Two UBC Sauder alumni reinvent the job search process

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JobGet co-founders Billy Lan (left), Tony Liu (centre) and Peter Lee (right) accept the Global Grand Prize at the awards ceremony for the 2019 MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge.

Posted 2020-03-11
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When UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) graduate Tony Liu’s mother was laid off from her job as a cook three years ago, she asked her son to review her resume before she submitted it to Craigslist and other help wanted postings.

Liu was struck by the outdated process of applying to jobs in the food service industry. Preparing a resume that reflected his mom’s decades-long work history was painstaking and time consuming.

“It shocked me that the job hunt method in the food service industry apparently had not changed in 15 years. It was the exact same process that I used when I was looking for a dishwashing position as a high school student,” recalls Liu. “That inspired me to say, there must be a different way, a better way, to reshape this process.”

At the time, Liu was working at a private equity firm in Boston. He was exposed to rapidly-growing startups that were becoming “billion-dollar unicorns” in emerging markets like China and Brazil. With this mix of personal and professional inspiration, Liu reached out to his former UBC Sauder classmate Billy Lan, as well as his friend Peter Lee, to pitch the idea of creating an app where job seekers could connect with potential employers instantly. Lan and Lee recognized the potential and the three aspiring entrepreneurs formed JobGet.

Having met while both first-year BCom students at UBC Sauder, Lan and Liu had developed a strong friendship after years of being involved with the same school clubs and extracurricular activities.

“There is a lot of trust there,” says Lan. “When you have worked together in so many different capacities and you’ve seen the good and the bad at such an early stage, you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

 

An untapped market looking for speed

“Our secret is just to remove the resume,” says Liu. “Our platform is a mobile-first social platform for jobs where employers and candidates in the hourly industry can connect within minutes or even seconds.”

Job seekers create an online profile and input the most basic information regarding their work experience. They simply write the title of their previous positions, where they’ve worked, and the number of years they were employed in each job. If an employer likes what they see in a candidate profile, JobGet has both an instant messaging feature and a video call option that allow them to get in touch with the individual immediately.

“The population that we are helping out, a lot of them can’t even afford bus tickets to go to an interview, so this saves money and time from the candidate’s perspective, and also saves a lot of time on the employer side because they don’t have to prepare an office just for one interview.”

 

Serving the underserved community

This nuanced socio-economic understanding of their target market has allowed the co-founders to design a platform tailored to the specific needs of what they call the “underserved community.”

Their personal experiences working in food services, and watching close family members look for jobs in the hourly industry space, informs many of the development decisions for the app. 

"All three of us are on the same page. We all come from first generation immigrant families,” explains Liu. “We were part of this community – we watched our families carry multiple roles dishwashing or doing janitorial work, trying to make a living.”

Lan, who leads the platform’s development team, also notes that JobGet is well suited to today’s competitive recruitment market.

“Employers are having a hard time hiring because there are low unemployment rates and they need to capitalize on speed,” says Lan. “We offer features like smart matching, which is an algorithm that matches employers and candidates based off of their needs.”

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Members of the JobGet team get involved in community outreach at College Fest in Boston’s Fenway Park

 

Building on early success

Though JobGet was only created last year, the company has already convinced some major fast food restaurants to use the platform for recruitment. When the JobGet founders visited a Dunkin’ location in Boston, they convinced the store manager at the donut chain to post a job right then and there. Within five minutes, three candidates had applied. The store manager messaged his top pick. She happened to be in the neighbourhood and came in for an impromptu interview. In less than an hour from when the job posting went up, the position was filled. 

With case studies like Dunkin’, it’s not surprising that JobGet has attracted attention. In November 2019, the company was awarded $250,000 as a Global Grand Prize Winner of the 2019 MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, a competition that recognizes entrepreneurs who are revolutionizing the future of work and creating economic opportunity for low and medium income earners. JobGet also received the Gold Award and $50,000 cash prize at the 2019 MassChallenge Awards Ceremony.

They have also just recently closed a successful seed round with top venture capital firms in the technology space.    

What was once a three-man team has now expanded to an organization of more than 10 full-time employees dedicated to technology, finance, business development, and community building.      

In the coming months, the team plans to expand into other cities in the northeastern U.S., and even into Canada at some point in the future. When that day comes, Lan says his hometown will be the perfect foray into the Canadian market, “Vancouver is a unique market in the sense that it’s service industry oriented and it’s also heavily oriented towards new immigrants. Those things go hand in hand with our core product.”

With JobGet’s encouraging growth so far and its ambitious road map, the co-founders’ long-term vision is for their young company to one day be synonymous with job searching.

“We want JobGet to come across as the de facto employment platform for anyone who is looking in the hourly space or interested in the service industry,” says Liu. “We also want to be the top of mind solution for all employers in the service industry.”