CEO INTERVIEW: JobKred - Workforce transformation made easy
New Success Stories - JobKred
GARY GAN, CEO and Co-Founder
Please share with us briefly what you do.
I’m the co-founder and CEO of JobKred, an AI-powered skills intelligence and competency management platform. I focus on driving growth, whether it’s increasing revenue or building a better product to get more market share, and helping the company get the resources it needs to continue growing.
What were you doing before this?
I was the head of marketing at a fin-tech company, and before that, I was a serial entrepreneur and started companies in different industries like events, entertainment, and tech.
Describe your product. How does it work?
JobKred is an AI-powered workforce transformation platform that helps individuals and organisations stay relevant and future-ready for the rapid changes in today’s economy. Businesses and governments can use JobKred’s global labour market data to identify future-ready skills and create development roadmaps to guide their employees’ or citizens’ personal development while empowering them with self-directed career and skills development. Saving up to 90 percent of the time and cost that traditional approaches take, enterprises and governments can get started on transforming and future-proofing their people and company in as little as a week.
JobKred is used by Fortune 50 enterprises, top-ranked universities, government agencies, and international aid agencies like the World Bank.
What are the key benefits?
The key values of using JobKred have ultimately reduced employee attrition, more skills-ready employees and organization, and reduced time of transformation from years to a matter of months.
For our product, we focus on the ability to get a very customised and granular view of the skills within your organisation. Every company is different, and while JobKred has crawled and built a comprehensive taxonomy and dictionary of 40,000 skills and job definitions, we realise each company wants to create their own custom skills dictionary contextualised to their industry. We then help the company measure the skills of their employees, based on their custom dictionary, and then empower the employees with self-service career navigation tools and training recommendations so that they can take control of their own career development journey. With this approach, we have seen customers reduce attrition rate by 38%, increase the speed of workforce transformation by 8x, and improve their uptake of training courses by 10x.
Who are your closest competitors?
Our closest competitors are actually manual methods. Traditionally companies that embark on
workforce training and transformation are using manual methods to come up with skills and competency models or calculate skills gaps for departments and employees. If they have more budget, they may turn to HR consultants like Mercer, who are very capable and will get the job done well but would cost quite a bit and take a significant amount of time.
Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
Our first customer was a multinational company that was using manual methods to do their skills intelligence planning and skills gap analysis. They had been struggling for years with the challenge of making sense and cataloguing the skills of their company, and thus they couldn’t get started on the future transformation journey.
When they saw our capabilities, they were able to quickly recognise where it would be useful for their current work and processes. Over time, we took in much of their feedback to improve the product, and we are proud to say that they have continued to be our client over the last 2-3 years and have even signed a multi-year contract with us.
What motivated you to start this business?
The idea for JobKred started because as I was hired for the head of marketing, I realized that what I learnt in university from my business degree was not sufficient for the latest industry demands. In short, I didn’t know what I needed to know to do my job. I noticed the same problem in all the fresh graduates we were hiring, that they were capable and intelligent, but didn’t really have the specific work-ready skills the company needed. I felt that this problem was very meaningful to solve, as helping an individual or a company to make sure they have the skills and capabilities to be ready for the future would have a direct impact on the company or individual’s growth and development. Both the individual and company would remain competitive and likely increase their revenue or salary. In the case of the individual, this would not just help the person, but help their family as well. Coming from South-East Asia, there’s a lot of untapped talent that has the right capabilities but not the right skills that the current market needs, so if we can help them get the skills to get high value jobs, we can uplift the entire family and society Thus, I set out to build a startup that could help companies and individuals build their skills and capabilities in an intelligent and data-driven manner.
What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
Probably time, as it takes a long time to get anything off the ground, but it’s been very fulfilling to see the continued growth of the company, as well as the impact we are making not just in our home market but in international projects for governments and companies around the world.
How did you get funded?
We were self-funded primarily, where I put in the bulk of funding, and thus we had by nature to be profitable from the beginning. Still, we were consistently doubling our revenue year on year. Ultimately a year or so ago we raised a seed round of funding from investors to fuel our growth.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
I think word of mouth, and secondly partnerships have been key to us.
Describe a typical workday
It’s hard to describe a typical workday as there are multiple items going on. In one day, I could be giving a product demo, presenting the proposal to a potential customer’s management, giving a speech to an international conference, preparing PR answers, discussing product development, analysing financial expenditure, having 1-1s with key staff, doing some strategic thinking for the plans for next 12-24 months, and the list goes on.
Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?
The customers and industry players have been instrumental in guiding us in developing our product and company to solve their most challenging and critical business problems.
What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
There are a lot of highs and lows in startups, so I try to celebrate and be proud of our continuing achievements rather than seeing one moment as the best or not. For example, we’ve been growing steadily, so expanding to overseas markets and seeing customers sharing their keen interest in us has been fulfilling, and sometimes managing to convince a key hire to join you can also be a great moment to be proud of.
What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
I think one significant failure was early on in our development, I think it was year 1 or 2, where JobKred was running out of cash, as we could not grow revenue quickly enough. I had to have a frank discussion with the current team and offer them half-salary while we tried to figure this out, and with the promise to pay them back once there was more money. I was quite touched to see almost every staff member take this option and stay with the company, and in a few months’ time we closed a key contract and I was able to do a full backpay and renew their salary. I learnt then that trust in the team, and the team’s trust in the leadership, is important to keep the company going forwards in a startup.
If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
Take your time! Rome wasn’t built in a day =)
What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
Prioritising. Startups are always resource-constrained, so whether it’s your personal time, or the technology’s focus, we must be very careful to prioritise effectively.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: