling that we replicate with the video testimonials from our clients’ current staff.
5. How does it work?
Vanna’s professional team takes attractive office photos, short video interviews with staff and captures what makes a company unique. We leverage our deep knowledge of what today’s job seekers really look for when choosing jobs and act as the conduit for companies to tell their story via a company profile on vanna.com.
6. What are the key benefits that your product brings?
For our clients, we put them at the forefront of millennial talent acquisition and help them attract, engage and hire the right staff. We reduce their hiring costs and lower attrition by ensuring the right cultural fit. This is done by creating authentic connections with job candidates who will better understand their business and culture, and can’t wait to apply.
In turn, we provide our users with the information they really care about in the most relevant and engaging format, helping them make informed career decisions.
7. Who are your closest competitors?
There are some competitors in Asia which provide a space for companies to create a profile but these don’t offer the professional profile creation and expertise that comes with this.
8. Who is your first customer and how did that happen?
We had a number of pre-launch clients from MNCs to corporates to startups. Perhaps the best known is Lalamove, who raised $100m last year and are one of Hong Kong’s, and Asia’s, most successful startups. We had no connections to their business, this was all about the vision for our product and how it could tell their company’s story to attract the best talent.
On the user side, we did a lot of testing and research on the information people wanted to know and the format they were most receptive to, and our early users grew from this.
9. What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
Most of our users were using traditional jobs boards but, beyond job descriptions, these don’t provide the rounded information people want and need to make those informed career decisions.
10. How do you price your product?
Our clients pay a monthly subscription fee, which includes unlimited job postings.
11. What’s your business focus for this year?
We’ve proven our business model works and this year is all about growth.
12. What is your favourite failure (and what did you learn from it)?
It’s not well known one but JK Rowling, author of the world-renowned Harry Potter series struggled immensely to get her book published. She was turned down by 12 publishers and basically told to get another job as she’d never make money writing. It was only when the 8-year-old daughter of one publisher read the first three chapters and convinced her father to publish it, the rest is history. It’s an inspiring lesson in perseverance and market intelligence (that was miles ahead of anyone else).
13. What’s one productivity hack you would recommend to everyone?
A Kanban board – it helps my team keep track of all the moving pieces of a project.
14. Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?
vanna.com or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rapid fire questions:
- Born: UK
- School: University of Bristol
- First job: Local govt during college
- Favorite book: Shogun
- Favorite Film: Shawshank Redemption
- Favorite Music: Depends what I’m doing!
- Favorite Gadget: My trusty iPad
- Last holiday: Volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand