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CEO INTERVIEW: Hireplace - Virtual hiring events and Speed Interview



New Success Stories  -  Hireplace



Please share with us briefly what you do.

I am the Co-Founder of and it’s a platform that connects talent pools to employers in a speed interview format.


What were you doing before this?

I have been building and scaling startups in numerous industries including FinTech, Procurement, and e-Commerce for the past 10 years in Malaysia.


Describe your product. How does it work?

We are the Zoom of Speed Interviews. Universities, recruiters, or event organisers can run Virtual Speed Interview sessions on our platform for any group of pre-screened candidates and employers.




Just like Speed Dating, the candidates will get to speak to multiple employers and vice versa but in a time-limited manner and with an advanced queuing and rating mechanism.





What are the key benefits?

This is the fastest way to connect qualified candidates to employers.


Currently, there’s an over-reliance on CVs to score any interviews and quite honestly there’s no chance of a job without an interview. So if you can’t write a good CV, you won’t get an interview nor a job. Period.


But if you are invited as a candidate to a Speed Interview session,  you are guaranteed interviews with the attending employers! For employers, they get to speak to 10 pre-screened candidates in an hour and decide who they would like to have the second round of interviews with. Recently we had a 3-hour session with 36 candidates, 2 employers, 55 interviews, and half of the candidates were shortlisted. So the stats speak for themselves.


Students love this concept and these are some of the testimonials that we’d received.




Who are your closest competitors?

 Our closest competitor would be something like Zoom and our biggest competitor is the status quo.


Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?

Our first customer is e2i, last year they were looking for a virtual career fair that is more engaging than the ones they are used to. So we shared with them what we were building, co-created with them and until today they are still our customer.


What motivated you to start this business?

I like to network from time to time and in 2018, I attended a local Speed Interview event for developers. I was really impressed with the setup and the fact that I got to speak to multiple hiring managers in one event was quite refreshing.


At that time Hireplace was doing something completely different. It was a recruiter marketplace but the flywheel wasn’t spinning and investors weren’t excited. So one day I threw the idea of pivoting to Speed Interview and one of the angels that I’ve been speaking to since a year ago agreed to invest on the spot.


What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?

Investment in terms of money is one but most importantly I have sacrificed lots of sleep and family time to get this up and running. I can’t get back the lost time with the family but I do not intend to sacrifice any more time with them in the pursuit of my personal goals.


How did you get funded?

We started with a small seed from an angel investor who is also the co-founder and then bootstrapped from there.


What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Mostly via word of mouth and referrals.


Describe a typical workday

Business development during the day and product management at night.


Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?

I love learning from people in general. From business leaders, managers, and even peers around me. If I had to name someone, it would be Steve Blank whose idea became the cornerstone of the lean startup movement.


What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?

That’s the moment when a retiree was able to use the platform albeit with some hiccups, secured multiple interviews, and then left us with positive feedback, all from his mobile!


What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?

In the early stages, there were teething problems that would affect the candidate experience during a live event such as frequent disconnection and inaudible interviews which we couldn’t really resolve, even after multiple attempts. There were so many complaints and it was frustrating. Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. I was on the floor already about to give up.


However, I decided to give it another shot and immediately stopped all development on new features to focus on solving the problem. My developers worked day and night and during the weekends and finally, we had a breakthrough. So in hindsight, it really looked impossible until it’s done.


If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?

Solve big problems and not build nicely to have products. And yea, join Grab when you have the chance.


What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?

I started to understand the importance of getting out of the building and speaking to customers after reading the book from Steve Blank: 4 Steps to Epiphany and would recommend this to anyone who is starting up.


More about Stewart:

  • First job - I was a server at my uncle’s restaurant when I was 18 years old.
  • Favorite book - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Favorite Gadget - Airpods Pro
  • Last holiday - Feb in Japan.
  • When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you? – Working at home :)




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