Marathon Series: The Southeast Asia recruitment company Glints

Oswald Yeo is the founder of Glints, a tech-enabled recruitment platform.

I want to find out in this interview how he started with a niche and grew the company out.

Oswald Yeo

Oswald Yeo


Oswald Yeo is the founder of Glints, a tech-enabled recruitment platform.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs . . . Were you listening to the interviews at one point?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: You were.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: For an audience of people like you.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Let’s imagine as we’re doing this interview, there’s someone like you were when you first listened to Mixergy, right, aspiring, trying to build something, a real doer who’s not yet happy, maybe never will be, happy with what he wants to be.

Oswald: I am happy.

Andrew: You are? No. Let’s say satisfied with where you are.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Are you someone who’s okay with where you are?

Oswald: Always improving.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: I have this anxiety all the time about it’s never enough.

Oswald: It’s never enough. Yeah.

Andrew: Never enough. Totally. I did a marathon, right? What if I did another one? It’s not enough. I need to do it on every continent.

Oswald: Join me for a triathlon this November.

Andrew: You’re going to do it?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Where?

Oswald: In Singapore this November.

Andrew: I’m not coming back to Singapore again. I will, but not this year. I’ve got to run a marathon in every continent. I am also very focused, which I imagine you are too, right?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: I’ve got to finish this one thing before taking on another thing. How long have you been doing this business?

Oswald: Five years full time now.

Andrew: Yeah. So you’re totally . . .

Oswald: Yeah. Four to five years.

Andrew: . . .like focused.

Oswald: Yeah. It’s one thing at a time.

Andrew: Because wouldn’t your share in the business have already vested?

Oswald: We have. We have already vested, but this is my passion. I’m doing this not just for the money, but really for the learning. So I believe there are three things that we can compound.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: There’s financial capital, there’s knowledge capital, and there’s social capital. Like all forms of capital they will compound. And to me what I’m most focused on right now is knowledge capital. At this phase of my life, I believe if I can compound learning and networks and just on top of each other, money would not be an issue. So that’s not my focus right now.

Andrew: I should introduce you. The person that you guys just all heard, his name is Oswald Ye. Am I pronouncing your last name right?

Oswald: Yeo.

Andrew: Yeo.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Spelled how?

Oswald: Oswald Yeo, Y-E-O.

Andrew: Y-E-O. Oh, I got a typo then in my notes. That’s weird. He is the founder of Glints. They are tech-enabled recruitment platform. They help companies to build great teams and individuals to realize their career potential.

This interview where we find out how he built up his business is sponsored by two great companies. The first will help you do email marketing right. It’s called ActiveCampaign. And the second if you’re looking to host a website, you should go check them out. They’re great. It’s called HostGator. I’ll talk about those later.

Why don’t we talk numbers here? I tried to find your revenue. I came up with jack. Is it 9,700 companies that have used Glints?

Oswald: Eighteen thousand companies have used Glints.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Oswald: In Southeast Asia, we have 500,000 candidates right now.

Andrew: Okay. So it’s increased since I saw it.

Oswald: Definitely.

Andrew: What about revenue?

Oswald: We’re doing about 4 million U.S. a year right now.

Andrew: Wow. Okay. Impressive.

Oswald: So we’ve grown about six times in the past year.

Andrew: What do you mean six times in the past year?

Oswald: Year on year revenue has grown about six times.

Andrew: Really?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s phenomenal. I didn’t realize that.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Did I just break that news?

Oswald: You did.

Andrew: I think so. Give me an example of . . . Actually, let me start off with the question that I’m really thinking, which is there’s so many other companies that you can use, that anyone can use, right?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: For recruitment. Why did you decide, “I got to come up with another one”?

Oswald: Right. So this was an accidental baby for us actually. We started this company when we were still in the army. We were just matching up . . . We were bored of just throwing grenade and shooting guns for two years.

Andrew: Okay. Literally.

Oswald: Literally. And one year in we decided that we could do something that we really enjoy and which was business. So we started a business. It was an internship matching platform, hence the name Glints, global internships.

Andrew: Oh, that’s where it came from. Okay.

Oswald: So the very first iteration of Glints was just a matchmaking agency for interns to startups.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: From there, we realized that there was a problem to be solved. Internship was just a starting market. It was a very small niche that we started in. And we grew into full-time recruitment and we grew organically from there.

Andrew: Full-time recruitment, meaning like a full-time employee recruitment.

Oswald: Full-time employee recruitment for young professionals.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: So we sort of started with internship as a [inaudible 00:04:00] and we grew into a full-time recruitment from there.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Over the past few years we’ve realized that the recruitment industry firstly has a huge market potential. There’s a lot of people and there’s a lot of people in Southeast Asia that’s looking for jobs, but there are no good solutions out there, and that’s where Glints . . . That’s why we’re focusing on this right now.

Andrew: Wait. So Southeast Asia doesn’t have the and all . . . I don’t even know the names of the other sites.

Oswald: They have all been around for like 10 years.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Some even more than that. There hasn’t been much innovation going on in this space.

Andrew: Give me an example of what’s not been innovated.

Oswald: So the two solutions in the recruit industry right now it’s either if you’re hiring, you either go to a job portal, right, where you post up a job and you pray that the right applicants will apply. So that’s what we call post and pray model.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: The other solution it’s if you work with traditional headhunters. They work, they give you results, but they charge like an arm and a leg, right? It’s like 20%, 30% of recruitment fees. So where Glints come in, we’re somewhere in between. We’re successfully-based, but because we use technology to power our own recruiters, they are a lot more efficient, so we can do it better, cheaper and faster for our customers.

Andrew: Wait. You have actual recruiters?

Oswald: We have over 100 recruiters right now.

Andrew: So if I had a position, could I hire for like an editor or an engineer or a sound engineer?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: I could.

Oswald: You could.

Andrew: And it’s a human being would have to say, “We actually don’t have any sound engineers who come here, but sound engineer, there are five companies that do this here in Singapore. We’ll just contact those people there. See who works there.” That’s what they do?

Oswald: That’s right. So we have about 100 recruiters sitting in Indonesia right now.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: And companies can work with these recruiters to fill the positions, and we charge on a successfully basis, unlike job portals. And we do it much cheaper and faster than traditional recruiters can because we’re using technology to power the matching.

Andrew: I heard you were a dropout from Berkeley.

Oswald: I did, yeah.

Andrew: You did.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Why did you go to Berkeley?

Oswald: I was born in Singapore, grew up in Singapore. I always wanted to go to the U.S. or somewhere else other than Singapore. It’s not a huge island, so you get bored after a while. I’ve always wanted to go to the U.S., and Berkeley seemed like a great place for business.

Andrew: Why the U.S.? What was it that you were drawn to?

Oswald: It seemed like a place where there were many . . . It was like a blending pot of cultures. I remember the very first time I stepped on a train in San Francisco from SF Airport.

Andrew: Yeah.

Oswald: And my very first impression was this is such a different environment from Singapore. When you board a train in Singapore, everyone looks and smells the same, where everyone is just on their phones, they’re going to work and things like that. But the very first thing I smelt when I got on the train was weed in San Francisco.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s weird.

Oswald: You see different kinds of culture, different kinds of people, and I felt that was so representative of what’s different between Singapore and the U.S.

