Glints – a Singapore startup helping young talents discover their career paths
One of the most remarkable stories in Singapore’s startup scene right now is that of the three young men who have put on hold their education at prestigious universities to work full-time on their startup, Glints.
Oswald Yeo, Seah Ying Cong, and Looi Qin En are 22-year-olds who have a vision that their startup will make it easier for young people to discover and develop their career paths. Jobseekers register and build their profile on the Glints website to gain access to job and internship opportunities, as well as resources on interview skills and how to negotiate salary. In the works is also Glints’ own skills certification system based on projects, internships and courses that one can take.
Yeo says that their portal benefits both the employers and the jobseekers, “We aim to help companies grow by attracting talent, and at the same time, help young people develop their potential by exposing them to real world education and industry-relevant skillsets.”
Exemplifying their belief in the importance of real world education, the three co-founders have deferred their university education infinitely. After one semester abroad last year, they reconsidered their priorities and decided to return to focus full-time on Glints. Yeo shares this enlightened approach to formal education: “School is for learning, not qualifying”. At this point in their lives, it so happens that they find that there is a lot to gain by growing Glints. “We are learning a lot more by running our own company than by studying.”
The trio are alumni of Hwa Chong Institution, one of the handful of schools in Singapore offering a six-year Integrated Programme for high-performing students. Not surprisingly, their decision to defer their university education came with some initial reservations from their families. Since then, with the impressive traction they have gained, their parents have acknowledged that this is an invaluable and worthwhile experience for them.
Glints’ user numbers have grown from just 38 of their friends to 10,000 today, with an average of at least one job application per user. They have also raised venture capital funding of S$475,000 and have more than 1,000 companies on board with them.
Their stint at local accelerator programme, JFDI, was instrumental in helping them leapfrog beyond the constraints of their tiny office operations. “When we first started it was just the three of us, and whenever we ran into challenges, we could only turn to one another; we didn’t always know what to do. It was pretty frustrating.” Yeo adds, “The benefit of JFDI was not just the $25,000 investment, but the community and network of mentors that they provided. Many of our mentors became our investors.”
They are now one of the pioneer occupants at BASH (Build Amazing Startups Here), a new facility located in the startup cluster of the JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, where they continue to benefit from the startup community’s network.
Yeo credits his alma mater for inspiring his entrepreneurship. At 15, he joined the school’s Entrepreneurship Programme where he was trained to think from a business perspective through business plan competitions, and given opportunities to meet and be mentored by entrepreneurs.
For all the experience he’s had so far, Yeo says that entrepreneurship requires “a disciplined focus on executing the right things, driven by relentless optimism and resourcefulness.” For those brimming with ideas but are unsure if entrepreneurship is for them, he has one simple piece of advice: “Just do it! It’s the best way to learn.”