GetLinks, a tech hiring platform for Southeast Asia, launched two years ago with the most Millennial-esque of missions: “To change the world.” CEO and co-founder Djoann Fal describes GetLinks’ first incarnation as “Tinder for networking,” a social network for Millennials in tech across the ASEAN region. But after struggling to get the platform off the ground, Fal and his team decided to pivot into an area where they saw a greater need, which was recruitment. They wanted to develop a hiring marketplace through which talented young professionals could connect with up-and-coming companies. And thus, a new version of GetLinks was born.
Today, the startup’s mission is still to change the world, though it’s less concerned with social networks and more so with employer-employee connections. Job-seekers can create profiles on the GetLinks site, which the team then submits to appropriate openings. Companies looking to hire for tech positions can also sign up for the service, and GetLinks will vet applicants to provide only those who seem truly suited to the openings. Because the applicant pool is curated by GetLinks and includes people who have indicated that they’re ready for new opportunities, companies can expect to fill their positions quickly.
GetLinks operates in Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Singapore and is launching a Series A fundraising round this month. At present, the company works with 2,000 companies throughout Asia. Fal said candidates receive an average of 10 interview opportunities within two weeks of signing up for the service.
GetLinks’ ambition goes beyond facilitating recruitment and hiring, however. The ultimate goal is to establish a new Silicon Valley in Asia.
“Many places aspire to be the next Silicon Valley, but most of them won’t be because of two factors: HR cost and market opportunity. In advanced economies like the United States and Europe, the high manpower cost makes it almost impossible to build a product without high spending in HR. Moreover, the [saturated] internet market in these countries only experiences competition, not growth,” Fal asserted.
“In contrast, Southeast Asia’s low HR cost and high market opportunity sets itself apart as the new Eldorado for new digital products,” he continued. Southeast Asia has seen rapid growth in consumer mobile and social engagement, “but quality online services to serve the region’s massive demand of 400 million potential internet users are still insufficient,” Fal said. He predicted that the openings created by those market conditions, combined with low personnel costs, would enable fast, cheap product development in the region.
GetLinks’ role in this transformation will be uniting talented workers with quality companies across national borders.
Opportunities without borders
“Individual markets in Southeast Asia are too weak to play alone due to their limited market size and infrastructure. Each country in SEA has its own distinct and complementary strengths and weaknesses that need to be bridged, and this is where GetLinks fits in,” Fal said. “We believe removing the region’s disconnection and inequality will grow the tech industry 10 times faster.”
Naturally, corralling the needs of job-seekers and employers across a region as diverse as Southeast Asia is not always easy. Fal said GetLinks has stumbled occasionally when trying to accommodate too many diverse ideas and expectations.
“When we started our regional operations last year, we were busy implementing different suggestions from local teams. Unsurprisingly, decisions reflecting individual opinion and gut feelings made our product decisions messy,” he said. “Later we realized that on a macro level, we could identify patterns in local needs and segment countries accordingly. We started to build objective and quantitative measures and educate the entire team to use regional data to back their ideas. Now we get [fewer] suggestions, but the ones [that are accepted have] bigger impact.”
The rise of tech communities across Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and other countries, offers massive opportunities for young people to advance in their careers. Tech jobs often emphasize skill set and experience over prestigious degrees, which leads to a somewhat more equal playing field for people in developing countries. GetLinks hopes to open doors for people in emerging economies such as the Philippines and Myanmar by connecting them with companies they might never have found or been hired by otherwise. Fal sees the integration of the digital workforce as defining socioeconomic growth in developing nations.
“By providing borderless career and project opportunities, GetLinks strives towards economic and social inclusion not only in Philippines and Myanmar but also in the rest of emerging markets of Asia,” he said.