Andrew: There is a sense of conformity here, but I have to say I’m feeling the opposite of you. I’m very drawn now to Singapore. I’m feeling like, “Well, if I brought the wife and kids here, it would be too humid, but look at all the surrounding areas you can go to, all these different countries I would visit.”

Oswald: Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: The army. Compulsory in Singapore?

Oswald: The army is compulsory for all males in Singapore. Yes. Two years.

Andrew: And so was that before Berkeley.

Oswald: That was before Berkeley. That was when we started the business as well. Funny story, we almost got thrown into military prison.

Andrew: Because?

Oswald: Because of Glints.

Andrew: Because if you have a side business that’s distracting you, that’s what it is.

Oswald: Yeah. So the very first time when we first started the business, some journalist heard about us and was very kind to run a half-page feature on Glints.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Back then, I think five years ago, youth entrepreneurship was not that popular yet in Singapore, so it was sort of a rare story. They did that. They run a photo feature. We’re really happy, really grateful as well because it was the first time we were on the news.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Half a day later the military police called us and they were like, “What the fuck are you guys doing? We’re going to throw you into military prison because it’s moonlighting and you’re running a business on the side. It’s not allowed.”

Andrew: Really?

Oswald: “What are you doing?” And we’re all peeing in our pants because terrible things happen to guys in military prison we have heard.

Andrew: Really?

Oswald: Yeah. We heard is worse than conventional prisons.

Andrew: Wow. I would think that prisons here would be very orderly and nice.

Oswald: I am not sure about it. So, luckily, we didn’t get a chance to find out. After weeks of investigation, we realized that the official term to be charged for moonlighting is to be on making illicit income off the business.

Andrew: Because you weren’t making money.

Oswald: And like many startups, we were losing money, and we’re like, “Well, by the way, we are losing money, so I don’t think we’re really moonlighting.” And they were like, “You’re wasting our time. How did you even get in the news?”

Andrew: And they let you go.

Oswald: They let us go.

Andrew: Before we continue with the story, give me like a taste of the local flavor. What is the military service like in Singapore? Is it a bunch of guys hanging out, which is what I heard when I was in Switzerland?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Is it more regimented? Is it . . . What is it like?

Oswald: It’s pretty regimented. So you would go to an island off the coast of Singapore.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: They call it Pulau Tekukor. You’ll be there for three months. It’s called BMT, which is Basic Military Training. They’ll put you through all sorts of basic military training. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to share here. But yeah, basic military training, and then after that, you’ll be posted off to various camps in mainland. And it’s a great bonding experience I think for most guys our age. And I really enjoyed it as well. And I’m glad I actually had those two years to sort of explore what I really wanted to do before I went straight into college.

Andrew: How did you explore what you wanted to do within the confines of the military?

Oswald: We had our weekends.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: You were allowed to book up most weekends, go home most weekends. I was lucky enough to be posted to a location where I had my nights off as well, most of my nights off, so I had those free times to explore what I wanted to do on the side.

Andrew: What did you do besides business?

Oswald: A lot reading. A lot of reading. I wrote a . . . Those two years I wrote a book together with an entrepreneur that I really admire, Derek Sivers.

Andrew: Yeah, about Singapore.

Oswald: About Singapore. About how to start a business in Singapore. And the experience of working with him was very inspiring as well. And also starting Glints. Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. So you started Glints. Why did you bother going to Berkeley?

Oswald: So the initial idea was we would juggle both the company and our studies.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: We wanted to also use our U.S. colleges as a way to infiltrate and expand to the U.S., because back then it was through an internship portal. So we thought that having bases in Berkeley, Stanford, and Wharton would be a great way to get the top students of the U.S. onto our platform.

Andrew: Because I have the sense in reading about you and reading the way you talk about university, you don’t really respect the university system that much. You accepted it’s good for some people, no doubt.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: But you don’t really believe that everybody has to go to school.

Oswald: Definitely not.

Andrew: You never did.

Oswald: No.

Andrew: No.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: And so you went there just thinking, “This is going to make it easier for me to get more users.”

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s what it was?

Oswald: Literally, yeah.

Andrew: It was. Okay.

Oswald: It was marketing and it was way . . . And it was also a way for me to just get out of Singapore and just see the world. Yeah.

Andrew: And so it was you and two other co-founders.

Oswald: Two other co-founders.

Andrew: Qin and Ying?

Oswald: Yeah. Qin En and Ying Cong, YC.

Andrew: Okay. And so you guys met in the army. You all go to university. You all three drop out.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: And the thing that made you say it’s time to drop out is what?

Oswald: So one semester in, it was quite clear that our initial idea of juggling both studies and the startup was a very terrible idea, because neither was going anywhere, so that is why we had to make a call. So we made a call and say, “Okay. Which is more important? Do we want to give up our studies, or do we want to give up our business?” And we decided to put our studies on hold and come back to Southeast Asia and build the company.

Andrew: The business that . . . I mean, no disrespect, it wasn’t going anywhere.

Oswald: It was not going anywhere, yeah.

Andrew: But you still believed in it because?

Oswald: Because I felt like we will make it go somewhere if we work really hard at it.

Andrew: Why? What did you see that made you feel like there was potential there?

Oswald: I think it helped that we had already raised about half a billion Sing dollars in seed funding at that point of time as well. So we did have a runway of about 12 to 24 months to try and figure things out. But most importantly I felt like I was optimizing for learning. I asked myself, “Which will I learn more? If I stayed in school or if I run a company?” It was very clear that I would learn a lot more if I run the business. Yeah.

Andrew: I like that. I left school because I’m optimizing for learning. That is so right.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: How did you raise . . . You said you raised some seed funding. I can’t believe people would let you have money when you’re still in school instead of saying just drop out.

Oswald: I couldn’t believe that as well. Very grateful.

Andrew: Who was it?

Oswald: So it was some really great angel investors and VCs here in Southeast Asia that decided to back us. We went through an accelerator program called JFDI. They call it a carwash for entrepreneurs.

Andrew: Why?

Oswald: You go in not knowing anything and you pop out and three months later your investment radiator is shining. I think they did a great job there. We learned a lot there. And I know that we managed to raise around seed funding and we scaled the company from there.

Andrew: 500 Startups also invested?

Oswald: Yes.

Andrew: After. After you finally left school.

Oswald: Actually, before.

Andrew: Before. 500 Startups puts money in . . .

Oswald: Yeah. So kudos to 500 for that. Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: 500 Startups in the U.S.?

Oswald: It was the Southeast Asia fund.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So you had the money, I get it. Other people’s money, once you take it on, it’s not easy to say, “You know what? I’m going to keep going to school.” You have to at that point say, “I’m going for it.” You decided I’m going for it. And what did you change once you started to go full-time?

Oswald: The entire . . . The first thing was putting your heart and soul into the business. While we were not full-time in the business, it was a 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. thing, the business, right? In the morning, we’ll have class, we’ll have lunch, we’ll hang out with our friends, sometimes we would go on a road trip. And your business was something that you’re running on a site. The first thing that we did when we first came back is we got an apartment. All three of the co-founders lived there together. It was near our office, and it became like a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. kind of thing. And in China, they call this 996, where you work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. And I do think it’s a huge advantage for any entrepreneurs who are starting out. If you just put all your heart and soul into the business, I believe it will go somewhere.

Andrew: And so what did you do differently? What were you . . . What made things happen then?

