Philippine-based online job matching platform Kalibrr, that had recently raised $2 million in a second round of funding, is set to raise a fresh round soon, its chief operating officer said in an interaction. The tech startup aims to disrupt South East Asia’s online jobs market, and has got about 3,000 companies on board its platform, along with 60,000 applications, and is also currently adding about 1,000 new applicants a day.
In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, its COO Dexter Ligot-Gordon said the company was set to launch a marketing blitz,even as he highlighted its plans to ramp up operations across the region.
Prior to Kalibrr, Gordon, who was born and raised in the United States, had been with a San Francisco-based consulting group, where he designed strategic planning processes, training and workforce programming, policy, and market development strategies for local government and technology start-up companies.
What does Kalibrr do?
Kalibrr is a market place for talent. Companies can advertise their jobs and look for clients. It’s a place for candidates to look for jobs in the pipeline. Kalibrr is different in the sense that we’re focused on matching. We gather a lot of data and information from candidates including assessments, personal details, education, and other information.
We match candidates to jobs that are most relevant to them. We’re looking at people’s profiles, but also their behavior patterns of what jobs they’re interested in, what jobs they applied to. Our algorithms also gather data about the companies that hire, what candidates they interview, and their characteristics.
So our goal is not to supply resumes. Our goal is to get the best matched candidates and we’re the only ones who are doing this.
What we’re doing in the beginning stages of the company is to really understand the challenges that companies face in recruitment like where to look. The second is when you post your job post, you get flooded by resumes, whether people are qualified or not. Then you spend time and effort to figure out who’s qualified or not. And Kalibrr automates that.
How did you came up with your startup idea?
I used to work in a labor system in the United States. I built government programs that prepared populations to get jobs in the economy. In 2013, I resigned from my post and came to the Philippines to take a break.
Here, I called Paul Rivera who is a college friend of mine. In 2013 he was a co-owner and operator for a call center and told me there are so many jobs here in the Philippines but it was really difficult to find the right kind of talent.
So we decided to collaborate and found a tech company because we wanted it to be scalable. Six months after, Kalibrr was founded.
How many clients and users do you now have?
There are 2,900 companies that have accounts and we have about 60,000 job seekers. We launched data in September and we have not started our marketing campaigns yet. We just want to put the product out and see how companies use it. So this is the growth that we’ve achieved with very little marketing effort. We haven’t fully launched yet, this is just our beta.
How many investors do you have and how do you intend to use your funds?
We raised money internationally. As a company, 25 per cent of the money that has been raised came from the Philippines and 75 per cent from abroad. Kickstart has been very supportive. They are really building the ecosystem of entrepreneurship in the Philippines. Our global investors are Siemer Ventures, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, Y Combinator, and Wavemaker DFJ. There are three things that we’re planning to do this year. First is marketing, second is expanding our team, and third is product development. One of the key things about Kalibrr is that we will always keep improving our product and will try to respond to what job seekers need and what the companies need.
How much do you spend on research and development?
From our founding in 2013 to September of last year, the team has been built around product development, research. We’ve done a lot of pilots, features. So a large bulk, about P1.5 million of the funding that we used was focused on product development. For a startup, R&D is a perpetual thing. It never stops.
What are your business expansion plans for 2015 and beyond?
Within a year, we will be one of the fastest growing talent market place in the Philippines and we will have a million users, that’s our goal for the end of the year.Very soon we will be launching our marketing campaigns. We’re closing another round of fundraising, and we will announce the final amount soon. Our goal in 2015 is to grow our recipe here in the Philippines. We were founded and made in the Philippines and I think we really understand the economy. This is our home base and we will not expand outside until we have a good footing here. After the Philippines, we will look at regional and global markets. Our biggest base is Metro Manila but we also have companies recruiting in Cebu and Davao that have job seekers all around the Philippines. In the early stages, we will focus on Metro Manila and start building our ground presence in the Visayas, mostly in Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao in Mindanao.
What do you think is Kalibrr’s edge over its competitors?
Kalibrr does not charge companies, per job post. That is free on our website. When people apply, as a company, you only have to pay for the candidates that you like and want to contact. So it is essentially a pay per view model for companies.
How do you see the startup scene in the Philippines?
I’ve seen it evolve. I was born in the US but I’m Filipino. I moved here full time in 2013. We were founded at the same time Kickstart was founded, right after IdeaSpace was founded. I think, what we’ve seen in the last two years is the emergence of Filipino entrepreneurs who are solving problems in the Philippine market. So you have transportation, healthcare startups, and then e-commerce. Some are mature but I think in terms of early stage, tech startup scene is only beginning to get off the ground right now. We are in the first generation of critical mass. Paul and I raised money in the region, in Southeast Asia and in the Silicon Valley. There’s a lot of interest in the Philippines. It’s a bit early but I think the startup scene here will grow really fast.
What is the culture in your company when it comes to generating ideas, brainstorming?
We’re a critical thinking team, very data-driven, but very assertive. The best idea wins. It’s not a top down hierarchy. We empower people to make decisions but there’s a lot of collaboration between the team members.
What is the right mindset for a startup founder ?
A founder should be intensely focused on solving a problem. They have to be agile and willing to change, being able to adopt and solve product problem.