Oswald: I think two things. One is becoming very focused and full-time in the business. The second thing was seeking out the right mentors who would show us sort of what is the next step or the next milestone that we should work towards? That really accelerated learning for us.

Andrew: Can you give me an example, what’s an early milestone that your mentors helped you identify?

Oswald: So when we closed our first sale . . .

Andrew: I’m just going to move out the pitcher of water.

Oswald: Yeah. When we closed our first sale, we were really happy and we were like, “What’s next? How do we collect the money?” And our mentor was like, “You got to send him an invoice.” And we were like, “What’s an invoice?” So you’ve got to understand this was not only our first company, it was our first job. We haven’t even done any internships. So it was just all those things like that along the way that really accelerated the progress for us. The very first milestone that we worked together for our mentors to set was a revenue milestone that would help us to get the next round of financing, and which we did make happen in the next two years or so.

Andrew: So this is . . . At this point, when you got back to Singapore, were you still running an internship placement site?

Oswald: No. We have already grown . . . We have already pivoted the business from a much . . . There were small market of internships to full-time placements.

Andrew: Because you knew that there was more demand for full-time placements, more . . .

Oswald: There was more demand.

Andrew: . . .people were willing to put . . . Actually, I don’t understand. I would have thought that because internships is so . . . because interns is so inexpensive that more people would want to bring on interns if there was a market for it. And there aren’t a lot of businesses that will do interns.

Oswald: Yeah, they do. And with it be a nice niche business I think just in the internship market. But you can’t be a billion-dollar business in the internship market.

Andrew: Because there just aren’t that many interns and they’re not getting paid that much, and then your share of not that much is not that . . . It’s really small.

Oswald: That’s right. It’s not a huge market, yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Got it. And then did you start to niche out? When you decided that we’re going to go beyond interns, did you say, “We’re going to focus on one group of people”?

Oswald: Yes. So even when we said, “We will go beyond interns,” we didn’t say, “Okay. Let’s go mass market,” because that will not give us any positioning or any differentiation from the other portals here. So we went from full-time interns to fresh graduate recruitment, which was an adjacent market to what we had. We went from that to eventually mid-level recruitment in Singapore. So we sort of went from one beachhead to another, and we slowly expanded and we conquered one niche at a time.

Andrew: From what was it? You said mid-level recruit?

Oswald: Mid-level recruitment up to about . . .

Andrew: Oh, mid-level. Got it.

Oswald: Mid-level, yeah.

Andrew: So not the CEO, but . . .

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Is that what it is?

Oswald: Yeah. So definitely not a CEO level, 25 to 30 years old. So that was a sweet spot.

Andrew: Got it. And then who were you charging when you started to charge?

Oswald: So when we first started the business, we thought our customers were candidates, students. That was a painful lesson that we learned after a while was that students did not have that much money to pay us, and actually our real customers, after talking to a lot of customers and users, were actually employers.

Andrew: They have money and they have this need.

Oswald: They have money. That’s right.

Andrew: And they’re going to pay for the person anyway, so a percentage of what they would pay is not that hard to swallow.

Oswald: Exactly.

Andrew: That’s the thinking behind it.

Oswald: Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew: Okay. How did you get the original businesses on board? Was that your job?

Oswald: That was my job. We just went for meetings, a lot of sales meetings, and I think that was also when I really built up my sales skills as well. So doing door-to-door sales myself, meeting companies, I think that was a crucial part of both the business and my personal development.

Andrew: You keep coming back to personal development.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: You’re someone who’s thought about this a lot, personal development.

Oswald: It’s one of the biggest influence of my life I think. Yeah.

Andrew: What’s an example of a book or external learning that allowed you to grow?

Oswald: I think “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins was really great.

Andrew: You know what? I should have know actually that when you talk personal development, you’re thinking about something like that. What was it? I read that book too.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: I wasn’t as moved by it as I was by say his recordings, where there’s something about his voice that resonated. What was it about the book?

Oswald: Well, it was the first sort of the first real personal development book I read. That was about 10, about 12 years ago when I was 14 years old. And I felt that made a huge impact.

Andrew: What was it? What’s the big message in “Awaken the Giant Within”?

Oswald: That you can shape your own destiny.

Andrew: That’s it, just being aware that . . .

Oswald: Being aware.

Andrew: . . .this is in your hands and you can do it and seeing examples of people who could do it.

Oswald: Exactly, yeah.

Andrew: Did you ever go for one of the Tony Robbins experiences?

Oswald: I actually went for one last year.

Andrew: How was it?

Oswald: And it was great.

Andrew: Which one?

Oswald: “Date with Destiny.”

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: I think there was one of those . . . It was a five-day thing at Singapore. It was a great experience.

Andrew: What did you get out of it?

Oswald: Actually . . . So, to be honest, it was not that different from his audio recordings.

Andrew: Yeah.

Oswald: But just taking time off to do that.

Andrew: To dive into . . .

Oswald: To dive in . . .

Andrew: To be in his world for five days.

Oswald: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: You know the thing that I . . .

Oswald: That was useful.

Andrew: . . . that comes to life when I see him is . . . I went once.

Oswald: You went once too.

Andrew: I asked the banker for more money, the banker said, “No, but we really like you. We’re going to this thing.” [inaudible 00:19:22] I go, “All right. You’re giving me tickets instead. All right.” So I did go and it was the movement “Motion creates emotion” is the way that I would summarize one of his big messages, which is if you want to feel excited, walk around the way you walk when you are excited, right?

Oswald: It’s more immersive, yeah.

Andrew: If you want to wake yourself up, don’t just do it by saying, “Wake up and have . . .” Or definitely, not coffee. He’s not a coffee guy. But like slap your hand, have that gesture that wakes you up and just keep anchoring it so when you are awake, slap your hands, when you want to be awake, slap the hands the way that you just anchored. That’s the thing. What did you take? You took something else too. I’m seeing that there’s more depth that you got out of it.

Oswald: Right. So he made us do . . . I think he made like 1,000 people walk on coal. There was the . . .

Andrew: Oh, that was that experience.

Oswald: There was that experience. That was interesting, which is when you get into the right state, you can literally do things that you did not imagine you can do.

Andrew: Like walk on . . .

Oswald: Walk on fire.

Andrew: I guess walk on fire.

Oswald: Yeah. Walk on fire.

Andrew: You did it.

Oswald: I did it.

Andrew: Did it burn?

Oswald: It was hot, but there were no permanent damages, so that’s good. Yeah.

Andrew: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor and then I’d like to hear from you like what did you learn about selling? It feels to me like you’re someone who might have gotten some books or outside mentoring and got a process for selling that I want to see if I could absorb.

Oswald: Right.

Andrew: Actually, the way you looked at me made me feel like maybe you don’t, maybe you’re just . . . You’re not a wing it guy, are you, when it comes to sales?

Oswald: Wing it guy, no. To me, the number one thing is just understanding the needs of the other people.

Andrew: Just adjust your mic. It’s understanding . . . All right. So let me find out how you do that by . . . It’s a little weird that I’m getting personal with you, but it makes sense to adjust the mic.

Oswald: Sure.

Andrew: I’ll talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company called ActiveCampaign for email marketing. Here’s how I could imagine you do it. You guys focus on lots of different categories on your site, right? If I remember right even the homepage had different categories on it, right?

Oswald: That’s right, yeah.

Andrew: Now imagine if I went and I kept clicking on the marketing jobs section. I gave you my email address because I joined your email list, but I keep clicking on the marketing. If you had ActiveCampaign on your site, you would tag me as someone who’s interested in marketing. What you could then do is say, “Here are tips for people who are looking for marketing for getting a job. Here’s how you could present yourself really well if you’re looking for marketing.” And it might be the same email that you send out to five other categories, but because you keep saying the word “marketing,” which is what I’ve come to your site and clicked on, it will resonate with me more. It will draw me in more. You don’t have to have me fill out a form, tell you what I’m interested in. You just know based on what I did on your site what I’m interested in, right?

And on the other hand, if I do what I did on your site, which is going to the employer section over and over again, you don’t need me to tell you I’m an employer. You understand, “Let’s message this person,” and say, “Here’s how to recruit better.”

So that’s one little technique that you . . . You’re not as excited about that as I am. Why? Because you’ve got some different marketing technique going on there. There’s something different about your email.

Oswald: It’s not a huge focus for us right now.

Andrew: Email is not.

Oswald: It’s not a huge focus for us right now. Actually, we’re starting to see offline marketing.

Andrew: As the thing that works.

Oswald: As the thing that works especially in Southeast Asia. So we’re actually organizing a conference next week.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: And I think that’s a great . . .

Andrew: For employers?

Oswald: For employers. It’s a much better way to just . . .

Andrew: Like a conference for hiring.

Oswald: That’s right, yeah.

Andrew: That makes sense. All right. I’m going to ask you about that in a moment.

I’ll close out this ad by saying, for people who are into email marketing. By the way, you don’t have to obsess on it, you don’t have to give up all the other stuff. You can add it in. For people who are, ActiveCampaign will allow you to see what people are doing on your site, keep track of it, target people based on what they’ve done and message them like you understand them because it will let you understand them.

If you want to sign up, here’s the giveaway that we’re offering with this. Free trial, second month free, two free consultations with the consultants, and they’ll migrate you from your email company. I’m talking too long about this. I’ll close it out by saying to get all that good stuff.

Okay. Coming back to your story. What is your sales process?

Oswald: Sales process. So I learned this acronym from one of my mentors.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: It’s called APPCOM. A stands for acceptance, so getting acceptance from your customer, just building rapport first. P stands for purpose, just stating very clearly the purpose upfront of that engagement, of the meeting . . .

Andrew: Okay. Oh.

Oswald: . . . so they know where it’s going, right? They don’t like, “Why are you asking me these questions?”

Andrew: I’m writing this down.

Oswald: “Where is this going? Should I trust you?” P stands . . . And then next P is actually the most important part of the process which is probing.

Andrew: Probing.

Oswald: So you’ve got to probe for the needs, what they’re looking for.

Andrew: Okay. Give me an example of a question that you use when you’re probing for a need.

Oswald: What is a problem you’re facing right now with regards to recruitments?

Andrew: Got it. And then now I’d say, “You know what? It’s really frustrating that people will show up but they’ll be unprepared. We’ll booked too many of our people’s time talking.” Got it. Okay. So that’s the second P. What’s the next one? C?

Oswald: C stands for consultation.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: And after you understand their needs, that’s where you can jump into consultation mode. You can talk about how your solution can help them solve their problems.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Oswald: O stands for overcoming objections.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: And M stands for motivating to close.

Andrew: What do you do to motivate the close?

Oswald: So I think the keyword here is really motivating to close.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: You got to understand that people like to buy and they don’t like to be sold to. So it’s important that you play the role of a motivator and you remove obstacles between them and them wanting to buy, rather than you trying to sell something to them.

Andrew: So what do you mean? You’re removing their obstacles by saying . . . Like, what’s a big obstacle that somebody would have and you’re removing it in order to motivate the sale?

Oswald: So, in enterprises, you got to understand what is the decision-making process, for example, in the entire organization? What is the next step? So that they feel really pumped up and it makes it really easy for them to say yes.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Yeah. So understanding the decision-making process. What is their budget? Any real obstacles there that prevents them from saying yes. But really, I think the most important part in this process and the biggest learning for me when I first did sales was a lot of people and me included, when you first start to sell because you are so in love with your product and your solution, you just talked about your product and solution right upfront, rather than understanding what the other person wants first. And that was the biggest learning for me in sales.

Andrew: How did you find the people that you were selling in the beginning?

Oswald: We started out . . . I partnered with a telemarketer who would set appointments for me. So that was actually really efficient, because I can focus on showing up for client meetings rather than doing the actual initial cold calls myself. So I had a telemarketer who set all these appointments for me and I would just . . . She has access to my calendar. I would have like five sales meetings a day.

Andrew: This is someone who is doing this already, who you brought in? How did you even get a telemarketer like that? It’s called business development rep.

Oswald: Yes.

Andrew: Right?

Oswald: [inaudible 00:26:04] rep.

Andrew: And so did you come up with this idea that you need to get a business development rep and give her your process or . . .

Oswald: Yeah. So after a while of doing it myself, I realized that it was not very efficient for me to toggle between setting appointments and going for these appointments myself.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah.

Oswald: And that’s where I realized, “Hey, we got to get someone to do this. There’s actually a great book on this called “Predictable Revenue.”

Andrew: Yes. By Aaron Ross.

Oswald: Yeah, by Aaron Ross. A great book that’s helped us to build up this entire process with a team of 100 recruiters we have right now as well.

Andrew: And so the first person you brought in, you trained her. You said, “Here’s the process as I do it.”

Oswald: “Here’s the process.”

Andrew: “Here’s what I’ve learned about it. You do it.”

Oswald: “Here’s the script. You do it.”

Andrew: And what was your script in the beginning for her? What was her process? She was hunting down employers how?

Oswald: We used this framework as well, APPCOM.

Andrew: But where would you find them? Did you guys scrape something? Were you going on LinkedIn?

Oswald: Yeah. We went on to other recruitment platforms.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: So we knew that those employers were already hiring. That’s where we were reached out to them via email or a call.

Andrew: And you’d get their email address using some software. You’d find the decision-maker, how?

Oswald: Yeah. If we dive into the specific details, we would go on to these portals. We would use this tool called


Oswald: Yeah, it’s a great tool to scrape [inaudible 00:27:18]

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: We would pump all this, we’ll have someone or hire someone in Southeast Asia where labor cost is a lot more efficient. They will then do the research for us and basically research for the email addresses of these people on LinkedIn, of the decision-makers.

Andrew: Using that tool. There’s several tools that do that now. We use HeadReach for that.

Oswald: HeadReach. We used to use, I think.

Andrew: is another one we used. Yes.

Oswald: Yeah, And then we would pump all of this into an email marketing software I call QuickMail, which runs automated campaigns.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: So I think we send out about 3,000 emails a week through this process.

Andrew: And this was you doing it at first and then you said to her, “Here’s our process. I want you to do it.”

Oswald: Yeah. I set it up at first and then sort of delegated out to different individuals at the process.

Andrew: It was the first one person and then you just kept growing.

Oswald: Yeah. So now we have 10 people doing this right now.

Andrew: And then how many salespeople now?

Oswald: We have 120 salespeople.

Andrew: A hundred and twenty sales . . . No, wait. This is the recruiters that you have.

Oswald: A hundred and twenty recruiters. And we have about 10 sales development reps just running this process, setting appointments for these recruiters.

Andrew: And the recruiters are recruiting future employees’ candidates.

Oswald: That’s right. So they are both, depending on the function, they are either meeting with customers, which are the employers, or they are meeting with candidates doing the matching.

Andrew: So you have sales development reps looking for candidates.

Oswald: Employees.

Andrew: Employees.

Oswald: Sorry, employers.

Andrew: Only employers.

Oswald: Yeah, companies.

Andrew: Got it. And then the . . . Got it. Okay, I see it. This is really interesting. I never understood Aaron’s process. I kept hearing people rave about him, and all they would say is, is because he was one of the first people at Salesforce. I go, “Great. So was the secretary. What does this mean? There was a janitor. There was always like someone. What does it mean?” It’s not until I started to understand his process that I got it.

Oswald: It was really great. It changed our business, I think.

Andrew: And how did you come across him? Another mentor?

Oswald: How did I come across him? Someone recommended me a book. It was from a . . . Yeah, someone recommended me a book, but I can’t remember who it was.

Andrew: What was the work breakdown between the three of you, the responsibilities?

Oswald: So, in the initial days, I would do sales. My COO would do operations and finance, and my CTO ran the product and technology.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s the three of you guys.

Oswald: That was the three of us, yeah.

Andrew: YC was the guy who did the technology?

Oswald: YC was the guy who did it. Actually, in a very, very initial days, because there was . . . Even before any of us went to college, none of us knew really how to code as well, so it was my operations lead who was the best at WordPress who was doing the technology front.

Andrew: And the first version of the site was WordPress.

Oswald: It was not even WordPress. I think it was Strikingly.

Andrew: Really? Wow. That means that a human being had to . . . When there was a new job listed, a human being had to go and copy-paste it in.

Oswald: That was me.

Andrew: That was you.

Oswald: That was me. I was matching the interns up to companies through an Excel sheet manually. I was the algorithm.

Andrew: But you were also . . . When you got a new employer, you would get their help wanted information, you would post it on your Strikingly website.

Oswald: I would not post it. So we ran it . . . We market it as a program.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: And then we just featured logos of a few employers.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: It was not a dynamic website.

Andrew: They would tell you what they needed, you put it in the spreadsheet.

Oswald: Yeah. It was an agency.

Andrew: Wow. What a complicated situation.

Oswald: Yeah. But I think the entire process really just taught us so much about the customers and the entire workflow.

Andrew: Like what? What did you learn that you couldn’t have learned if it was all automated?

Oswald: There’s so many things. For example, knowing what was important to the candidates, knowing what was important to employers. It also forced us to be a lot more intimate with our users because we had to liaise with them so much more. And that I think built that initial early adopters and raving fans for ourselves and for our business [inaudible 00:31:01]. So, I think this concept of doing things that do not scale in the initial days of the business was really helpful for us.

Andrew: Give an example of something that you learned that was specific because you were doing it that way from employer.

Oswald: It was five years ago.

Andrew: What’s not obvious?

Oswald: What was not obvious? It was not obvious . . . So, for example, this is really specific, which is when . . . And there are cyclical natures in internships. You can only do them three months in a year, typically, but through the interactions, we realized that actually most students will be open to doing part-time internships even during their semester.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: And it was through these conversations where we realized we can actually help them to structure like a full-time internship for three months, and then help them to find part-time internships as well after that.

Andrew: And these were paid part-time.

Oswald: These were paid by the employers, yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Yeah. I don’t think of internships either that way. I think of them as start the semester, get an internship, otherwise, you’re done.

Oswald: Yeah. So it was through these conversations with the customers that we learned a lot more about it.

Andrew: I got to ask you. I’m looking at your watch. You have the most 1980s watch on especially for a tech CEO. What’s the deal?

Oswald: So I had . . . Actually, I have an Apple watch, but I just got so pissed off having to charge it every day.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: This runs without having to charge it for two years.

Andrew: It’s a Casio.

Oswald: It’s a Casio. And I can drop it. It’s light. It’s waterproof. I go for a swim every day in it. I love it.

Andrew: And you’re not looking to impress anyone with your watch? Like, no.

Oswald: No.

Andrew: I saw the look that you just gave me. I saw the look that you just gave me. At what point did you decide that you’re going to expand beyond Singapore?

Oswald: That was three years ago where we realized that the Singapore market was really way too small for what we’re doing, just a population of about 5 million people. Indonesia was a huge market and it was really close to Singapore. It was 100 times bigger, and that’s why we decided to expand it.

Andrew: Just because of the proximity.

Oswald: Proximity and at the same time, we sort of hit a bottleneck of growth in the business. We’re no longer growing at 20%, 30% month-to-month anymore. And that’s why we had to look for a new market.

Andrew: What about the difference in culture between the two countries? I told you I was just talking to the founder of Chope. He said that he intentionally didn’t go to a place that was closest. He went to the place that felt culturally closer, which was Hong Kong.

Oswald: Yep.

Andrew: Why didn’t you decide that? Why was proximity so important?

Oswald: Proximity . . . So, actually, proximity was not the number one factor. I think most importantly was looking for the right local partners, local investors in those markets. So that was a key thing for us because we actually had . . .we found local partners. One of my best friends from high school was an Indonesian. He was just coming back from Southeast Asia from the UK after he graduated, and he felt like someone that I could trust to help do the business in Indonesia as well. So he helped us launched a business. We had a local who really understood the market and that was a key part of business for us.

Andrew: Got it. It makes sense. And when you say partner, what’s the difference between an employee and a partner in this situation? Why do you call him a partner?

Oswald: Right. I actually try to call all of my employees . . . I don’t usually refer to my employees as employees.

Andrew: Partners.

Oswald: I just refer to them as partners colleagues.

Andrew: Do they own shares in the business?

Oswald: Most of them do, yeah.

Andrew: They do. Got it. Okay.

Oswald: Most of them own the stock options of the company.

Andrew: What was the difference when you started to go to Indonesia? It’s different culturally. It’s different in many ways. Economically, the level of tech penetration is smaller, right?

Oswald: Yeah. So different. So the average annual salary of a Singaporean I think it’s about $50,000 a year. In Indonesia, it’s about $5,000 a year. So it’s literally 10 times smaller. It’s a developing market, but it’s growing very quickly and that’s what makes it so exciting.

Andrew: That is actually exciting, like the fact that we’ve got about half the population have smartphones if I’m right.

Oswald: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: And that’s not going to last long.

Oswald: No.

Andrew: There’s got to be way more soon.

Oswald: Yeah. And there was one thing we learned about customers for us. So, in Singapore, it doesn’t really matter where the job is, so on the portal, right, so location filters were then not so important for our users. When we launched in Jakarta, we realized that location filters were the number one thing that they wanted because of the traffic jams over there. It can mean a difference between a five-hours commute daily or like a 15-minute’s commute.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: So it was really getting there on the ground, talking to users, understanding what they wanted.

Andrew: Literally, you’d go on the ground. The reason I’m rushing through this interview is because you’ve got a flight to catch there, right?

Oswald: Yeah. And I’m heading there later. Yeah.

Andrew: And so you literally went on the ground back then too.

Oswald: Yes. So one of . . . Another lesson that we learned when launching was that when you launch a business in a new market, you got to move there.

Andrew: So you moved.

Oswald: I moved to Indonesia . . . I spend at least half of my time in Indonesia right now. In my first year of launching the business in Indonesia, I would go there once every two months, every three months. We do weekly calls with my country manager over there, but just it was not clicking. It was not taking off. So for the entire first year it was a lot of customer discovery, but there was no real traction.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: It was only until we decided, “Okay. This can’t go on anymore. We got to move there ourselves.” So we picked up our bags, got an apartment in Indonesia. And the cadence went from weekly calls to just daily and even hourly iterations. And that’s what made a huge difference for the business and the business started to take off.

Andrew: You know what? That’s one of the things that the Airbnb guys told me early on. They said, Paul Graham, and the other people at YCombinator said, “You’re stinking everywhere else. Just go to New York. And that’s where you’re doing well.” And by living there, they told me some of the things that they discovered. What are some of the things that you discovered by living in Indonesia that allowed you to suddenly take off?

Oswald: One of the things we realized is that . . . So, when I first launched a business in Singapore, I was very hesitant to grow my team and hire people, because people here were really expensive and we couldn’t really afford to make a wrong hire.

Andrew: Right.

Oswald: But one of the key advantages of building a business in a developing market, like in Indonesia, is that you can actually . . . If you have an idea, you can actually hire three people at average wages, they’re like 400 to 500 USD per month.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: It’s easy for you to just build up a team, test on an idea. If it works, double down. If it does not, you can reshuffle the team easily.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: So it was a lot easier for me to build up teams, hire people. So I got a lot more comfortable with just growing my team and hiring people. So we went from, like, 20 people to 100 people in a single year. And that’s only because we were in the developing market like Indonesia. And so the way of building the business is very different from than if I was in Singapore.

Andrew: What was the difference?

Oswald: We can hire people a lot faster.

Andrew: What about bringing in . . . The business seems to me depends . . . It’s a marketplace and obviously, in a marketplace, you need both sides. But it seems like if you get the employers, then the candidates will come. Am I right, or is it the other way around?

Oswald: So one thing in the recruitment business it’s a supply for a marketplace.

Andrew: If you have the supply, then the . . .

Oswald: If you have supply at the top . . .

Andrew: . . . demand of employers, they’re going to come. Got it.

Oswald: So we focus on getting quality candidates on board first and employers will come.

Andrew: That’s why you do more than just help wanted ads on your site, right? Where is that site?


Andrew: Oh, I’m not connected to the internet right now.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. That is why, from what I saw, you’re not just here to help wanted ads, it’s, “Here’s help wanted ads. Plus, by the way, we’re a community of people, we’re going to help you.”

Oswald: Exactly, yeah.

Andrew: Right?

Oswald: We also have a career forum that we just launched recently.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: It’s like a Quora for careers. We realized that most candidates are not looking for jobs. So, at any point of time, only about 10% of the candidates in the market are looking for jobs. So it’s only available in Indonesia in

Andrew: It’s this stuff. Get connected.

Oswald: This stuff. Get connected.

Andrew: Develop. Discover. Right? This is a community of 200,000 young talent. This is the thing that stood out for me, that made me say, “Where are these guys that maybe I’m missing it? I wasn’t missing the focus of the business. It’s about bringing in talent and then employers are going to hire. This is a way to bring them in.” Got it.

Oswald: This is the way. So we’re not just a job portal, we’re a career discovery portal.

Andrew: That’s the other thing that stood out. I think your chat window popped up very quickly when I was on the site, which I don’t expect from a business like yours.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Sorry, and you were saying to me where I should go

Oswald: /id/discovery. And this a new product.

Andrew: This is the Indonesia new thing.

Oswald: Yeah. This is a new product that we just launched in Indonesia. The problem that a lot of young people have we realized was they don’t know what they want to do, and there is no good content out there that can really guide them along. So this is what we call Quora for careers. Someone can go out there and just ask question, “How can I become a software developer when I graduate? How can I become a VC? How can I become a podcast host?” And someone like you, who have been there and done that, can go there and answer the questions for them.

Andrew: And who actually does this? Did you bring in a team of people to start responding?

Oswald: In the initial days, we . . .

Andrew: In the initial days.

Oswald: . . . we have to seed a lot of the content. But after that, the flywheel started spinning and now more and more people are contributing content organically.

Andrew: I’ll talk about my second sponsor and then we’ll get into the language issues. I’m wondering, like, how did you figure stuff out when you don’t speak . . . Do you speak the language?

Oswald: I’m learning now.

Andrew: But you didn’t at the time.

Oswald: No, no.

Andrew: What is the language that they speak?

Oswald: Bahasa Indonesia.

Andrew: Bahasa.

Oswald: Yep.

Andrew: Second sponsor a company called HostGator. You guys built your site on Strikingly. If somebody out there has a great idea and they are holding back, they should not. What they should do is go to This is not what they necessarily will keep their site on, but with one click they can install WordPress. With another click . . . Actually, maybe it’s two different clicks, you can install a theme to make it look nice. Then you start getting to work with the idea. And if you don’t like it, delete it, move on. They’re super cheap, which I think makes people who have bigger websites think, “It’s not for me.” No. If you have a website, understand they will scale up with you. They have these packages that they don’t emphasize on their website that will do everything that you need. Dedicated server. What’s the other one? Managed WordPress hosting is becoming a thing where people want WordPress . . . They have that. They don’t advertise it. They have it.

Go to, get details, they’ll even give you 45-day money-back guarantee. So if I’m full of it, if you’re not happy, they will give you your money back. But be sure to tell me if you’re not happy. I want to know. I want you only to have sponsors that you . . . I want to only run sponsors that you’re happy with.

What did you do in the beginning when you didn’t speak the language?

Oswald: It’s very important for you to have a local team that you can trust who speaks the language. And he was sort of like my interface with the local team. So my country manager . . .

Andrew: You would talk to him and he would talk back.

Oswald: Yeah, that’s right. But also I think it was easier for us because most Indonesians would speak English as well.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: It’s not their first language, but most of them will understand and they can communicate in English.

Andrew: We are lucky that we speak English. It has been such an asset as I’m traveling the world.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: The other thing that I’m lucky about is I’m traveling the world, you’re working all over the world. It’s Google Translate and a few other apps that you could talk into it, it’ll talk out in someone else’s language. They talk back into it. Do you use that? No.

Oswald: I used that sometimes, yeah.

Andrew: You do.

Oswald: So we’re always . . . There’s this very popular app in Indonesia called Go-Jek right now where we use that to order food. So we always be using that to Google Translate to talk to my . .

Andrew: Go-Jek does . . . Oh, to talk to the . . .

Oswald: Deliveries.

Andrew: Got it. Got it. Yeah.

Oswald: Go-Jek deliveries, yeah.

Andrew: Is that also a local taxi service or . . .

Oswald: There is a local taxi, yeah.

Andrew: From Go-Jek.

Oswald: From Go-Jek, from Grab, from Bluebird. Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t realize. So these guys do everything. Why do they do so many different things?

Oswald: There’s this concept of a super app right now. I think that’s what a lot of them are trying to do.

Andrew: Because they’re trying to become the super app of the non-China . . .

Oswald: Of Southeast Asia.

Andrew: . . . China or Asia.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s what it is.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: It is weird. The last time I was in Bali, I got Grab, and, yeah, they had cars and they had scooters, which . . . How does that work? I get on the back of someone’s scooter and I hug them.

Oswald: Yeah. I did that . . .

Andrew: You did.

Oswald: . . . in Indonesia. I was rushing for a meeting. I got on a scooter, and halfway through I was stuck in between two lorries shoulder to shoulder. So that was a great experience.

Andrew: Scary. Scary, man. Got it. And so they’re saying, “Look, our people need to pay each other, so when we . . . If they’re paying our drivers, they’re going to want to pay each other. Let’s add that in.” And they want to create the everything app.

Oswald: Everything app. I’m just curious. Is there something that in the U.S.?

Andrew: No.

Oswald: No, right?

Andrew: No. There is no everything app.

Oswald: There is an app for everything. There is no everything app.

Andrew: Yeah. And here, is there an everything app that already works?

Oswald: Grab and Go-Jek are trying to be that, but they’re still on their way. Why do you think that is the case? Why do you think there’s no such super app in the U.S., but there is in China?

Andrew: I don’t know. I actually think that the reason it is in China is because it’s very chat-based, and I think that the world is starting to move towards a chat-based platform, but we’re not there yet.

Oswald: Interesting.

Andrew: But I don’t know. I wonder about that too because usually if you . . .

Oswald: Yeah. I wonder why . . .

Andrew: What in the U.S. they did was they started to break apart the apps. So, for example, Google Docs used to be one app. Now it’s Google Drive, plus Google Docs plus Spreadsheet, etc.

Oswald: For slides and all, yeah.

Andrew: Facebook was one, and then it became Facebook and then Messenger and any other nonsense that they’ve come up with.

Oswald: Exactly.

Andrew: It’s its own thing, right?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: They intentionally don’t build it in to emphasize discovery. I don’t know. I’m curious about that. Do you go to China, by the way, to take a look, to bring back ideas?

Oswald: Yeah, I went to China last year. It has transformed so much in the past 10 years since I was there the last time. And I can see why it’s an exciting place for a lot of people.

Andrew: Yeah. I remember I invested in this company ManyChat. They do chat-based marketing.

Oswald: Right.

Andrew: The founder says, “I’m going to go offline. I’m going to go to Asia for a little bit.” He goes to Asia and he comes back, and I get on a call with him, he goes, “Andrew, I’ve seen the future. It is amazing.” And then he started talking about how WeChat was so big, how chat is going to become a bigger platform, how he could fit in within that platform. I see more and more people are going to China to get ideas for the future.

Oswald: To get inspiration.

Andrew: Yeah, inspiration, the way they used to get inspiration from the U.S.

Oswald: Definitely, yeah.

Andrew: Right?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. So you expanded that way. What else allowed you to go to the next level? So you expanded first by saying, “We’re not going to focus on interns. We’re going to focus beyond . . . We’re going to start growing beyond internship.”

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: You stopped doing sales, the SDR part yourself and brought in an SDR, Sales Development Rep. That helped you grow even further. You stopped doing the sales all yourself and started bringing in salespeople to do that. You moved to Indonesia. What’s another milestone that allowed you to grow even bigger?

Oswald: I think another milestone was building up the team of leaders in the company that can help you to run the business so that you can focus on the strategy aspects of growing the business.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: There is this great concept that I learned called viral leadership, which is making sure that leadership is decentralized in a company and it spreads like virus. So it’s not just one single leader, but can you infect another leader and that leader infect a leader through a skill set?

Andrew: How do you infect the leader with leadership?

Oswald: I think first is identifying those who are potential, those who are very hungry, want to grow and really actively developing and grooming them, and then almost forcing them to groom their own leaders as well. So that was really transformative for the business because that was the goal.

Andrew: Because if they groom their leaders, they become better leaders themselves by being aware of what it takes to be a leader.

Oswald: Yes.

Andrew: Do you have an example of somebody who . . . I love examples. This is one of my favorite questions.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Can you think of somebody who you helped groom in a way that you would want them to groom other people?

Oswald: Yeah. So somebody who I groomed that . . . So I think being very clear about what the person is motivated by, why they’re building the business. So one of my favorite and proudest achievements was not just about revenue, was not about fundraising, but actually grooming up a few of my leaders. So one of them was Billy. He joined us . . .

Andrew: Billy.

Oswald: Billy. He joined us and was a fresh graduate. He’s now leading a team of close to 40 people. And it was through that process of constantly understanding what’s the next milestone for him, what is he motivated by, and just removing blockage for him.

Andrew: So he came in as doing what?

Oswald: Sales.

Andrew: Sales.

Oswald: Sales. Fresh graduate.

Andrew: SDR or sales?

Oswald: Sales.

Andrew: Actual sales . . .

Oswald: Actual sales.

Andrew: . . . meaning, in your business getting employers?

Oswald: Matching candidates up to employers.

Andrew: Okay. Got it. So this is what he was doing. And what did you see in him that made you say, “He could do more”?

Oswald: He was really hungry.

Andrew: He was.

Oswald: He was really hungry.

Andrew: How did that expressed itself? Stay late? What?

Oswald: He would be like on Slack at 1 a.m.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: Just working. I would have to tell him to stop working. He was working so hard. And you could see in his eyes he had a passion for the business.

Andrew: And then when you groomed him, what would you do? I imagine you giving him books just because I see you as a reader.

Oswald: Yeah. So I think one thing it’s reframing it as not just as, “This is my business and you are my employee and you’re here to help me,” but really, “This is your business and I’m here to help you.”

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: I think that paradigm shift really helps them to stay a lot more motivated, and it forces them to grow as well. So, like, when I talk to them, I just had a call with Billy this morning. We’re thinking of making this really expensive hire for his team, and the conversation is not about, “Okay. I’m . . .” It’s not about me wanting to do it and him helping me to it, but I’m asking him whether he wants to do it. If he does, I would give him the budget and the resources to do it, but it’s his decision. And the process . . . The conversation will go like, “If this was your business, what do you think would help you grow your business?”

Andrew: Okay. What’s his part of the business? What would you call that section?

Oswald: He’s running the cross-border unit for our business. So he’s running like a business unit right now.

Andrew: When you say cross-border, what does that mean?

Oswald: So helping Singapore employers to build their teams in Indonesia.

Andrew: Oh, okay. So you started with Singapore employers looking for employees in Singapore, Indonesia in Indonesia, and now you’re saying, “Well, we need somebody who’s going to be the . . .” Got it. Since we’re talking about people, let’s talk about your co-founder. You wrote . . . I told you before we started.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: One of the most open blog posts I ever saw about why a co-founder left.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Describe that post and then what was going on in your life at the time.

Oswald: Right. Yeah. That was a difficult moment for the business. I remember the chat that we had. There was a long build-up. So we had lunch together, and it was sort of the lunch that I knew I was going to talk to her about the relationship. And we know that we weren’t working out anymore.

Andrew: Why? Why wasn’t it working out anymore?

Oswald: I think we had completely different ways of how we wanted to grow the business.

Andrew: What was yours and what was his?

Oswald: There was certain business units that he wanted to grow and there was certain business units that I wanted to grow and they just were not aligned.

Andrew: And can you say more about what they were?

Oswald: Back then I think it was a . . . I think it was more of like a . . . So one of the business units that he was developing was a global internships part of the business, but that wasn’t something that I was really excited about.

Andrew: And you were moving away from internships anyway.

Oswald: Yeah. So it was just that. But I think . . . Yeah, it was that.

Andrew: And so would you guys argue?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: You would.

Oswald: We would. We would. So there was a lot of tension.

Andrew: In front of others?

Oswald: Not really in front of others. It was just [inaudible 00:50:02] stress off the wall. We realized that, “Oh, it’s better for us to be just at separate ways.” So we had that lunch, appetizers came, main course came. So it felt like a real breakup conversation. And then desserts came and then I finally felt I had to pop the question of like, “Where do you see this going? Do you think it’s working out? I don’t think it’s working out. It’s not you. It’s me.”

Andrew: Wow.

Oswald: And I think just having the conversation. But I think one lesson I learned from that experience was always treating people right. Before I had the conversation, I was already to go into that chat just being very aggressive and kicking, like it’s . . .

Andrew: It’s finally time.

Oswald: It’s finally time.

Andrew: “This didn’t work out. You didn’t believe it. We’ve been arguing. I’m right. I’m going to step down.” Got it.

Oswald: Yeah. And luckily, I spoke to some of our investors and our mentors who coached me through that process and just asked me, “How would you feel if you were him, if you were just kicked out of the company like that?” So make sure you treat him fairly. It’s not even about, “Let’s do this peacefully,” because object . . . The exact opposite of peaceful it’s war, right? So don’t even think about doing this in an aggressive manner. Treat people right, do it fairly, and just work things out calmly. And I’m very glad I did that because of the way we . . . because we managed to do that, number one, we stayed friends. We just had dinner again just a few months ago. I’m so glad we did. And the second thing was it allowed us to structure a deal that then brought in another new investor, which helped us to take the business to the next level. So because we’re doing things amicably and rationally, it allowed us to see different opportunities.

Andrew: Meaning, he reduces his equity stake so that you have enough . . .

Oswald: So someone else . . .

Andrew: . . . percentage to let somebody . . .

Oswald: . . . came in and bought out part of the shares.

Andrew: Oh, someone else came in and bought out part of the shares. Got it. Okay.

Oswald: Yeah. So he got some cash, which was great for him.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: The company got a new investor, and the investor invested in the business as well.

Andrew: Got it. Instead of acrimony where there’s just . . . Got it.

Oswald: And then there’s, like . . .

Andrew: But then the blog post. Why did you write the blog post?

Oswald: Why did I write the blog post? So we actually knew we were going to write a blog post at some point so that we can just share what exactly . . .

Andrew: And be open about it?

Oswald: And be open about it.

Andrew: Okay. Let me . . . Before I get into this, the reason then why you wrote that type of blog post. Why not say, “You know what? My co-founder is here, he did what he needed to do, but now he has new ideas.” or, “He wants to go and trek over the world.” or something else. Why did you guys decide we’re going to be open? There’s hostility between us. It’s not working out. We’re going to be friends. That’s the approach. Why did you decide that you’re going to be that open instead of coming up with some story?

Oswald: Yeah. Because we know we were not going to kid anyone.

Andrew: Because . . .

Oswald: I mean, word will always get out. It’s a small ecosystem, so we felt like it was better for us to address it authentically rather than try and hide things and end up with different versions of the story.

Andrew: And he was okay with that, with basically having a blog post saying that he’s fired?

Oswald: Well, he wasn’t fired. It was like we wrote in blog post. It was an amicable separation. And we signed off together. I think one key decision we made was we would write this together. It was sort of the last thing that we will write together and we will all sign off on it together.

Andrew: The best part for me is that, first of all, the fact that you did it is the best part, that you guys were that straightforward. I think people can read through the “We decided to separate because he has a new idea that . . .” Right? But the part that I think made it feel like a tense situation but a good one was when you linked to old photos or current photos of you guys just goofing around.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: That was fun-loving. It was just . . .

Oswald: That was fun. That was fun.

Andrew: Okay. And there was some reason why you decided to publish it when you did and you were going through something personal. Can you talk about that?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m looking through your eyes to see if you hate me for bringing this up.

Oswald: No, it’s fine. So we knew we were going to write a blog post at some point, but we were sort of rushed into it by circumstances, because word of the breakup actually got out to a local like a tech media here. And they were going to publish something, and we knew that, “Okay. If someone is going to hear about it, we hope that it will come from us first.”

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: So that’s why we decided to just write a blog post. It was a really stressful day. My grandmother died that day as well. So I was literally writing this letter at my grandma’s funeral.

Andrew: Wow. Literally?

Oswald: Literally, yeah.

Andrew: The thing that strikes me with you is . . . I know we’ve got to end this here, but I’ve got to ask you. You can’t possibly have a personal relationship at this point, can you? You don’t have any . . . You’re not dating anyone. You can’t be married, can you? And go through this where you’re at the funeral writing, where you’re working 9 to 9 6, 996. Right?

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: Can you?

Oswald: Well, I think it’s possible, but, no, I’m single right now.

Andrew: You have no personal life.

Oswald: I do have a personal life.

Andrew: You do.

Oswald: I think it’s important. I think it’s important to just have that balance. So one of the . . . Another takeaway I had from the Tony Robbins event was just to think of our health, both physically and mentally. So I still try to work out consistently every week.

Andrew: Do you meditate still?

Oswald: I do. Yeah.

Andrew: You do.

Oswald: Yeah. I’m on my 10-day streak now. So I’ve been meditating consistently for the past 11 days actually.

Andrew: What’s your process for meditating?

Oswald: Just sit down, take a breath. I use this app called Insight Timer.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: It’s great. I actually go to Bali for a silent retreat once a year.

Andrew: Really?

Oswald: Yeah. So I’ll take like five days off during the Christmas period, unplugging my phone, don’t talk to anyone for five days. And that’s just been such a key part of my life for the past two years. Yeah.

Andrew: I didn’t know that about you. Andrea somehow found it. She put it in my notes. I’m so glad that I asked you about that.

Oswald: Oh, really? Yeah.

Andrew: I don’t even know where she found out that it was meditation. All right. The website is, for anyone who wants to go check it out . . .

Oswald:, G-L-I-N-T-S.

Andrew: Thank you so much for doing this interview. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this happen. The first, if you’re doing email marketing, you should check them out.

Sorry. The in-person thing just to close it out. I know we got like two minutes before you have to catch a flight. I wrote it down and I forgot to come back to it. What’s in-person marketing that’s working for you?

Oswald: Oh, so . . .

Andrew: The conference is one thing. What else is working offline?

Oswald: Yeah, conference is one thing. Really conference. I think that’s one thing . . .

Andrew: That’s the one thing.

Oswald: Yeah. We were starting to run . . . We’re starting to run offline ads in Indonesia as well.

Andrew: In newspapers?

Oswald: At train stations.

Andrew: Got it.

Oswald: But new experiment, we’re going to see how that works out.

Andrew: Okay.

Oswald: Yeah.

Andrew: for email marketing done right. You guys should check them out too. And the second is if you’re doing any website building, you should go to

All right. I’ll let you go catch your flight. Thank you so much for doing this.

Oswald: Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: You bet.

Oswald: Yeah.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.